Sunday, 19 July 2015

Another Milestone in Margaret River

My gorgeous mum is back with us in Perth, on her annual sojourn across the planet to spend three months with us.  An annual sojourn she began almost a decade ago.  The big difference is this year, she turned 80.  At 80, picking up and travelling, quite literally, as far as one can possibly imagine over 2 days and including 3 flights - one of which is in excess of 15 hours - is a very big ask, but she didn't hesitate.

My brother and sister-in-law threw her a big party in Calgary a week before she arrived, we had wished we could have been there but couldn't make it work.  Instead, we've kept the party going since her arrival.

The party hit its peak in Margaret River.

Margaret River is the region about 3 hours south of Perth best known for its wine production, gourmet eating, and locally-sourced provisions.  While the Margaret River region is responsible for only around 5% of Australia's total wine production, its quality is considered premium and among the best.   Certainly, as a Canadian who knew little about Australia prior to my arrival, as an oenophile, even I knew of Margaret River.  Most wineries in the region are boutique producers with beautifully-designed, welcoming cellar doors, respect for the land, and an attachment to Western Australian traditions.

At the Laurance Winery
It is also a region of magnificent sea, surf breaks, beaches, green paddocks, wildlife, caves, and people proud to maintain the local culture and charm, shunning chain stores and over development.

Under Sharks, it also say "Grumpy Old Surfers"
We stopped in several places en route to Margaret River, to lovely terraced Yallingup, where we had lunch at the Caves House Hotel, to Cowaramup and its abundance of dairy cows and green pastures, Busselton with its astonishing kilometre-long jetty out into Geographe Bay, and beautiful coastal Dunsborough.  

For my mum's 80th, we stayed in an upscale B&B that had everything she loves: overstuffed chintz furniture, lace tablecloths, silver tea settings, sherry and port on the sideboard, fragrant roses everywhere, and Fairy Wrens and Ringnecked Parrots (known colloquially as 28s).  C2 dubbed our lovely home away from home "Doily Manor".  The electric blankets on cold mornings weren't bad either.  

C2 and J spent much father and son time exploring the network of limestone caves in the region: Ngilgi Cave where they did a 2-hour guided tour commando-crawling under ridges, squeezing between rocks, and feeling for blind isopods and centipedes using only their headlamps for light; and deep Giants Cave on their own.  While they were discovering ancient wonders, my mum and I explored modern wonders of the Margaret River shops and cafes.

At the Pierro Winery

We also visited 4 wineries: Pierro with its attentive  staff and charming cellar door, Laurance with its uniquely beautiful bottles and where J met a school mate.  They disappeared in the large grounds to play while we wine tasted and admired the art and sculptured landscapes.  Mad Fish was the third winery and one of my favorites to-date over our two trips to the region.  The final winery was the 80th birthday gift: a tour, set tasting and lunch at magnificent Voyager Estate.

Laurance Winery

Voyager Estate

We wine-tasted, J tasted the actual grape juice that went into the wine

Voyager Estate

(See last year's blog entry also about Margaret River:)