Bianca: I always knew I had an affinity with quaint small towns, I’ve now come to the conclusion that all these memories were closely tied in with food. A favourite ice-cream shop in Port Macquarie, a lolly shop in Leura, a bakery in Berry and now the Margaret River.
While we were in town for the Gourmet Escape we did manage to check out a few places in the short two and a half days we had.
The Margaret River Bakery should be a mandatory stop for all folks making their way through. Their Almond Croissant was revelatory. We made a pit stop on two consecutive days and it totally would have been more if they were open on Sundays. Damn you WA trading hours!! Their pastries are well worth the stop and they have some interesting knick knacks and the décor is just a bunch of fun. Popular with the tourists and the locals, which is always a great sign.
After a stop off at Margs Bakery, we made our way over to the ‘Margaret River Farmers Market’, held on Saturday mornings. Our biggest challenge was not going mad and buying everything, though it didn’t stop Joyce purchasing some smallgoods from The Farmhouse stall to take back to Sydney. That’s food dedication right there! We also snuck a peek at Antonio Carluccio doing a cooking demo. Embarrassingly we also picked up a chocolate croissant and a custard doughnut from the Margs Bakery stall. I will not begin to make an excuse…
We stopped in at ‘The Settlers Tavern’ the local watering hole and a strong draw-card for live Australian music acts. They’re now know for their American BBQ, a recent addition to the menu. The outdoor smoker is an impressive sight and we were expecting some good things. It’s pretty laid back, with an outdoor seating area so you can watch the bbq’ing action in the flesh.
Always a fiend for the carbs, we got a serving of the ‘Spicy Potato Wedges’ $10.
And for the main event – the BBQ. The ‘Carolina Pulled Pork’ is up there with some of the best I’ve had. When pulled pork is done well it’s truly something to celebrate, recent renditions I’ve had, have had that tuna-esque texture that puts me right off. The sub bread roll was an excellent vessel for the wet mixture, with the outer crust providing some crunch whilst allowing the bottom to absorb some liquid. We found the slaw a little OTT but the flavour was there. My only real complaint here was the amount of sauce slathered onto the pork it overpowered everything.
The ‘Texas Beef Brisket Sandwich’ was the one I was most looking forward to. Brisket is one of my favourite things on the planet and a few places in Sydney are really knocking it out of the park. This had the makings for an excellent brisket, charred exterior, red outer rings and melt in your mouth tender meat. But the sandwich fell flat, too much slaw, too much bread and way way too much sauce. It was drowning in it.
Still, a great option for a feed in the Margaret River. I’d be far more interested in the smoked meats by themselves rather than in a burger/sandwich setting. Big call from me I know!
Wanting to make the most of our last meal in the Margaret River and to soak in one of the best views you can find, breakfast was a quick low-key affair. The ‘White Elephant Café’ perched right on Gnarabup Beach is a haven for locals and tourists alike, we arrived a little after 7:30am on a Sunday morning to a bustling café. Tables were filling fast, we placed our orders and took a seat overlooking the beach.
Joyce went the ‘Vegetarian Breakkie Roll’ $14 and thoroughly enjoyed her slightly lighter offering.
I couldn’t go past one of their most popular breakfast items, the ‘Breakkie Burger’ – Brioche bun, swiss cheese, garlic aioli, smoked tomato relish, crispy bacon & egg $14. No, if you’re wondering, that is no typo of mine, the “Brekkie” roll was your standard bacon and egg roll. Great to line the stomach and to fuel a day with minimal food. I’m not a fan of Swiss cheese so that’d really be my only gripe…oh and the flies!
This café is worth the trip for the views alone, simply stunning!
The rest of the day was spent travelling down the coast to Hamelin Bay then back up to Perth via the scenic route, with many stops along the way.
The Stingrays at Hamelin Bay, with a gorgeous picturesque drive down Caves Road. On a lucky day you’ll come across a few friendly stingrays that swim close to shore, luckily we found one.
Stunning Rock formations at Canal Rocks. *Note* – climbing rocks in thongs is the worst idea ever, don’t do it!
If it was a beauty contest Sugarloaf Rock would come in first place.
I can never go past a good lighthouse, Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse purdy but the bug situation was like something out of the movie ‘The Mist’. I almost didn’t want to open my mouth to speak in case I swallowed one.
One of my favourite stops that day was Busselton Jetty, a former functioning jetty used to transfer timber to ships, is now a tourist delight. Spanning 2km out from the foreshore, there is a tourist train that takes you to the end of the jetty. It’s roughly a 50 minute round trip walk at a leisurely pace and taking photos.
And our last stop before we hit the big smoke. Lake Clifton Thrombolites. Don’t be fooled, these aren’t your run of the mill rocks, over 200 years old, they are ancient forms of microbial communities. Also, I was getting major Dawson’s Creek vibes from that wharf.
And that’s my Margaret River/ touristy sights. Onwards and upwards to my Perth eats. Coming soon.