I truly believe that Australia’s best-kept secret is Western Australia’s Margaret River. A place of such raw beauty that goes hand-in-hand with the amazing food & wine scene.
A recent visit to catch up with my good friend Elissa Coleman who manages her family property, Empire Retreat, was the ultimate adventure of checking out the amazing beaches & seascapes from Canal Rocks, Yallingup Beach, Injidup and Eagle Bay; this is most definitely where the Mer people hang out.
We stayed at the property between the family’s private converted sheep shearing shed & Villa 9.
The rooms have recently had an update by the talented Elissa and are layered with her significant style of comfort meets fabulous; lots of lamp lighting, sheepskin over wooden seats, fancy beanbags, deep linen lounges, cane chairs & great artwork.
If you like what you see, many of her textiles & furniture pieces are available at Empire Homewares in Dunsborough.
A gaggle of 40 geese promenade about the estate that is spotted with flowering gum, calla lilies & kangaroos at dusk! A lovely greeting on the way to breakfast that is laid out in the main house of a morning. Once you have this delicious meal out of the way it’s tough choices between hanging out by the fire, a spa treatment at the retreat, heading off to the wineries for tastings & lunch or just roadtrippping & stopping and taking photos of the beautiful landscape.
We tried the cellar door at Vasse Felix & bought 2 bottles each (they were restricted!) of the unbranded SYRAH 1, which is only available at the door. The new recent is gorgeous with parred back woods & metal work and I have heard the restaurant is amazing but you must book. Another stop to Pierro for some award winning chardonnays. Empire has its own labelled wines; we got hooked on the 2008 Cabernet Merlot red whilst hanging around the fire of an evening.
For handmade pastas, sauces & local fare try Barnyard 1978 owned by Raminta Rusilas.
A drive down to Injidup and a walk to the rock pools is a must. But in saying that, any beach along this coast is never disappointing.
We are looking forward to our summer adventures with a hike from cape to cape to search for seaweed specimens to press.
Elissa’s hit list:
Yallingup Woodfired Bread on Biddle Rd
Leeuwin Winery & Restaurant
Boranup Karri Forest
Ngilgi Caves, Yallingup
Sugar Loaf Rock in Leeuwin National Park