I have a long-standing connection to Western Australia’s Great Southern region.
As a kid, my family would pack up the car at least twice a year and drive the 4-5 hours to my Aunty and Uncles farm just East of Albany, where we would spend at least a week at a time catching Koonac’s from one of the many dams, fishing and sight-seeing.
Fast forward 15 years or so and the team at CMS Events gave me an amazing reason to reacquaint myself with this wonderful part of the world. To be honest, I don’t know why I don’t visit the region as often as I use to, but I am going to make it a goal for 2019 to make sure I visit far more regularly.
Back in October of last year, I spent four days exploring this wonderful region with some of Perth’s best food and wine content writers.
Read on to follow my journey to Taste the Great Southern and to how to make a long weekend of it.
Before I share with you my itinerary, it is best to understand where the Great Southern Wine region is and what makes it so unique.
Although the Great Southern wine region, found in Western Australia’s South Coast, is considered the official wine region, it is actually made up of five distinct sub-regions, each characterised by unique geomorphic and climatic conditions. They include:
- Mount Barker
- Frankland River
The Great Southern wine region is considered very remote. It is over 350km from Perth, which may be why this little pocket seems somewhat undiscovered. You will need a car to get around and a designated driver or organise a tour. As Australia’s largest wine region, wineries are quite scattered.
The Great Southern wine region is characterised by ocean winds from the Southern Ocean and a rugged coastline. Albany and Denmark benefit from this maritime influence.
Drive inland and you will be greeted by Karri forest, with trees that are hundreds of years old where Mount Barker, the Porongurup’s and Frankland River enjoy a Mediterranean climate.
The Great Southern wine region is known for producing cool climate wines, and are known for their Riesling, Shiraz and emerging varietals.
Want to find out more about the region? 3drops have pulled together a great read about WA’s cool climate gem.
Did you know..?
The first vines were planted in Forest Hill (1965), a 5-acre experimental vineyard planted by the Department of Agriculture with 2.5 acres of Riesling, and 2.5 acres of Cabernet cuttings sourced from the Swan Valley Research Station. Plantagenet Wines wines followed in 1968 and Alkoomi in 1971.
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We had four days with a pretty jam-packed weekend of activities, exploring areas such as Katanning, Frankland River, Albany and Denmark.
- Depart Perth
- Coffee at Riverside Roundhouse, Bannister
- Light lunch with Indigenous Experience, Kojonup
- Frankland River Wine Trail including
- Alkoomi, and
- Frankland Estate
- Check in to the Premier Mill Hotel, Katanning
- Dinner and drinks in the Cordial Bar at the Premier Mill Hotel, Katanning
- Breakfast at Dome Cafe, Premier Mill Hotel, Katanning
- Wine Show of WA, Mount Barker
- Lunch at Alkaline Cafe, Albany
- Albany Food and Wine Trail including
- Wilson Brewing Co.
- Bred Co. and,
- Wignalls Winery
- Check in to All Suites Banksia Gardens, Albany
- Dinner and drinks at All Suites Banksia Gardens, Albany
- Breakfast at Emu Point Cafe, Albany
- Albany Farmers Market
- Denmark Food and Wine Trail, including
- Green Pool and Elephants Rocks
- Lunch at Ducketts Mill Wines and Denmark Farmhouse Cheese, and
- The Lake House Denmark
- Fervor Dinner at Alderton’s Farm, Torbay (near Albany)
- Breakfast at All Suites Banksia Gardens, Albany
- Food For Thought Festival, Albany
- Lunch at Mount Barker Bakery
- Arrive home
If you’re thinking about visiting the Great Southern, but need a little more help planning your trip, make sure to check out the recommended itineraries from Australia’s South West website.
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We departed Perth around 10am and fortunately, since we had such a small group of people, I was picked up from my home in Belmont. This was an easy entry onto Tonkin highway which would then take us onto Albany highway.
The drive is very picturesque and it didn’t take long before we had left the metropolitan of Perth and started our journey South, towards the Great Southern.
The drive initially took us through the southern Perth forests and then opened up to the grain growing towns of Williams and Kojonup.
It was the perfect time of year to check out the canola, barley and wheat fields.
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Our first stop for the day was sprouted as the “Best Coffee En Route” at the Riverside Roadhouse, Bannister.
Personally, I’m not a coffee drinker, but most of my companions were and they very much enjoyed the stop. I do, however, very much enjoy a Chai Latte. Actually, I love chai lattes! And this Chai Latte absolutely hit the spot for me! For a little country roadhouse, it packs a punch when it comes to their hot drinks, bread and pastries.
We also had the option to pick up some freshly baked bread but opted to wait until our return trip. Personally, I would recommend grabbing your bread during the week, as when we returned on Sunday, much to our disappointment, they had pretty much sold out of their bread.
If you’re a fan of buying local WA honey, you can pick up an assortment of honey from The Honey Shop, who sell their wares inside the Riverside Roadhouse.
Our next stop for the day was a light lunch with Indigenous Experience in Kojonup at the Kodja Place Visitor Centre.
Kodja Place tells the inside story of Australian country life and aims to move and delight the people who walk through the doors.
On our stop, Aboriginal elders Bill Riley and Colin Clinch cooked us kangaroo steaks and Johnny cakes (or hot Johnnies) for lunch.
From here we jumped back into our little bus and headed towards the Frankland River wine region.
The First Tipple Of The Day – Frankland River
The Frankland River wine region is the most northern sub-region of Western Australia’s Great Southern wine region.
The region is characterised by cool nights, warm days and long sunlight hours.
The region is best known for plantings of Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.
unquestionably the area’s speciality, with its crisp, fresh style standing out from the more diesel–kerosene notes found in the warmer regions further north.”
Frankland River’s cool nights and mineral soils are credited for this fresh style – as they are for the region’s peppery Shiraz, which is reminiscent of the northern Rhone Syrah.”
All this sitting on a bus was making me build up a thirst for some delectable Great Southern wine, and our first winery stop for the tour did not disappoint one bit!
A Little Bit About Alkoomi Wines
Alkoomi Wines is one of WA’s largest family owned and operated wine producers.
The property was originally purchased by now owners Sandy (and husband Rod) grandparents in 1946 and initially operated as a mixed grain and livestock farm and it was in 1971 that Sandy’s parents planted the first vines on the property.
It was grandma Netta who named the property Alkoomi, a local Aboriginal word meaning “a place we chose”.
Netta and Vic’s son, Merv Lange, took over the property after their retirement and planted the first hectare of grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling and a little Shiraz and Malbec) in the early 1970s.
2010, Sandy and Rod took over the running of Alkoomi and together with their children, Laura, Emily and Molly represent the third and fourth generation living and working on the Alkoomi property in Frankland River.
The Cellar Door Experience
We were greeted by owner Sandy, chief winemaker Andrew, and winery dog Nelson, while Sandy and Andrew took us through the many wines that the winery has on offer.
Inside the cellar door, we could see the many awards Alkoomi have won over the years. But it was the beautiful stonework, clever use of wine barrels, wooden stools and benchtop and the use of old wagon wheels (#lightinggoals) that really made this feel so rustic and every piece of country WA.
With so many wines on offer, I just had to try as much as I could. I was only in the region for a short amount of time, plus we had a designated driver.
Alkoomi produces an extensive range of wines to suit all budgets. Their white label range is characterised by there easy to drink or barbeque style wines.
By far, my favourites were from the Icon Range, of which I bought a couple of bottles, including the Chardonnay and Riesling.
The bottles are aptly named to recognise the native trees that grow on the property including Blackbutt, Jarrah, Victrix and Melaleuca.
So when I visited the Travelling Corkscrew in Sydney recently, I made sure to take over the bottles for us to try together.
You can read the tasting note for the Melaleuca Riesling here.
You can read what the Travelling thought of the Victrix Chardonnay here.
I must have been in the mood for white wine, but a glass of the Jarrah Shiraz from the Icon Range was a huge contender for coming home with me! I can’t wait for another mouthful of this gorgeous wine.
intense and elegantly structured. The colour is a brilliant deep crimson with a garnet hue, while the palate has vibrant flavours of black cherry and plums with a lively acid profile interwoven with savoury black pepper, leather and fine-grained tannin structure.”
Between tasting wine and chatting to Sandy and wine-maker Andrew, I popped outside to spend some time with the Alkoomi wine dog hanging out on the verandah. I’m a big sucker when it comes to animals and I just had to go and say hello.
Much to my delight, when I returned inside the cellar door, I was able to recognise the dog as Winery Dogs of Australia good doggo, Golden Retriever Nelson with his mate Archie, a Maltese x, hanging out in a wine barrel at Alkoomi Winery.
Before leaving, I just had to get a quick snap with Sandy. My big grin tells it all. I had a fabulous time!
Did you know…?
In addition to their delicious wines, Alkoomi also offers onsite accommodation and has a function space.
There are two self-contained chalets situated on the property sleeping up to seven people in each while the purpose-built function room comfortably seats 80 people or 140 for stand-up cocktail events.
Next up, Frankland Estate
Frankland Estate is a 15-minute drive from Alkoomi. Unlike Alkoomi, Frankland Estate is a little more off the beaten track and they recommend that you call ahead if you wish to stop by to sample a tipple or two.
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Frankland Estate was established in 1988 by Barrie Smith and Judi Cullam.
Before planting their vines, Barrie and Judi were running sheep and they first became interested in planting their vineyard after a tour of French vineyards that they undertook in 1985 and also by the two vintages they worked at Chateau Senejac, in the Haut-Medoc region.
Barrie and Judi continue to remain closely involved in every aspect of the vineyard and winery operations since handing over the control of the winery and vineyard to their children, Hunter and Elizabeth (and her winemaking husband, Brian Kent).
You can read more about their beginnings on the About Us page on the Frankland Estate website.
Touring The Facilities
We were first treated to a tour of the facilities by Hunter (pictured above) which included sampling wine directly from the tanks and barrels.
One of the perks was drinking the Isolation Ridge Riesling direct from the tank. I’ve had wine from the barrel before, but never directly from the tank.
I swear there is some wine there in my glass!
Next up was the Shiraz barrel tasting.
Frankland Estate has several wine collections including:
- Olmo’s Reward & SmithCullam
- Single Vineyard
- Frankland Estate
They also sell magnums, museum and small batch releases.
I was lucky enough to sample a few of their tipples.
perfumed white citrus florals, spice and grapefruit”, while on the palate it tastes of “ripe juicy limes upfront, with a crisp acidity that carries the fruit all the way into a long saline, mineral finish.”
Initially brooding and dark opening up to a bright fresh wine. Hints of black olive and an iodine saltiness combine with fresh toasty oak, spice and black pepper. A sweet core of red currant and plum flavoured fruit leads into the subtle use of French oak which sits comfortably with the fine-grained tannins giving the wine a presence and length. Savoury, briary fruits lead into an enticing ironstone flinty note and mineral complexity.”
If you would like to find out a little more about Hunter and the winery, I recommend checking out this Q&A with Winer Selectors.
The final stop of day one was Katannings Premier Mill Hotel, about 300km south-east of Perth.
Katanning is known for its wheat and sheep farming, like many of the towns surrounding it, however, that has all changed when the local flour mill was sold by the shire for $1. Yep, you read that right, $1! Leading to the restoration of the 127-year-old flour mill to become one of the finest regional hotels in Western Australia.
Although the initial cost may seem very, very cheap, it was the work to restore the venue that saw costs skyrocket. Their foresight couldn’t have been better, creating a beautifully designed luxury 5-star hotel, and I just can’t wait to return!
What may surprise you, is the almost derelict flour mill was purchased by the Dome Group. Now you may be familiar with Domes 130 cafes found in over six countries, of which 19 Western Australian heritage buildings have been converted into cafes. There is even a Dome cafe at the bottom of the former flour mill.
A Piece Of History
The flour mill was built in 1891 and has lived a few different lives in that time including the manufacture of cordial, but I’ll touch on that a little later.
The three-storey, electrically powered mill was built by merchant, agriculturist and politician Frederick Henry Piesse in 1891, with the mill operating until 1977. It was the towns tourist centre for a little while but up until recently, remained vacant.
When the mill finally closed, contractors were called in to decommission the place and sell off any old machinery for scrap. One night, before the scrap metal guys got here, a whole lot of equipment got nicked, including the printer. Nobody knew where it went, nobody said anything. In about September last year, six pieces of the missing equipment were mysteriously left outside the mill, which was about three-quarters of the way through being turned into the hotel, and the printer was among them. It still works.”
The printer that was returned is pictured above and it wouldn’t have been an easy piece of machinery to move!
The Communal Areas
When you first walk into the building, expect to be blown away.
Their attention to detail is truly evident. Walk within any part of the hotel; the lobby, the underground Cordial Bar, the corridors and inside each of the rooms and you will find little clues that take you back in time.
There are plenty of places to sit back and relax and to enjoy the slower pace life that the country air offers.
There are only 22 rooms at the Premier Mill Hotel and each room provides a truly individual experience.
Room choices include grain silos and packing rooms.
Each room captures a moment in history and yet there is no compromise when it comes to the comforts of 5-star luxury.
In most rooms, you will either find exposed remnant machinery or the original timber structure.
The best part, each room contains a king size bed!
There is also Aesop hair and body products in all rooms. I would have enjoyed a lovely shower washing my hair, but, I seemed to enjoy myself a little too much at the Cordial Bar, so I was suffering a bit of wine flu the next morning. The last thing I felt like doing was washing my hair. To help the situation, I had to consult the Travelling Corkscrew wine hangover cure guide.
The Cordial Bar
The Cordial Bar occupies the basement of the flour mill and it set amongst exposed timber structure and mechanical components of the flour mills engine.
In addition to the making flour, Fredrick Piesse also dabbled in viticulture (see day two for more on this), aerated waters and cordials, hence the Cordial Bar’s name.
Above are some of the bottles that were found during the renovation.
We had a long table dinner of sorts. The table was long and filled with plenty of food and drinks to be enjoyed by us all. We started with share plates and enjoyed a hearty dinner and a dessert paired with a glass of muscat.
What We Drank
The Cordial Bar features an extensive, hand-picked selection of wines all hailing from the Great Southern wine region.
In addition to the wine list, the Cordial Bar serves an extensive list of local beer and cocktails.
We started the night with the 2006 Diamondtina Sparkling from Old Kent River.
golden straw in colour with a fine persistent bead. The nose reveals a wine of great character and complexity, no doubt in part due to significant time spent on lees. There is peach compote, fresh strawberry, buttered toast and roasted cashew notes. The palate is creamy and expansive, showing more fleshy peach and red berries along with some toasty, savoury autolysis characters, hints of honeycomb, almond and cashew nut. The wine has an impressive length of flavour, with a lingering savoury nutty character.”
I reached out to Clint of Gilberts about their 2011 Reserve Shiraz. He said that:
the 2011 Reserve is a wine that expresses our region. Fantastic fruit driven wine with silky fine-grained French oak, balanced with quality fruit flavours.”
On the eye, the wine is a deep red and expect pepper and spice on the nose, while the on the palate there is fresh spicy fruit evident with well-balanced oak.
You can also read about the Travelling Corkscrews visit the Gilberts Winery, located in Mount Barker.
The Rickety Gate was a group favourite. On the Rickety Gate website, the wine is described as:
a fresh bouquet of melon combined subtle perfume of tropical fruit on the nose. On the palate expect textured honeydew melon with hints of grapefruit showing through and there is some grassiness on the finish which is soft, round and very clean.”
I reached out to Rickety Gate Winery owner Russell who said that they:
fermented this wine in Siruge medium toast (2nd use) French oak. Minimal additions of S02 and its selling super well.”
The final tipple for the night was a muscat from West Cape Howe who hails from Mount Barker, while the fruit was sourced from the Swan Valley and Bindoon. The team at West Cape Howe describe the wine as:
Deep golden amber with a light to mid tan hue. Sultanas and boiled fruit cake with a lovely liquor brandy – hints of mocca coffee/brown sugar characteristics. Rich, round palate of brandy snaps and boiled fruit cake, creamy smooth texture with a lovely warm finish.”
The Travelling Corkscrew visited West Cape Howe back in 2017. Take a read of her experience when visiting the cellar door.
Did you know?
When the renovation and construction crew were clearing out the area which is now the Cordial Bar, included water after a spot of rain, they noticed that water was escaping through a section of the floor. Upon investigation, they found a little cellar which now holds several of there bottles.
Did you know?
Builders found a fossilised cat in a wall cavity. Although not looking too cute and cuddly these days, there are two theories to how it was found within the wall cavity.
- The cat fell into the cavity, got stuck and died.
- The cat was put there purposely to ward off bad spirits
Pharaoh life now consists of sitting on a shelf behind the bar.
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Did you know that there was a winery in Katanning? Well, I didn’t until I took a little walk around Katanning while nursing my wine flu.
Upon a little bit of research online, I found out that many of the wines made at the vineyard, owned by the Piesse Family, received awards and accolades both locally and abroad in the early part of the 20th century. The vineyard may have been established as early as the 1890s.
Source: lostkatanning.com – The old winery ruins c1960’s
Unfortunately, due to fire and general decay over time, the only remaining structure is the brick distillery.
Source: lostkatanning.com – Piesse’s Great Southern Winery in Katanning – c 1900
When the winery finally ceased production, many of the winemaking tools and casks were sold to the monks at New Norcia.
FORM: A Public Silo Art Trail
In addition to my love of wine, I also enjoy finding street art and I was excited to learn that in addition to organising grain silos to be painted in regional Western Australia, Perth based art group FORM, had also visited Katanning.
The art series in Katanning is in collaboration with Western Power, painting many of the electrical transformer boxes and walls in the town centre. The artwork was designed to enhance cultural tourism in regional Western Australia and give back to the towns in which the company operates.
Here are some of the pieces of street art I found on my morning walk.
Shire of Katanning, 16-24 Austral Terrace. Artwork produced by Karim Jabbari.
Shire of Katanning, 16-24 Austral Terrace. Artwork produced by Chris Nixon.
Café on Clive, Corner of Clive Street and Carew Street. Artwork produced by Brenton See.
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I had been up since about 5am that morning, nursing a wine flu and wondering around the town. By 8am we had all met to have breakfast in the Dome Cafe which sits elegantly on the corner of the building.
I opted for the Avocado Stack with an extra hash brown, which did the trick for me! I coupled it with a rather large glass of water and my favourite, a Soy Chai Latte.
This was our first stop of day two. It was a real pleasure to see the Wine Show of WA in full swing with the winners announced at the Wine Show Lunch, held out at West Cape Howe.
It was there that the Singapore Airlines Trophy for Best Wine of Show was awarded to Stella Bella for their 2017 Shiraz.
While exploring the aisles of wine, I bumped into Jo of 3drops Wine. She was excited to tell me that the winery had won a number of medals including:
- Gold – Merlot 2017
- Silver – Rosé 2018
- Silver – Riesling 2018
- Silver – Riesling 2017
I’m pictured above with Jo holding the gold medal-winning Merlot.
We arrived into Albany, filling our bellies at Alkaline Cafe, before heading on over to Wilson Brewing Company.
Now I wouldn’t say I’m a die-hard beer fan, but I don’t mind a nice cold glass of beer every now and again. But it was my partner Bryce who benefited the most from the trip to Wilson Brewing.
Before even walking onto the premises we were greeted by the smell of freshly cooked pizza from the Woodfired Catering Co.
For the time we were at Wilson, they were unable to serve food on the premises, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t support other businesses by inviting them onto the premises to cook for the patrons inside. Such a brilliant idea and collaboration!
The venue itself is a large shed with all the beer making equipment situated out the back. From the first moment you set foot inside the building, you get this real sense of country enthusiasm and cheekiness. I mean, just look at the pic above of one of the staff member who just had to get involved with the beer lineup. I just loved the atmosphere.
Matty Wilson is the owner/operator of Wilson Brewing Company. An infectious person to be around and you can just tell that every staff member honestly loves their job and the people behind the brand.
In addition to their regular beer line-up, Wilson Brewing also makes a seasonal brew and Matty makes sure to source all the ingredients from the Great Southern region.
The regular beer line up includes:
- Wilson Brewing Dirty Oar Harvest Brown Ale
- Wilson Brewing Lost Sailor Dark Ale
- Wilson Brewing Rough Seas Pale
- Wilson Brewing Stiff Mast Bitter
- Wilson Brewing Figure Head Blonde
- Wilson Brewing Light House Session Ale
Now I mentioned that my partner Bryce benefited the most from my trip. Well when I got home, he was lucky enough to savour a mixed six-pack of Wilson Brewing beer!
Wilson Brewing Company
Address: 47768 South Coast Hwy. Albany, W.A. 6330
Phone: 08 9842 3090
Website | Facebook | Instagram
Open Hours: Monday – Wednesday 10am-7pm and Thursday – Sunday 10am-9pm
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So what goes best with any form of alcoholic beverage? Bread!
And weren’t we in for an absolute treat!
Bred Co specialises in wild fermentation, utilising native yeast and traditional methods to transform local produce. Their mother (not their biological mother) is over 30 years old and was gifted to owners Sam Dawson & Rhiannon Moon by an Albany local.
Their sourdough is made with freshly milled wheat, sourced directly from Kondinin.
While visiting, Sam kindly baked the group some loaves of bread to try and in addition, we were each gifted a loaf to take home.
You can see how my loaf turned out, and if you were wondering, it paired very nicely with Vinofood’s Fig, Apple and Chardonnay Chutney.
Address: Unit 7/222 Chester Pass Road, Walmsley (Albany)
Phone: 0459 300 263
Website | Facebook | Instagram
Hours: Monday – Friday 3-6pm or Sunday’s at the Albany Farmer’s Markets
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Before embarking on this trip, I hadn’t heard of Wignalls Winery, but after walking into their cellar door, it was difficult to understand how this winery had remained off my radar for so long!
The winery has a long history with both wine awards, locally and abroad, plus they’re well regarded for their music events which are held on-site at the winery. There most recent event saw the John Butler Trio and Missy Higgens take to their stage.
About Wignalls Winery
Wignalls is one of Western Australias most Southerly situated vineyards, based just on the outskirts of the City of Albany and was established in 1982.
After extensive research and investigations into “Terroir” by Wignalls founder Dr Bill Wignall and close family friend Mr Tony Smith, the property was purchased. Research included:
climatology results from the nearby weather bureau at Albany’s airport, which demonstrated that Albany’s growing conditions in Spring and Summer were virtually identical to the famous wine growing region of Burgundy in central France.”
The first plantings at Wignalls were Burgundian varieties such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Fast forward a few decades and Wignalls now has a diverse range of wines which also include Semillon, Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The winery was passed onto the second generation of winemakers with Bills son Rob, and Daughter in law, Claire, taking over the business in 2004.
What We Tasted
First up was the 2018 Wignalls Sauvignon Blanc.
The Wignalls website describes the Sauvignon Blanc as having:
“intense overtones of passionfruit and tropical fruits such as feijoa, with an underlying cool climate varietal herbacousness, derived from aromas of nettles, snow peas and fresh gooseberries.”
It’s fair to say I am a big fan of Chardonnay. If you’re not on the band-wagon, you should be. and if you need any convincing, I encourage you to tread about Chardonnays #1 fan; The Travelling Corkscrew
I have been absolutely digging cool climate Pinot Noir this past year, and this glass from Wignalls Winery did not disappoint!
Our last drop for the afternoon was Claires Mistella, named after co-owner and wife of the team.
Wignalls is also a part of the Albany Picnic Provisions Trail, a WA Food and Wine Trail initiative.
Our accommodation for the next two nights was at All Suites Banksia Gardens in Albany. The accommodation was perfect for our needs.
We stayed in self-contained units (including a fridge large enough to store any wine purchases), not too far from town and with an on-site restaurant, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to great food from the a la carte menu at BG’s Kitchen.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of our meals, but you can read more about the restaurant and salivate over their photos on TripAdvisor.
Saturday morning was an absolute treat. Not only were we presented with some magical views, but we were also spoilt for choice with an array of breakfast menu items.
I selected the Cilbir Eggs, which consisted of whipped garlic yoghurt, poached eggs, paprika butter and pickled chimichurri with Turkish bread.
And as always, I made sure to order a soy chai latte.
Our next stop for the day was the Albany Farmers Market where we were encouraged to bring along a shopping bag and it was absolutely needed!
I walked away with mushrooms, asparagus, cheese and some bread, which Bryce and I enjoyed once I arrived back in Perth.
With our shopping bags full of fresh produce, we were back on the bus and headed for the regional town of Denmark; one of the five sub-wine regions of the Great Southern.
As we only had half a day in the region, I would suggest if you’re looking to stay a little longer, to read some hints and tips from Denmark local Jody Ovenden from Celestine Retreat with her article “Must Do’s in Denmark for Food and Wine Lovers“.
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Before we left for Denmark, we stopped in briefly at The Gap and Natural Bridge, which are just on the outskirts of Albany.
I have so many wonderful childhood memories of the gap and natural bridge.
I have visited in all types of weather conditions and it is a natural spectacle to watch the water surge in and out and around the cliffs and rocks. The Great Southern Ocean can be an unforgiving place.
The cliff face at the gap stands 40m high and depending on the weather conditions if you’re standing on the platform, expect to feel the spray of ocean water.
My childhood memories include walking out onto the platform that was years old to look down at the water below at the gap. It is great to see that this area has recently been revitalised to allow for safer viewing and for some great photo opportunities.
There is a small fee to park at the carpark which is payable at a paying machine (card accepted), with money going back into preserving and maintaining the area.
As a child, I spent pretty much every second school holidays down in Albany with my family who lived in the area. As they lived East of Albany, we very rarely ventured West of Albany and as such, this was my very first time visiting Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks.
Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks are part of the Willam Bay National Park.
My inner child was loving the trip to Greens Pool. I spent quite a bit of time walking across rocks and hanging out in the water.
After spending some time by the ocean, I had built up an appetite for some wine and cheese, and I was in luck!
About Duckett’s Mill Winery and Denmark Farmhouse Cheese
The winery is set in the picturesque Scotsdale Valley in Denmark.
The winery is named after the original owners and brothers, George and James Duckett who ran the local milling business “Harewood Lumber Traders.”
It wasn’t until 1996 when Ross and Dallas Lewis purchased the 70-acre property as a cattle farm with the intentions of growing “A few Grapes”.
Initially, 5 acres were set aside to grow Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, which then grew to 18 acres.
Cheese and Meats, As Far As The Eye Can See!
Duckett’s Mill Winery and Denmark Farmhouse Cheese sell an assortment of deli items, and you can even order a platter and they will put together a selection of their delicious cheese, meats, bread and fruit for you to savour. Believe me, they are good!
All cheeses, fudge, ice cream and preserves are handmade on the farm.
What Wines Did We Taste?
Before treating ourselves to lunch, I just had to savour some of their wine, which is very extensive!
Their wine list includes a selection of whites, reds, fortified and sparkling wines.
We opted to match out lunch platter with a bottle of the 2017 Riesling.
The Ducketts Mill website describes the wine as:
A brilliant, fresh, pale straw colour with green tinges. Aroma is intense floral citrus and passionfruit fragrance enhanced by minerally spicy aromas. With a seamless palate, initial flavours of green apple leading to a richer mid palate of more tropical passionfruit and finishing with classic lemons and lines.”
We were treated to a lovely Mill Platter which included a selection of bread and crackers, cheese, meat, pate and fruit, which all went gorgeously with our bottle of Riesling.
The Lake House Denmark
Our final winery for the day was The Lakehouse in Denmark. The drive throughout Denmark feels absolutely romantic; meandering roads, tall trees as far as the eye can see and rolling hills.
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The Lakehouse has it all on their premises.
Want some food? They have a restaurant and cafe.
Feel like a drink? They have their cellar door.
Want to host a function? They have space to do that too.
You can even buy their gourmet range of condiments and spa range which all have a tie-back to wine.
Established and opened by Garry Capelli and Leanne Rogers, The Lake House Denmark opened its doors in September 2006.
The team are pretty clever, with Gary leading the winemaking and Leanne leading the condiments and bath products range. You can read more about their range when the Travelling Corkscrew visited the cellar door.
In an interview with the Fabulous Ladies Wine Society, Leanne spoke about how she and husband Garry, left Perth to live in the country and start a new life and business adventure.
All of the fruit is from the Great Southern wine region, including vineyards located in Mt Barker and Frankland River.
He Said, She Said
If you have ever come across the He Said, She Said range, you may have noticed the cute little character on the front label, as depicted in the picture above.
During Leanne’s interview with the Fabulous Ladies Wine Society, she explained that the label came about from communication between the sexes, which has long been hazardous. He says, “wrong way down”, she says “right way up” and before you know it things have gone all topsy-turvy and we are left wondering if we are speaking the same language. Frustrating at times, yet never dull it’s best discussed over a good bottle of wine!”
The Cellar Door
The Lake House has three wine ranges — the quirky entry level ‘He Said She Said’, The Lake House Denmark Series and the Premium Reserve Range.
While at the cellar door, we enjoyed tastings from each of the wine ranges. I even had a sneaky taste of some of the VinoFood mustards, chutneys and relishes.
When you visit, be prepared to feel slightly overwhelmed by the sheer number of wines available (there are over 20 available), including sparkling, white and red varieties.
In the same interview with the Fabulous Wine Ladies Society, Leanne said that “I love Chardonnay and particularly our Premium Reserve Chardonnay. The fruit is entirely grown on our property so it is great to watch something grow from nothing and then be produced into a great wine.”
I like the way that Leanne thinks. I too am a big fan of their Chardonnay!
If you’re wanting to try the Vinofood range but can’t make it down to Denmark any time soon, be sure to check out their range available at Just In Time Gourmet.
Looking back towards the ‘The Lake House’ in Denmark was just so tranquil and relaxing. I can’t wait to revisit!
For dinner, we headed out of Albany to Aldertons Farm in Torbay.
At this stage, I had never heard of a Fervor dinner, so I made sure to find out exactly what I was getting myself into.
The Fervor website explains that they “…harness fresh ingredients, with a focus on locally sourced produce, presenting it in a unique location to create an unforgettable degustation dining experience.”
This got my interest, as I love supporting local businesses and locally sourced produce.
The website continues to say;
Crafted with passion and prepared before your eyes we bring out the taste and excitement of the region with each dish served. An Australian experience, unlike anything you can imagine. Our field of Australian produce is ever expanding as we visit different regions, move with the seasons, gain knowledge and understanding and incorporate this into the experience that reflects Fervor.”
As Fervor is a pop-up dining experience, they work in partnership with local communities, Traditional Owners and businesses. They promote the regions they visit and they have strong ties to the land and environment.
The reason why we were at Aldertons Farm was to celebrate the opening night of the Food For Thought Festival which aims to celebrate sustainable and healthy local food. We enjoyed a four-course Fervor dinner with innovators of the region telling us their story between courses.
Before starting the night, we made sure to visit the Mr Sippy Bar – an older style caravan converted into a drinks station for wine, beer and coffee. Mr Sippy has been cleverly fitted out to include drink buckets for ice to keep their bottles of wine cool, fridges and even a beer tap has been installed.
I spent some time checking out their Instagram account and it looks like people of the Great Southern are right behind it with many photos of the caravan at weddings, functions and down by the beach for your morning coffee run.
We were treated to drinks from Oranje Tractor, Bunn Winery and Wilson Brewing Company.
I opted to start with a glass of the Oranje Tractor Farm Sparkling Riesling.
If you haven’t heard of Oranje Tractor before, the vineyard is an organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) vineyard which means that there is an agreement in place between consumers who commit to buying a certain amount of fresh produce in advance, therefore the producer has some certainty in the amount of produced they make – sustainable food practice that does not go to waste. You can read more about it on the Oranje Tractor website.
We were even treated to owner Murray talking about Oranje Tractor between one of the courses.
We continued the night with the 2014 Shiraz from Bunn.
Bunn winery is very unique. They only produce two wines – Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Bunn Winery likes to keep things environmentally and sustainably responsible and grow their grapes using bio-dynamic winemaking. They even have their ducks, chickens and guinea fowl roam the vineyard, converting snails, grubs and beetles into plant available nutrients.
I also caught up with owners Irene and Richard at Unwined Subiaco last year where I tried their 2008 Shiraz. An absolute treat and if you get the chance, make sure to try it yourself!
So onto the food, and what an extravaganza that was!
I tried so many new local items, some that I have now ticked off my bucket list – like green ants. I don’t think I need to try them again. And not because of taste. I just have a thing about eating insects!
So what did I eat?
- Marron / Green Ants
- Emu Liver Parfait / Wild Rosella (not a bird, but a native hibiscus)
- Kangaroo / Wattleseed
- Emu / Red Gum Ash
- Seaweed Crackers
- Kulyu / Macadamia / Lemon Myrtle / Sea Celery
- Mussels / Youlk / Bloodroot
- Kangaroo / Macadamia Miso / Muntrie / Quandong
- Damper & Smoked Butter
- Strawberry Gum / Wattleseed / Sandalwood Nuts
- Saltbush Fudge
- Quondong Nougat
- Sunrise Lime
Before making the trip back home to Perth, we stopped in at the Food for Thought Festival where I met the lovely Dani of Freehand Winery.
The Travelling Corkscrew has been enjoying Freehand wine for some time now, including back in 2014 when Casey tried the 2011 Merlot and 2013 Semillon.
After catching up with Dani again later in the month at the Perth Beauvine Festival, I made sure to grab a bottle of the Ruby Ruby Fortified Shiraz which I shared with the Travelling Corkscrew on our girls long weekend in Sydney.
You can also catch up with Dani and co-owner Matt at Taste Great Southern in April 2019
If you want to find out a little more about Preservative Free Wines or what bio-dynamic wines are, then make sure to check out the following articles on the blog:
Food For Thought Festival
Website | Facebook | Instagram
Event Date: October every year in Albany
How Did This Trip All Come About?
A huge thank you and shout-out go to the team at Taste Great Southern (TGS), who organised this trip for myself and several other Western Australian writers to tell our story about the Great Southern region.
Their goal was simple. To get more people excited about and visiting this amazing part of the world. I know I’m itching to get back there again soon!
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The Great Southern of Western Australia represents one of the most diverse and engaging tourism, food and wine regions you could imagine.
Foods like oysters and seafood, cereal crops, beef and lamb, vegetables and milk products all excel on the south coast and wine varietals such as Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Riesling compete strongly on the world stage.
Taste Great Southern runs for 11 days, from the 4th – 14th April 2019, stretching over two weekends and one week and positioned just prior to the Easter period.
There are over 30 events involving local venues and attractions, focusing on seasonal produce and wines.
If you can only make it to one event down in Albany, make sure to head along to the Albany Wine and Food Festival. If it is anything like their Perth based events – Unwined Subiaco, Sunset Wine, or City Wine, then you will be in for an absolute treat! The Travelling Corkscrew went last year and it looks like she definitely loved it.
The Perth kick-off event will occur at Lot 20 on Wednesday 3rd April and is a free event, however, bookings are recommended. There you will be able to taste wines from 3drops (Mt Barker), Castelli (Denmark) and Zarephath (Porongurup) and it is very likely you will even see me hanging around at the event.
If you want to get a taste of what there is to come, then make sure to check out the satellite event, the Porongurup Wine Festival, which will be happening over the Labour Day Long Weekend in March or Graze Mount Barker which is on over the same long weekend.
The style of events to expect from Taste Great Southen include festivals, markets, degustation dinners and lunches, wine tasting, beer, coffee and spirit sessions, food and wine pairing, masterclasses and community events – something for everyone!