MARGARET RIVER ON THE MAP

The good food, great wine and breath­tak­ing beaches are bring­ing more and more in­ter­na­tional trav­ellers to Aus­tralia’s west coast, in­clud­ing C. James Dale.

Signature Travel & Lifestyle - - Travel & Style -

If I could move to Margaret River, I would. Al­right, so there are no hot clubs or ur­ban rooftop bars, no grand na­tional mu­se­ums. But who needs all that when you’re shar­ing a squin­tit’s-so-long stretch of beach with seven other souls, search­ing for seashells as lo­cals haul in her­ring for Satur­day night feasts? Or watch­ing dol­phins dart by as surfers bob out in the waves, ever mind­ful of the sharks that prowl these coastal wa­ters? It’s all about big sea, big sky and few con­cerns. Oh, and lest we for­get, the wine.

Margaret River is an ab­so­lute de­light, as more and more trav­ellers are dis­cov­er­ing. And with the Bus­sel­tonMar­garet River Air­port ex­pand­ing to take di­rect flights from Aus­tralia’s east coast, do­mes­tic tourism in the South West is ex­pected to leap to the next level.

Gate­way to God’s coun­try For now, though, the gate­way to Margaret River re­mains Perth. Once writ­ten off as a back­wa­ter, the city has flour­ished thanks to the re­sources boom. The spoils in­clude the am­bi­tious El­iz­a­beth Quay re­de­vel­op­ment project, a new sta­dium and mu­seum in the pipe­line, and the re­cently opened COMO The Trea­sury, Perth.

The 48-room ho­tel, lo­cated in­side the painstak­ingly re­stored 19th-cen­tury for­mer State Build­ings, oozes his­tory and charm. Post, a self-styled ‘neo­bistro’, of­fers en­tic­ing menus in­spired by Aus­tralian and French cook­ing.

But there’s much more, in­clud­ing the Thai restau­rant, Long Chim, and the low-key Pe­ti­tion, with com­fort food, an 18-tap craft beer pub and a wine bar/ merchant. The com­plex also houses Hal­ford, an un­der-the-radar base­ment cock­tail bar, and the rooftop fine-din­ing restau­rant, Wild­flower.

Stay­ing near the source Just a few hours af­ter leav­ing Perth, acres of grapevines blurred by as we made our way to a cliff­side hide­away, In­jidup Spa Re­treat. The cosy, fire­lit vil­las face the vast In­dian Ocean.

“You just have to look at this view and see the beauty of the ocean and the Aus­tralian coast,” Bud­dhist monk and masseuse Joel Pauleau noted dur­ing our chat af­ter my treat­ment in one of In­jidup’s light-filled spa rooms. “There’s a sense of beauty and peace that is very in­spir­ing to me, and I think it’s in­spir­ing to many peo­ple.”

A stone’s throw up the coast lies In­jidup’s sis­ter prop­erty, Smiths Beach Re­sort, over­look­ing the sav­age beauty of its name­sake beach. We stayed in an ocean-fac­ing house and kept the slid­ing doors open to the el­e­ments.

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