Dilly­bags and fine de­signs

The south­west of WA has a feast of cre­ative tal­ent

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - MICHELLE ROWE

TO­DAY’S trendy young things are ex­pert multi- taskers so it’s hardly sur­pris­ing newly opened Su­gar­man is an eclec­tic com­bi­na­tion of cof­fee shop, art gallery, cloth­ing bou­tique and fur­ni­ture show­room. Twenty-some­thing own­ers Pa­trick-James Matan and Sam Oliver gutted an old skate shop in Mar­garet River town­ship, pol­ished its con­crete floors, gave the place a lick of paint and built their own cost-sav­ing fit­tings — clothes racks, ser­vice desk, chang­ing room — from dis­carded cheese boxes and wine crates. The re­sult is a cool space where visi­tors can pop in for a cup of cof­fee, a flick through the ‘‘ma­ture ur­ban’’ fash­ions — qual­ity T-shirts, trousers, sum­mer dresses, shoes — or to browse works from lo­cal artists on the walls. Groom­ing prod­ucts — shav­ing packs, body balms — and gad­gets such as old-fash­ioned mag­ni­fy­ing glasses and com­passes are quirky gift op­tions for that hard-to-buy-for male. For larger bud­gets, hand­some re­pro­duc­tion an­tique fur­ni­ture may ap­peal. More: Face­book.com/su­gar­man. BE­FORE re­lo­cat­ing to WA, NSWbased Talei Man­ners was a re­tail vis­ual mer­chan­diser and se­nior stylist for a fash­ion mag­a­zine. Her keen eye for de­tail is ev­i­dent in the bright and airy bou­tique she opened in Au­gust on Mar­garet River’s Bus­sell High­way, hous­ing a well-cu­rated range of women’s fash­ions, shoes, ac­ces­sories and home­wares. Ex­pect dreamy evening dresses from Gold Coast de­signer Lisa Brown, pretty, floaty re­sort wear from Yallingup-based Hu­mid­ity, se­quinned bolero tops to throw over T-shirts for a beach­side soiree, or Ital­ian an­kle boots in bold gold. One-off pieces of jew­ellery, such as a dra­matic In­dian-style neck­lace dis­played on the wall like a work of art, com­plete the pic­ture. More: stel­larandthechief.com.au. THIS re­pos­i­tory of gourmet de­lights in Met­ricup, a 15-minute drive north of Mar­garet River town, is what ev­ery well-stocked larder should as­pire to be. Olive oils of ev­ery de­scrip­tion? Check. Rel­ishes, curds, spice packs, honeys, wines and small­go­ods? Too many to count. There are even pre-pack­aged mixes for whip­ping up a serve of lime and vanilla pan­cakes with syrup, or baked rice pud­ding. Most of the in­gre­di­ents used in the pret­tily pack­aged prod­ucts are sourced from Provi­dore’s vine­yard, or­ganic olive grove and veg­etable gar­den. There are tast­ings (in­clud­ing a cel­lar door for sam­pling wines and liqueurs) and a small sec­tion of home­wares. More: Provi­dore.com.au. IF pad­dock to plate is the catch-cry of the food fra­ter­nity, this un­usual fash­ion busi­ness in Met­ricup could hap­pily own the phrase co­coon to cou­ture. Silk Road cul­ti­vates silk­worms to pro­duce co­coons that are sent to dis­ad­van­taged com­mu­ni­ties in Cambodia, who reel, dye and weave them into lux­u­ri­ous silks. The work con­trib­utes to jobs cre­ation in poorer com­mu­ni­ties and in turn keeps the fam­ily-owned WA­com­pany sup­plied with what it claims is Aus­tralia’s first ‘‘home-grown’’ silk. At their Harmans Mill Road store, the fi­nal prod­uct is on dis­play in the form of pretty silk dresses, scarves and bags, bolts of fab­ric, bed­spreads and cush­ions. Berries from the prop­erty’s myr­iad mul­berry trees (the leaves are the silk­worm’s meal of choice) have been turned into jams, syrups, teas and in­fu­sions. The pretty court­yard cafe serves mul­berry muffins and scones. More: mar­gare­triver­silkroad.com. FOR a glit­ter­ing sou­venir of the south­west, a vis­i­tor would be hard-pressed to find any­thing more pre­cious than the cre­ations from brothers Fran­cois and Ni­cholas Payet, who de­sign and make all the jew­ellery in their small work stu­dio and gallery on Bood­jidup Road, five min­utes from the town cen­tre. Fresh­wa­ter pearls set into yel­low gold ear­rings and drop neck­laces, pretty weave bracelets and rings stud­ded with elab­o­rate gems are in­spired by na­ture. Watch the Payets at work through the win­dow of their at­tached stu­dio. Also visit the fam­ily’sMar­garet River Gallery, on Bus­sell High­way in town, hous­ing ev­ery­thing from lo­cally cast ceram­ics and whim­si­cal bronzes to resin ban­gles. More: Payet­gallery. com.au; mar­gare­triver­gallery.com.au. THIS mar­vel­lous col­lec­tion of Abo­rig­i­nal art is a jewel in the re­gion’s cre­ative crown. Pieces are sourced only from in­dige­nous owned and run art cen­tres and the gallery has as­sem­bled an en­vi­able cat­a­logue of works from emerg­ing and es­tab­lished artists in 35 com­mu­ni­ties through­out the NT, WA, SA, Tor­res Strait and Tiwi Is­lands. Beau­ti­ful Man­ingrida bark paint­ings share space with Tiwi Is­land an­i­mal sculp­tures, acrylic prints and etch­ings. Bas­kets from Tjanpi Desert Weavers and nat­u­ral weave dilly­bags from Arn­hem Land are as ap­peal­ing as the dra­matic ochres on can­vas adorn­ing the walls. Hours could be spent hunt­ing through the un­framed prints stored in the draw­ers of a large wooden cab­i­net. More: Tun­bridge­gallery.com.au. FUR­NI­TURE mak­ers Gary Ben­nett and David Paris have been work­ing won­ders with wood — sal­vaged lo­cal tim­bers such as jar­rah and marri — un­der their JahRoc Fur­ni­ture la­bel for more than 26 years; their beau­ti­ful pieces shipped around the globe. At their mul­ti­pur­pose gallery on Bus­sell High­way there are cre­ations to suit ev­ery bud­get, from in­tri­cately carved bowls and serv­ing uten­sils to bar stools and wave-shaped din­ing ta­bles. This split-level space also fea­tures ro­tat­ing ex­hi­bi­tions from other cre­ative types, in­clud­ing glass blow­ers, sculp­tors, ceram­i­cists and pain­ters. David Brom­ley’s strik­ing paint­ings of fe­male nudes are among the stars of the show when I visit. More: jahroc.com.au. WHEN Louis and Ed­wina Scherini’s three chil­dren, who suf­fered from eczema and der­mati­tis, needed an al­ter­na­tive to soap and sham­poo, the cou­ple set about solv­ing the prob­lem by cre­at­ing chem­i­cal-free al­ter­na­tives us­ing ex­tra vir­gin olive oil and es­sen­tial oils. Orig­i­nally known as The Nat­u­ral Oil Soap Fac­tory, the cou­ple’s busi­ness went from strength to strength, and along­side its gen­tle soaps and scrubs, body lo­tions and po­tions, Vasse Vir­gin now stocks an ever-ex­pand­ing range of preser­va­tive-free edi­ble good­ies, from flavour- in­fused olive oils and vi­nai­grettes to spicy dukkahs, tape­nades and pasta sauces. Staff hand-blend the nat­u­ral prod­ucts in an ad­join­ing work fac­tory; watch them in ac­tion while be­ing care­ful to keep out of the way of the bus­loads of tourists stock­ing up on blocks of soap and body oils, and mor­eish ma­cadamia pesto. More: Vas­se­vir­gin.com.au. PRE­PARE to step into a time­warp at this trove of retro trea­sure in Witch­cliffe, a few kilo­me­tres south of Mar­garet River town­ship. Ded­i­cated vin­tage shop­pers could spend hours fer­ret­ing through the ta­bles of trin­kets, old vinyls, serv­ing- ware and trea­sured childhood toys many thought had gone the way of the dodo, ar­ranged in a se­ries of rooms. Sim­plic­ity sew­ing pat­terns — good lord, is that a pair of cu­lottes? — are a steal at 50c each, and how about some lace doilies to keep those wooden table­tops pris­tine? A copy of The Western Mail An­nual Christ­mas Edi­tion 1948, re­plete with a cou­ple of women smil­ing brightly amidst a field of kan­ga­roo paws be­low a head­line read­ing ‘ ‘ Gay Dis­play’’ re­in­forces just how much times have changed. Old sew­ing ma­chines, a cor­ner with hang­ers groan­ing with great vin­tage cloth­ing, granny’s favourite paint­ings and a se­lec­tion of multi-coloured har­lequin glasses com­plete a pleas­antly crowded dis­play. Michelle Rowe was a guest of Tourism Western Aus­tralia.


Silk Road’s Met­ricup store, top; Stellar and the Chief above; wooden bird sculp­tures at Tun­bridge Gallery, left; co-owner Pa­trick-James Matan at Su­gar­man, far left


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