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Flavour Trail : Between Devonport and Launceston

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The drive from Devonport to Launceston is a tasty trip – make sure you stop at every location to get a true feel of the local produce of the region. Each place is worth a visit, and there is something that caters for everyone.

 

House of Anvers

This was our first stop out of Devonport and we were thoroughly impressed. The House of Anvers Chocolate Factory was established in 1931 and resides within a Californian bungalow on 1.1 hectares of gardens. The site offers chocolate tasting, viewing of factory operations, a museum about the origins of chocolate, and a delightful cafe.

 

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We went straight to the tasting station and tried the hazelnut truffle, rum and raisin truffle and cappuccino fudge. But the real treat was walking away with a block of Fortunato No. 4 chocolate – the rarest chocolate in the world.

 

Thought to be extinct since 1916, the Pure Nacional cacao plant was rediscovered in Peru in 2008 and is ultimate single origin source of chocolate. Believed to be the mother of cacao, the cacao pods contain white beans that are shipped to Switzerland to be transformed into couverture chocolate. House of Anvers is the only place in Australia that has the right to sell it.

 

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Cherry Shed

The Cherry Shed sells all things cherry – liqueur and port, ice cream, jams, chutney, cake, gifts and chocolate. There is also a huge tree made of cherry pips inside the cafe. Tastings are available and there are plenty of cherry themed things everywhere – including Cherry Ripe!

 

If you’re not going to stop for the cherry delights inside, at least stop for the Big Cherries outside. They’re so big, you can go inside.

 

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Seven Sheds Brewery

Seven Sheds Brewery has been open since 2008 and is located in Railton – the Topiary Capital of Australia.

 

 

We tasted five beers during our visit. Juz liked the Paradise Pale but her favourite was the Razzamatazz (5.2%), a light, tart and dry beer flavoured with local raspberries and blackberries.

 

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Dave’s faves were the Black Inca (5.8%) – infused with Peruvian Fortunato chocolate, toasted quinoa and oats – and the Kentish Ale (5.2%), a flavoursome, full bodied ale with a great balance of hops and malted barley.

 

Seven Sheds also grow their own hops – Fuggle, Goldings and others – and you can see the hops garden from the bar.

 

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Ashgrove Cheese

A must for any cheese lover – there’s a fabulous selection of plain and flavoured cheeses like cheddar and feta, even lavender cheese! They also sell a bunch of local produce like jams and chocolates, and there is a great display of colourful cows outside.

 

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Christmas Hill Raspberry Farm & Van Deimans Land Ice Creamery

A nice place to stop for some chocolate covered raspberries and interesting ice cream flavours.

 

Liffey Falls

About 30 minutes south of Deloraine, with a few kilometres of gravel road, Liffey Falls is definitely worth the detour.

 

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Stretch your legs on the 20 minute walk to the falls. There are a few stops along the way where the water cascades down shelves of rock, and if you’re lucky, you might spot a lizard or snake.

 

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If you still have energy, there’s a really short walk just behind the toilet to the Big Tree.  As the name suggests, it’s pretty big.

 

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Bracknell River Reserve

A great place to stop for the night, the Bracknell River Reserve on the western banks of the Liffey River offers free camping, toilets and a BBQ area.

 

If you enjoy fishing, drop a line in the river and you might just pull out a trout.

 

The Tablelands

The Tablelands – Part 3 : Yungaburra to Millaa Millaa

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The southern end of the Tablelands is lush and green, with rolling hills and waterfalls, and the climate is perfect for dairy farming.  To get there, head south from Cairns and turn right at Gordonvale.  Follow the winding road past Frog Rock for around 45 minutes and that will bring you to Yungaburra.  Don’t forget to enjoy the scenery and stop to check out the Cathedral Fig Tree!

 

 

Cathedral Fig Tree

Our first stop on the way to Yungaburra was the Cathedral Fig Tree, a 500 year old strangler fig located in the Danbulla State forest about 15 minutes from the main road.  It is a huge fig tree with roots that hang down and create an enclosed little area.  It is certainly beautiful and makes for a great photo opportunity.

 

 

Yungaburra

After a quick walk around town, we stopped for lunch at the Yungaburra Whistle Stop Café and were blown away by the great service, relaxed and familiar atmosphere, and the great value of the yummy meals.  This quaint little heritage town gets its name from the local Yidinyji language and means place of questioning.  It remains relatively unchanged since 1910 and acts as a hub to a few local attractions.

 

Curtain Fig Tree

The Curtain Fig Tree is one of the largest trees in Tropical North Queensland and is a species of tree that strangles host trees.  The way the Curtain Fig got its name is when the host tree fell over onto a neighbouring tree, the fig decided that one tree wasn’t enough and started to grow around both trees.  The result is a huge curtain of roots that are absolutely breathtaking.

 

 

Gallo Dairyland

A perfect stop for any cheese lover, Gallo Dairyland is a fairly new edition to the Tablelands, but it depends on how you look at it.  The owners bought it in 1937 as a standard rotary dairy farm, but they had the dream of turning it into an ‘integrated educational dairy farm experience’.  Seventy years later in 2007, Gallo Dairyland opened to the public and offers delicious cheeses, chocolate, ice cream, lactose free options and a cafe, as well as the opportunity to meet some animals in the nursery, see how cows are milked and how the milk is processed.

 

We sampled their range of cheeses, with our favourites being the luscious macadamia cheese and bitey ‘Gallozola’, and we also tasted a few of the gourmet chocolates – YUM!

 

 

Lake Eacham

This beautiful blue green lake is located within the Crater Lakes National Park.  It was formed around 12,000 years ago when magma from the earth’s core moved towards the crust and heated up the water table.  The resulting steam led to an explosion that created the crater.  There are no streams that feed the volcanic lake – its water comes from rain and the water level fluctuates around 4 metres during the year.

 

The Tablelands

 

It’s a great spot for locals and tourists alike – the location is ideal for swimming, canoeing and wildlife watching, and there is a large grassed area that is perfect for picnics.  Fishing and motor boats are not allowed, which gives the fish and turtles that live in the lake some peace and quiet.

 

The Tablelands

 

Malanda

This small Tableland town was first developed in the 1900s after the discovery of copper and tin at nearby Herberton.  It is known for producing dairy and their furthest milk run went as far north as Weipa and as far west as Wyndham and Kununarra in Western Australia.  That’s around 3,000 km!

 

Malanda Dairy Centre

The best place to get more info about the history of the region is the Malanda Dairy Centre. Essentially, it’s a cafe, but it also has an art gallery and museum with local history and stories from the War era.   Definitely worth a visit, if not for a slice of cake.

 

 

Malanda Falls

On the edge of town is the Malanda Falls Conservation Park.  There is a small waterfall and swimming hole there that is a great place for a picnic.

 

 The Tablelands

 

Millaa Millaa

This small town has a population of around 300 people and includes a post office, library, newsagency, pub and a cafe.  The traditional owners of the area are the Mamu people, and the words Millaa Millaa mean plenty of water.

 

Lions Park

The massive Lions Park that takes up most of the main Street is a perfect spot for picnic or BBQ. There is also a playground, a display of giant Kauri Pine logs and historical statue of the explorer Christie Palmerston and his aboriginal sidekick Pompo.  Christie (yes, girls name for a dude) was the first European to make a track from Herberton to Innisfail.  He was also the first European to climb Bartle Frere.

 

 

De Millaa’s Cafe

By the time we got to Millaa Millaa, we were starving for lunch.  We got a burger each and an iced coffee to share.  The one thing that stood out as exceptionally tasty was the bread – nice and gummy with a beautiful flavour.  We just wish they had some music playing – the tranquillity of Millaa Millaa town couldn’t compete with the sounds of us chewing our lunch.

 

Mungali Creek Dairy

A dairy producer of yoghurts, milk and cheeses, Mungali Creek is a familiar brand with their yoghurts available at most local supermarkets.  Their cheeses are also available at an outlet at Rusty’s.  They were open for tasting and also have a little cafe that overlooks the operations.

 

Millaa Millaa Waterfall Circuit

The area around Millaa Millaa is known for waterfalls, including the heritage-listed Millaa Millaa Falls.  This popular swimming spot is easily accessible and includes a lovely grassed area for sunbaking and picnicking.  The beautiful cascade of water runs over volcanic basalt that was formed around 1.5 million years ago.  As the basalt cooled, it formed cracks which have produced the columns behind the falls that you see today.

 

The Tablelands

 

Further along the circuit is Zillie Falls.  The viewing platform is located at the top of the falls, but it isn’t hard for the adventurous to locate the unkempt track that leads down to the bottom.  There is plenty of opportunity to explore the boulders and pools below, but please be careful about getting into rapid water, and of flooding during the Wet Season.

 

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The last stop along the loop is Ellinjaa Falls, a wide and irregular cascade of water over lava columns.  The pool at the bottom is fairly shallow and rumour has it that it is popular hangout for platypi and turtles.

 

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On your way to Innisfail from Millaa Millaa, you can see Queensland’s highest mountain in the distance – Bartle Frere.  Its elevation is 1,622 metres above sea level and was named after Sir Henry Bartle Frere, a British colonial administrator who was also the president of the Royal Geographical Society (NERD!).  Of course, it had a name before the British came to Australia – Chooreechillum.

 

The Tablelands

 

So there you have it – the Tablelands.  Our main highlights include Coffee Works and Mt Uncles Distillery in Mareeba, the Crystal Caves in Atherton, and Gallo Dairyland near Yungaburra.  We also loved the enormous fig trees and lush countryside, with the deep blue sky contrasting with the green hills.  After around 6 months of travelling through central Australia, it was such a relief to be out of the dry Outback and Savannah scrub.

 

The Tablelands – Part 1 : Ravenshoe to Mareeba

 

The Tablelands

Coffee Works

Experience : The Coffee Works, Mareeba

Coffeeworks

 

Coffee-lovers and connoisseurs rejoice!  We have found the perfect place where you can get your gourmet caffeine and chocolate fix and immerse yourself in the fascinating history of coffee.

 

The Coffee Works is owned by Annie and Rob Webber, boutique roasters and chocolatiers who started off running a small market stall in 1988.  Nearly three decades later, the Coffee Works has exploded to include a café, colourful gift shop and the Coffee World Experience – the ultimate coffee extravaganza.  A ticket into Coffee World gives you unlimited all day tasting of various blends and single origin coffee, tea, decadent chocolates and liqueurs, as well as entry into the museum, where you can spend hours browsing through the massive collection of coffee history and paraphernalia.

 

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The Museum

The Coffee World Museum displays over 2,000 items that were collected by Rob and Annie or purchased in 2005 from Ian Bernsten, an Aussie entrepreneur, writer and inventor with a serious passion for coffee.  The items on display include items that are one of a kind, the last of its kind or seriously rare stuff, making it the biggest and most significant collection in the world.

 

Learn about the discovery of coffee and how it evolved to become a beverage, the origins of percolators, plungers and espresso machines, and how coffee spread around the world to become one of the most favourite and influential beverages ever.

 

Coffeeworks

 

The Coffee

We had a big day ahead of us and were glad to have a huge variety of coffees on tap.  We started off with Coffee Work’s Aussie selection, from mildest to boldest, and then moved along to their Single Origins, blends and flavoured coffees.

 

Our favourites included Black Mountain, their smooth signature blend with lush chocolate flavours and a full mouth feel, as well as Annies blend, because of it’s delicious sweet smell and silky chocolate flavours.

 

We also sampled the coffee and chocolate liqueur.  All three flavours were lusciously sweet and perfect for drizzling over ice cream or cake.

 

Coffee Works

 

The Chocolate

Coffee Works caters to the chocolate freaks as well with an awesome range of yummy chocolates.  All of the flavours are gluten free and the dark varieties are dairy free as well.  You can even watch the chocolatiers in action.  What a sweet job!

 

Our favourites were the Caffeinator chocolate bark encrusted with coffee beans, the lemon myrtle flavoured chocolate for its fresh but mellow tang, the coconut bark for its textured sweetness and the lime and pepper chocolate for its balance of sweet, savoury and peppery smack.

 

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The Essentials

Coffee Works is located at 136 Mason Street in Mareeba, but you can also find them at Rusty’s Market in Cairns, as well as the Yungaburra Markets and Port Douglas Markets.  If you can’t make it to those destinations, no matter – Coffee Works will roast and post to any destination in Australia, and the world!

 

www.coffeeworks.com.au

1800 355 526

 

Coffeeworks

 

 

happy easter

Happy Easter!

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The Easter long weekend is here and it’s a perfect opportunity to pack up the car and go for a camping trip.  The first time we ever slept in the Troopy was for Easter weekend in 2012 when we went camping with a big group of mates on the banks of the Murray River.  It goes without saying that we had a blast, but as kids growing up, we celebrated Easter in other ways.

 

Juz’s family would spend Easter on a family friend’s farm in Kyneton, just south of Bendigo.  There was a dam with frogs, cows in the paddock, and the occasional kangaroo bouncing away into the forest.  There were also bunnies – heaps of them, and Juz would chase them down with her sister.  On Easter morning, we’d go into the forest for an Easter egg hunt and stuff our puffy parkers with all the chocolate we could find.

 

Dave Easter

 

Dave would spend Easter with the extended family, eating a huge meal that consisted of antipasti and cold cuts, lasagna, roast meat, salads and a selection of yummy Italian desserts.  Easter eggs would then be given out with hugs and kisses before a digestion session on the couch.

 

However you spend your Easter this year, whether it be camping with friends or feasting with family, don’t forget what Easter is all about – chocolate bunnies, Easter eggs, a never-ending supply of hot cross buns, and all the exercise you have to do to burn it all off afterwards …

 

 

Easter Jesus

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Recipe : Damper

Recipe : Damper

Sometimes, making your own bread is much more economical than buying loaves that can go moldy in a few days.  Here is a recipe for plain damper, as well as some flavour suggestions if you want to mix it up a bit…

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 tbs butter
  • A pinch of salt
  • 175ml milk OR 175ml water with milk/yoghurt powder

 

 

Method

  • Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl.
  • Put the butter in and rub between fingers to make a breadcrumb-looking mixture.
  • Add the liquids and combine.  Knead into a ball of dough – if it’s too wet, add more flour and if it’s too dry, add more liquid.
  • Place dough ball into a small oiled pan and flatten with fist to make a disc shape. Put into a pre-heated dutch oven (with a wire rack inside to prevent the bottom of the pan from burning) for around 15-25 minutes, depending on how hot the oven is.
  • You’ll know it’s done when it’s a nice golden colour and the damper feels puffy instead of squishy.  It’s still going to be moist in the centre – but that’s just how we like it.

 

Recipe : Damper

 

Cheese & Bacon DamperMake the plain damper dough and knead in pieces of cheese and diced bacon before baking.

 

 

Chocolate DamperMake the plain damper dough and knead in chocolate powder or cacao.  If you want to make Double Chocolate Damper, sprinkle in some choc chips.

 

 

Choc Bacon DamperMake the plain damper dough and knead in chocolate powder or cacao with bacon bits.  If you want to make Double Chocolate Bacon Damper, sprinkle in some choc chips.

 

If you are curious about how much cheese, bacon or chocolate to add, use the Juz scale.  If you like bacon a lot, add lots of bacon.  If you like chocolate a little bit, add a little bit of chocolate, and so on.

 

Future recipe ideasBanana, Banana Chocolate, Choc Orange, Olive, Hawaiian (ham, cheese and pineapple), Italian (green olives, tomato, basil), Greek (feta, kalamata olive, lamb), Herb & Garlic

 

Do you have any kooky damper flavours?

 

The Cheese Barrel - heaven!

Experience : Swan Valley Food & Wine Region

Located in the north east of Perth, the Swan Valley is Western Australia’s oldest wine region and there are more than 40 wineries, breweries, restaurants and cafes to explore.

 

Guildford

The gateway to the Swan Valley is Guildford – one of the three pioneer towns that were established when Captain James Stirling came to Western Australia.  While the other two towns – Fremantle and Perth – have evolved and developed into what they are today, Guildford has maintained its historic charm and is a wonderful example of European settlement that dates back to the 1830s.

 

The Chapel of St. Mary and St. George at Guildford Grammar School

Guildford is also the home of a number of great pubs and eateries, including Alfred’s Kitchen and the heritage-listed Rose & Crown Hotel, which is the oldest hotel in the state and the third oldest licensed hotel in Australia. While we would have loved to eat here, we thought it was a little steep to charge $35 for a chicken parmagiana so we stuck to some local beers while we enjoyed their luscious beer garden.

 

 

With a few cafes dotted along the James Street Antique Strip, we got some local advice that the best place for coffee was The Loungeroom.  The place was really warm and friendly and we ordered two long macchiatos to start.  The flavour was robust and very nutty, even more so with a sprinkle of sugar.

 

Shortly afterwards, our breakfast was served.  Dave’s BLT croissant looked amazing and had a little side of onion relish, which was very sweet.  Juz’s ‘Big Breakfast’ wasn’t as big as expected, especially after she handed her toast over to Dave, but everything was still delicious.  The poached eggs and two bacon rashers were cooked perfectly, and the two chipolatas were salty and smooth.

 

 

Accomplishing all that we wanted to do in the Swan Valley required us to employ a driver.  On the first day, our skipper was Emma and she graciously drove us around the southern part of the Swan Valley to some of the great wineries of the region like Lancaster and Houghton.  On the second day, we were chauffeured by Emma’s partner, Patrick, an Irish bloke who came to Australia 2 years ago and won’t take “I can’t drink anymore” for an answer.  If you’re interested in Swan Valley Breweries, check out our other post on the Swan Valley.

 

Margaret River Chocolate Company

It was the start of our first day and after a terribly unsuccessful coffee attempt at our first location, we fled to the establishment next door.  As usual, their car park was chock-a-block of people gagging to fill their cupped hands with chocolate pieces.

 

After getting a few chocolate treats, we ordered some coffees from the café at the rear of the shed.  They were much more to our liking – smooth and creamy without any bitterness – and we sampled some chocolate treats in the meantime.

 

The Hot Cross Easter Truffles were so cute and really yummy.  Dave said they tasted like Jesus.  A smooth ball of milk chocolate wrapped around soft praline that tasted like spiced fruit with a Brandy punch. We also got a Jamaican Rum truffle that was sweet like rum and raisin and rolled in shards of roasted almonds.  The milk chocolate Blueberry truffle was filled with a delicious fruity purple paste.

 

 

Lancaster

We loved this place – a perfectly relaxed atmosphere where you can sip some wine in the shade of the outdoor tasting shed.  During our session, we sampled cheeses from the Old Cheddar Cheese Company down near Busselton and enjoyed the cheerful and bubbly service.

 

  • 2012 Chenin Blanc – a very clear wine with lots of passionfruit and citrus.  It had a warm smell, crisp entry and founded finish full of green apples.
  • 2012 Rosé – flavours of strawberries with a smooth, mellow entry and a creamy finish.
  • Reserve Liqueur Muscat – a gorgeous chocolate caramel colour with lots of raisins and spiced fruits, it was thick like honey with a gentle spirit.

 

Houghton

Established in 1836, Houghton Winery is one of Western Australia’s oldest wineries.  Apart from their premium wine, Houghton is also famous for being the place where Moondyne Joe was discovered after two years on the run.  He had snuck into the cellar and was helping himself to the wine before the police found him.

 

The estate is quite beautiful and has a gallery, café and heaps of grassed areas for a picnic.  There was a price to taste all of their wines so we got selective and sampled a few.

 

  • Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir – floral and smooth with a great, buttery smell.  A rich, crisp entry, lots of fine bubbles and a warming finish that was dry and clean.
  • Chardonnay – a pale yellow colour with a wooded and smooth entry.  There was plenty of melon and walnut with French oak and a lingering finish.

 

 

Sandalford

Another winery that was established during the colony days, Sandalford is a huge winery that has been the location of many events and concerts like A Day on the Green, Stevie Wonder, k.d lang and Crowded House.  We found a red helicopter on the grass and ran over to check it out – ‘Get to da choppa!’

 

  • 2011 Classic White – a light but smooth wine that isn’t too acidic, there was plenty of stone fruits with a touch of cream.
  • 2011 Merlot – rich garnet with a hint of magenta, there was a strong scent of cedar and aniseed.  It was a very dry wine with a velvety finish.
  • NV Founder Reserve Liqueur Port – a caramel drop with a hint of red, there was burnt fig, caramel and toffee with lots of rum and raisins and a strong, spirited kick.

 

Lilac Hill

A humble cellar door based in an old house next to the Iron Bark Brewery, we had a great tasting session

 

  • 2008 Kissing Fools Viognier – a light straw colour, creamy and smooth with fruity citrus and nectarine.  It was a fresh wine with lingering warmth.
  • 2006 Reserve Verdelho – gorgeous!  Toasty and fruity with a rounded acidity and nutty finish without the oil.
  • 2006 Vintage Port – red caramel with lots of dried figs, prunes and a spirited punch.
  • Liqueur Muscat – a very smooth entry with clean viscosity.  Sweet raisins and toffee apple.

 

 

The Cheese Barrel

On day two of our Swan Valley Tour, Juz couldn’t wait to get to this place.  They don’t make cheese, they import it from places all over the world and give you the opportunity to sample a robust Irish blue or butter French white mould that you cannot get at the local supermarket. There is a place like this back in Melbourne called the Richmond Hill Cheese Larder and it was Juz’s favourite place before she was banned because she kept spending ludicrous amounts of money on foreign cheese.

 

The Cheese Barrel

 

We perused the tasting menu and picked a cheese each, which was to be served as a 50g segment on a slate board with some crackers and fresh figs.

 

  • Juz chose the La Buche d’Affinois white mould cheese made from cow’s milk in Rhone-Alpes in France.  This was definitely a crowd pleaser – gooey, soft and silky all the way through with no chalky bits and a delicious buttery taste that was a bit sweet from a bit of overnight fermentation that turns the lactic acid into sweet butyric acid.  Juz could have commandeered the entire brick.
  • Patrick’s choice was the Cashel Ireland Blue, a blue mould cheese made from cow’s milk in Tipperary Ireland, near where his mum lives.  The cheese was gorgeous – soft, sweet and salty with mild spiciness and gentle flavours of mould that were soothed by the creaminess of the surrounding white cheese.  We even got this one paired with a delicious fortified shiraz from the cellar door adjacent to the larder and once your mouth was covered in cheesy taste sensations, a sip of the fortified transformed the flavours completely as the astringency of the cheese is neutralised by the fruity sweetness of the wine.
  • Dave’s cheese was the Piccante Gorgonzola from Lombardy, Italy.  It was another blue mould cheese made from cow’s milk, but with very different characteristics from the Cashel.  It was firm and sharp, with spicy penicillium mould that has been nourished by oxygen via holes into the cheese with steel skewers.  It would have been perfect sprinkled over fresh pasta or in a bagel with some ham and chives.

 

The Cheese Barrel - heaven!

 

The Cheese Barrel was awesome and they are really passionate about appreciating all aspects of cheese – the origin, the ingredients, the method and the flavour.  A definitely MUST if you’re out and about in the Swan Valley.

 

Olive Farm Wines

Right next door to the Cheese Barrel is Olive Farm Wines, another winery that has been around since the beginning.  It was established in 1829 by an English botanist who brought with him a few grapevine cuttings and olive trees from the UK.  The olive trees were planted first – hence the name of the estate – and before long the vines were bearing fruit perfect for winemaking.

 

  • 2012 Viognier – a fruity wine full of citrus and apricot with a smooth entry and refreshing zing but still gentle and rounded.
  • Crystal Fort – a beautiful golden amber drop with minimal spirit and tastes of toffee, honey and raisins that bloom into delicious roasted honey cashews.
  • Fortified Shiraz – this was the drop that we had with the Cashel Ireland Blue next door at the Cheese Barrel.  Rich, dark chocolate colours full of ripe cherries and prunes, deliciously sweet with a gentle spirit.

 

Twin Hill Wines

Run by the Kraljevich family for over 70 years, Twin Hill is a humble estate that makes a great selection of wines from a classic white to a sweet red and traditional fortified shiraz.

 

  • Verdelho – smooth and warming but still light and refreshing with plenty of nectarine and citrus and an almost buttery chardonnay finish.
  • Sweet Red – a light, crimson wine full of fresh berries with a sweet, silky entry that covers the mouth and finishes dry and tart with apple skins and berries.
  • Tokay – aged 22 years, we were sent through an evolution of flavours from sweet fruits and honey to a rich nutty finish.

 

The House of Honey

A great little cafe that’s about as busy as a bee!  Browse the shop and taste their selection of honeys before sitting down to Devonshire Tea – or coffee!  We took a seat outside in the floral courtyard and our treats were not far bee-hind!

 

 

The coffee was served in a huge glass mug and had a great nutty flavour without any bitterness, but the real highlight was the honey scone.  Despite a thick lick of cream and strawberry jam, the sweetness of the honey was still distinguishable and each bite was absolutely morish.

 

Illusionary Art

One of the great finds on our expedition around the Swan Valley was an art gallery that displays pieces that appear three dimensional!  Thomas Maurer spent three years perfecting his art that uses an angle grinder on an aluminium surface.  The end result is an image that plays with light to create a 3D image.  While the effect truly is amazing, our picture of his showroom does not do this artwork justice – you really do have to see it in person.

 

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Margaret River

Photography : Margaret River

We met up with photographer Kieran Stone and spent two days exploring the Margaret River Food and Wine Region.  Here are a few shots that he took while on the road with Our Naked Australia!

 

Margaret River Yahava Koffee Yahava Koffee Yahava Koffee Cowaramup Cowaramup Brewing Company Margaret River Chocolate Factory Kangaroo Paw The Troopy Bootleg Brewery Marriwood Park Estate Marriwood Park Estate Our Naked Australia Slice of 'Dice Juz's thong eaten by a fox - Slice of 'Dice Slice of 'Dice The Grove Experience The Grove Experience The Grove Experience Cheeky Monkey Brewery Vasse Felix Vasse Felix Vasse Felix Sugarloaf Rock

 

Kieran has just gotten back after two years of living in Europe and has taken some truly amazing shots.  Check out more of his stuff on his website.

 

Vasse Felix

Margaret River Food & Wine Region

Vasse Felix

We were really looking forward to exploring one of Australia’s most notorious wine regions, but our first 24 hours in the region wasn’t too pleasant. We got to Augusta first and found it to be a chronic retirement town where you are hated if you are younger than 40.  We went to the Information Centre in down and the lady behind the counter was very rude and dismissive!  With such a cold reception, we blew that joint faster than Cheech and Chong.

 

Another disappointing nose was that the region did not offer any free camping.  You have to camp either in a caravan park or national park.  We chose the national park option on the first night and stayed at Chapman Pool in Blackwood National Park for $7 each.

 

 

In the morning, we woke at dawn and drove into Margaret River to wait for the supermarket to open.  While we were in the car park, a council worker aggressively called out that we were assholes and that her town wasn’t a caravan park.  It must have looked like we had stayed the night in the car park, but considering that we hadn’t, it was quite rude and presumptuous of her to swear and badmouth us.

 

Thankfully, that was the last dose of bad taste that we received, because at about 8am, our mates who had been living in the UK for the last two years cheekily appeared at Troopy’s window and we were reunited for a brief four days to sip and taste the goods of Margaret River and beyond!

 

Margaret River is a young wine region that started when the soil was dubbed good for growing grapes in the 1960s.  Cardiologist Tom Cullity capitalised on this information and planted the first vines on his property in 1967.  He named his land Vasse Felix after a sailor named Vasse who was lost overboard from the Naturaliste in 1801; ‘Felix’ is Latin for happy.  Since then, the Margaret River has grown to have over 140 wineries.

 

 

The area gets the best of all worlds, from the coast and surf culture to the beautiful, lush forests, and with so many wineries, breweries and gourmet food outlets around, it’s no wonder that the region is full of resorts, hotels and units to accommodate all the visitors.  We knew we were in for an amazing time, and as we prepared for the next two days, we promised ourselves that this would be our last wine region.

 

The Berry Farm

The first place on our list of places to visit – the Berry Farm was originally a group settlers home in 1925. In 1984 the Lindsay Family purchased the property and since then, they’ve been producing delicious fruit wines and fortifieds, as well as yummy preserves, jams and dressings like nectarine chutney, chilli jam, eggplant relish, mango macadamia jam and 3 citrus marmalade.

 

When we arrived, we were greeted by the most awesome chick you could meet behind the counter of a cellar door, and after a flavour sensation session of tastings, we roamed around the store and sampled the gourmet delights on offer.

 

  • Club House Dark Plum – a rich, dark caramel liquid made with Satsuma plums, it was light and fruity with a spiced fruit finish.
  • Club House Boysenberry – pink and crimson with a musty sweetness, it was a little tart but smooth and fruity.
  • Limoncello Liqueur – green and gold, thick and viscous with a punch of bitter lemon.
  • Hazelnut Liqueur – a gorgeous, luscious drop very similar to Frangelico, but thicker!

 

Vasse Felix

The first winery in the Margaret River region, established by Dr Tom Cullity. The estate is absolutely beautiful, with a long driveway passing rows of vines drooping with plump grapes. Also onsite is an archive wine museum, a restaurant, an art gallery and of course the cellar door.

 

 

We had a wonderful picnic lunch amongst the artistic outdoor sculptures before heading inside for a tasting session.

 

  • 2011 Chardonnay – pale with a hint of green, it was warm and creamy with a gentle, wooded smell and oily palate full of nut and apricot.
  • 2011 Heytesbury Chardonnay – butter and peaches, citrus and apricot, it had a gentle spice bloom before a creamy, rounded finish.
  • 2011 Cane Cut Semillon – a light golden colour full of floral scents and honey.  It was mouth-watering with explosions of apricot and sweet raisins but still vibrant and crisp.

 

Killerby

This is one of Margaret River’s newest cellar doors and it was a pleasure to browse through. It shares the site with Cheeky Monkey Brewery and apart from yummy wine tastings, you can also purchase gourmet produce like Italian pasta, cheese, coffee, jams, olive oil, dukkah and chocolate!

 

  • 2008 Pinot Noir Chardonnay Sparkling – champagne yellow with a creamy citrus scent, it was rounded and refreshing, mildly acidic with fine bubbles and a sweet, warm finish.
  • 2012 Sauvignon Blanc – a fumé style pale yellow wine with peaches and other tropical fruits, it was sweet and smooth with warm, wooded characteristics amongst the passionfruit and peach. Delicious!
  • 2010 Chardonnay – light straw colour with a hint of yellow, it was warm, oily and sweet with a slightly dry, peppery entry that rounded off with a buttery finish fully of succulent apricot.

 

 

 

Howling Wolves

The Howling Wolves winery was built in 1998 and covers 17 hectares in Wilyabrup.  They have a few ranges, including The Claw Range, Eight Vineyards and Small Batch, and of the few wines that we did taste, the 2009 Small Batch Chardonnay stood out the most!

 

Pale straw with hints of green, it had French oak, cream and apricot on the nose with a crisp entry that smoothed out into a marvellous creamy nut finish with lemon zest.  Quite possibly one of the most delicious chardonnays we have tasted.

 

Treeton Estate

Treeton Estate is a small family-owned vineyard located in the ‘cool heart of Margaret River’ with higher ground and a cooler climate.  The vineyard had a very relaxed atmosphere, with lots of rustic, woody furniture underneath the shade of overhead vines.

 

  • 2011 Chardonnay – very pale with a rich, buttery scent, slightly acidic entry and warm finish full of melon and walnut oil.
  • 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon – light ruby colour with plenty of purple hues, it was oaky with sweet currants, juicy but dry palate and a fruity oak finish.  It needs a bit more time to age but once it’s ready, it’ll be marvellous!

 

Marri Wood Park

We were invited to Marri Wood Park to meet some fellow travellers – Mark and Alexis – who are also travelling around Australia.  They have been following our adventures online and we were stoked to meet these great people who were actively participating on our journey. We sat down and shared stories over a few glasses of fruity and delicious 2007 Guinea Run Shiraz Merlot Cabernet.

 

Marri Wood Park winery is based on bio-dynamic farming, so instead of using chemicals to ensure a healthy crop, they work with nature to maintain a sustainable balance with the plants and the soil.    The cellar door of is located in a tin-roofed shed and while we only tasted two wines, we spend quite a bit of time at the vineyard, soaking up the vibrant, glowing atmosphere and giggling at the chickens and ducks.

 

 

The environment at Marri Wood Park is further enhanced by the contributions of some of the seasonal workers that have passed through to help out on the winery. They’re encouraged to let their artistic juices flow and some of the real stand outs were the wine-barrel tables and rocking chairs.

 

Blackwood Meadery

To the south is a small boutique winery that specialises in mead – honey wine.  It is considered to be the oldest fermented beverage, dating back to 2000BC and was regarded in some cultures as the giver of life or nectar of the gods.  In Pagan times, mead was consumed for a full month after a wedding (hence the honeymoon), and due to the health benefits of honey, the ancient Romans thought that mead could prolong life and heal.

 

Blackwood Meadery is a humble winery with a wonderful selection of meads and liqueurs, as well as their own honey brew and variety of floral honeys.

 

  • Dry – golden yellow with fruity, floral scents including melon and honey.  It was crisp, refreshing and dry with a warm bloom of raw honey that stretched through into the nose with a rich, long finish.
  • Medium Dry – pale yellow with a tangy jalapeño freshness with just the right amount of chilli and honey and a delicate finish.
  • Sweet – golden liquid with a green tinge, there was plenty of honey on the nose.  A sweet and smooth entry finished with a citrus tang and a rich, full-flavoured honey finish that just kept going.
  • Traditional Mead Liqueur – a rich yellow colour with the scent of dusty honey, it had a smooth entry with a blossom of spirit and a long lasting honey flavour.
  • Honey Brew – massive head atop a pale yellow liquid.  It was yeasty and herby, very light and refreshing with fine bubbles, a sweet tang and clean finish.  We couldn’t leave without buying a bottle for later.
  • Honey Blueberry Dry Red – crimson and pink, it was dry and warm with plenty of fruity characteristics like candied berries, honey and caramel.
  • Blackberry Nip – pink caramel colours with a spirited brandy scent mixed with stewed fruits.  It was wonderfully warm and spirited with a fruity finish rife with honey.
  • Honey Plum Liqueur – rich red caramel with lots of ripe fruits, spirit, spice and a sweet plummy finish.
  • Boysenberry Liqueur – beautiful crimson and ruby with sweetness, spirit, warmth – plenty of honey and berries. This is the one we took away with us.

 

Margaret River Chocolate Factory

OMG – this place was so busy!  The car park was choc-a-block and inside was even more hectic.  It seems that people can’t help but go loopy for this incredible brown bean.

 

 

Chocolate has been around for thousands of years and started off in Central and South America.   It was consumed as a raw, bitter drink that was consumed for vitality and was considered the food of the gods.  Eventually, cacao beans became so valuable, they were used as currency.  Chocolate was shipped to Europe in the 16th century and they couldn’t deal with the bitterness so they added sugar. By the 1800s, it was common to add sugar to chocolate to make it more palatable, and these days, you can expect your chocolate bar to be around 50% sugar.

 

The Margaret River Chocolate Factory offered tastings in the form of three huge bowls, each piled high with droplets of white, milk or dark chocolate.  You could even help yourself, and go back for seconds, or thirds.  If you wanted, you could put a spoonful of all three in your hand and you didn’t feel awkward going back for more.

 

Yahava Koffee Works

We were stoked to hear about a coffee roaster in the area and made sure that our visit was perfectly timed for a perk up.  Yahava Koffee offers coffee tastings before you can purchase the beans or a brew in the café.

 

 

You can pick three varieties from light to strong and sample them plunger style.  The

skilled coffee guy showed us how to plunge coffee the right way – by stirring the coffee before plunging and how to pour it so that you get a layer of crema in your cup.

 

  • Outback – a light variety that has won a silver medal.  It is made with 100% Australian Arabica beans from Queensland. Medium roasted bean with a thin and young flavour that was smoothed out by milk.
  • X-Rated – another silver medal winner consisting of Arabica beans from Ethiopia, Brazil, India and PNG.  It was warm and sweet but robust and smoky with the full flavour hitting the front of the palate.  Milk mellowed it out and spread the flavour more evenly throughout the mouth.
  • Espresso – an Italian style coffee made with Colombian, PNG and Ethiopian beans, it had lots of body with a well-rounded finish.

  • Romeo No.5 – this is the bean that they were using in the café portion of the roasting house.  We ordered lattes and they nailed it – smooth and creamy without any bitterness and plenty of rounded, chocolate tones.

 

 

We also got to try Bitterboy Spiced Apple Iced Tea, the only carbonated iced tea available anywhere!  It was a little like ginger beer with apple, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla and the slight bitterness of tea.

 

MARGARET RIVER CHEESE FACTORY

The Margaret River Dairy Company produces premium quality cheeses and yoghurts. From silky smooth camemberts and bries to distinctive cheddars, smooth style fetas, baked ricottas and creamy pot set yoghurts.

 

Located in the beautiful Margaret River region, the pure and unpolluted rain and fertile fields combine to create lush green pastures that are perfect for dairy grazing. Using traditional handcrafted techniques, the rich creamy milk is transformed into a variety of cheeses which are complex in both taste and textures.

 

Their expert cheese and yoghurt makers are committed to producing finest quality dairy products which consistently win awards in dairy competitions throughout Australia.

 

  • Club Cheddar Port – rich, full flavoured and super creamy.  It had a wonderful, savoury tang and melt in your mouth softness.
  • Dutch Edam – sweet and tangy with flavours spreading throughout the mouth and into the nose
  • Marinated Feta – smooth and busy with flavours, tang and spice.

 

 

Chocolate pistoles at the Denmark Chocolate Company

Denmark Food & Wine Region

It wasn’t until we got to Albany that we discovered that there was a little food and wine region only 50km to the west!  We stayed the night at Torbay Inlet, got up nice and early for the sunrise and packed up for an action-packed day.

 

Once we arrived in Denmark, we went straight to the information centre to make sure we’d crossed all the Ts and dotted all the Is.  They were so impressed with Juz’s organised action plan, they suggested we move to Denmark and offered her a job!

 

Denmark is a little coastal town in southern Western Australia.  It was first explored by naval doctor Thomas Braidwood Wilson in 1829, who was assisted by local Noongar men.  It was originally called Leeuwin Land, but after the discovery of the river, Wilson named the area after his friend, English doctor Alexander Denmark.  By 1885, the wood trade was booming and a railway was built between Denmark and Albany to transport all the karri timber.  Unfortunately, after a severe depletion of karri trees, the timber industry collapsed and the population reduced.

 

In the 1960s, Denmark was reinvented as the home of alternative hippies, who helped cultivate the town’s artistic culture. Agriculturists also moved into the area and established vineyards.  Since then, over 20 vineyards have opened in the area, and due to the great soil, it is also a wonderland of local produce like berries, eggs, cheese, chocolate, honey, olives, coffee, pickles, sauces, toffee, fudge, wine, beer and cider.

 

While we were exploring the town, we definitely noticed the alternative lifestyle, with lots of health food stores and holistic practitioners.  After a quick lap of town, we got down to business and started to visit the wineries.

 

A little tip – just for you – don’t go to Denmark on a Tuesday or Wednesday because many places are closed!

 

Howard Park Wines & MadFish

These two wine labels are owned by the Burch Family.  Howard Park Wines has two wineries – Denmark and Margaret River – and released the MadFish label in 1992.  MadFish got its name from a story about Madfish Bay, south of Denmark.  Usually a tranquil bay, during particular tide times, the fish ‘go mad’ and try to jump out of the water to avoid being eaten by bigger fish.

 

  • 2010 Howard Park Chardonnay – pale straw with a green tinge, it had a sweet oaky smell that was a little oily.  The entry was very fresh before a warm, oily bloom that finished with sweet melon.  Gorgeous!
  • 2010 MadFish Carnelian – named after a semi-precious stone from South Africa, it was deep red with plums and purple.  The smell was rich with sweet fruits, lots of blackberry, plum and chocolate, and while it had a dry entry with velvety tannins, it was rich, warm and ripe.
  • 2010 Howard Park Scotsdale Shiraz – deep ruby with hints of indigo, it had a sweet, robust scent of lavender and tasted of black fruits.
  • 2008 MadFish Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot – caramel, garnet and ruby, it smelt of sweet berries and chocolate.  The entry was dusty and spirited, but mellowed out with berries and savoury tannins.
  • MadFish Muscato – the colour of pink champagne!  Lots of strawberries and floral characters on the nose with a sweet and refreshing entry full of musk, lychees and Turkish delight!
  • Howard Park Muscat (No Vintage) – golden caramel, it smelt sweet with nut and honey.  Very viscous, it was gently spirited and had a nutty rancio finish.  Beautiful!

 

 

Rockcliffe

In the 1980s, a local family acquired the property, called it Matilda’s Meadow and planted some vines.  The name Rockcliffe comes from the granite cliffs that run along the coast of Denmark and the wines are also named after landmarks along the coast.

 

  • 2010 Rockcliffe Chardonnay – a sweet smelling wine with lots of yellow nectarine, it had a crisp, acidic entry and rounded finish that was creamy with butter and fruits.
  • 2011 Third Reef Pinot Noir – light crimson liquid full of raspberries and plums that matured in the flavour to dark fruits, chocolate and fine tannins.
  • 2012 Quarram Rocks Rosé – using pinot noir grapes, it was a deep rose pink colour with a creamy scent of flowers and berries.  It was very light and vibrant, full of strawberries and a crisp finish.
  • Forty Foot Drop Sparkling Shiraz (No Vintage) – ruby with a caramel lining, it smelt of currants and liquorice.  It was full of bubbles and any sweetness was chased away with a hint of dryness before the fruity finish.

 

Bartholomew’s Meadery

If you like honey, then this is the place to be!  Bartholomew’s offers honey wine and liqueur, honey ice cream and several flavours of pure honey, as well as bee merchandise like tea towels, jars and honey spoons.  They also have a glass beehive where you can play ‘spot the queen’!

 

  • Citrus Mead – it had an odd smell that was dry and bitter like grapefruit.  The entry was crisp and refreshing with a beautiful raw honey flavour that continued until the end.
  • Methglin Mead – traditional recipe infused with cinnamon, ginger, rosemary and cloves.  It was very spiced and fruity with a sweet and full flavoured entry full of honey and a spiced finish at the back of the throat.
  • Honey Liqueur – oozing with the smell of brandy and spiced fruit, it was very thick and sticky with a firey spirit and honey nut finish.

 

The different flavours of honey were just gorgeous – cinnamon, ginger, yate, chocolate, creamed and vanilla bean.  The real stand out was the hazelnut honey, which was kinda like Nutella but with a rich honey sweetness and consistency.

 

 

Denmark Chocolate Company

Chocolate-lovers BEWARE!  You will never want to leave!  We were in chocolate heaven as soon as we walked through the door, with the smell of freshly baked chocolate brownies wafting through the air.  This place is Western Australia’s first licensed chocolate lounge and uses Swiss Annie’s Fine Chocolates to make a variety of handmade chocolates and truffles.  They also offer local wines, beers and liquors, coffee, hot chocolate and cake.

 

Swiss chocolate has had a long history that has spanned over 200 years.  Italy was the chocolate epicentre of the world after learning from Swiss chocolate artisans in the 18th century.  In 1826, Swiss chocolatier Phillippe Suchard opened a chocolate factory and produced chocolate that made him world famous and by 1883 was making 50% of all Swiss chocolate.  In 1831, Swiss chocolatier Charles Kohler opened a chocolate factory and introduced nutty chocolate.  He also took on a few apprentices, including Rudolph Lindt.  Lindt went on to open his own factory in 1879 and improved the recipe to make chocolate even more delicious.  By the early 1900s, Switzerland was making 55% of the world’s chocolate.

 

 

We sampled a variety of pistols, from the super dark chocolates to the strawberry infused white chocolate.  The chocolates that were between 55-72% were still creamy without being bitter at all.  The infused white chocolates were very interesting – particularly the lemon and orange flavours.  It seems that a strong essence was used to flavour the chocolate while the colours are added later, and most of them were sickly sweet.

 

They also had some ports, tawny and muscat to try.  Our favourite was the Rutherglen Premium Muscat, which was rich caramel brown and smelt and tasted of fruit and honey with a viscous entry and spirited warmth.

 

We also sampled the truffles.  The Roast Almond and Honey truffle was rolled in flaked almonds and the milk chocolate was made even sweeter with the honey.  The Rum and Raisin truffle was rolled in dark chocolate flakes and was rich with rum essence and chewy raisins in dark chocolate.  We were also treated to a Dark Coconut Malibu truffle covered in dark cacao powder, which contrasted the sweetness of the white coconut filling perfectly.