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Explore : Bruny Island

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Every journey to Bruny Island (pronounced brew-nee) starts on the ferry. Our ticket to and from the island cost us $33, which includes a lovely 2×15 minute ride across the D’entrecastreaux Channel. Our journey would take us from the ferry terminal south through the Neck to the southernmost pub in Australia and onwards to Cape Bruny.


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  • Bruny Island is actually two land masses that are joined by a sandy isthmus, which is known as the Neck.
  • The whole island is 100km long.
  • Adventure Bay was named after the ship that was captained by English navigator Tobias Furneaux, who landed at the island in 1773.
  • The island is named after French explorer Bruni d’Entrecasteaux, who sailed the channel and discovered that it was in fact an island in 1792. It was known as Bruni Island until 1918 when the spelling was changed to Bruny.


When we got down south, radio and reception was starting to fail. At one point, all we got was some church radio station. We listened for a little while and chuckled about the breastplate of righteousness that guards your heart against the evils of the world.


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The Neck

The Neck is the sandy isthmus that connects the north and south parts of Bruny Island. There’s a lookout there, Truganini Lookout, and it’s one of the best lookouts we’ve visited on our entire trip around Australia.


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Once you ascend the umpteen timber steps to the top, you are gifted with a 360 degree view of the ocean and the narrow strip of sand that connects the north and south ends of the island.


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Get Shucked

By far the best oysters in Tasmania and comparable to those in Coffin Bay SA, Get Shucked sells pre-shucked boogers of sea-salty delight that slide down your gob with lubricated ease. Give them a bit of punch with a sprinkle of Tobasco sauce.


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The outlet has a great sitting area and they’re licensed so you can enjoy a glass of Seven Sheds beer while you slurp down some oysters.


Bruny Island Cheese Co.

This artisan cheese producer is owned by Nick Haddow, who has been making cheeses around the world for over 10 years. He’s recognised as the finest artisan cheese producer in Australia and is also currently the only cheese maker in Australia that is allowed to use raw milk to make cheese. However, laws have changed recently so there may be more raw cheeses in the future.


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Our tasting session included four cheeses.

  • The Tom – a hard rind cheese that has a complicated and mature taste with a curious dimension of flavour.
  • The Saint – a soft white mould cheese that had a lovely delicate flavour of mould with plenty of buttery cheesiness.
  • The 1792 – a soft washed rind cheese with some pungency but a lovely soft cheese with plenty of salty goodness.
  • The o.d.o – a marinated cheese that is only one day old and is a combination of a feta and a mozzarella. It has a strong lactic acid flavour but would be awesome on some bread with a bit of smoked salmon.


Outside, there’s a fantastic deck space and picnic benches scattered in the surrounding gardens, perfect for stopping for a coffee, cider or cheese platter.


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Adventure Bay


Before stopping at Hotel Bruny for a beer, we detoured to Adventure Bay to see what was the big deal. Adventure Bay is on the eastern side of the Neck and was named after the ship of English navigator Tobias Furneaux’s in 1773.


While it’s mainly a holiday destination with heaps of options for accommodation, we did stop at one of the beautiful beaches and marvelled at the dark coloured sand.


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Hotel Bruny

Australia’s southernmost pub is located across the road from Sunset Bay. Needless to say, the view from out the front is fantastic, the distant mountains reflecting on the water. It’s a small pub with a standard pub menu that is reasonably priced for the location (a chicken parma is $26).


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We stopped in for a drink – Juz enjoyed a yeasty and crisp Cascade Draught while Dave opted for a dark Cascade Stout.


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Cloudy Bay

Located at the southern end of Bruny Island, Cloudy Bay is a great place for a quiet getaway. There’s a 5km long sheltered beach that offers great surfing, and you can drive along the sand to get to the Cloudy Bay campsite on the eastern end.


This is where we camped the night and enjoyed the company of the friendly wallabies.




Cape Bruny

The lighthouse atop Cape Bruny is quite significant. It is the second oldest lighthouse in Australia – first lit in March 1838 and decommissioned on 6 August 1996. It was replaced by a nearby solar powered light.


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Grandvewe Cheesery and Hartshorn Distillery

No, Grandvewe is not located on Bruny Island, but both are attractions of the Huon Trail, and it’s only 10 minutes south of the Kettering Ferry terminal.


Grandvewe is Tassie’s only sheep milk cheesery and is the only place on earth where you’ll find Sheep Whey Vodka and Vanilla Whey liqueur. You’ll notice a lot of sheepy things, like wool in the garden beds and some cute sheep grazing in the paddock near the car park.


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Make sure you taste all the cheeses because they’re fantastic. We particularly liked the smooth and yeasty Brebichon and the Sapphire Blue, a mild blue cheese similar to Rochefort, so we bought a piece of each.


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There were wines and spirits available for tasting as well. The Sheep Whey Vodka had an interesting apple and pear flavour. We enquired how they make alcohol from a by-product that is predominantly protein. It seems that finding the right yeast was an important factor, and of the residual lactose in the whey, the glucose that is separated from the galactose is what is turned into alcohol.


We also tried the Vanilla Whey Liqueur, which was deliciously sweet, smooth and tasted like custard, as well as their lychee-driven Chardonnay and dry but fruity Pinot Noir.


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Food & Wine : Hobart & Surrounds



Tassie has an abundance of local food, wine, beer and whisky, we tried our best to visit as many as we could! There are a few places located in a the heart of Hobart, but there is also the Coal River Valley out to the east, and to the north west is the Derwent River Valley.


If a place was within 30 minutes of Hobart, then we included it in the surrounding area. We started our tasting trail to the east of Hobart in Richmond.


The Wicked Cheese Company

This was the first stop of our tasting tour of the Hobartian surrounds. The Wicked Cheese Company was established in 2007 and is an award winning cheesery. They use both goat and cow’s milk to create a variety of cheeses such as cheddar, brie and camembert. The outlet also sells various local produce like sausages and chocolate. We picked up a Mediterranean terrine to munch on later.


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Nearby is the historic Richmond Bridge, which was built in 1823. It’s the oldest bridge in Australia that’s still in use and is a popular stop with the tourists.


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Frogmore Creek

One of our favourite wine tasting sessions happened at this beautiful award winning cellar door. Even if you’re not into wine, you can still enjoy the architecture of the cellar door, great views of the winery or peruse the local produce available for purchase.


We were lucky enough to be just in time to grab one of the last bottles of 2008 Mardi, a delicious sparkling white wine with hints of orange and brioche – a little like a Panettone. We also loved the 2015 Riesling, with serious pineapple flavours.


Of the reds, we enjoyed the 2012 Pinot Noir. It had spent 10 months in French Oak and had luscious fresh berries, a hint of cedar, and smooth, silky tannins!


We walked away from Frogmore Creek with a bottle of the pinot noir and Mardi sparking. When we were strolling through Salamanca Markets, we saw a Frogmore Creek stall and got to try a few other wines. We learnt that Josef Chromy used to be their winemaker, which is why both wineries have a Ruby Pinot Noir – a delicious sweet wine with blackberry flavours and creamy cashew.


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Sullivan’s Cove Distillery

This distiller is located in Cambridge and while the exterior doesn’t seem like much, once you’re inside, you just want to sit down on the beautiful lounges and sip on a whisky while you watch the afternoon go by listening to some relaxed tunes like Neil Young.


Sullivan’s Cove Distillery take pride in their drops, and the convict symbol on their label is a historical footnote of the first drop point for convicts at Sullivan’s Cove. They also said that their whiskies are distilled with conviction.




We forked out $25 to taste a dribble of three whiskies, and an additional $10 for Juz to taste the gin.


All their whiskies are aged 12 years minimum before being taste tested. Instead of ageing for a certain amount of time, each whisky is tasted every 6 months or so to ensure that it’s at its peak.


Of the whiskies that we tried, our favourites were the award winners. The American Oak was sweet with hints of banoffee and vanilla, and the French Oak was full of toffee and fruit cake flavours.


Cascade Brewery

Cascade Brewery is the oldest brewery in Australia. It was established by convict Peter Degraves, who was not happy with the quality of beer in Hobart. He was released from goal in 1831 and set about brewing beer, and by December 1832, the first Cascade beer was sold.


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We would have loved to go on a tour of the brewery but all we had time for was a stop in for a tasting session by the beautiful gardens. A paddle of four beers was only $12 and you can choose any four beers you like.  We opted for the Lager, Draught, Pale Ale and Stout – all flavoured with Pride of Ringwood Hops but with varying degrees of crispness, bitterness and flavour.


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Larks Distillery

Located in the heart of Hobart, this popular Whisky bar has an incredible selection of spirits. We stumbled across the cellar door by accident during our evening walk around the Waterfront. We loved the atmosphere of the place – it was almost like finding a cave of wonders.


We settled ourselves at the bar and got the tasting paddle that included three little nips for $20. The bar staff were really friend and happy to talk about the spirits that we were tasting.


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The first was the 43% Classic Cask, which was a bit rough. The second on the paddle, the 58% Cask Strength whisky was gorgeous. Yes, it also had a good burn but it smelt like maple syrup and the taste had hints of coffee liqueur.  The final little nip was a Whisky Liqueur. It tasted a little like Jaegermeister, which probably explains the secret herbs and spices in the recipe. While it was a little medicinal, it was sweet and syrupy.


Derwent Valley Estate

We needed to waste a little time so we stopped in at the Derwent Valley Estate for a tasting. Our session was hosted by a nearly deaf old codger who emitted an air of playful petulance and loose authority. We tried to be playful too but it was a little awkward because he couldn’t hear our jokes.


We made it through a tasting and walked away with the Rose – smooth and sweet like strawberry jam, but we would have loved to take the buttery but peachy 2014 Chardonnay home but it was simply too pricey to justify the purchase.


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Drink : East Coast Tasmania

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There isn’t a lot down the east coast other than beautiful coastline but there are a few places to sample a drink. We highly recommend the Ironhouse Point Centre and Gala Estate. Both are wonderful locations with a great selection of drink for tasting.


Ironhouse Point Brewery, Vineyard and Distillery

This massive complex by the sea is a combined restaurant, convention centre and hotel. They have a separate tasting station away from the bar and restaurant, so tasting sessions are more intimate and focused on tasting instead of just drinking.


We were surprised to find that not only did they do beer, but also wine and vodka. We tried everything, despite it being 10 o’clock in the morning.


First off the bat was the Grape Vodka, triple distilled for extra smoothness. It was basically just grappa, but good.


Beer tasting followed. There were six beers on the paddle – a wheat beer (4.7%) with soft unripe banana and clove flavours, a lager (4.7%) full of Cascade hops and a subtle honey flavour, our favourite – the Belgian Fox – a golden beer with coriander in the grist and flavoured with fruity Motueka hops.


On the more flavourful side of the paddle was the Belgian Pale Ale – a sweet beer with a good, smooth balance of bitter malt flavours, the Pale Ale (5.2%), a bronze beer with heaps of hoppy bitterness, and the Porter (5.2%), a very dark beer with lots of coffee and dark chocolate flavours that was surprisingly not too bitter.


Ironhouse Point did their first brew in 2007 and opened the complex in 2009. If you’re after a souvenir, pick up a growler for $7 and pay an additional $18 to fill it with your favourite beer.


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We then moved on to the wines. They had a few white wines, as well as a pinot noir because it’s the best stuff to grow in the Tassie climate. Our favourites included the Sparkling White, a blend of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. It had heaps of supple apple flavours but was still very light and crisp. We also loved the Pinot Noir, a wine matured for 3 months in the bottle, with heaps of fruity plums and dark cherry flavours. It was a smooth, light and hesitantly dry wine.


The most interesting wine of the day was the Sauvignon Blanc. All we could taste was ASPARAGUS! This was highly unusual for us! The wine was clear, crisp and acidic with some grassy tones as well.


Devil’s Corner

This winery is owned by Brown Brothers so we were expecting some great things from this place. The Cellar Door overlooked the valley to Moulting Lagoon and adjacent to it was a lookout. Both the cellar door and the lookout building seemed to be made from shipping containers – and while this may be trendy for some, we heard that some of the locals don’t like it.


As predicted, we did enjoy a few of their wines. The NV Sparkling Cuvee was lovely, light and easy to drink with 70% chardonnay and 30% pinot noir. They had a great selection of Pinot Noir and we found something we liked in each one. Of course, with our expensive tastes, the Resolution Pinot Noir 2014, which spent 9 months in French oak for smooth mouth feels, cherry tart flavours and complexity and structure, was a winner, as well as the Mt Amos 2014 Vintage, a rich coloured wine with 12 months in French oak and a dryness that washes away quickly.


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Freycinet Vineyards

Our tasting session was hosted by John the comedian. He immediately congratulated us for being there to taste the wine, and because we didn’t introduce ourselves, Dave was dubbed Jason and Juz was Olivia. We called him Bruce.


This winery had a great and interesting selection of wines. We highly recommend a visit if you want to try something off the beaten track.


Our favourites included a 2013 Louis Riesling/Schӧnburger, with 85% Riesling and 15% Schӧnburger grapes. It still had about 18 grams of residual sugar to give it a hint of sweetness, while still maintaining a light and crisp flavour. A white wine that Dave actually liked! We bought a bottle.


We also enjoyed the Riesling and Chardonnay, but once we got past the reds to the 2011 Botrytis, we were in heaven. This was the last botrytis they had made since in 2004, and it was bright yellow with honey and apricot flavours. And with 200g of residual sugar, it was rich, thick and syrupy.


Gala Estate

One of our favourite wineries, not just because of the wine but the history of the cellar door.  There was an old man named Theodore Castle who lived in that house. He had a simple life – cooked on a cast iron stove, didn’t have electricity, and kept busy by fishing and hunting for kangaroos. He died in 2009 and in 2010, Gala Estate bought the property and gave it a new life.


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The small yield of wines produced by the Gala Estate are high quality and worth the stop. They have a marvellous 2012 Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay that has creamy and yeasty qualities, perfect to pair with a nice brie cheese.


They also have a great selection of Pinot Noirs, our favourite being the 2011 First Vintage – silky and fruity after 12 months in French oak. If you enjoy a sweet wine, give their late harvest Riesling a go as well. It only has 85.2 grams of residual sugar so it’s not overly sweet, but it is still full of honeysuckle and apricot flavours.


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Spring Vale Winery

We were the first through the cellar door to try wines that day.  We highly recommend trying their 2015 Gewürztraminer with exotic fruit flavours and a persistent, peppery finish, as well as the Sticky Gewürztraminer, a sweet dessert wine that might not be available much longer due to its popularity.


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City Profile : Launceston

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Launceston is the second largest city in Tasmania and the 3rd oldest city in Australia, but it still has a lot of firsts – such as being the first Australian city to have underground sewers and be lit by hydroelectricity.



The area was first explored by George Bass and Matthew Flinders in 1798 but the settlement of Launceston was not established until 1806. It was originally called Patersonia, but the settlement was renamed after Launceston in Cornwall UK, where the NSW Governor Captain was born. Launceston grew and became an export centre. Churches, schools and pubs were built, and sporting groups were established.


In 1871, there was a minerals boom when tin was discovered at Mount Bischoff. There was also a spurt of gold mining in 1877 and over the next 20 years, it grew substantially. By 1889, Launceston was officially a city.


These days, it a charming place to visit, and being so close to Tasmania’s premium wine growing region, the Tamar River Valley – it has its own culture and focus on local food and drink.


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Places of Interest

Cataract Gorge

Perfectly contrasted next to the city, Cataract Gorge offers a lush recreation area and swimming pool surrounded by beautiful 100 year old gardens, wallabies and peacocks, walking tracks and cafes that serve Devonshire teas.



On top of all of this, you can ride the longest single span chairlift in the world. Pay $12 one way or $15 return and see the gorge from 30 metres above.


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Boag’s Brewery

No visit to Launceston is complete without a tour of Boag’s Brewery. The great thing about this tour is that it ends with a cheese pairing. We never thought to pair cheese with beer but the combinations offered are outstanding.


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City Park

Located in the heart of the city, this beautiful and ornate park is just behind the historic Albert Hall and provides a recreation centre for the locals. Whether it’s a group training session or a relaxed yoga class, it seems City Park is a popular spot for many and was once called the People’s Park.

There is also the John Hart Conservatory, the pretty Jubilee Fountain and the Macaque Monkey House – but we didn’t see any monkeys.


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Tamar Valley

North of Launceston is the Tamar River Valley, Tasmania’s premium food and wine region.  We only visited three wineries because we were time-poor – we have to recommend Tamar Ridge for its great selection of sparkling wines and pinot noirs.


The Tamar River runs through the centre on the region and there’s only one point along the river that you can cross – Batman Bridge. It’s a nice bridge with a picnic area on the eastern side of the river.


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Further north is Beauty Point, where Seahorse World is located. Go on a tour and learn about the various breeds of seahorse.


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On the east side of the river is a free camp area at Lilydale Falls. It was fairly crowded as it’s one of the closest free camps near Launceston. We met two Aussies, Josh and Anna, and shared stories about our travels and car disasters.




Food  & Drink

Amelia Espresso

We were actually looking for another cafe called Messiah but stumbled across this place and caffeinated ourselves here instead.


It’s a small place with only a few places to sit, but the duo behind the counter were friendly and knew what they were doing because the coffee they produced was fantastic. The coffee had a citrus tang and they are experts at frothing soy milk.




Alchemy Bar & Restaurant

Always on the hunt for a bargain, we checked out Alchemy Bar for their $14 lunch menu. The joint seemed funky enough – a big bar that looks out onto the street, with a dining area out the back. The decor was eclectic and mismatched but overly bad in taste.


The lunch menu had a great selection – fish and chips, lamb salad, chickpea burger – we went with the chicken parmigiana and pulled beef burger. The parma was a succulent piece of chicken panko crumbed and topped with ham, cheese and sauce. It came with shoestring fries and a well dressed salad. The pulled beef burger was cheesy but could have used a bit more sauce to moisten the beef, and more pickles for extra tang, but overall it was good.  It came with well-seasoned fries too.


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Drink : The Tamar River Valley

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The Tamar River Valley runs from Launceston to the Bass Strait and is dotted with vineyards, wineries, orchards, farms and maritime motifs. We wish we had more time in the Tamar Valley – it was a great introduction to Tasmanian wines and the wide river is truly magnificent. We were also happy to meet some local inhabitants at Seahorse World up at Beauty Point…


Josef Chromy

Our visit to this winery was mainly to sample some Van Dieman’s Brewing beers but we ended up having a lovely wine tasting session at this stunning winery. There was a beautiful garden out the front with topiary and fountains.


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We tasted a few of the wines on the list but the following four stood out above the rest…


The NV Sparkling was delightfully fruity with the flavours of pears and apples. It was creamy and smooth without any acidity. The 2010 Sparkling had a gorgeous honey roasted nut smells, which was surprising. It was crisp, dry and refreshing with citrus and green apple notes. The Pinot Noir had spent 11 months in the barrel and was more ripe that the Pepik Pinot Noir that had matured for less time. This wine was much smoother, with more warm fruits and vanilla flavours.


Our favourite – the Ruby Pinot had hints of caramel and toffee, with plenty of spirit, fruitcake, roasted honey hazelnuts and burnt fig.


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Moore’s Hill Estate

This winery was quite fancy – the beautifully rustic cellar door overlooked the vineyard and something about the place was a bit intimidating. We did a quick tasting before moving on.


The 2015 Signature Riesling had lovely elderflower aromas and despite being acidic, it was smooth and bright with a quick finish. Juz’s favourite was the 2015 Chardonnay that had spent 4 months in oak. It had great aromas, was warm and peppery and had a buttery brioche aftertaste. Dave’s favourite was the 2015 Cabernet Merlot, pungent with sweet currents and very dry.


We also sampled the Late Harvest Riesling with 100 grams of residual sugar. It was just sweet enough to satisfy a sweet tooth and finish with a clean mouth.


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Tamar Ridge

This was our favourite winery of the region. Our tasting session was relaxed and friendly, and their wines were exceptional. The onsite resort overlooks the river and it seemed to be a popular place.


During our tasting session, we found that we liked a lot of the wines on the list. The NV Sparkling had gorgeous bready brioche flavours and we learnt that the word ‘structure’ actually means something like acidity. The 2009 Blanc de Blanc is a sauvignon blanc that is actually easy to drink – smooth refreshing without being too acidic.


We finished the session with a delicious Botrytis, harvested in June 2013. It was full of apricot jam flavours, and quite sweet at 147 grams of residual sugar.


Bay of Fires

This winery seemed very exclusive, and we felt a little uncomfortable walking into the place wearing a flanno and dirty jeans. But, as with most places, if you can talk the talk, the staff loosen up and realise you’re not just there to get drunk.


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We sampled their selection of sparkling wines and without a doubt, the best and the favourite was the $130 bottle of 2002 Late Disgorged Sparkling. It was a soft, creamy sparkling with shades of sourdough and nougat, honey and truffles. Complex and delicious.


Delamere Winery

We heard about this place because they did good sparkling wines, chardonnay and pinot noir. In a relaxed atmosphere, we tried their wines and scored a few favourites.


The 2014 Naissante Pinot Gris had beautifully fruity aromas with hint of guava. The Fumé Blanc with sauvignon blanc grapes had gooseberry and apple flavours with a hint of oak. Overall, the 2014 Delamere Pinot Noir was the winner – an earthy and elegant wine with great depth and smoky French oak.


Little River Brewing Co.

We scored a six pack from Scottsdale because the brewery was closed. Our favourites are the Golden Ale with its sweet honey smells and rich flavours, well balanced hops, and the European Dark Lager with heaps of chocolate and coffee without too much bitterness.


Bridestow Estate

Ok – nothing to drink here. This is a lavender farm and the only thing we had was the Lavender Ice Cream. It was creamy and delicious, and then we followed the winding road through Scottsdale through to St Helens.




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Drink : The Hunter Valley

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The Hunter Valley Wine Region is located around 60km inland from Newcastle, with Pokolbin at the centre.  It’s the hottest wine region in Australia and despite the plethora of vineyards and wineries, the area contributes only 3% of the total wine production of Australia.  The area had established vines by 1823 and flourished as a wine region from then onwards.


The two predominant varieties that are grown in the area are Semillon and Shiraz.  Semillon wines are white, crisp and acidic with some citrus, apple and subtle spice and they get better with age.  As the wine oxidises, it changes to a deep yellow colour and develops creamy apricot flavours.  Due to the climate of the area, the Shiraz wines are a little different – they almost resemble a Pinot Noir.  Shiraz wines used to be known as Hunter River Burgundy but because of France’s copyright on region names (like Champagne), they are back to being Shiraz.





Saddler’s Creek

The first winery on our Hunter Valley adventure, it was a great way to get to know the varieties of the region.  We tried a young crisp Semillon and compared it to an older Semillon with a distinctly more mature and delicious flavour.  Our host was great to chat to and knew a lot about the region.



One of the oldest wineries in the region, Lindemans have been around since 1843.  Their cellar door is quite impressive both on the outside and inside, and their entire selection was fantastic.  We particularly liked the 2013 Shiraz Reserve 1300 because it wasn’t as dry as most of the other Shiraz wines, and it was full of raspberry and dark cherry flavours.



We had a great tasting session here – the guy who hosted us really knew his stuff – but instead of focusing on Semillon wines, we explored Verdelho.  We learnt that Tulloch was the first to use the variety to make a table wine instead of a sweet dessert wine.  We dabbled with the reds before getting into the fortified wines.  The Limited Release Crème De Vin was absolutely delicious, full of ripe apricot and honey.


Piggs Peake Winery

All of the wines are named after something to do with pigs.  The Hogshead Chardonnay was lovely, the Suckling Pig Shiraz was sweet and fruity, and the Little Pig Verdelho Swines Only dessert wine was to die for, but when we were presented with a Shiraz named Kevin, our questioning glances were answered with one sultry word… “Bacon”.


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Pepper Tree Wines

This is a fairly young winery, having been established in 1991, and their cellar door operates out of a renovated barn that is simply charming.  They do a wonderful NV Tipsy Muscat that is supposed to come with its very own ‘tipsy’ bottle, but they had sold out that day so we missed out on the novelty.


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These guys are fairly well known but because they were right next to a cheese factory, we figured we’d check them out.  Their cellar door is huge and they have won several international awards for winemaker of the year.  Our favourite was the 2007 Bin 9000 Semillon – a gold medal winner that deserves its awards – and the NV Personal Reserve Muscat that had amazing nutty butterscotch and caramelised fig flavours that would not give up.


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Peterson House

Offering something a little different to the typical Hunter Valley range, Peterson House likes to add bubbles.  We tried most of what they had, each one better than the one before.  Their best seller, Pink Blush, was a great bubbly with floral and candied orange tones but what we loved was the Sparkling Botrytis Semillon and Sparkling Fortified Shiraz.



Hunter Beer Co.

What was supposed to be a quiet session with a paddle in the corner turned into an incredible tasting extravaganza when one of the brewers came over for a chat.  Not only did we try the four beers on the paddle, but he also brought over samples of his zesty Ginger Beer, sweet Barley Wine, and the Slaked Magpie, which ended up being Dave’s favourite because it was like drinking a chocolate milkshake.


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He also told us a great story about how Hefeweizen beers existed in Germany before bananas, so when bananas finally arrived, everyone thought they tasted like beer!


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Lovedale Brewery

Located at the heart of the Crown Plaza Resort, the Lovedale Brewery offers a paddle of four beers for $9, which is pretty cheap.  We got the Lager, Pale Ale, Rye IPA and Porter, and while the Rye IPA was a pleasant surprise with deliciously sweet aromas and a toffee flavour, the crisp and refreshing lager was the clear winner.


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Matilda Bay Brewhouse

We broke all the rules at the Brewhouse, choosing our own selection of beers to taste instead of choosing one of their pre-selected paddle options.  While Juz favoured the Small Batch Bright Ale, Dave enjoyed the IGP (Itchy Green Pants).


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Hunter Distillery

With a massive range of spirits and flavours, there is something for everyone here, but our favourite by far was the honey vodka – it was like having honey on toast. The drinking vessels were very cool too.


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The Hunter Cheese Factory

This was one of our favourite cheese tasting experiences.  We got a platter for $6.95 to share and it included five cheeses varying from a soft fromage to a creamy blue vein.  We loved the Sicilian style feta for its great savoury balance, as well as the Branxton blue brie for the rich earthy and mushroom flavours.


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Binnorie Dairy

The cheese tasting was free, fast and without any fuss, and before we knew it, we walked out with a tub of herb and garlic fromage frais.  This was an easy choice, but if we had more room in our fridge, we would have taken a jar of their labna and marinated goat fetta too.


Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop

Stocking local and imported cheeses, this was our only chance to sample some Hunter Belle cheese, made with Murray’s Beer.  The cheeses were odd – they had a strange yeasty flavour – but they were still good.  We also got to try some St Agur, a decadent blue cheese from France that costs around $100 a kilo.


Hunter Valley Chocolate Company

While we didn’t really taste any chocolate, there was a counter offering fudge tastings.  There was a massive range of flavours, but we loved the Australiana with lemon myrtle and macadamia, as well as the salted peanut caramel.


Hunter Valley Cookies

Located at the Village Shops near the Gardens, this little cookie shop makes huge cookies, and even has an interesting and eclectic collection of cookie jars.  We sampled the gluten free Florentine, which was a big, fat disc of chewy deliciousness.


While we were in the Village, we checked out the Tunnel of Beer in the Garden Cellars.  The selection of local and international beers was huge and it’s definitely worth having a look.


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Hotel Cessnock

Set in a swanky old building, the Hotel Cessnock has a few cheap lunch specials.  After doing a few wineries in the morning, we stopped for some lunch.  Dave got the rump steak and chips for $11 while Juz splashed out on a chicken schnitzel burger and chips for $12.  Both were tasty and adequately portioned to keep us going for the rest of the day.


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Information & Accommodation

Self-drive tours of the Hunter Valley are fine, but you will need a designated driver.  There are so many wine tours available for the area, it would be a shame not to take advantage of someone else driving you and your friends around.  Accommodation and wine tour bookings are available at the Hunter Valley YHA.


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If you don’t need the comfort of a tidy kitchen and warm bed, there is a rest area north of the region about 5km west of Branxton.  It can be a little noisy there though because it’s between the highway and the railway that transports all the coal to Newcastle for export. We didn’t mind because we had friendly neighbours JK and Oona to keep us company!


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The Tablelands

The Tablelands – Part 1 : Ravenshoe to Mareeba

The Tablelands


We were absolutely thrilled when we hit the Tablelands.  The contrast in scenery from the dry, dusty outback to moist, green rolling hills was refreshing to our eyes, but also sparked nostalgia for the Victorian countryside.  Known as the ‘food bowl of the tropics’, the Tablelands has the perfect environment for dairy farming and growing crops like tropical fruit and coffee, so the gourmet food and wine trails are fantastic.  The natural beauty of the region is also undeniable and includes waterfall circuits, stunning rainforests, craters, lakes and unique wildlife.


The Tablelands was immediately put on our list of favourite places in Australia, and as we planned our travels, we were happy to realise that we’d be passing through the region twice!  This is our first instalment of the Tablelands, starting from Ravenshoe, and following the road north through Atherton and Mareeba.  Our next instalment will include Kuranda, Yungaburra, Malanda and Milla Milla – stay tuned.



It was too early in the morning for us to go exploring Ravenshoe, but we were still stoked about being in the highest town in Queensland.  This cute, little town sits at an altitude of 920m above sea level and is surrounded by World Heritage listed rainforest.  On our way out, we passed the highest pub in Queensland, and lamented that it was too early in the day for a bevy.


The Tablelands


Millstream Falls

This was our first stop from the west, and as we walked down the winding path to the falls, we sucked in the delicious forest air.  Millstream Falls is the widest single drop waterfall in the world.


Mount Hypipamee National Park

On the way to Atherton, we stopped in at Mount Hypipamee National Park to check out the crater of the same name, and Dinner Falls.  We were surrounded by lush foliage, bush turkeys scratching around in the undergrowth and the soothing scents of the forest.


The Tablelands


The Mount Hypipamee Crater was very deep, with a manky, green pool at the bottom.  This crater is actually a diatreme, which is a volcanic pipe that was created by a gaseous explosion.  Dinner Falls was also a treat to see, and once we got back to the Troopy, it was time for breakfast.


The Tablelands



Atherton is a great little town that was named after a bloke called John Atherton, who settled in the area in the 1870s.  It’s the ‘capital’ of the Tablelands and the population sits at around 7000 people.  There are two major supermarkets, a few parks that are perfect for picnics, and a central visitor information centre staffed by helpful locals. There are also several attractions in and around town that are definitely worth checking out.


The Crystal Caves and Fascinating Facets

An award-winning tourist attraction and we could see why.  The Crystal Caves are a fantasy wonderland located right on the main street of Atherton and would make any fossil fanatic or gemstone buff squeal with delight.  Fascinating Facets is almost like a museum on its own with a fabulous display of fossils, gemstones and jewellery, and you just have to try the chocolate – YUM!


The Crystal Caves


The Peanut Place

Queensland produces 95% of Australia’s peanuts, and considering that it’s the main ingredient n peanut butter, one of Juz’s favourite things, we had to check out the Peanut Place.


Despite the suspiciously shaped mascot standing at the front of the store, which also happens to be the Big Peanut, we found their variety of peanut products to be very impressive – sweet nuts, savoury nuts, nut butter, nut ice cream, boiled nuts, roasted, salted, the list goes on.  They were featured on the front cover of the local newspaper for their delicious chocolate peanut butter spread, and we also sampled the peanut ice cream.  As you can imagine, nearly everything they sell has peanuts in them so anaphylactics can wait in the car.


The Tablelands


Tinaroo Lake

This man-made dam is a great place for a family picnic.  There are picnic benches, shady trees, BBQs and a big playground, and you can even hire a boat for a paddle on the lake.



Another cute town in the Tablelands, they say that Mareeba is where the rainforest meets the outback.  The area is occupied by a variety of crops, such as mangoes, sugarcane, avocadoes, exotic fruits, as well as coffee plantations. There is also a fantastic Heritage Museum at the Visitor Centre that sheds light on the local tobacco and mining industries, aboriginal culture and pioneer history, with lots of historical memorabilia on display.  Entry is by gold coin donation – and it’s well worth it.


The Tablelands


Our day was to include a visit to Coffee Works, Mount Uncle Distillery and de Brueys Wines so we prepared for the day by visiting Curcio’s Drive-Thru Bakery to break the fast with chunky curry pies, and bacon–infused sausage rolls at very reasonable prices.


The Tablelands


Coffee Works

You could easily spend the whole day at Coffee Works.  While there is a colourful gift shop and café onsite, entry to Coffee World will take you on the ultimate coffee-lovers adventure.  Not only will you have unlimited access to their variety of coffees, teas, chocolate and liqueurs, but you will discover things about coffee that you never dreamed of in the museum.  Their collection of coffee paraphernalia is biggest in the world, with many being either one of a kind, or the last one remaining in the world.  Amazing…


Coffee Works


Mount Uncle’s Distillery

For those why love a bit of spirit, you can’t go past Mount Uncle’s Distillery.  Their vodka is pristine, their gin is sublime, and regardless of whether you’re a rum gulper or a whiskey sipper, you’ll enjoy the Iridium Gold Rum.


Mt Uncle Distillery


De Brueys Boutique Wines

Usually, wine and grapes go hand in hand but not at De Brueys.  Their wines, ports and liqueurs don’t contain grapes; instead they’re made from exotic fruits like mango, lychee and bush cherry.  They even have a wine made from jaboticaba, a cauliflora fruit from Brazil.  If you like Irish Cream, then you’ll love their Temptation Range.  While we really enjoyed Envy with its delicious honeydew melon flavour, the Coffee Temptation was our clear winner and we left with a bottle.


The Tablelands


As we made our way to camp, the sun was setting over the distant hills, and we drove past the Mareeba Wetlands just in time for the sky to burst with the colours of mangoes and bananas.


Information & Accommodation

The Atherton Information Centre is located on the corner of Main & Silo Rd Atherton.  They are open daily from 9am to 5pm.  For more information, visit

The Mareeba Heritage Museum & Tourist Information Centre is open daily from 8am to 4pm and is at 345 Byrnes Street, Mareeba.  To find out more, visit


Rifle Creek Rest Area

Just south of Mount Molloy is a spacious rest area.  Cold showers and toilets are provided, a small donation for the convenience is appreciated.


Rocky Creek Memorial Park

A few clicks north of Tolga, this war memorial park is right next door to a rest area that can get rather busy during peak season.  Phone reception and clean toilets are on offer, as well as the opportunity to give a small donation for the convenience.


The Tablelands


Stay tuned for The Tablelands – Part 2, which will include Kuranda, Yungaburra, Malanda and Millaa Millaa.



Drink : Pub Crawl in Geraldton, WA

It was a warm Saturday afternoon in Geraldton and we were a little bored.  Jeremy the French Helpx helper had come back from his assignment on the farm and we all decided that we should hit the town and check out the local pubs.


The Provincial Bar & Café

We found out that their happy hour went from 4:30pm to 5:30pm and after walking 3.5km into the city, we got there with 10 minutes to spare.  Juz was super happy about them serving White Rabbit on tap so Jeremy and Juz got the White Ale while Dave went with the Dark Ale.



This place has an awesome atmosphere and we could see why it’s one of Geraldton’s most favourite places.  Plus, its run by a guy from Melbourne so you know their woodfire pizzas are gonna be amazing.



The Freemason Hotel

It was a bit too early for dinner so we walked down the street to the Freemason Hotel.  The band was just warming up so we had to yell across the bar for our beer of choice.  Apart from the live music, there was a round pool table, foosball table and heaps of dance floor room for a late night boogie.



The Geraldton Hotel

We were looking forward to this place but when we walked into the main bar, we were a little disappointed.  The lighting was white and bright with a bunch of old codgers sitting at the bar watching the West Coast vs Carlton match.



After a round of drinks, we went to order and were impressed by the massive beer garden that hosts their Sunday Sessions.  Dave got the steak sandwich while Juz and Jeremy got the chicken parma – all meals are $10.


Our food was ready really quickly.  The chicken parma was ok but could have been better if the chicken meat was real.  The chips were really bland but the small amount of salad compensated in flavour.  Dave’s steak burger was good – a nice piece of rump steak with beetroot and processed cheese in a soft sesame seed bun.



The Camel Bar

This place was pumping when we arrived.  There was a band playing, people both young and old were sitting at the bar, playing pool or finishing off their dinner.



The place was decorated with camel paraphernalia – the biggest collection in Western Australia!  We had a bit of a laugh and showed the manager the infamous camel picture.


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Breakers Bar & Café

Compared to the Camel Bar, this place was a bit quiet.  The décor was modern and sleek with a curved metallic bar, black couches and a stage for live music.  They do cheap meals throughout the week, including a $15 parma on Thursdays – hopefully we’ll have a chance to try one.



We had a round of drinks here before we realised we had a massive walk back home.  We fooled around with a floodlight on the way home, met some dudes who thought Dave’s beard was awesome, climbed some fences and got home just before midnight.



Abbey Church

Towns of the Avon Valley

The Avon Valley is located east of Perth and is dotted with historic towns.  We started with York and worked our way up towards New Norcia, with a stop at the Big Camera in Meckering on the way.


View Larger Map


About 60km east of Mundaring is York, a quiet, weekend town with lots of friendly folks.  The main strip is decorated with beautiful period buildings like the York Town Hall.  Built in 1911, it is the largest town hall ever built in WA and its elaborate Edwardian design plays an important part in the town’s identity.  We went for a stroll down the main street and stumbled upon Penny Farthing Sweets, a lolly shop that sells all sorts of local and imported sweets.  The guy is really nice and offered to take a photo of us with his penny farthing and some jumbo lolly pops.



Nearby town is the Swing Bridge, built by convicts in 1853 as the first temporary bridge to cross over the Avon River.  It was reconstructed in 1988 due to safety concerns. There is also the Sock Factory, which is a bit disappointing because it’s just a sock shop.  The York Mill is a little more interesting – the building used to be the old flour mill but is now a retail and hospitality complex.


Just outside of York is the Mount Brown Lookout.  The ascent is about 342m above sea level and gives stunning 360 degree views of York and the surrounds.  There are picnic facilities and electric BBQs and we stuck around for lunch after taking in the views.




This town was a lot bigger than what we expected. It was mainly a residential town with the standard shops and pubs, but it is also home to Australia’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge.



This great little town was originally establishment in the 1830s on the Avon River about 5km from the current town site.  The local Aboriginals called the area ‘duidgee’, which means place of plenty because there was heaps of wild game and bush tucker in the area.  The settlement moved up river 30 years later due to seasonal flooding.  It used to be called Newcastle after the Duke of Newcastle, and in 1911, the name was changed to Toodyay to avoid confusion with the town of Newcastle in New South Wales.



Toodyay also used to be Moondyne Joe’s home.  We learnt all about Moondyne Joe while exploring the Fremantle Prison so it was great to see the country town that he lived in.  Joseph Bolitho Johns arrived in Australia in 1853 to face about ten years of imprisonment because he stole some cheese, bread and bacon.  Because he was so well behaved on the ship, he was offered his ticket of leave to find employment, land and a woman when he arrived in Fremantle.  He worked in Fremantle until the end of 1854 before he received a conditional pardon and moved to Toodyay in 1860.  Over the next 10 years, Joseph was arrested twice, escaped prison six times and was eventually pardoned by the governor in 1873.  Every year on the first Sunday of May, the town holds the Moondyne Festival and the streets are filled with entertainment and displays.  There is even a moustache competition, but unfortunately we would be halfway up the west coast when the festival would be on.


A kooky attraction in town is the Cola Café & Museum.  It has heaps of Coca Cola paraphernalia like glasses, posters, clocks, tins, toys, everything you can imagine.  The collection started 60 years ago and there are now over 6,000 items.  The café serves retro food so grab something to eat while you check out all their junk.


New Norcia

A very quiet, tranquil town that was established in 1847 by Spanish Benedictine monks.  The monks live according to the guidance and rhythms of The Rule of St Benedict, which has been followed by monks since the 6th century.  When the monks settled in New Norcia, they experienced many hardships in the arid conditions of the Australian environment.  They taught the local Aborigines about agriculture and Christianity and in the early 1900s, two boarding schools were built – one for boys and one for girls. The emblem for the town includes the Latin word PAX, which means peace.



The town has a very strange atmosphere.  There were signs all over the place that said PRIVATE – NO ENTRY, or RESIDENTS ONLY, even though we never actually saw any residents.  The Abbey Church bell rang every 15 minutes and the busiest places in town were the pub and roadhouse.


The New Norcia Hotel was one of our favourite places.  The grand building was constructed in 1927 as a hostel for parents visiting their kids at the boarding schools.  We stopped by on our first day for a drink and got to taste some of the local beer and wine while listening to the jukebox play the worst of the 90s.


  • Abbey Ale – 7% deep golden clear brew with a refreshingly sweet and crisp taste full of tropical fruit, honey and malt and very gently hopped.
  • New Norcia Shiraz – full of sweet plums, prunes, chocolate and currants.  Fine, gentle tannins, a rum spirit and sweet like a fortified.
  • New Norcia Muscat Liqueur – a rich brown caramel with lots of spiced fruit flavours, smooth and warming with long-lasting finish of honey nut, caramel and coffee.



Our second favourite place in New Norcia was the swimming pool and it proved to be the perfect way to cool off.  The water was surprisingly cold.


If you plan to stay in New Norcia overnight, there are only two places to stay – The Roadhouse or next to the oval.  It costs $7 a night for an unpowered site.




We stopped by Bindoon on our way to the Coral Coast because we had strong recommendations for three independent sources that the town’s bakery was amazing.  When we rolled up, the small town looked fairly average with a strip of shops that included an IGA, butcher and a medical centre, but once our eyes set on the Bindoon Café & Bakehaus, we knew we were in for a treat.


Set in a new, modern building with a funky black and orange interior, the Bakehaus has been open since 2000 and is an award-winning business that makes great baked goods.  The friendly staff were more than happy to go through what pies and savouries they had available while we gazed at their massive range of cakes, slices and rolls.  Dave settled on a bacon and cheese sausage roll while Juz went for the steak, bacon and cheese pie.  Both were delicious with each ingredient’s flavour standing out individually.



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.



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.




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.



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.




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.



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.



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!




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.