Updated: Jan 21, 2020
Let’s be honest, if we live in this part of Australia, we can consider ourselves very lucky. As well as a great place to put down roots, I see Bunbury as a fantastic hub for travel around the South West. As you will see from my past blogs, there is nothing Lisa and I like more than to jump in the car and visit some of our country towns. Now that our boys are old enough and questionably responsible enough to stay at home on their own, we have found our days out have now extended to weekends. With that in mind, we decided we would make the short ninety-minute journey and surround ourselves with forest, ocean, wildlife and vineyards. Lets just say we were more than impressed with the local paradise that is…..Augusta.
First things first, lets talk about accommodation. We booked Friday and Saturday night at Wisteria Cottage. As we pulled off the main road onto a gravel driveway that leads to the property, we were met by four dogs and Bev, the owner. Wow what a welcome! The dogs were very excited to see us. This rural getaway is nothing short of stunning. The accommodation is a retreat separate from the main house. The first thing we noticed as we entered is how spotlessly clean everything was. There is a fully equipped kitchen, a lounge and dining area, large bedroom and separate bathroom and toilet. It was perfect for our weekend stay.
In the kitchen there was cloth covered basket – my curiosity was aroused. I whipped off the cloth to see what lay beneath. I wasn’t disappointed. Some freshly baked bread, (it was still warm), some butter, various jars of local preserves, a bar of Lindt chocolate, and a bottle of local wine. What an amazing gesture. In the fridge was some eggs freshly laid by the resident chooks and some milk. The owners really think of everything and supply everything you would need to get you through the first few hours of your stay. There is also plenty of tea and coffee to revive you after your journey.
Wisteria Cottage sits on 13 acres of beautiful countryside. Our evenings were spent outside just marvelling at the beauty of our surroundings. There is even a couple of chairs and a table overlooking a nearby paddock where you can sit with a glass of your favourite tipple, (wine in our case, and it was a bottle not a glass!), and watch the kangaroos having their evening graze.
What could be more Australian than sitting outside on a warm summers evening watching a mob of kangaroos being cheered on by the raucous laughter of some nearby Kookaburras. Simply heaven!
Location could not be any better. It takes nine minutes to get into Augusta. There are many local attractions nearby – far too many to visit on a weekend. Bev is a wealth knowledge when it comes to the local area, everything from places of interest to the best venue to get fish and chips, (more about that in a minute). If you are thinking about having a few days away in this stunning corner of our country, I really can not recommend Wisteria Cottage enough. The word paradise does not do it justice.
So, first night, after settling into our little piece of heaven, I got to thinking what would sit well in between the slices of that fresh loaf. The answer was simple…some fresh hot chips.
“Blue Ocean in Augusta do the best fish and chips” Bev informed us. Well, you can’t beat local knowledge in my opinion. We set off for Augusta with mouths watering in anticipation. Half an hour later, we were back at Wisteria Cottage with a couple of cans of craft beer from the local bottle shop and two wrapped parcels of Snapper, chips and a pineapple fritter times two.
It was clear that Bev knew her stuff. The fish was exquisite. Nice crisp batter obviously cooked in fresh oil. Chips, as predicted made the perfect chip butties. Disaster was averted when we realised, we had forgot to bring salt and vinegar. After a quick look through the cupboards, we found the essential condiments. Another tick for Wisteria Cottage. With full bellies we settled in front of the T.V for an hour, before retiring for the night. About T.V. There are also loads of DVD’s to choose from should you fancy a night in snuggled up on the sofa.
The following morning, we were serenaded awake by the multitude of local birds that also make Augusta their home. What an enchanting way to wake up. It puts a smile on your face from the get-go. After a nice relaxed breakfast, we headed out to Boranup Gallery.
We had seen this suggested in the “things to do” section of the information booklet at the cottage. Lisa is very much into her art so we thought this would be a good place to try. It was only a short fifteen-minute drive away. There is some fantastic local art on display, as well as some stunning furniture. We spent a good hour walking around the gallery. In addition to the paintings and furniture, there is also locally made glass, jewellery and lots of other locally produced crafts. We were glad to see they had a café too. A latte and a long black were most welcome.
Any trip to this part of the world would not be complete without a visit to Hamelin Bay. As well as a very good beach, there is the unique experience of getting up close and personal with the huge stingrays that come right up to the shoreline. We have done this many times so because time as against us, we just rocked up and took a few photos for the purpose of the blog. The people standing in the water are actually stroking the stingrays!
Followers of my blogs would have worked out long ago that one of my passions is food. Before we left for our trip, we had already sussed out where we were going to have lunch. Many years ago, when we still lived in the UK, we had dinner at a posh restaurant near our hometown. At that meal, we had a bottle of the most amazing wine. We made a point of peeling the label of the bottle so we could remember it for future reference. When we moved to Australia and settled in Bunbury, we realised to our delight that we were only an hour or so away from the winery that had produced this absolute belter of wine. We made a point of visiting it and trying some more of their outstanding vino. That was over ten years ago and vowed that we would return again one day. When we saw that they offer a really good lunch menu, the choice was simple. Hamelin Bay winery here we come.
If you are going to a winery for lunch, in my humble opinion, it’s pretty rude if you don’t taste the wine. Lisa and I did not need any encouragement! I mean, come on, how else would we decide what bottle to order for lunch. We worked our way through the list reds and whites and settled for the amusingly titled “Rampant White” It was a young Sauvignon Blanc, its absence of being barrelled for any length of time gave it a vibrant citrus zing. It reminded us of the New Zealand Marlborough’s that both Lisa and I love.
Hamelin Bay Winery has a great little lunch menu. After much deliberation, Lisa settled for a squid starter and a spaghetti main
I opted for a Chorizo and Haloumi salad followed by the special of the day, a pulled pork Asian inspired dish.
Lisa’s squid was superb. When squid is cooked this well, it’s just a delight. No mouthful of rubber here thank you very much! The spaghetti was silky smooth and married to a thick tomato sauce. Lisa choose to have it with prawns– chicken was also on offer. Lisa’s only small quibble was there could have been more prawns and less spaghetti as she struggled to finish the meal.
The Chorizo and Haloumi salad was the standout for me. The Chorizo packed just enough heat to make it comfortable, it was more like putting you tongue on the well-insulated door to Hades rather that the metal hinges on the other side! The Haloumi had the perfect squeak on the teeth that is the trademark of this Cypriot cheese. A perfect ménage ἁ trois was completed by a smoky barbeque sauce. The bed for this illicit tryst was some fresh peppery rocket. Stunning.