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My Secret Margaret River: Virginia Willcock

Virgina Willcock, winemaker at Vasse Felix, gives away her secret must-visit spots in Australia’s Margaret River.

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To get to Margaret River you have to fly to the world’s most isolated continental capital city, Perth, and then drive three hours south. Some may wonder whether we have moved on from the horse and cart!

To the contrary, Margaret River is a cosmopolitan country town which has blossomed since its modern wine industry began in the late sixties. The region has the most pristine beaches, cliffs and forests in the world, and in my mind is the coolest destination outside any city. Those who come here have heard how amazing it is and make the journey without disappointment. Many never leave!

Visit in summer for a beach adventure (November is the Margaret River Gourmet Escape, April is the Margaret River Pro) or enjoy a cosy country getaway and breathtaking colourful landscapes in winter. Both options are equally spectacular.

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Margaret River the wine region also has a town called Margaret River which is the stunning town in which I live. Around town you will find a mix of hardcore surfers, eclectic talented artists, cutting-edge chefs surrounded with awesome produce and winemakers who are passionate about making quality, world-class wines.

Chefs and winemakers love to eat and drink, so the town is full of great venues. After enjoying lunch at your pick of some of Australia’s best winery restaurants (Leeuwin Estate, Cape Lodge, Wills Domain and our very own restaurant at Vasse Felix), save some time to visit some of my favourite places.

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Eat: I love to eat at “Miki’s Open Kitchen” Tempura style Japanese, its tiny and you need to book but it’s worth it, or “La Scapetta“, Rustic Italian at the start of town with a great zampone (stuffed pig trotter on lentils).

Drink: My cellar at home does serve me well, but I do love to hit the awesome house brewed beer on tap and incredible wine list at the “Settlers Tavern“. Great bands on weekends and a fun Sunday session in the beer garden out front with live acoustic artists. (And they’ve just put in a meat smoker too.)  “Morries” offers unique home-made cocktails, with the most fun bar staff in town.

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Sleep: I would recommend booking somewhere in town so you can go out for a few drinks and walk home. There are many apartment rentals in town you can find online. For a more relaxing oceanside luxe experience, Injidup Spa retreat is unbeatable. Alternatively, save on your accommodation by camping at Hamelin Bay, a beautiful beach out of town to the south.

Shop: The Farmers Market on Saturday morning is well worth visiting for great local produce, especially the lamb and pig from “The Farm Shop”. Also go to “Sugar Man“, the coolest shop in town for art, t-shirts, jeans, jackets and most of all, the best coffee to drink while you look around. There are so many great places for coffee though. Blue Ginger is a sit down option with the best gourmet deli in town (this is where I generally see all my local mates on a Saturday morning after the markets). Alternatively, go to Brewshack. It is run by beautiful girls – so all the boys go here for coffee – meaning beautiful people are everywhere!

See: The vineyards and estates are surrounded by beaches, caves and forests. If you can, find a 4-wheel-drive and head to Wilyabrup beach/cliffs. Unbelievably stunning. The whole coast is amazing really and most main sites are accessible by a normal car, just head west and make your own adventure discovering the rugged cliffs and hidden beaches. In summer, swim at Redgate Beach to the south or Smith’s Beach to the north. And if you are arty pop in to Jahroc Gallery which is in town itself.

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Thanks Victoria! You can browse our range of Australian wines here.

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