When I first heard “Margaret River” I thought of green, rolling hills sloping down and around a wide, meandering river.
There is Margaret River, the town, and there’s Margaret River, the region. They are two very different things.
The town of Margaret River is a small tourist town on the southern end of Western Australia. While the town itself easy to find, the river itself is not. Margaret River has everything you may need to replenish your pantry or caravan/campervan. On Saturdays, there’s a bustling farmers market which brings the local ‘farm stalls’ together, along with some other hidden gems, which aren’t open to the public otherwise. There are restaurants and pubs, supermarkets and services, just like most towns and it’s definitely a tourist destination, thanks mostly to the the award-winning wineries in the region.
The region is popular but it’s not only for the wine lovers. We don’t drink wine much anymore (Rich, not at all) so the wineries didn’t hold our interest.
The Margaret River Region is, to our delight, a foodie heaven. There’s local farm produce, down to earth goodies and gourmet offerings all over the place.
After going here and going there, we decided to head out one day and create our own ‘DIY Food Tour of the Margaret River Region’. I loved it! I mean, give me a good cheese, some delicious sourdough, a nice, tasty olive oil and crunchy dukkah*, and I’m a happy girl. This Do-It-Yourself Food Your can be done at your own pace. You can do it one day or you can do it over a weekend, and pop into some wineries as you go.
There’s so much available for wine tour information in this region, but the fact is, not everyone is into wines. We like options. These finds took some research via conversations with locals who advised us to ‘go here, but you can skip there’. Many of these places came up in multiple conversations.
We were excited to experience these places for ourselves, so we give you our insight too. Like any place, there’s BOUND to be more of these gems tucked away.
Come and check out our amazing finds within a 100km radius of the township of Margaret River.
Please note: We’ve put together a full day’s itinerary, so have a hearty breakfast but leave enough room for tastings along the way!
Click Google map to guide you.
Margaret River Region DIY Food Tour
Here’s our suggestion for the best the Margaret River Region has to offer:
Hit the Farmer’s Market in Margaret River on Saturday morning.
Pick up some coffee at one of the many coffee trucks at the market. You can’t go wrong with whichever you choose. They are all great.
The Bakery offers one of the biggest stalls and it has some amazing breads for sale. My mouth is watering, just thinking about their sourdough. They also sell some pastries, that will go nicely with that coffee you just picked up.
While wandering the market, pick up some fresh fruit to compliment the picnic goodies you’re about to pick up today. There is fresh fish and lamb also available, so have your fridge or esky (cooler) cold and ready to go in your car if you decide to buy.
Jump in the car, it’s time to hit the road.
Head north on the Bussell Highway and take a left on Carters Road. Take it all the way to the end and turn right on Caves Road
Begin the farm gating at the Margaret River Venison Farm. Located between Ellensbrook and Cowaramup Bay Roads, the Venison Farm is just off of Caves Road. You can buy multiple venison products from fresh fillets to biltong but also other game meats like kangaroo fillets, wild rabbit, crocodile sausages and goat leg. We’re were feeling that adventurous, so we left with some peppered biltong, which made Rich a happy man.
Heading north, stop in at the Cheeky Monkey but let me warn you: It’s worth the stop only for the candles and coffee in their gift shop. A local told us that they are considered cheeky monkeys for the amount they charge for their mediocre tasting, sample size plates of food. We wish we’d known that before we stopped there but we were hungry. Lesson learned. There are other, better places for lunch, so check out their shop, but don’t be tempted by their menu.
Return south on Cave Road and take a left on Tom Cullity Drive. Providore is the next stop.
Providore is filled with all kinds of jams, preserves, dressings, spices, chutneys and sauces. You can taste almost everything, where small plastic spoons are strategically placed around the room, ready for tastings. The organic garden outside is beautiful and a delight to wander through, smelling all the aromas as you pass by. I was tempted to pick a few things and offer them some money inside, but sadly, that’s not how it works. Their garden is used primarily to produce their offerings.
Just a few metres up the road is the Margaret River Chocolate Company, located on the corner of Cave Road and Harmans Mill Road. The best part, I think about the chocolate Factory are the sample bowls of the various chocolate chips. Milk, white and dark. Pick up a sampling to nibble on as you wander the vast mounds of chocolate displays. This is more of a cash cow than anything, but we were happy to pick up dark chocolate covered pretzels, something we see rarely in Australia, which didn’t last very long at all! The rocky road looked tempting, but I can eat that before I’m out of the parking lot, so it was best not to buy.
Head east along Harmans Mill Road then south on the Bussell Highway.
Right after you turn onto the highway, you’ll see the Margaret River Dairy Company. Like the Chocolate Factory, this is more a big shop, but do pick up some of their award-winning Black Label Triple Cream Brie. It’s mouth-watering stuff. Their vintage cheddar is nice too, with a couple of plain or, our preference, Jatz (Pepper) crackers.
Head south to Margaret River. Don’t worry, the tour is NOT over yet.
If you didn’t hit the markets (or if it’s not a Saturday), stop into the Margaret River Bakery.
The bakery is on the left side of the Bussell Highway, as you approach the Margaret River town. If you haven’t stopped at the Saturday Market, this is where to can pick up some freshly baked sourdough. Or any kind of bread you desire, to compliment all of the yummy offerings you’re picking up along the way.
It’s time for a rest before you continue on, and we suggest Millers Ice Cream.
We have decided (at publication) that Millers have the best ice cream in Australia. Believe me, we’ve been testing ice cream and gelatos all the way from Cairns, down the east coast of Australia and clear across the country, in search of THE best in Australia. (Someone has to do it, right?!)
Here’s a tip: While there is a Miller’s Farm (back near the Dairy Company off the Bussell Highway), we suggest visiting Miller’s Ice Cream shop in Margaret River instead. The Miller’s Ice Cream shop has more offerings than the farm and they allow tastings before you choose your flavour (the farm shop does not allow this). The shop is located on the right as you head southbound, on the southern end of town. You can’t miss it. There’s a big cow out the front. We recommend chocolate and the (absolutely delicious) salted caramel as a double scoop. (You’re welcome.)
OK, you’ve sugared up on ice cream, so it’s time to continue the tour!
We’re heading to The Berry Farm. Head south, through the roundabout and the turn off to Rosa Glen Road is a little further on the left. The Berry Farm is a distance off the main road, but it’s worth the drive (and you get to see more of the region this way too!).
Like Providore, you can sample all the jams, sauces, syrups, preserves and dressings. The Berry Farm is not large, but it’s a pretty spot to be for a while. Take a moment to enjoy a coffee outside, and if you can fit it in, their award-winning scones served with cream and their own strawberry. Enjoy the blue wrens and silver eyed wrens flitter around, trying to get a bit of scone from your plate.
Heading back toward the Bussell Highway, stop in to Vasse Virgin on the corner on Rosa Glen Road and the Bussell Highway. You’ll also see Temper Temper Fine Chocolate here as well, but we’re leaving that little nugget until last.
Vasse Virgin sounds ominous, but it’s all about Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Inside you’ll find really informative sales staff who will guide you on the products. They offer both foodie stuff and body care products but I’m sticking to the foodie stuff here. Feel free to check out the body care though! Vasse Virgin’s story is one birthed from desperation to find a solution for their son and it’s gone gangbusters from there.
Vasse Virgin have some amazing gourmet offerings and, while I was originally only interested in the olive oil, we walked out with a lot more. The company works with a chef to create their food products and it shows. You can sample the offerings here. The macadamia pesto tastes amazing, made simply with some tagliatelle. Their Mediterranean Dukkah* puts most others we’ve tried to shame.
The last stop on the DIY Food Tour of the Margaret River Region is Temper Temper Fine Chocolate. I can’t say I’m saving the best until last but I’m saving an amazing stop until last. If you want to visit only one chocolate company while in Margaret River (are you crazy?!), then Temper Temper should be THE one you visit.
When you walk into Temper Temper, it looks like a nice little chocolate shop … and that’s about it. But ask about the chocolate and you’ll be amazed at what you learn. Walk around the back of the counter and you’ll see different types of chocolate lined up under glass kloches (or domes), all labelled with the varying levels of chocolate. Sample the beans all the way from the 100% to the lesser intense and you’ll finally discover the exact kind of chocolate which makes your heart sing. As you wander the store, you’ll see a lot of varieties. We picked up a few options, including the peanut butter milk chocolate and the salted caramel dark chocolate.
But we’re not done yet.
You cannot leave Temper Temper without picking up a hot chocolate. Dark, if you please. It is seriously THE best hot chocolate I’ve ever had. There’s no after taste. There’s no grittiness. It’s just pure chocolate holiness.
What a damn fine way to finish a DIY Food Tour of the Margaret River Region!
BILTONG: Biltong is a form of dried, cured meat, originating in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia. It is similar to jerky but there is a difference between biltong and jerky. Typically biltong meat is cut into strips that are one inch wide – sometimes thicker – where as jerky is normally very thin. Vinegar, salt and spices are added to biltong and, together with the drying process, cure the meat. Jerky is also dried, but without the addition of vinegar and salt.
DUKKAH: Although Dukkah originated in Egypt, Aussie’s have made it our own using native herbs and spices. It’s fast becoming a popular condiment in Australia. It’s a fragrant roasted nut and spice blend, traditionally served alongside olive oil and a fresh crusty bread. We’ve used it when roasting vegetables, or sprinkled over fish before grilling.
TAGLIATELLE – a variety of pasta. They are generally long, thin ribbons, similar to fettucine, only narrower, approximately ¼ inches wide. They can also be found in coiled ‘nests’ or sold in straight strands.
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