Chocolate, wine, beach, lighthouse and gorgeous sunset. Just a few of my favourite things!

Margaret River Travel Blog

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the wall of chocolate
Yesterday, thanks in part to the time change and to the fact that I was bed ridden the night before, I was up nice and early. The first stop of the day was the Margaret River Chocolate Factory. Anyone who knows me would know that it was a 'must see' on my weekend adventure.

I pulled up to the outwardly unattractive three-toned coloured building. I didn't let the ugliness of the building sway me and I went inside to see what all the chocolate fuss was about (I was told by several people to go there).

Well I walked in and the first thing I saw was the wall full of chocolate. They also had chocolate bunnies, bears, eggs (Easter's coming) as well as chocolate soap, bath salts, about a dozen different kinds of sweet sauces and well lots and lots of chocolate in bar shape.
I settled on a bag of "a very expensive version of a cherry ripe", a bar of cookies and creme chocolate, a dark chocolate bar and a package with chocolate covered macadamia nuts, almonds and cashews. I can't wait to dig into that one!!

After my stopover to chocoholics heaven, I went to my second favourite type of store: a winery. There's a bit of an inside joke as to why I picked the particular winery which has a range of wines called Verse 1 and feature a naked stone statuette playing a flute on the bottle. I'd tried the shiraz and liked it and thought I'd try some of the more pricey wines by the same company. So off I went to Brookfield Winery which is about a 10 minute drive from the chocolate factory. One important note about the Margaret River region is that there is a different winery at least every 500m.
As you're driving there are "winery this way" signs pretty much everywhere. So to pick a winery based on a naked flute playing statue seems just as good as any reason to pick this winery over all the others. It just so happens that this winery also won the "Winery of the Year 2009" award so I figured I couldn't really go wrong.

Although my knowledge of wineries is more than lacking, I have to say that the Brookfield winery is quite spectacular. You drive down a road along side the vines and end at the "cellar door" building, which is next to the Flutes Cafe. I looked at the menu and the food sounded good if not expensive! Since I arrived at 10:02, which is 2 minutes after it opened, I was the only person there. It was nice since I had the owner's undivided attention. He told me there had been a wedding there the day before just behind the building I was standing in.
The beach at Gracetown
It would have been a perfect spot for a wedding, set amongst the vineyard and along side a brook. He also let me in on some of the other wineries in the area such as the winery to visit if you want to see "$20 million wasted on a bunch of buildings".

I asked if I could try some wines and after joking that it was too early in the morning for wine, he started pouring out some reds. After trying a couple starting at the least expensive, I settled on a 2004 Cabernet Merlot. It was one of the, if not the best, wines I've ever tasted. I bought two bottles for $90.

My plan was to start heading north towards Dunsborough and the nearby beaches. Along the way I stopped at Gracetown Beach which is supposed to be a great place to surf.
Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse
After a quick stopover, I continued north to Yallingyup. I drove towards the "town" which as far as I could determine, is a cafe and a bunch of accommodation for travellers. I bought a really bad takeaway coffee and sat on the beach, watching the surfers. The waves were much bigger here than at Margaret River and some of the guys (or girls, I couldn't tell) were catching some pretty big waves. I was very impressed and hadn't seen anything like it before.

Continuing northward, I bypassed Dunsborough and headed towards Cape Naturaliste and the lighthouse. Not too far along the road, I saw two hitchhikers trying to get to Eagle Bay, which is one of the places I was heading towards. It was a guy and a girl and I figured I might as well give them a lift. I didn't think they'd actually fit in my tiny 3 door hatchback with all their stuff but they managed.
The beach at Bunker Bay
The girl was from Germany and guy was from France. They'd been in Australia for a year and had seen everything between Cairns and Perth, travelling around Australia clockwise.

After I dropped them off on the beach, I went for a tour of the lighthouse. The tour guide said the tour group an hour earlier had seen a huge kangaroo but we weren't so lucky. I reckon (mom, that's for you) it must be difficult to make a lighthouse tour interesting, but the tour guide was quite good. There had been a really bad fire on February 9th so the view from the top wasn't as nice as it would have been a month and a half earlier when all the nearby bush wasn't black. She did say that the area is known for is whale sightings so I'll have to go back and visit in September.
Sugarloaf Rock


My next stop was Bunkers Bay. Lonely Planet told me I should stop in at the Bunkers Bay Cafe for some food and the views. The name "Cafe" is a bit misleading because it's a rather expensive restaurant. I went with the deep fried yellow fin and chips. Add a glass of wine to that and it was $30 and that was one of the lesser expensive items on the menu. The view was quite nice though and I was seated at a table next to the window. Being there by myself, I spent most of my time reading my book but glanced over at the ocean every so often :)

Feeling a bit happy after my wine, I walked down to the beach and laid out on the sand. It wasn't very warm, but I had on long shorts and a jumper. It was nice laying out, hearing the waves crashing nearby. The beach (probably about a kilometre long) had about a dozen people on it, but I can imagine how busy it must be on the weekends during summer.
The rocks on the way to the fishing grounds


The next sight to see was Sugarloaf Rock. After receiving Dave's personal recommendation, I drove over to see it. It was nice and all, but after seeing the Twelve Apostles during a sunset along the Great Ocean Road, it was just a big rock. I suppose it's worth seeing if you're in the area and have 20 minutes to spare.

Standing up on the ledge looking at the rock, I finally had mobile reception and an invitation from Dave to meet them for some fishing. So off I went back to Yallingyup (about 20 km away) to meet them at Smiths Beach. Unfortunately for me, they were fishing out on a big rock that was not so easy to get to. Having injured my back, climbing amongst the rocks was a bit difficult, then I lost one of my flip flops and I watched it float away. I got next to the big rock, but there was about a meter of water between where I was and where they were.
Sunset
After a bit of coaxing, I jumped over and managed to scramble to the top.

The boys weren't having much luck and after losing two hooks and whatever else you need when fishing besides the pole, Dave gave up and we headed back towards the shore. I did get to experience "fishing" when his brother caught a little stingray and another tiny fish. Getting off the big rock was more tough than getting on it and I ended up soaked up to my waist. With his fishing rod, Dave rescued my flip flop. The trip down to Smiths Beach was topped off with a fantabulous sunset, with the sky lit up in lots of reds, pinks and oranges.

Afterwards I drove back up north to my hotel for the night in Busselton. Despite driving in the dark, I managed not only to find my hotel but not hit a kangaroo (which I was told might happen). A successful end to a busy day 2!
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the wall of chocolate
the wall of chocolate
The beach at Gracetown
The beach at Gracetown
Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse
Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse
The beach at Bunker Bay
The beach at Bunker Bay
Sugarloaf Rock
Sugarloaf Rock
The rocks on the way to the fishin…
The rocks on the way to the fishi…
Sunset
Sunset
more chocolate
more chocolate
the chocolate store from the outsi…
the chocolate store from the outs…
Entrance to Brookland Valley Winery
Entrance to Brookland Valley Winery
the little flute playing fairy boy
the little flute playing fairy boy
Sunset
Sunset
Margaret River
photo by: Adrian_Liston