16 September 2015 by Tim Tan
Margaret River and the South West is the perfect gourmet getaway but as well as fantastic food and wine, it also has pristine beaches, towering forests and amazing wildlife.
One of the best times to go is November when some of the world's best chefs, including Heston Blumenthal and Rick Stein, arrive for the Margaret River Gourmet Escape. Get inspired with our gourmet guide to Western Australia and discover your own recipes that rock with these tailor made tours.
A slice of the real Australia
If when you think of Australia, your mind's eye flickers with images of whitewashed beaches all to yourself, of driving on dusty outback tracks beneath sunset-coloured mountains, of kangaroos, dogs in utes, cold beers, fine wines and encounters with the kind of marine life that would arouse envy in Jacques Cousteau, then the Australia you are thinking of is Western Australia.
And the good news is, it's closer than you think. You can fly to Perth from the UK in around 18 hours, which is four hours less than the shortest flight to Sydney. And that's not the only good news. Because Perth is in a different time zone to both Sydney and Melbourne (three hours behind), getting over your jet lag is easier too (Perth is just seven hours ahead of the UK in winter and eight in summer). It also officially Australia's sunniest state capital.
Whenever you visit you are guaranteed to find idyllic weather somewhere in WA. In the southern half of the state a Mediterranean climate means fine weather generally prevails from September to May, although WA's summer months (December to February) offer the best sunbathing conditions, with regular 30C days. In the Australian ‘winter' you can chase the sun into the tropical north, where the dry season offers long warm days between May and October.
Experience Perth - Australia's sunniest capital city
Australia's sunniest capital city, Perth, offers a vibrant, yet easy-going outdoors lifestyle surrounded by the beautiful Swan River, Kings Park and Botanical Gardens and 19 city beaches lapped by the Indian Ocean. There's also a vibrant food scene, personified by chef Matt Stone, who runs the restaurant Greenhouse and stars in Recipes that Rock, a six-part food series on the UK Food Network celebrating the Margret River region's local produce.
Historic port town Fremantle buzzes with coffee shops, the markets and the Maritime Museum. Just out to sea are Rottnest's idyllic bays and unspoiled beaches.
Southwards, Mandurah and Rockingham have a relaxed pace and plenty of marine life, including a friendly community of dolphins. To the east, the Perth Hills and the Swan and Avon Valleys are home to rolling hills and superb wines. In the north, Lancelin promises pristine coastline, plus fishing and active pursuits like windsurfing.
Visit Australia's South West for a taste of Western Australia
Originally famous for chilled out surfing towns and unspoilt beaches, there is so much more to explore in the south west pocket of Western Australia. Gourmet producers, award winning wines, towering forest, and stunning national parks are just some of things you'll find here.
This leafy region ranges from the established family wineries and beachside spas of Margaret River (which produces 25% of Australia's fine wines) to the wild coastline and tree top walks of Denmark and oyster fields and whale watching in Albany. Those seeking adventure will be spoilt for choice with surfing, kayaking, diving, cycling, caving and abseiling, while nature lovers will love the wildflowers, dolphin swims and bird watching.
Margaret River Gourmet Escape
This November some of the biggest names in food will be congregating for the Margaret River Gourmet Escape food and drink festival and you can join them. Chefs, sommeliers, critics and restaurateurs will lead a star studded line up of personalities that, in the course of a three-day culinary adventure will be talking, cooking, and hosting events, demonstrations and Q&As, on 21-23 November 2014. The main event is the Gourmet Village, which is popping up for the weekend at Leeuwin Estate Winery.