9 September 2016 by Eleanor Kania
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 forests and stunning national parks are just a few.
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 treetop 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.
Top five foodie experiences in Australia's South West
1. Black truffles
Over the past few years, West Australia has produced record crop numbers of these 'black diamonds' and is the biggest producer outside Europe. One of the most expensive food commodities in the world, truffle prices are between $2,000 and $2,500 per kilogram. Join a truffle hunt at Wine And Truffle Co and help Sunny, the truffle dog, sniff out food's holy grail.
2. The grape escape
Margaret River is home to more than 220 boutique wine producers and 100 cellar doors. Take an insider's tour of some of the best in Margaret River and compare its signature Sauvignon Semillon and Cabernet Sauvignon blends with the Rieslings and Merlots being produced in the cooler and up-and-coming southern areas of Mt Barker and Frankland.
3. Albany oysters
Catch your own supper on a fishing trip on the wild Southern Ocean or taste oysters on the dock at Albany, a former whaling town, which has rebuilt itself on premium food and wine production as well as tourism. The Albany Farmers Market has also been voted the best in Australia.
4. Tips from the experts
Take part in a cooking lesson at Cape Lodge, a five-star boutique hotel in Margaret River, where some of the world's best chefs come to stay. Or, get off the beaten track at Foragers in the southern forests where artisan producers will teach you cheese-making and bread baking with local ingredients.
5. Try some bush tucker
Paddle up Margaret River in a canoe, explore caves and enjoy an alfresco picnic of smoked kangaroo and emu, bush salad and selection of local chutneys and breads. Or, take a bushwalk with an aboriginal guide to learn how to identify traditional plants, foods and medicines relating to the aboriginal six seasons and try your hand at the art of traditional fire lighting.