I finally ticked off a place that had been on my radar for years – to visit Western Australia.
I love Australia and it's right next door from me over in New Zealand, and yet I hardly ever make it past Sydney or the east coast. But now that I have so many Australian friends, I've been hearing how amazing Western Australia is over and over again, especially Margaret River and finally had the chance to visit.
And for Gourmet Escape nonetheless, WA's extraordinary food and wine festival in Margaret river. All the yes!
You don't have to ask me twice.
I have so much to share about my week in WA for Gourmet Escape, but I wanted to kick it off by sharing my 20 favorite photos that *fingers crossed* might inspire you to visit Western Australia and fall in love with this part of the world too. Enjoy!
Before this trip, Perth had never really been on my radar. I have quite a friends from there, and often I've found my Aussie friends sort of brush it off, like meh, just another big city.
Let me set the record straight. Perth is freaking amazing. It's got that cool up-and-coming, funky creative vibe that I crave in cities. Think great street art, an amazing foodie scene, lots of events and cool stuff happening, and oh yeah, did I mention the beaches? And perfect weather?
Because Perth is on the other side of Australia from New Zealand, I was pretty excited to finally check out Air New Zealand's relatively new direct route from Auckland to Perth, without having to stopover anywhere, which wasn't too long, only about 6 hours. Anytime I don't have to layover in Sydney, I'm stoked!
Arrived in Perth and got picked up from the lawn at the Crown Towers for a private helicopter flight over the city with Corsaire Aviation
View from my EPIC room at the newly opened Crown Towers Perth – one night here was so not enough
Checking out some of the street art and amazing foodie spots and bars around Perth with Oh Hey WA! and excited to spot one of my fave artists' work – ROA. I have this wild theory – I think any city that invests in street art is a pretty cool city
That coastline! *drools*
Finally finally FINALLY made it to Rottnest Island – the land of the quokkas!
Unless you don't have Instagram, I am not sure how you might have missed the quokka selfie craze sweeping social media over recent years. The cutest, happiest, littlest marsupial, only found around these parts, I was dying to finally meet them on Rotto, an easy ferry ride away from Fremantle outside Perth.
Along with the epic beaches it didn't disappoint!
I love Australia!
Making friends with quokkas!
Three of my favorite things have to be food, wine, and beautiful places, so obviously Gourmet Escape in Margaret River was destined to be my new favorite thing.
In November every year, 50 of the best chefs in the world come together for a long weekend in the wine and culinary region of Margaret River of WA for the most extraordinary food and wine festival you've ever been to. And no, I don't say that lightly.
In addition to having festival grounds to explore with tons of foodie booths, local wines, even frozen rosés, and live music and even cooking classes, there are pop up meal events all over the Margaret River region that you can also visit. I spent my time going to both the festival grounds and also checking out some of the different events, from bbqs to fancy soirees.
I am definitely coming back! November 15- 18, 2018, mark your calendar guys!
Hanging out at the opening event the Audi Gourmet Beach BBQ where our dinner was cooked by famous chef Curtis Stone
My favorite moment was getting to fed by my favorite chef in the world – May Chow – Asia's best female chef in 2017 – and who runs Little Bao in Hong Kong, one of my favorite restaurants in the world. It's a happy diner vibe with bao burgers – just go. This was at a chef's table event on the festival grounds where May showed us how she perfected the art of the perfect bao.
Sunset at the Great Soiree at Fraser Gallop Estate – probably one of my favorite evenings and venues at Gourmet Escape – spot me?
One of my favorite events at Gourmet Escape was Feast in the Forest with famous Canadian chef Michael Hunter
Magic in a jar – a deconstructed s'more – I've been advocating for s'mores to make their way to Australia and New Zealand since I moved here and was STOKED to see it in WA
Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park and surrounds
WA is so colorful and vibrant like so many places in Australia, I couldn't handle it. Margaret River really packed a punch. You've got to visit Western Australia.
Crazy beautiful beaches, both white sand and clear blue water and also rocky and wild, lush green forests, and of course wineries. It has it all.
The first part of our trip we stayed in the northern part of the Margaret river region, exploring around Busselton, Dunsborough, up to Cape Naturaliste down to Yallingup, and it was so stunning. A lot of it is national park and part of the Cape to Cape Track, which I hope to do someday, filled with wild coastline and beautiful beaches. And whales.
Sunset at the iconic Sugarloaf Rock south of Cape Naturaliste
November was the end of the whale season in Margaret River and we saw so many while we were there, though the best was definitely on the whale watching tour with Naturaliste Charters
The view from our villa at Aqua Resorts with the sea in the distance and yes, our own private heated pool
Lunch at Eagle Bay Brewery – Margaret River is not just a wine growing region – there are also some amazing local breweries too
One of the many stunning coastlines around Margaret River
In the Margaret River region, there is also the little sleepy town of Margaret River itself which we kept passing through.
Filled with cute shops, adorable cafes and fine dining, we probably could have easily hung here the whole time.
So many delicious foodie spots in Margaret River – like the local bakery
Glamping at Wild Goose Camping at Big Valley on a local farm – definitely a highlight!
Our last day in WA we made our way all the way to the bottom of Margaret River to check out Augusta and the famous Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, which is tucked away at the very edge of Australia on the most southwesterly point.
The drive down to Augusta was stunning, passing through wild forests filled with flowers and along white sandy beaches before arriving at what feels like the end of the world – the lighthouse.
What a trip. WA, I'll be back for you.
Do you want to visit Western Australia or Margaret River? Do you love food and wine festivals like me? Share!
Many thanks to Gourmet Escape for hosting (and feeding) me in Western Australia. Like always, I'm keeping it real – all opinions are my own, like you could expect less from me! And a million thanks to miss Madeleine Jones for helping me photograph WA!
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