We awoke to the rhythmic chirping of a small bird on our porch. The sky was overcast and the ground damp; a somewhat melancholy send off from an area we had definitely fallen in love with. We were eager to hit the road, though, since our day’s agenda included adding two new breweries and visiting a place like “gnome” other.
An hour and a half after leaving Margaret River, we passed through the small town of Dardanup and out to the Ferguson Valley. We were out in the country now — complete with herds of livestock lounging in pastures of tall brown grass. It was the perfect location for a place called the Moody Cow Brewery.
We arrived at opening time and made our way out to a table on the top level of the terraced deck. Moody Cow offered a taster paddle with five beers, including their award winning Grunta’s Original Ale and Zest, a low alcohol (3.2%) lemon and lime lager. The beers were all quite refreshing and more remarkably, sessionable (The Black Dog Pils was the highest ABV at 4.9%). The atmosphere was friendly and welcoming, just like you’d expect from a country brewery.
We chatted with the owner/brewer,Grant McClintock, who offered us a local’s perspective of our next stop: Gnomesville. We had first been told about Gnomesville by Rusty Creighton, a beer lover living in Perth who provided us with valuable information throughout our time in Western Australia. Rusty told us that if we were going to Moody Cow, we had to make a stop at Gnomesville, which was not far away. We weren’t exactly sure what Gnomesville was, but Grant gave us the scoop. So here it is:
Further down Ferguson Valley Road a roundabout had been built. This was exceedingly absurd to the locals, as traffic on this country road hardly necessitated it. As a protest, someone placed a garden gnome on the grassy area in the center. Well, gnomes apparently multiply like rabbits and soon there were loads of them. So many, in fact, that they outgrew the roundabout center and had to be moved to the side of the road.
We laughed at this, but still had no idea of the magnitude and draw of this Ferguson Valley attraction. Grant’s wife and children had placed their own family of gnomes in Gnomesville, which were unfortunately washed away in a flood. Of course they had to replace them. His wife is apparently very into Gnomesville, as are many other locals and visitors alike.
Now our interest was truly piqued and passing on a visit to Gnomesville was no longer an option. We just had to see what had everyone so captivated. We bid Grant good-bye and headed down the road to find this magical place.
As we approached the roundabout, I excitedly looked around, worried that we might miss it. When I saw it, I started laughing because there was no way we could have missed it! All I can say is “Wow!” It was the most insanely hysterical sight I have ever seen. It was also a tad frightening, but I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Chris and I saw a prime entrepreneurial opportunity in setting up a gnome gift shop, as surprisingly, there was none nearby. Not even someone selling them from the back of a pick-up truck. Otherwise we would have definitely paid an outrageous price for the privilege of placing our own gnome in the crowd. Chris did come up with the brilliant idea of establishing the Gnomesville Taphouse, the town’s first craft beer bar. Next time we visit, we’ll be better prepared. A big thanks goes out to Rusty for alerting us to this must-see attraction.
I seriously had difficulty tearing myself away from Gnomesville. I, too, had become enamored with the mystique that is Gnomesville. But the huge biting green flies were getting to be too much, so we decided to move on to our second brewery of the day: Old Coast Rd.
Driving down the deserted road off the highway, we missed the turn to the brewery. Chris and I realized our mistake (as we were getting further out into the bush) and eventually came upon the entrance. A spectacularly long driveway lined with olive trees led up to the large blue building sitting atop the hill. It had the standard open floor plan with a large deck, but we chose a table down on the lawn that spread out in front.
In addition to a cider, Old Coast Rd had three beers to try: a Wheat, Bitter, and Porter. Unfortunately they were out of their best selling beer, the Pils. They even had chilled beer towers, 4 or 2 ½ liters, so the beers could keep flowing at your table.
There was just the two of us, though, so we decided to pass. Of the three beers, the Wheat was our favorite. It had a wonderful banana nose and a nice cloudy golden color, a refreshing accompaniment to our snack of calamari and garlic bread.
Gnomesville was a hard act to follow but Old Coast Rd held its own. It was just what we needed before facing the big city: Perth.