Thanks to Augusta Margaret River Tourism for
the help and support on this portion of our trip.
During our first day in the Margaret River area, Merideth and I fell in love with its scenery, beer and food. We regretted having only one more day to experience the charm of the area. But, that is the life of the beer traveler. Western Australia had other regions to explore with more breweries to visit.
We were on the road relatively early, heading south from Margaret River towards Augusta. Our first stop day of the day was Cape Leeuwin at the southwest corner of the Australian continent. Where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet, Cape Leeuwin was often the first landfall for many European ships in the days of sail. Given its importance to seafaring, the main attraction of the cape was it’s lighthouse built in 1896.
But before our lighthouse tour, we decided to check out the two oceans a couple of hundred yards apart. Walking down to the Southern Ocean along a rock strewn trail, I must have stepped on a small snake. Merideth had to wait a minute or so for the writhing reptile to slither under a rock. Relating the story to our lighthouse tour guide later, he remarked that the snake was highly venomous. Oops!
As we climbed the 176 steps to the top, we learned the history and workings of the lighthouse, plus some of the local lore. At the top, we were treated to an amazing panoramic view of both oceans and the surrounding countryside. Several hundred yards offshore, we could even see where the two oceans met, a surge of whitewater marking waves from each ocean colliding. At least on this day, it looked like the Indian Ocean was winning.
One of the hidden geographical features of the Margaret River region is several caves. Driving north back on the aptly named Caves Rd., we passed both Jewel and Lake Caves on the way to Mammoth Cave. We chose Mammoth as its self-guided tour fit better into our hectic schedule.
Discovered around 1850 but not mapped until 1895, Mammoth lived up to its name. Walking the 500 meter length, we passed through a number of massive chambers, all adorned with rock formations hanging from the ceiling or projecting from the cave floor. The most impressive of these was the Mammoth Shawl, with it’s red/orange ribbons.
With our outdoor and underground activities done for the day, it was time our first beer stop of the day, Colonial Brewing back in Margaret River.
Colonial was another modern, open brewpub with a beery touch, including chandeliers made out of growlers. We set up shop outside in a shady spot with a gorgeous view of the surrounding countryside to sample the Colonial brews.
Colonial had five beers in their paddle. Merideth picked up the first beer and asked, “Which beer is this…?” Colonial’s big contribution to the beer world is that they have solved the age-old ‘which beer is this’ problem in a sample flight of beers. Each tasting glass was labeled with the beer style, plus there were short tasting notes on the back.
Colonial’s lineup was solid from front, a Kölsch to back, a Porter. True to form, Merideth picked the delightful, clean Kölsch as her beer of the paddle. It was another hot and humid day in southwestern Australia and the brew lived up to its description as a refreshing summer beer.
Equally predictable as Merideth, I chose the India Pale Ale as my favorite. Hopped aggressively like I prefer, the IPA still had a lightish body that paired almost as well as the Kölsch with the weather. And the tasting notes also had my new favorite phrase, “forest floor of hops.” I’m going to start using it as soon as I figure out what it means.
After a short stop at Millers Ice Cream to sample some “Cow to Cone” goodness, we were headed back to Wilyabrup for our next brewery. Set on 74 acres next to a lake, Bootleg Brewery opened its doors in 1994. As one of the original craft breweries in Western Australia, Bootleg has won many awards for its brews.
There were seven beers on Bootleg’s paddle and three were in contention for my ‘best of’ award. The Hefe was a wonderful banana bomb, quenching on the hot day. Settler’s Pale Ale was brewed in the American style with lots of citrusy hops. But in the end, the runaway winner was Wild Ginger Wheat. Kind of how I like my IPAs, the brew was aggressively ‘gingered.’ As the brewery says, “If you’re not a HOPHEAD… You’re a GINGER NUT!”
We had one more brewery to complete the Margaret River portion of our journey. Duckstein Brewery in Wilyabrup was the poshest of the posh breweries we visited on the whole trip. We have been to over 700 breweries now and Duckstein was the first with a reflecting pool complete with a heroic-looking horse statue. The only thing that deterred from the amazing setting was the low water level of the water feature.
Merideth and I had a great sense of satisfaction as we relaxed on the deck sampling Duckstein’s German-style beers. We had had a busy two-day schedule and were now at the last stop. Everything on our agenda had been completed.
Continuing the trend of excellent German-style beers on the trip, the Pils and Hefeweiss were both excellent. The nutty, roasty Dunkel, a first for us in Australia, was my favorite of this sample paddle. However, the highlight beer was an American-style IPA that we got to preview. Not released until the following day, Shannon, the brewer, was gracious enough to pour us a sample. What a wonderous hop bomb!
Leaving Duckstein, we were done with Margaret River. The next day, Merideth and I would head back north to Perth and new Western Australia beer adventures. We hope to get back to Margaret River sooner, rather than later.