Using Conto campsite as our base we ventured into Margaret River to see what was on offer, and there was definitely something for everyone.
We started the morning with an educational trip to Australia’s first commercial Silk Farm, called Silk Road. The operation has been going for two years and is very much still in expansion mode. The lifecycle was explained to us, with displays that show the eggs, caterpillars at different stages, cocoons (in various different colours), and plenty of completed products for sale. Because they are not yet at full production they give all their cocoons to Asian countries, and they receive products back that include their silk. In addition to woven silk products, they have an array of mulberry products, chutneys, jams and teas, all of which can be tasted. To make the operation viable all year round the mulberry trees are grown in hothouses in the grounds.
Interesting fact : Did you know silkworms are fully domesticated by man, the moths cannot fly and do not live in the wild?
Next stop was the chocolate factory just a few hundred metres down the road. It was like opening the door to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, with wall to wall displays of Easter eggs, chocolate bunnies, nut clusters and more… Huge bowls of free tasting samples were a big drawcard for the kids, but we had to stay and sample the chocolate fondue. Having dipped crunchies, apricots, lolly snakes, marshmallows and glace cherries, Oscar paused when sampling the nougat, face suddenly changed and went green. Luckily quick thinking from Amanda got him out to the garden before he regurgitated the lot on the grass. What a waste, but the rapid change on his face from rapture to revulsion was hilarious to watch!!! A few more samples on the way out and we were on our way.
Time for some wine tasting. The “golden triangle” refers to the wine region that Margaret River sits in the middle of. Blessed with perfect climate assisted by ocean on two sides, some of the countries best Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon blends. Two of the best known vineyards were our first stops, Voyager and Leeuwin Estates. The former employ 7 gardeners and the result is an immaculate grounds, well worth a wander before you taste the wines. With a restaurant and private tasting room available there are plenty of options. Leeuwin Estate also has a restaurant, concerts in the grounds and an impressive art collection in the cellar, as well as the Art Series wines that incorporate the artwork in the labels.
Final stop for the day was a quick cheese tasting and the family vote went with the smoked cheddar.
On another day we visited Woodlands and Cullen vineyards, the former being partially organically farmed, the latter taking a biodynamic approach. The quality wines resulting from both these vineyards is testament to the passion and commitment of both operations.