Coming from New Zealand, I often feel slightly let down when I visit places that people assure are stunning. I don't mean to sound up on my high horse, but lets just say we're truly blessed in NZ when it comes to beautiful scenery! With that in mind, you'll now understand the gravity of what I say when I tell you how absolutely stunning the Great Southern region of Western Australia really is. Si, the kids and I were lucky enough to be invited on a little preview tour of the region in the build up to the Taste Great Southern Festival, which kicks off on the 19th February and goes through until the end of March. The festival is now in it's 11th year and is jam-packed with events ranging from night markets, sustainable seafood feasts, farm tours and celebrity chef demonstrations. For six days we got a little snippet of what's going to be on offer over the next month in this beautiful part of the world, through it's food, it's people and it's mind-bogglingly beautiful scenery.
It was our first time down that far south and upon arriving in Denmark, Si and I immediately started talking about how we could see ourselves happily moving there. Living in the city these past 4 years has made me really miss that small town community vibe and Denmark has that in bucket loads. The kangaroos just casually hanging about everywhere you look is kinda awesome too, and those beaches, well what can I say? I'm pretty sure the photos speak for themselves...
One of the highlights of the our 2 days in Denmark was when we joined the locals at one of the coolest Sunday sessions I've ever been to. Again, this was yet another reminder of why I love small communities. Everyone was there, everyone knew each other, the kids were safe to simply wander off and explore + good music, dancing, food + drinks. Yes.
For the first time this year, Taste Great Southern is highlighting the amazing hardworking farmers of the region too and meeting a few of them was most definitely the highlight of our trip. Call me a farm/food geek or whatever, but I get so much enjoyment out of meeting the people who put food on our tables, chatting to them about their lives, seeing all the beautiful produce in the ground, whilst also getting a few handy hints and tips which Si and I will most definitely put to good use in the future when we move onto our own piece of land. The common thread amongst all these farmers we met was their unrelentless passion for what they do. All agree it's just plain hard work, with often very little monetary gain at the end of it, but I know first hand the undeniable feeling of self-satisfaction of growing your own and I can only imagine how amazing this must feel when you can pass on some of what you grow to the public as well.
To eat + drink
- Petite Villaine (Facebook here). 100% Gluten-free restaurant set amongst the beautiful Rockcliffe Winery in Denmark. They serve tapas-style during the week and during summer they also have the most amazing Sunday Sessions, complete with live music, Mexican tacos + grilled corn and a super cool family-friendly, community vibe.
- Loved the coffee + chai + hot chocolates at Raven's (Denmark) and their raw treats look yummy too.
- Loved the dandelion tea and laid-back hippy-vibe at Luscious Organics, Denmark. It made me miss Byron Bay...
- Super good honey-sweetened ice-cream at Bartholomews Meadery. Along with various flavours such as coffee, cinnamon + passion fruit, they also have a dairy-free ice cream, yay! I dare you to leave without buying all of the honey too...
- Oranje Tractor Wines, award-winning organic winery + paleo-inspired menu. Fruits + vegetables are grown in Pamela + Murray's extensive organic vegetable garden + fruit orchards, or sourced locally. The kids loved hooning around on all of Murray's vintage kids bikes!
- Due South, Albany. Beautiful spot overlooking the water, full-flavoured food made by passionate chefs who are committed to sourcing their produce locally, sustainable seafood (for those who eat it) and plenty of gluten-free options. They even made us special gluten-free pizza's for the kids, which were amazing (I told them they need to be on the menu, so watch out for them in the future hopefully!).
- Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk, Denmark. A little scary if your not good with heights, but the coolest feeling in the world to be up there walking amongst the tree tops.
- Swim at Greens Pool. You won't be disappointed.
- Albany Farmers Market, sadly we missed it this trip by a day, but I know from talking to many of the farmers who sell at them that they are one of the best of it's kind.
- Anzac museum, Albany.
- Swim at Emu Point beach. So lovely and sheltered.
Thank you to all the farmers who welcomed us into their beautiful spaces, kept us safe from snakes and sent us on our way with handfuls of gorgeous fresh vegetables! Richard + Velda Stuart-Williams from Box Organics, Denmark. Bev + Howard Shapland, Torbay. Phillip + Sheelagh, Torbay. Andrew + Jocelyn Bathgate, from Bathgate Farms, Cuthbert.
Special thank you to Melissa from Cork + Cheese for organising this amazing trip!
For more information about Taste Great Southern, please click here. To view the events programme, click here or follow along updates on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. For more information on Denmark, click here and for info on Albany, click here.
Disclaimer: I have not been paid to promote any of the events or businesses mentioned in this post, however our accommodation and various meals/tours were complimentary. All thoughts and opinions are my own, as always.