Proud to announce a partnership with this legend – Head chef Ben Day from Aravina. In the trust ben menu, he will come out, ask what food you like then throw away the menu and create a 5 course specifically on what you like! Only available on a flying corkscrew tour. #flyingcorkscrew #trustben #foodie #margaretriver #westernaustralia #aravinaestate #ben_day
Grand door entrance at amelia park #greatdoor #margaretriver #flying_corkscrew #ameliapark #winelovers #justanotherdayinwa #longlunch #rockstar #yourmargaretriverregion #westernaustralia
Margaret River is a wonderland of wine, surf, forests, caves and good times, but the question is…….where to stay?
Well, shut down the laptop, because I have grown up in Margs, run a wine tour and am gonna tell you about a few secret spots that wotif, trip advisor, and stayz won’t.
People come to Margaret River with different budgets so I have broken it down to three categories: Loaded, Semi Loaded and Budget, and have chosen the best in each.
The Princess Palace. (pictured above) Set upon 5 acres a few kilometres from the beach is a mythical house with a even more mythical American owner named Carl. The princess palace is not far from where I grew up in, but I never knew it existed until I went to a party there about a year ago.
With Balinese courtyard, 20 ft ceilings, hundreds of metres of glazing, and a lavish horizon pool, this is the kind of place the great Gatsby would hang out if Gatsby lived in the 21st century and dug Balinese architecture. From an modern appliance point of view, the house was built in 1999 so perhaps is not as up to date as some of the others in this category, but the charm and style of the house itself will more than make up for it. I’m pretty sure it has four bedrooms and a cottage beside it that can also be rented. Strangely enough, this place is listed on Airbnb as the Princess Palace. Price is $1000 – $1500 per night, depending on the season. Not cheap, but then again, it is a house designed for a princess.
Roozen Residence. I go a fair way back with Ronnie Roozen – who owns the Roozen residence. (pictured above). When working at the Prevelly park caravan park as a teenager, he used to get us to run wine up a hill to his place – there was usually some sort of party going on.
The Roozen Residence is in Prevelly Park about a kilometre from the beach. I have never stayed there but it would be a damn good place to impress a girl…or boy. There are 180 degree ocean views from every room and a brilliant deck to have an afternoon red wine and watch the sunset. The place was designed by architect Dale Jones – Evans and has often been listed as one of the best beach houses in Australia in various magazines/newspaper articles.
There are three bedrooms and the price is $600 – $900 per night depending on the season. ronroozen.com.au
This house is located a few kilometres from the beach and the website on this house really does not do it justice. Walking inside is the ultimate “wow” factor. Amazing views of the river and the ocean from almost every room, and an incredible deck, this would be a great place to stay with a group of friends. There is a tennis court out the back, and a pool so everything you need really. I discovered this place after dropping a group home from a wine tour. I’m pretty sure it is 4-5 bedrooms and the price is around $900 a night depending on the season.
Dunsborough Ocean Views (pictured below) I discovered this one accidentally after dropping a tour group off here. The house is run by a group called Private Properties, on their website, it describes the place as “a stunning hillside masterpiece with sweeping ocean and bushland views”. Well, having been invited inside for a cup of tea, I really can’t disagree. This is absolutely beautiful, and a very modern place to stay, with an incredible swimming pool, outdoor area, and spectacular views. It has 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and sleeps up to 10 people. It is located closer to the Dunsborough end than Margaret River, but is a short drive down Caves Road to some of the best wineries in Margaret River. Price $750 – $1300 depending on season. https://www.privateproperties.com.au/properties/dunsborough-ocean-views/
La Foret Enchantee Winner of the prestigious Jaguar award for excellence in Travel, set within 10 acres of private land on Caves road, is the luxurious La Foret Enchantee. With fountains, fairytale turrets and wide verandahs that stretch out into open sky decks, the setting is spectacular. There are only two chalets on the entire property (il Palazzo and la cabin) so your privacy is guaranteed and they are appointed and furnished exquisitely. If you took the other half for a romantic getaway here they will tell their friends, lavish praise, and generally stay in love with you for years. $600 per night includes breakfast. laforetenchantee.com.au
Riveresque is a balinese style gem. (Balcony among the forest is pictured above) Attention to detail is suburb, outdoor shower is bliss, and you will not have a better sleep in Margaret River surrounded by trees and natural forrest. If you want to get away from the hectic city life, then this is the place for you, and it still only a few kilometres from the town of Margaret River. Rob and Di, who run it, are absolute champions. Rob was one of the first winners of the Bells surfing competition and will always be there for yarn on surf, or life, or philosophy, when you need him. Growing up as a young surfer, he was a bit of an inspiration to me. You will have to book early for Riveresque, as it books out months in advance. Price is $280 – $320 per night depending on season. www.riveresque.com
Llewellin’s Guest House.
There is a reason Llewellin’s Guest house has been rated the number 1 bed and breakfast pace in Margaret River and that is because James and Jo are wonderful people, and fantastic hosts. Their place is a roughly halfway between the beach and town off Caves Road, so is a pretty quiet location, but still not too far away from some great Margaret River wineries. Sitting around the breakfast table in the morning as James cooks up a storm is just one of those things you’ve got to experience once in your life.
price $250 – $350 depending on the season. www.llewellinsguesthouse.com.au
Hilltop studios is a few kilometres from the town of Margaret River on Carter’s Road, and offer pretty modern studios in an amazing setting. The cool thing about these studios are, you can return from a day of wine tasting, and sit in a hot tub sipping wine with an incredible view. (pictured below) Run by long time locals Claudia and Paul, every person that I’ve picked up from here has lavished praise on it. Price around 300/$350 per night. www.hilltopstudios.com.au
Central Avenue Apartments. Just modern, clean, stylish apartments that are a very short walk to town. The great thing about these apartments is there location – you can easily stumble back from a night on the town and crash, yet will not be interrupted from noise on the main street. I stayed in one of these apartments about a month ago, on a really comfortable bed, and had a great night sleep. They also have great balconies to entertain guests. (pictured above) I think most of the apartments are two bedroom, so might suit two couples more, or a family. Price $250 – $350 depending on season. www.centralavenue.com.au
Margaret’s Forest. Like Central Avenue apartments – great apartments in a really good location. The place does back onto a forest, so feels tranquil, but is also just a short walk from town. The other thing is they are apartments and not a hotel room so you feel as if you have a bit more room. I have stayed in the spa apartment with a group of friends for a wedding and really enjoyed it.
$200 – $300 depending on season. margaretsforest.com.au
The Villa Margaret River.
Located literally a 2 minute walk from some pretty cool bars (swing tap house) and the famous Margaret River Bakery, is the Villa. Light, bright and with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms this modern Villa is fully appointed with everything you need for a great stay. Just show up, park in double garage, and enjoy yourself.
Price $200 – 300 https://www.margaretriver.com/members/the-villa-margaret-river/
Yallingup Beach Holiday Park. This holiday park is a quick stroll away from the beautiful Smiths beach and has been voted one of the best located caravan parks in Australia. You are a good 30 minute drive from Margaret River here, but still not too far from some really good wineries down caves road. Great for a young family. $30 – $100 depending on accommodation type and season.
Wharncliffe Mill. This is set up so well for camping. It’s one of those places set in a forrest but with a whole lot of play area for kids to hang out, make friends and have a great time. Still only 5 minutes from the town of Margaret River on Carters Road, Wharncliffe Mill is a great option. $30 – $100 depending on season and type of accommodation. www.wharncliffemill.com.au
Hamelin Bay Holiday Park. (pictured below) Not sure if I want to let the word out on this one. A beautiful and quiet holiday park only metres from pristine waters, beautiful sunsets and the chance of the kids feeding stingrays. Turn off the mobile, shut down the laptop, and go camping “old school” with a few beers and marshmallows around a camp fire. This place is a 30 minute drive south of Margaret River so is fairly out of the way, but if you want to shut yourself off to the world for a few days…..I can’t think of anywhere better. $30 – $100 depending on season and type of accommodation.
Prevelly Park Caravan Park. I have so many memories about the Prevelly Park Caravan Park. I worked there in my younger days and the truth is, it will always hold so many special memories. The only caravan park I have ever seen with a cellar door in the shop, and some really high quality wines to sample. It is located probably a 5 minute walk from the beach.
$30 – $100 depending on season and type of accommodation.
Below is the first chapter of the year I spent bull riding in America. This was a silly idea on many fronts, none more so than at the time I couldn’t ride a horse. The book will be called Saltwater Cowboy. It should be finished by this year. If anyone is interested in my other book called Tunnel Vision (about a year spent on a professional surfing tour), you can buy it in paper form from www.allenandunwin.com. or ebook/kindle version from Amazon.
I’m sitting on the back of a bull at a rodeo three hours north of Los Angeles. To my right, a muscle toned maniac called Tom is asking me how tight I want my rope pulled. Gary Leffew, bull riding guru, is beside him. Behind them, a group of dwarfs dressed in cowboy outfits are doing stretches. A few metres past them, a Mexican band in pin striped suits and capes are blasting out deafening Spanish music. To my left is the arena. Behind that, 1000 happy drunk Mexicans are chatting and laughing and dancing to the band. Below me, between my legs, an 800 kilo black bull called Jawbreaker gives a slight quiver.
Seriously, what the hell am I doing? I did a bull riding school on a ranch in California to learn how to ride bulls. I worked on that ranch for another six weeks to continue that progression in a rational way. I do not want to die. There is a feeling that bull riders get in the pit of their guts when their luck is about to change and I have that feeling. It’s not superstition – more like math. I’ve been on the back of 27 bulls and only suffered a mild concussion, sprained wrist and a few bruises. The dark shadow has swooped above me. Something serious is about to happen.
My fear is of the known. I know the temperament of Jawbreaker. I know it well. Jawbreaker is an angry, powerful, irrational and incisive beast. The bull has come from Gary Leffew’s ranch and is the rankest of a wild bunch.
“He’ll hook ya, that angry son of a bitch.” Tom would say when we’d feed him on the ranch. We would hurl a bunch of hay at his hooves and quickly close the gate behind us, often hearing the a loud bang as the bull would ram its body against the gate. We were both deeply afraid of the bull. Tom Banner, complete maniac and rider of over 300 bulls, had less reason it be afraid than me and he is petrified of Jawbreaker. And now I am on his back, feeling the heat of his warm hide radiate through my thighs. How has it come to this? Seriously, how?
“Wanna ride this one for me?” I ask Tom.
He turns and raises his shirt, revealing a fleshy bruise that is starting to swell on the base of his spine. “That’s why not. Why don’t you ask Louis?”
Louis, a Mexican with cowboy getup and a breath smelling of whisky, had magically appeared after the first two bulls had been loaded into the chutes at the start of the day. As far as we knew, we were getting 25 dollars for each ride and were happy to give him a go. No doubt believing he’d get a safe journey, Louis chose a small bull without horns called Little Bit, but the bull had more spirit than he’d expected and, after impressively riding out a few bucks, had thrown him quite savagely into the dirt. I’d watched Louis crawl behind the chutes, drop to one knee and pant eagerly for the air to fill back into his lungs. I didn’t feel sorry for Louis at that moment. He’d landed hard but clear of the bull’s hind legs. I had a feeling it wouldn’t take him long to recover and sure enough he emerged from the chutes moments later, proudly bowing to the crowd, then collecting a whisky bottle that someone had thrown from the stands.
I’d asked Louis if he wanted to ride Jawbreaker but he’d declined with shinning eyes and a smile. He was three quarters of the way through the whisky bottle by then and having too good a time to risk jumping on that thing.
Jawbreaker is my second ride for the day. The first was on a large bluish coloured Brahma called Idaho. Idaho had dislodged me swiftly on its second buck and stomped on my leg as I lay on the dirt. For fear of a broken bone, I had been too nervous to check the damage but now, with my right leg dangling around the girth of the black bull, I can see a rip in my jeans and blood seeping through the fabric.
Jawbreaker shakes again. My legs wobble. This is ridiculous. There aren’t even rodeo clowns at this event. Rodeo clowns have the task of getting between rider and bull if anything goes wrong to try to distract the bull, giving the rider enough time to escape. I’d assumed the dwarfs might be rodeo clowns but discovered their role was not to protect but entertain. They’d already given an interesting performance to an enthralled crowd, bravely laying on the dirt as the bulls charged over them. No doubt they’ll be back at some point for a finale.
“I’m not doing it.” I shout to Gary over the Spanish music.
“What do you mean?”
“I’m not going to ride this bull.”
“You’re going to puss out?” he asks, incredulously.
“Yep. I don’t trust the bull and there’s no rodeo clowns.”
My head is a blur. The Mexican band appears to be getting more feverish. The smell of sausage, onion and dirt clings to the air. I can taste fear.
“Don’t worry about Jawbreaker,” Garry comments airily. “I’m going to throw my jacket at him when you come off.”
I briefly contemplate the odds of an 800 kilo wild animal being deterred by a flying red jacket. I start loosening my rope off the bull.
“Tom, get your rope,” shouts Gary, and I make the mistake of looking at him at that moment and catching the disappointed in your eyes.
“Don’t worry. I’ll ride him,” I find myself saying. “Tighten the rope.”
I’m going to die from pride. What a wasted emotion.
Tom pulls the rope hard and it jams down around my hand. I do not frantically rub resign on my rope for extra grip – as other riders do. I can feel my heart. I can feel the strength of the hide of the bull below me. I’m staring straight ahead at a set of horns. This is it.
Suddenly, a piece of paper is thrust before me.
Leaning across me, with groomed moustache, crisp white shirt and black pants, is a Mexican official. The piece of paper is some sort of waiver – that absolves the organisers of any responsibility should I get hurt. They had not produced the waiver before Tom’s ride. They had not produced the waver during Louis’ ride. They can see what is about to unfold, and have produced the waiver now.
The official quickly hands over a pen. Jawbreaker gives a sudden jerk below me as I scribble on the dotted line. It’s the first time in my life I’ve signed for something left handed. It’s the first time in my life I’ve signed for something while sitting on the back of a bull. A flash realisation hits: what if I’m never able to laugh about this? What if I really do die?
I nod my head. Gary pulls the gate. As the bull gives a slight turn towards the opening, I wonder why I ever wanted to be a bull rider.
Sunset beers at surfer’s point. #margaretriver #sunset #flyingcorkscrew #greatparking #foodie #flying_corkscrew #chopper #longlunch #surferspoint #dunsborough #westernaustralia #justanotherdayinwa #westisbest #southwestaustralia
Does this look like a good setting for a Christmas Party?
For this year’s Christmas party, treat your staff or valued clients to an incredible wine tasting and long lunch……at a fraction of the price.
The Ultimate Arimia Long Lunch will include:
# 3 ‘behind the scenes’ wine tastings at hand selected wineries.
# A delightful 5 course long lunch with matching wine at Arimia Estate created exclusively for the Flying Corkscrew by head chef Evan Hayter. (Your group will have a private table in a beautiful setting either on their verandah or underneath a Marri Tree on the grass).
All this for just $195 per person. (A discount of $120 per person from my normal rate!)
I am pretty much doing this for cost price, to give the locals a chance of having a relaxing day wine tasting with an incredible long lunch. Trust me, it will be amazing.
Group Size 4 – 12.
Hi Everyone. I am writing a blog – that will appear on the Margaret River Tourism Association website and also on my website. The short articles will be about things I find interesting about Margaret River. The first one is on Caves Road – a road that I dearly love. Feel free to give it a read. Below is the link. Cheers. Sullivan.
Caves Road. The most iconic road in the universe. I know Kerouac and his buddies had a joyful time in the 50’s on route 66, eating apple pie, drinking whisky from flasks and picking up dishevelled hitchhikers at their leisure. I know the blood can fairly pump when you drive south along the Californian coast past Monterery to Big Sur. I’m sure drinking a curb side coffee at a cafe on the Champs-Elysées would be memorable.
But for me, the best damn road in the world is Caves Road. It is the road of Margaret River.
Caves Road stretches between two capes – Naturalist to the north and Leeuwin to the south. It runs parallel to the coast but not along it, which, I reckon, makes it better. By being a few kilometres off the coast, the Jarrah, Karri’s and Marri’s grow beside it, with wineries on either side. The wildflowers bloom from the shrubbery in spring – Marri’s tower like lumbering giants – their foliage throwing afternoon shade across the road.
Margaret River was a farming industry before the first vines were planted in 1967, and, if you go at the right speed, and you have the right mind set, all this is encompassed perfectly on the road. Cows grazing in open paddocks on one side, and on the other are wineries with names like Vasse Felix, Cullen, Evans and Tate, and Moss Brothers. Voyager and Leeuwin are not far off the road. Not counting the wineries, there is also McHenry Hohnen, that has quality meat, Gabriel, that has quality chocolate, Olio Bello, that has quality olive oil, and the Venison Farm, that has quality….you know what. There is even an old yellow Tiger Moth aeroplane in a hanger at Edwards winery. What more could you want?
This is the kind of road that needs the right car. A cruiser – think mid 60’s valiant or even a cadillac if you want to be outlandish. The road does not require a speed more than 80km’s an hour…..90 tops. Do not speed. Do not pass. If you are in a rush then you are on the wrong road. Ostensibly, you are on the wrong mind.
To the council – please do not widen it. To the police – please do not police it. To the people – please love and respect it.
Some winemakers reckon they can tell you exactly where (down to the kilometre) that wine has been made on Caves road. I don’t know about that, but it does give you a sense of changing soil, slope, and geography as you drive along it – the “terroir” if you want to be fancy. You don’t need to be a winemaker to notice it.
As the road winds south, everything changes. Brown turns to green. Soil, shrubbery, and open paddocks are replaced by forest – swaying Jarrah’s and Karri’s.
I defy anyone to drive through the Boranup forest and not be startled. Just stop. Get out of the car, walk, breathe, listen. You will hear nothing but silence. I have often wondered why, for me, Caves road evokes such a powerful sense of place. I don’t think it’s from a youth spent driving an old kingswood along it, looking for dirt tracks that will take me surfing. I don’t think it’s from its sheer beauty. More than any else, it’s the feeling of being home.