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Published: September 27th 2018
R: So this is our penultimate post about this summer's trip. We arrived about 6pm into Margaret River into a really amazing AirBnb right in the centre of town. It was two bedrooms, two bathrooms, is very smart and the host had thought of everything. We were planning on doing very little that evening, and our friends Gareth and Fi had already visited the large supermarket over the road and picked up ingredients for Fajitas. They had just come across from Sydney but had had a day in Fremantle to get used to Western Australia (WA). After a bit of a catch up, Dave had organised some impromptu drinks in the Settler's Tavern in town that evening, so we headed down and realised it was even colder in Margaret River than it was in Perth. It was good to catch up with some of the guys that I had met on the stag do, as well as meet some new faces. It was also time to get used to the price of beer and wine in Australia again. Settlers was an odd place, with the front being much like a betting shop with big screens and slot machines. Then there was
a bar area with a roaring fire - which after too long, actually became a bit too hot. Oh to be comfortable in Australian winter...
Next day we headed out for some explorations. We started by heading to Hamelin bay, a beautiful stretch of coastline where apparently stingray will gather in the shallow waters just off the beach. It was totally stunning but there were no stingray today. After a short walk (shorter for us as Cate was only wearing flipflops) across a rocky outcrop, it was back in the car, and along Caves Road, which is a back road that runs parallel to the main highway but is much more pretty. As the name implies, there are caves on this road. Not having a long time to spend, we elected to go to Mammoth Cave, as it didn't require a guided tour, and it was indeed, Mammoth! Its a dry cave but there was some water in there too, and it was fun for an explore. We came out in a completely different place to where we came in and had to walk back to the car. At this point, Cate and I headed for the wineries -
first stop was Redgate wines, where a very nice Australian took an interest in us and we got chatting for a long time, while Cate diligently worked her way through the tasting menu - including something that tasted like Sangria. Then the owner turned up and we had to tell him all about ourselves again. At the end we left without buying anything and felt a bit sorry that we hadn't. Meanwhile, Gareth and Fi had been out hunting for Kangaroos, without much success. We met them at Voyager Wine Estate - one of the behemoths of this area - and we had a tasting together. The area is known for its Shiraz and Chardonnay, but one of the unusual finds was a number of oaked Sauvignon Blancs, which Cate wasn't entirely sure about. Voyager had lovely gardens in front of it - and it was our first sighting of a Kookaburra on this trip, sitting on one of the vines. (I'm generally weary of this birds after being bitten by one on a previous occasion). The girl in Redgate had recommended Watershed for lunch - so we headed over here for some rather tasty nibbles and a great view
out over their estate. At this point I had a wedding rehearsal to go to, so left Gareth, Fi and Cate tasting wine after lunch.
The wedding rehearsal went fine. I learnt my place, and got to meet some of Shannon's family for the first time which was nice. I also got trusted with the rings which was worrying. I found for the rest of the afternoon I couldn't help but check my pocket every 30 seconds or so. Dave looked very nervous so much of the job was about keeping his heart rate down a bit. The location, Xanadu winery, was beautiful and had a lovely courtyard for a wedding. The visiting wine tourists stopped occasionally in their wine tastings to wander over and watch the rehearsal. Sadly, I had to rush off as Gareth, Fi and Cate were waiting for me. I returned to our flat and picked them up, and then we were off to Providence - a boutique food place that seemed to specialise in anything in a jar. There were literally hundreds of tasters to be had - and it closing at 5pm, we had to think and taste fast. There is also a
chocolate factory - which was quite dull in comparison to other places, so we didn't linger there long (but did buy some chocolate). It was now dusky so we took the long way home looking fr groups of hopping wildlife. It took a while - seeing only one from a distance to start with - until we happened upon a whole field of kangaroos hopping about. As soon as they saw us, they hopped off. Meanwhile, we had left the car abandoned in the road with the hazards on, much to the annoyance of many locals...
When we got back it was time to head to the Brewhouse for food and drinks with Dave and Shannon and their guests - being Friday night all their visiting friends had assembled and Shannon's family had kindly paid for some bar snacks to come round to everybody. It was great to get to know some more people and was just about bearable to sit outside under the heat lamps... until they turned them off! So we wondered back to the Settler's tavern- but only for a while, as some of us had a wedding to go to.
Wedding day arrived and
all was calm on the Dave emergency line, so we all headed out for a bit of a walkabout. We started at the farmer's market where you could buy a bag of 5 large avocados for $10 AUD (we considered smuggling them home for this price!) but also nice jams, coffee etc. Then we walked down to the Margaret River bakery where I acquired a steak pie as I couldn't leave Australia without some kind of pie in my system, then down to the river which gives the town its name. By now, at about 11am, I was flagging so we stopped in at Brewhouse for some caffeine fuel then it was back to get changed into the wedding gear.
Dave picked me up soon after as we have photos to go to. We made another stop in town for some coffee and so Dave could buy lunch - he chose a big, oozy cheese sandwich which I could just see squidging out all over the suit, but thankfully crisis was averted. Photo time mainly involved me and the other best man and bridesmaids following Dave and Shannon around a Kauri forest, and a very beautiful one at that.
We watched as Dave and Shannon climbed amongst the bracken to get the perfect light and shots with their photographer. Then it was on to the venue for the big moment.
As I mentioned, this was a beautiful location for a wedding, and the weather was beautiful too after some early worries. Dave managed all of his lines, which was a bonus, I didn't drop the rings down a drain, which was what I had been thinking about since earlier on in the day, and no one who shouldn't have, stood on the carpet. (Sorry, that one you had to be there for). It was great to see these guys finally tie the knot, and it made it worth travelling all the way out for, so we could be there at that moment - mostly to see the look on Dave's face, but also for the love!
Xanada throws a fantastic party - there were excellent canapés including Oysters, which Cate is still not convinced by. They also had deep fried Cauliflower balls which were so popular that people actually ran from one end of the courtyard to the other when a waitress appeared with more. You would
honestly believe that people hadn't eaten in months when they saw these things. But they were so good. There was wine from the winery, and Dave had chosen a brewery to supply the beer - including an interesting milk stout.
Dinner time came and was delicious again. Being on the top table, I was also privy to a cache of spare Cauliflower balls which no one else got! Hurrah. As the nerves steadily built about my upcoming speech, I decided to stop accepting the beers and wine being regularly deposited on our table. The speech went (I'm told) very well - a few laughs and a great opportunity to embarrass Dave, if only slightly. Then it was time to relax and enjoy the rest of the day, even finding a local cider at the bar to try out.
Our 4 person taxi got hijaked slightly on the way home... Dave had added his family to our booking, but before long we ended up with a 15 seater minibus, full of people heading back into town, and to Settler's Tavern for some more fun. Sadly, we had a busy day the next day, so that was it for us.
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