The Margaret River wine region is renowned for it’s world class wine, beer, produce and landscapes. But, that doesn’t mean it is the only region in WA we should be visiting for these things!
Welcome to Ferguson Valley…
Just a short, 15-minute car ride from the heart of Bunbury lies Ferguson Valley. Inclusive of the small town of Dardanup, the Ferguson Valley encompasses all of the farmland between the town and Collie. Not unlike the landscape of Margaret River, Ferguson Valley is all rolling hills and thick bushland. And, dotted through out it all are some of the state’s best kept secrets (secret wineries, breweries and eateries that is!).
Growing up just 15 minutes away, I am quite familiar with the Ferguson Valley and all of the gems that it is home to. In fact, 2 of the 3 times I have been back home recently have included trips out to the valley.
As country as can be, it doesn’t appear like there is much to do in the area upon first glance. Contrary to what one may think, there is actually a lot to do and see in this sparsely populated area. There may not be any white sand beaches or caves a la Margaret River, but Ferguson Valley is a beautiful place to visit year round.
Where to stay
There are umpteen farmstays within the region, the most well-known being Ferguson Farmstay. The 11 family sized chalets that comprise the Ferguson Farmstay sit atop a hill, and have uninterrupted views back down to Bunbury. It’s beautiful views and rammed earth cottages also make it a popular wedding location.
Evedon Park is another popular wedding venue, fringing a gorgeous lake and bushland. Both lakeside cabins and apartments are available to travellers, and there is an onsite restaurant for when you want a break from manning the outdoor barbecue. As with any accommodation in the valley, you are well and truly enveloped in farm life at Evedon Park.
The Wellington Forest Cottages are a fantastic option for more budget friendly accommodation. Located right on one of the most well known bike trails in the region, the site is secluded from pretty much everything else. Being so tucked away, you won’t get phone reception out here; but that is part of the charm of this place. They even have a kangaroo sanctuary so you can get up close and personal with the native fauna.
Ferguson Valley may not be as established as Margaret River or even the Swan Valley, but it is churning out some absolute gems all the same.
The biggest name to come out of the region is Hackersley Estate. Not only is the vineyard and winery picture perfect, but their incredible wines have garnered international attention too. Major contracts with the US a few years back, really put Hackersley’s drops on the map. They also specialise in 5-course long lunches, giving you the perfect excuse (if you didn’t have one already) to sit around all afternoon sampling their wares.
If it is views you are after, you absolutely can’t go past a stop in at Green Door Wines. Perched at the top of a hill on Henty Road, the bar and cellar door have views over the hills, right down to the Bunbury port. To make the most of these views, the wine tasting is actually done from a set of carafes brought out to your table. Oh, and they have a cellar door dog – who will drop at your feet, roll over, whine and not let you pass until you give her belly rubs!
Speaking of dogs, the quaint St Aidan Wines is a pet and family friendly winery. It is popular with the locals for this reason. The rammed earth cellar door was constructed with ample outdoor space, perfect to let the dogs or kids loose while you enjoy a wine from the verandah. With so much outdoor space, a solid wine selection and a food menu to boot, the winery is often booked for weddings and events. But, it really is best enjoyed on a lazy weekend!
Ever so on theme, the two major breweries in Ferguson Valley are named after members of the bovine family. The Moody Cow and Wild Bull breweries are both located within the township of Dardanup, just outside of Bunbury. On acreage, the breweries are both spacious and relaxed spots to soak up the weekend sun. In typical family-friendly brewery style, both venues offer the usual pub grub menus; but, The Moody Cow shoots for a different market with their additive and preservative free brews.