Thanks to Jo at Zigazag I’ve just spent a relaxing and reinvigorating weekend in Bunbury. Jo very kindly offered free tickets to the Geographe Crush, a wine and food festival held near Bunbury, and my name came out of her barrel of entries.
Bunbury is an easy two hour drive south of Perth and my BFF (getting all modern here – using initials instead of actual words ) and I spent the time in constant chatter mode. We don’t get much opportunity to spend quality time together so the weekend started as we meant it to go on – talk, talk and a bit more talk.
We made it to Bunbury in exactly two hours and, surprisingly, managed to drive straight to the hotel with no taking the wrong turn, seeing sights we hadn’t intended to or wandering in circles – it’s not a big place but navigating as well as we did was still a major coup to us.
Bunbury is port town in the south west of Western Australia and is a typical small town, with it’s main street accommodating some quirky small shops, it’s new(ish) shopping centre housing its traditional supermarkets and major shopping chains and the requisite cinema, entertainment centre and Visitors Centre. What Bunbury has going for it is it’s position – it’s neatly placed on Geographe Bay, so there’s a wonderful stretch of coastline within walking distance of the CBD and on the other side the tip of the Leschenault Inlet nudges up against the main road into town creating a lovely foreshore on which to wander.
It’s a pretty place, if only the silos and industrial accoutrements of the port weren’t so much in evidence.
The Lighthouse Beach Resort
I’d done a little bit of research on the amazingly helpful Google to find some accommodation in Bunbury and we settled on the Lighthouse Beach Resort – good move!
To start with its position, right on the coast, is perfect, it’s at the end of a no through road so there’s no heavy traffic passing by and, although we had a city view room we also had a great view of the coastline with it’s crashing waves and the salty smell creating an invigorating background to our cuppa on our balcony.
We couldn’t have asked for more. Although at first sight the exterior of the resort looks a little faded, the room, the service and the restaurant couldn’t be faulted.
When I’d phoned to book the room I’d spoken to Fiona who was extremely friendly and helpful and even called me back to check a couple of particulars. We arrived late morning so were too early to check in (which we knew beforehand) but Vivien was quite happy to put our bags in the bosses office while we went of for an afternoon of indulgence (of the wine & food variety).
Some of their City View rooms have had a recent refurbishment and ours was spotless and couldn’t be faulted. The beds were comfy, the shower great and the mini bar fully stocked with temptation (which we didn’t succumb to).
Our best experience there though was, by far, the breakfast. Their restaurant (which is open to the public) has the most amazing views from the huge picture windows, out over the ocean. It was to be a hot day and the early morning light over the water had us lingering – so much for the early morning beach walk we were planning!
The food – what can I say?
I don’t think I’ve come across such a breakfast spread anywhere else. The chef was there making omelettes to order, there was the full array of cooked foods – bacon, sausages, poached or scrambled eggs, hash browns, mushrooms, tomatoes and frittata, and it was all wonderfully fresh. Then there was the white clothed table laden with all manner of cold foods – cereal, bread for toast, jams, tubs of yoghurt, yoghurt shots (raspberry yoghurt shot…yuuum), croissants, pastries, a platter of fresh fruit, a bowl of fruit salad … ..
All in all a lovely experience.
The Geographe Crush
We spent a very pleasant Saturday afternoon at this wine and food festival celebrating all that the South West region has to offer. We took the shuttle bus from Bunbury to Boyanup around twenty minutes away so we didn’t have to be concerned about the number of wines we tasted.
It was like doing a tour of the wineries without having to drive between them. We needed to try most of the different varieties because, even when we thought we’d found our favourite, we had to make sure. The staff from the wineries were all very friendly, chatty and keen to talk about grapes and vines and harvesting and all that goes into winemaking – all we were concerned about was whether we liked them or not.
There were a few food stalls catering to those needing lunch but, to be honest, they could have done with more. The selection was very limited, basically lamb chops or pizza – but then there was waffles on a stick or ice cream for dessert.
We were told that in previous years the festival had been held in Bunbury and I do think that would have been better – as it was everyone had to wait for the return shuttle buses and maybe they were just a little too long in coming.
The dinner debacle
After our relaxing afternoon in the sun we needed dinner and we decided to dress up and give ourselves a treat – this was our weekend getaway after all. We donned our glad rags and headed for a nice looking restaurant that we’d passed earlier that day.
There was a slight glitch, in that the hotel was at the top of quite a steep hill and we were wearing heels. Its not very often I wear heels, I’m more likely to go for the comfort option but I was braving the risk of discomfort in the name of looking as though dressing up came naturally to me. We managed to get down the hill but were seriously concerned about staggering back up later in the evening.
The French Maître d’
Anyway, we made it to the restaurant minus blisters or damaged toes and made our entrance, and there we were met with our first surprise of the evening – an honest to goodness, real life, proper French Maître d’.
He was very attentive, very charming and very keen to help with dinner choices. The Sommelier made an appearance but, since we’d decided to forego the wine with dinner in favour of cocktails, he was made a little bit redundant. He took it graciously though and moved away to hover the bar awaiting his next mark.
We started with cocktails – as you do. The one that I ordered was a little disappointing though – I always like a Margherita and, to me, a Margherita comes in a cocktail glass – the version mixed up here came in a tumbler with stacks of ice, several lumps of lime and a couple of drinking straws sticking out of the top. Not my idea of a cocktail – but never mind, there was alcohol in it. I drank it.
We perused the menu for a while as I sipped on my tumbler of Margherita
Maggie decided on duck as a main while I went for the beef cheeks. Our friendly French friend suggested that we order something light to ‘nibble on’ while we were waiting for our meal. The excellent salesman that he was (or possibly it was just the accent we fell for), meant that we ended up with oysters and arancini balls to ‘keep us going.’
We’d barely swallowed the last mouthful before the mains were in front of us. I must say that my beef cheeks were delicious – slow cooked and falling apart, on a potato gratin stack. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said of the duck. It was tough and difficult to cut and not a very pleasant dining experience.
Our French friend came over at one point to ask how things were – that’s where we made our mistake – we mentioned the tough duck, and therein began the French Farce.
He was shattered that Maggie hadn’t enjoyed the meal and insisted on telling the chef. Maggie protested but to no avail. Back he came from the kitchen with the news that the chef was preparing a chicken portion in lieu of the duck. Maggie insisted that she didn’t need it, that she was full enough and that the vegetables had been delicious and she’d really enjoyed them. But no, he insisted.
She finished off the vegies with still no sign of the chicken and really could not have eaten it if it did appear. So – waving over the young waiter she explained that really, she did not want the chicken, and off he went to the kitchen. Reappear our French friend insistent that they would wrap it for her to take home and eat tomorrow.
It took all her persistence to walk out of that restaurant without the piece of chicken tucked in her handbag.
Although the duck had been a disappointment the evening was fun and, with the help of a little more alcohol we were able to laugh at the whole episode.
And, yes – in case you were wondering, I did make it back up the hill in my heels.
Sunday morning, after that brilliant breakfast, we had a lovely walk along the foreshore before making our way back home.
Weekend wrap up
All in all it was a great weekend and a huge thank you to Jo at Zigazag for the tickets to the Geographe Crush. Bunbury is a perfect distance from Perth for that weekend getaway and there’s lots of wineries and local producers to visit in the area. There is so much more to do in the port city but a weekend just didn’t give us the opportunity to do more than scratch the surface.
To find out what other attractions the place has to offer head on over to these websites.