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Cherries and Truffles in Manjimup

So Ladies and Gents, the last leg of my trip around Australia’s South West brings me to Manjimup, where over 80% of the shire is made up of National Park and forestry.

Manjimup, situated in the Southern Forests region, is an agricultural hot spot, home of the Pink Lady apple, delicious marron and famous black truffle (more on them later).

It’s quite remarkable that such a small pocket of Western Australia grows such an abundance and variety of produce. The locals say it’s probably down to the fertility of the soil, purity of the rainfall and 365 growing days a year.  To celebrate the diversity of the horticultural industry in the region, the Manjimup Cherry Harmony Festival, a unique community event, is held every year.

And I was invited to take part in the Cherry Stone Spitting Competition! Ooooh yeahhh!! I’m not the most amazing photographer in the world, but I reckon this is the best photo I’ve ever taken. Our tie-dye hero is taking part in the warm-up heats and LOOK! you can see the cherry stone flying through the air and everything!

I arrived in Manjimup the evening before the festival to meet with the organisers and it was here that I was to meet my main competition for the next day’s stone spitting extravaganza……Mr. Rob Palmer.

For folk back in England, Rob is a handy man on Australian home improvement programs and also won their version of Strictly a couple of years ago. But he’s not light on his feet, he’s a big brute of a fella and could spit a cherry stone through a concrete block I reckon. During our practice spit he tried to psyche me out a little bit, comparing me with the capitulating England cricket team, saying I’d choke on the big day (metaphorically and quite literally).

But I wasn’t put off, I’m the Taste Master! I was determined. I was focused. I was dedicated.

….I was hiding cherries in my pocket to practice at home that night.

Before the big showdown I visited Kay Gravett who grows russelberries, quite a tart fruit which are unique to the region. Kay grows the raspberry-esque fruit in her garden and uses it in all kinds of jams and chutneys, just another example of the diversity of produce in the Southern Forests region.

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No Carbs Before Margs – The Margaret River Gourmet Escape

Hooray! I’ve been looking forward to this event for ages. Ladies and Gents last month I headed down to the annual Margaret River Gourmet Escape.

Imagine the best food and wine festival you’ve ever been to and times it by a zillion.

It’s a three day culinary celebration with top chefs and wine buffs from all over the globe. They’re sharing their top foodie tips and secrets, cooking gourmet dinners, hosting master-classes and holding intimate Q&A’s.

But the main hub of excitement is the Gourmet Escape Village where local producers, wineries, breweries and restaurants from the region showcase their wares, and invited chefs (like Heston Blummenthal and Rick Stein) dazzle and delight hundreds, nay THOUSANDS of enthralled gormandizers from a huge outdoor ampitheatre.

All this set against the beautiful rolling green woodland and pristine beaches of Australia’s South West. It’s the Foodie Event of the Year!

*For a bit of context, Margaret River is a small town in the South West corner of Western Australia (about 4 hours drive from Perth) and the surrounding area is the Margaret River wine region, known for its premium vineyards and wineries, great beaches and world-class surfing breaks.

The Gourmet Village is a great place to hang out, make friends, learn all about the produce from the region and most importantly of all, EAT. I had a great time wandering between stalls and bumping into loads of people and different producers that I’ve met on my travels so far.

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Hot article Driving into El Questro Wilderness Park

Ten Things From My Travels So Far

Happy Christmas everybody!

Aaahhh it’s that time of year again and I’ve been reminiscing over my time in Australia with the Best Jobs In The World. This isn’t a Top Ten List, just ten things that I’ve really enjoyed doing over the past four months in W.A. I could do another Ten Things List tomorrow and it’d be completely different.

Purnululu National Park

Purnululu National Park - Bungle Bungle Range Walk In This is the Bungle Bungle Range in Australia’s North West. It’s about 350 million years old. 350 MILLION YEAR’S OLD!! I had to sit down to take that in. I was lucky enough to see it from the air as well. It’s truly spectacular.

Mud Crabbing at the Dampier Peninsula

BBQ Mud Crab at Cape Leveque Ahhh, my first day at work! Catching huge mud crabs with Indigenous guide Brian Lee up at Cape Leveque. Here we are cooking them over a beach barbie after catching them armed only with a long metal pole and hessian sack.

The Homestead at El Questro Wilderness Park

A bath with a view at El Questro Homestead

I think this has been my favourite place to stay in Western Australia so far, I was lucky enough to spend a couple of nights at the El Questro Homestead in the Kimberley. They only have space for 18 guests and you’re situated right in the heart of one million acres of wilderness park. And you can have a bath outside.

Margaret River and the South West

photo This is Fraser Gallop winery in Margaret River, one of the up and coming stars of wine making in the Australia’s South West. I didn’t realise how green it was in this corner of the country, with rolling hills and woodland. The area’s known for its premium vineyards, great beaches and world-class surfing breaks.

The Margaret River Gourmet Escape

2391The Margaret River Gouremt Escape is the best food and wine festival I’ve EVER BEEN TO. It has top chefs, great brunches, lunches and dinners, master classes, Q and A’s and is set amongst spectacular countryside. There’s just LOADS AND LOADS of fun stuff to do. If I’m in Australia next year, I’m gonna hire a house for the weekend in the South West and hang out there with a load of mates and go to the Gourmet Escape.

Kalgoorlie and the Goldfields

"Inside Australia" Lake Ballard I like a bit of history stuff and I like a bit of art stuff, so travelling round the 965km Golden Quest Discovery Trail in the Golden Outback was perfect. You learn all about the gold mining rush of the early 1900s and visit actual prospector’s tin houses from the day. En route you’ll also get to see Antony Gormley’s fantastic living art exhibition “Inside Australia” at Lake Ballard salt lake.

Fishing and Foraging in Shark Bay

IMG_1398 Look at this picture. LOOK! On those rocks are oysters and we chiselled them off with a hammer and screwdriver, chucked them on a beach BBQ and had them for tea. I also caught a Blue Bonefish on a hand line and we ate that too. This is at Shark Bay on the Coral Coast, at a secret location I’m not allowed to divulge.

Perth and Rottnest

1628 Perth is such a welcoming, friendly City it’s gonna be hard to leave when my contract ends in February. A 30 minute ferry ride off the coast is Rottnest Island. I think EVERYONE here has had family holidays on the island. Rotto Fast Facts:

  • No cars allowed, only mode of transport is bicycle.
  • The Quokka, a small friendly marsupial, is native to the Island.
  • Rottnest has over 63 beaches and 20 sandy bays. Yowsers.

The Gascoyne Dash

....And they're off! You can’t see me, but I’m sat in the passenger seat with my new pal Bradley Cooper at the wheel (he’s Western Australia’s off-road racing Champion). We drove at over 200km/hour around a dirt track in preparation for the annual Kickstarters Gascoyne Dash. It’s a 500km race across the desert starting from Carnarvon on the Coral Coast.

Cygnet Bay

This is from the Giant Tides Last Light Tour at Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm in Australia’s North West. They have the second largest tidal movements in the world up there, and we were witnessing it all from a speed boat. It’s not in the picture but after the tour we were treated to an eight course pearl meat degustation feast. Lucky buggers.

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