Living in Australia we don’t get to experience a ‘White Christmas’ or even a cold, wintry Christmas. It’s becoming very popular to celebrate ‘Christmas in July’. So as a family we decided to have a Christmas in July weekend getaway, heading south from Perth to the Ferguson Valley.
With a very cold, wet weekend forecast we headed out from Perth towards the Ferguson Valley, to Burekup to be exact. It’s a nice easy drive of just under 2 hours and we arrived in time for lunch. Ferguson Falls Winery and Cafe was where we decided to stop. After a wine tasting we decided on a bottle of 2017 Chardonnay to accompany our lunch; a Reuben sandwich and a cheese platter. Very well priced and a lovely wine, especially as I don’t generally like Chardonnay’s but this one was light and not heavily oaked. The cafe has made a name for themselves for their delicious stone-baked American and Italian style gourmet pizzas (Winner of the Gold Plate Award 2017 for Best Pizza), must try next time we are there. As it was such a wet day and a little quiet we had the pleasure of chatting to the owner Laura who makes to time to come and have a chat.
After an enjoyable lunch, we headed off to check into our accommodation for the weekend, Evedon Park Bush Resort. It was 2pm and cabins were ready for check-in. The cabins are lakeside and are 2 bedrooms, living area, kitchen and a bathroom, which was obviously recently updated, and a lovely balcony right over the lake. Thank goodness they also have a wood-fired combustion fire and also fire pits outside, wood is supplied as are firelighters which come in very handy. Unpacked, fires on and time to get the mulled wine on.
Evedon Park also has a bar and restaurant on-site and on Friday nights have Happy Hour and wood-fired pizzas. So off to the bar and restaurant we went for a drink…or two, and some really nice pizzas and even better because they had gluten-free bases. After dinner back to the cabin we went and into the heavenly smell of the mulled wine. Board games and chatter….and mulled wine and then it was time to hit the hay early.
Earlyish wake up in the morning due to a 2 1/2-year-old but all in time for a good old-fashioned breakfast cook up, there is not a local store close by, so a good idea to bring supplies with you. The kitchens are fully stocked with equipment and utensils so no need to worry about that, unless you are a coffee snob like me and need to bring your coffee machine with you………although there is a cafe on-site where you can get coffee. There are bush-walking trails around the park, you can even fish in the lake (need to bring your own fishing gear), free kayaks with oars and life jackets to use on the lake and there is a gallery with local arts and crafts. We chose to take a walk around the lake to get the blood flowing and to walk off a few calories after breakfast.
Ferguson Valley has a number of attractions nearby including wineries, breweries, art, craft and the famous Gnomesville. Half of us wanted to go out and check the wineries out and the other half wanted to see the gnomes at Gnomesville, so off we set with plans to meet up mid-afternoon. It was the week before the great Gnomesville flood so we were fortunate to see Gnomesville before a few of the gnomes floated away. Such a strange place with gnomes of all types everywhere, you can take your own along and leave them there.
Off in the wine tour car, we headed off in the direction of Willow Bridge Estate, about 10 minutes away. Here we got to try a lot of wines; sparkling, whites, reds. My favourite was the Dragonfly Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, which I had to get one to takeaway. Our driver was more of a red man and he took a fancy to the Tempranillo and also took one away.
Next stop was Moody Cow Brewery for a spot of lunch. It must be the local beef but the Thai beef salad and the lasagna were to die for and the quantities were huge. You could have shared one meal between two.
Saint Aidan Wines was a winery we had been to for lunch before, but this time it was just for a wine tasting. Sampled a number of wines and heard the story of the 3 sisters……if you go there make sure you ask. Beautiful wines in a beautiful building.
On route to our accommodation, we stopped at Green Door Wines, a winery that we hadn’t been to before. Has a real Spanish feel to it. Wine tastings were a little different on this day, we were seated at a table and all the wine samples were brought to us and explained and then left for us to sample at our convenience.
By now the weather was settling in and it was time to get back. Back in time for us all to participate in our own little Secret Santa present exchange, a bit of fun with names being picked by a random program and value set at $15 which was a bit of a challenge. Glasses of Moet and then it was off to Christmas in July dinner at the restaurant. The restaurant was decorated with Christmas decorations including a Christmas tree and even bonbons on the table. Christmas carols were playing, all that was missing was Santa. It was a 3-course buffet dinner with soup and bread to start, followed by roast turkey and ham with an array of vegetables, followed by pudding and pavlova and even coffee and tea if you wanted, it was all delicious. Wine tastings were provided by Talisman Wines and a nice bottle of Sauvignon Blanc Fume was enjoyed with our dinner.
Another early night and it was back to our cabins for board games and more mulled wine…..by this time smelling amazing and tasting even better than the night before.
Up in the morning and another breakfast cook up before packing up and getting ready to leave. Check out was easy and we were on our way. My family had owned the local Burekup General Store in the late 1960’s early 1970’s so a drive through town was needed to reminisce. Not a lot had changed in 45 years; the store looked much the same, the local church had not changed, the C.W.A. building was still there although now painted an interesting shade of blue, the school that I had attended in my early schooling years had dramatically changed from the 2-classroom school that it was, the tennis club where I had learned to play looked exactly the same. It brought back a lot of memories of good times in my younger life.
By now coffee was required and as it was Sunday morning there were no cafes open in small towns but just out of Harvey we found HaVe where we found cheese tastings and a very nice cup of coffee. Heading towards Perth just near Yarloop we saw the grape sign and went looking down a back track for a winery. About to give up, we came across The Skipworth Wine Company with its owner Kim at the cellar door. What we found was a surprisingly interesting range of wine, my favourites; a nice light Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, Kimbo’s Fizz a sparkling white wine with a taste of lemon sherbet, ruby port and brown muscat. We had to purchase all of them and the port and the brown muscat even came in 2L flagons for $18, an absolute bargain, will keep us warm on many a cold winter’s night. You have got to love that surprisingly treat you find when you go off the beaten track a bit.
This was the end of the weekend but what a lovely weekend it was, to celebrate as my 2 1/2 year old grand-daughter said ‘Winter Christmas’. If you want a lovely winter weekend away you must check out Evedon Park Bush Resort and the Ferguson Valley. Close enough to Perth to make it so easy.