For today’s picnic we headed to the small coastal stretch of land running north west from Dunsborough to Cape Naturaliste. There’s lots of bays to choose from along this stretch of coastline, with Meelup, Eagle Bay, Castle Rock, and Bunker Bay being some of the better known ones. Today we chose one of the lesser known ones – Gannet Rock.
For our picnic food we stopped in at Eagle Bay Olives where we found a charming, rustic Farm Shop located in the midst of a picturesque olive grove.
Extra virgin olive oils, table olives and other gourmet products, all produced on the farm, are displayed beautifully and available for sale. They have a bountiful tasting table with samples, so you can try before you buy.
As well as food, they also stock a selection of olive wood utensils and boards, olive oil toiletries, and other unique giftware.
Their gourmet picnic boxes for two are very popular. We ordered ours, which at the time of our visit cost $32.95, and was prepared in minutes.
There are picnic rugs available for use on the premises, or picnic tables on the lawn overlooking the olive groves for those who want to linger longer.
Lingering was not on our agenda today though, so we stowed the food into our chilled picnic hamper and headed off in search of something to wash it down with.
Wise winery is located in a sandy region so the soil isn’t ideal for growing wine grapes. Therefore most of the fruit is sourced from local vineyards for the wine to be manufactured on site. Wise Winery doesn’t have the traditional rows of grape vines overlooking the obligatory dam. Instead the cellar door is located high on a hill which looks out over the hillside to the gorgeous indigo blue of the Indian ocean.
It’s a very pleasant place to spend a half hour leisurely choosing a bottle of suitable wine for a picnic, or if you wanted to stay longer to dine, they also have their Lot 80 Tavern and Bistro.
I was skipper today, so trusted the sampling to Paul. We had decided on a red, so Greg, who was giving us our samples for the day, started Paul off with a generous sample of their Pinot Noir, which started out as grapes grown in the Pemberton area. The verdict – Light and pleasant.
Next came a Malbec made from grapes sourced from in the Wilyabrup area of the Margaret River region. The verdict – easy drinking.
Third was a Cabernet Malbec, also made from grapes sourced in the Margaret River region. Very smooth.
Fourth was a Cabernet Sauvignon, sourced once again from the Margaret River region – not as smooth as the Cabernet Malbec, but still very palatable.
The next tasting received the comment of “oh, that’s lovely” The tick of approval for the wine to accompany today’s picnic went to a 2016 Wise Shiraz produced from grapes sourced from the Wilyabrup area of Margaret River.
The picnic spot
Approximately 600 metres along the road north west of the more popular Meelup Beach is Gannet Rock. The view is just gorgeous, and at busy times of year this bay is relatively quiet and peaceful.
Each bay is is unique. In this area. Some have lovely sandy beaches, ideal for gently wading into the water for a swim. Gannet Rock, however, has rocky coastline, so if a cooling dip or a swim is desired, you’ll need to be prepared for a bit of a rocky scramble to get to the water’s edge.
The water in the bay is gentle and crystal clear, so is ideal for snorkelling. Close to shore, Gannet Rock juts out of the water and makes an ideal place to snorkel around offering plenty to see.
However we chose a gentle bush walk instead to help digest some of those calories.
The Cape Naturaliste walking track winds it’s way several kilometres from Dunsborough up to the lighthouse at Cape Naturaliste. It passes through most of the coastal picnic spots on the way including Gannet Rock, so we could have chosen to walk in either direction.
On this occasion we decided on just a short walk of approximately 600 metres south to Meelup Beach. The track is mostly shaded by peppermint trees and other natives, so there’s plenty of birds for any birdwatchers. We were happy to just listen to unidentified bird sounds accompanying the sound of the gentle waters lapping the shoreline – natural, background music for our stroll through the Bush.
The bays all along this stretch of coastline have varying amounts of facilities. Some have barely more than a car park, others like Gannet Rock, have a picnic table and a bench on which to sit and overlook the water, with nothing else. Some have a long drop toilet, and some, are like Meelup – fully equiped with lots of picnic tables to choose from, free gas barbecues, changing rooms, and flushing toilets. Naturally, the more facilities – the more people.
We took a few minutes to wander around under the peppermint trees and do a bit of obligatory, ‘people watching’. Lots of couples and families enjoying time in the great outdoors together. What could be nicer. A walk back to Gannet Rock and that concluded our picnic.
Good food and good wine consumed while overlooking a gorgeous bay, followed by a walk in the great outdoors to finish up – what a pleasure!