Over the past weekend my brother Josh and I got to surprise my Mum with a day out in The Ferguson Valley. A short two hour drive from Perth to Mum’s house in Pelican point we arrived Saturday morning. After a quick coffee our tour guide Brian from South West Tourist Service arrived with his van to take us out to visit the areas Bakeries,Sights,Brewries and Wineries! Needless to say Mum was over the moon.
Our first stop was the Dardanup Bakery where we were promised some spectacular pastries and pies. Arriving in to the family run bakery we found gorgeous breads, pastries and pies. Now if you hadn’t guessed I am not usually the guy to stop in and grab a pie and sauce for lunch on my lunch break but these were not your Mrs Mac’s servo pie. We all sat and over coffee devoured the light,flufyy pastry bursting with huge chunks of steak.
After that was on we got into the serious business of wine. Stopping at St Aiden, Hackersley and Ferguson Hart wineries. All of which are locally run and delivered a variety of styles and grapes. What stood out most apart from each locations beautiful setting was the stories behind the wine. Wth each wine maker skilfully matching zesty, citrusy SBS grapes to a particular fiesta aunt or relative. We walked away with a bottle of vintage port called “Let it RIP Albert” which was a dedication to Jan, one of the makers late Father and his creative and soulful life.
In between the vines we stopped in at the Wellington Forrest and Dam. Where we found secluded bathing spots to bring a picnic or bbq and cool off in the Collie river. A highlight was definitely Gnomesville, by far one of the most bizarre attractions in the state. It started out as a protest to local council bureaucracy twenty one years ago and has steadily grown to a population of over ten thousand garden Gnomes representing families, sporting trips and other life events. We even managed to plant our own Gnome (Stanley) as a mark of the wonderful day.
Our final stop was at Raging Bull brewery and was the place Greg, my step father had been looking forward too. After all that wine he was ready for a beer. Unfortunately it was also our most disappointing stop as well, after the warm welcome and care of each other the other wineries the lack of hospitality at the brewery was evident. We arrived just on 3pm and before we had even ordered a drink we were told if we wanted food we had to order now as the kitchen was closing. My issue here is two fold, firstly as a business in Summer when the Valley is full of campers and people why would you close a kitchen on a Saturday at 3pm? Secondly and probably more importantly if you do close at 3pm perhaps find a more polite way of connecting with your patrons and informing them that food won’t be available. To compound this the staff then began packing up chairs, umbrellas and making it known to all four tables there that we shouldn’t stay long. Sadly the great beers couldn’t wash the taste of the poor service out of my mouth and I wouldn’t recommend heading there unless the owner has found staff with a better sense of what hospitality means.
Luckily Brian saved the day with his witty jokes, deep knowledge of the Valley and his genuine interest in our family. As we wound our way back through the scenic hill tops home we all relaxed in a slightly boozy haze of music and sunshine and capped the day off at home in the spa watching the sunset while enjoying one more class of Ferguson Valley wine.
South West Tourist Services is a fantastic company for a variety of packages and customisable tours. I cannot recommend Brain’s services enough as his skill and knowledge is exceptional.
Spend some time this summer with your favourite people and if you are in WA go get lost in the “Fergie”