Travels: Australia // Margaret River, Hunter Valley, Sydney

The man and I spent two weeks at the end of November in Australia. We were there for an old friend's wedding and decided to incorporate a bit (okay, a lot of) wine tasting in between. We popped in to visit granddad in Sydney and whisked him and his fiancé away for a few days to enjoy the vineyards.  

MARGARET RIVER, HUNTER VALLEY, SYDNEY

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After a nine-hour red-eye flight to Perth, we hopped into our surprisingly quick rental and spent the next four hours on the road to our secluded hotel in Margaret River. (I do not recommend going on a road trip after an overnight flight). The man was so exhausted he could barely stay awake behind the wheel. I kept passing out and couldn't help him stay awake. We ended up having to park under a tree and nap for a half hour before continuing on the arduous drive. 

We spent the next two days touring Margaret River, visiting some local stores, tasting wine in between and checking out Lake Cave

We stayed at the lovely Empire Retreat which consists of 10 suites, a large dining room, open kitchen, few sitting rooms, game room, yoga room and a spa. If you're ever in Margaret River, I highly recommend staying there. Breakfast is included and there are various restaurants, pubs and cafes in the area to explore. We decided to take it easy one night and cooked our own meal in the kitchen and enjoyed a lovely private dinner with a great bottle we purchased from one of the wineries. 

After Margaret River, we made our way to Perth for the wedding then moved on to visit the man's granddad in Richmond before heading off to Hunter Valley together. The man's best man also joined us from Sydney for a memorable reunion. 

We stayed at Peppers Convent in Hunter Valley, which was rather disappointing. The estate itself looked absolutely beautiful but everything within were not up to par. Service was rather lacking and the bed was extremely uncomfortable. Bits of furniture were falling apart, throw pillows and table cloths were stained. Breakfast was nothing to scream about either. That said, Roberts restaurant, a short stroll away, was amazing. Great food, amazing service and good wine. I wouldn't recommend staying at Peppers Convent but highly suggest you make a reservation at Roberts. We ended up spending a lot of time at Tempus Two, a development near Peppers Convent that houses restaurants, a cheese shop, lounge bar and Tempus Two's cellar door. 

After a few relaxing and boozy days, we said our goodbyes and continued on to Sydney. 

We stayed at the amazingly quirky, burlesque-inspired boutique hotel QT Sydney, home to the popular Gowings Bar & Grill. Fun fact: the elevator music changes depending on the number of people in it. When it was just the two of us, we often heard "Let's Get It On" along with "Hasta La Vista, Baby" every time we got off the elevator. Teehee! I highly recommend staying here. The location is amazing and definitely makes it easy to explore the area by foot - the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney Opera House, The Rocks and the main shopping strips are all nearby. 

The man was in need of a shave and decided to check out the resident Barber shop which turned out to be more theatrical and overrated but an interesting experience nonetheless. 

A visit to Sydney isn't complete without a trek to Harry's Cafe de Wheels (a pie cart in Wollomooloo - and yes, that's a real place), a walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens to the Sydney Opera House, an afternoon trip to Manly Beach to visit some friends and a cruise around Sydney Harbour (a wonderful Christmas gift, thanks to Jade). 

We didn't have enough time to visit Taronga Zoo, which I hear is amazing. I'm sure I've been there when I was young as I remember feeding kangaroos and cuddling a koala at some point. 

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 All photos by Nina Lai-Martin except the two group cruise photos above (courtesy of Jade Porter)

All photos by Nina Lai-Martin except the two group cruise photos above (courtesy of Jade Porter)


Here are some of the wineries and vineyards we visited in Margaret River and Hunter Valley:

Voyager Estate • Gralyn Estate • Leeuwin Estate • Vasse Felix • Tempus Two • Ivanhoe (to be honest, I don't remember many of the wineries we visited in Hunter Valley. Jade - the man's best man -  organized a wine tour which took us to about five wineries).


Hotel Information

Empire Retreat 
1958 Caves Road, Yallingup, Western Australia 6282.
retreat@worldofempire.com
*note: Empire Retreat is an adult destination

QT Sydney
49 Market Street
Sydney, NSW 2000.
Reservations_sydney@qthotels.com.au