Markus had requested Monday and Tuesday off in case we could convince Mary to extend her stay a bit and take in Sydney, and once he had the leave, he had to take it. Rather than stick around home for a long weekend, we headed down south again on Sunday for a three-day, two-night farm stay in a different spot: Margaret River Hideaway. In past visits, we have always stayed in Dunsborough, so we knew that area pretty well. Margaret River is almost an hour south of there, so we had some new spots to explore. Not that we explored much...our little farmers (most especially Farmer Stephanie) were completely happy to stick around our farmstead.
Tourist spots seem to use the term "farmstay" quite loosely in that none we've seen are actual farms. Perhaps they were farms once, but now they are big properties with a few cottages for tourists and a few animals for a farm-like feel. We liked this one a lot more than the last one, and not just because the accommodation was less dodgy (though thank goodness for that). The animals roamed free on the property, and there weren't any "no go" zones, meaning we were welcome to go anywhere or through any gate as long as we closed it behind us again. The geese, peacocks and guinea fowl roamed around most often right in front of our cottage, so the girls were up and out the door first thing in the morning to observe and fraternize.
At 9am, it was time to help feed the animals.
Afterwards, how could we resist such an awesome playground?
As usual, there are lots more photos in the flickr account. If you want to see more, just click on the sidebar.
Markus and I have realized that we go down south so the girls can have fun with animals and we can enjoy good food and wine. We don't go out in Perth, so the wine region is our food and wine time. We try to have lunch at a different winery each day. Of course, we made an exception to that rule to have lunch at Amberley on our way into town. It's the best overall in that it offers great food, wine and service in a setting where the girls are very comfortable and happy. Can't beat that!
At least, we thought we couldn't beat it until we discovered the Xanadu winery on this visit. Julian at our farmstay recommended it highly, so we headed over there for lunch on day two. Given that it was a Monday off-season, it wasn't surprising that we were the only ones there. Markus pointed out that it would probably be very noisy inside when it is full of people, but it was gorgeous and peaceful and all around fantastic when we were there! While I tend to be put off by artsy food presentation, there is no getting around the amazing flavors they were serving up (and the wine was excellent too!). They also prepared the best kids' meal we've seen: a tasting platter of small sandwiches, cheese slices, pear slices, dried apricots, and handcut potato wedges in sea salt. YUM!
We always make sure to stay somewhere with a kitchen so we can prepare breakfast and dinner at home for the girls. Ellie could eat pasta with pesto every night, and she did while we were there. Stephanie is happy to eat whatever (or too busy to eat anything). Later that night for dinner, Markus and I made our way through a bottle of Amberley's merlot while munching cracking and triple cream brie from the Margaret River Cheese Co. I am pretending that was a healthy meal, because man oh man was it good!
We experienced some fairly wintry weather this time. The first and third days were rainy, windy and cold. Day two in between was grey, but at least it wasn't bitter. The girls had a blast on the farmstay. Stephanie could not have been happier. She is such a true animal lover, and she was in seventh heaven. Usually when we come home from being away, the girls are so excited to be back. Ellie was this time too, but Stephanie started to cry when we pulled into the driveway. "Don't go home! I want to go see farm!" Sweet girl. We'll go back!