With Beaches, Wine and Buzz, Is This Australia’s Next Hot Place?

The late afternoon daylight in Western Australia’s Margaret River area is deeply golden, casting its buttery hue throughout vineyards and filtering via the forests of large karri bushes. Sometimes the panorama seems to be virtually European, with roads tunneled by groves of previous bushes subsequent to fields of baled hay. Then you notice a herd of Western Gray kangaroos lounging beneath the bushes, or flip a bend within the street and there it’s: the surprising aqua blue of the Indian Ocean.

It’s not arduous to see the attraction. But given its remoteness, it’s considerably shocking that the realm to the south of Perth, Western Australia’s capital metropolis, has grow to be a well-liked vacation spot for meals and wine vacationers.

There is little doubt that the area has all the weather wanted to attract hungry (and thirsty) vacationers. It is stunningly stunning, and whereas it is without doubt one of the youngest established wine areas on the planet (at round 50 years previous) it’s fairly strong, with near 100 wineries. But it’s hardly the one naturally gorgeous wine-producing area in Australia, and many are older and simpler to entry. And but tourism to Margaret River and the encircling space has exploded, with the variety of worldwide guests up by 37 p.c in simply the final three years.

How did they do it?

Australia has tilted its tourism technique towards culinary choices, not simply its cute and fuzzy animal inhabitants. Central to the vacationer growth in Western Australia is the Margaret River Gourmet Escape, a major food and wine festival.

Imagine a third of the contiguous United States — let’s say everything west of the Rockies — as one single state. That is approximately the size of Western Australia, which takes up just under a million square miles of the country’s 2,941,300-square-mile area. Now imagine that the entire vast expanse is populated by less than three million people, with more than half of those people living in one city.

Perth is already one of the most remote state capitals in the world, a five-hour flight from Sydney or Singapore (there are no direct flights from the U.S.). Margaret River, the small town that anchors the wine region of the same name, is another three-hour drive from Perth.

A decade ago, Perth was in the midst of a mining boom, and its hotel rooms were filled almost to capacity. State tourism officials were looking for a way to get visitors to travel beyond the capital city. At the same time, Brand Events — best known for its “Taste of” festivals in various cities — was searching globally for a location for its next big food festival. (Brand Events has since been acquired by IMG, a worldwide sports, fashion and events company.)

The 2018 festival pretty much looked like this: Ms. Lawson in a long flowing dress on a beach at sunset, toasting a crowd of tipsy revelers. The water was calm and almost electric blue, the beach was adorned with huge canvas tents with lounging areas, waiters carried platters of grilled prawns and pretty cocktails, and strings of twinkling lights made everyone seem a little more attractive than they really are.

Tickets for events are sold separately, and accommodation in the area can be pricey, particularly during the festival; attending is an expensive endeavor, even before you’ve factored in the travel involved. But the yearly gathering of media, chefs and moneyed food obsessives has helped to boost the profile of Margaret River exponentially.

Margaret River’s restaurant scene is also experiencing a boom, much of it hand in hand with the wine industry, as vineyards learn that the dining room can be as much of a draw as the cellar. Two of the region’s best-known wineries, Vasse Felix and Cullen Wines, are also home to two of the state’s most highly awarded restaurants.

Source link Nytimes.com

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