WHETHER it’s the fresh air, lush greenery or delicious produce, it’s fair to say our Southern Forests region is genuinely extraordinary.
Having never visited before (and I call myself a foodie), I was delighted to attend one of the Southern Forests Food Council’s Food and Farm Experience four-day tours – I stayed for three – and I got to see first-hand why the region is much-loved.
A picturesque 3.5-hour drive brought us to the revamped Kingsley Motel Bar & Restaurant and I was pleasantly surprised with both the restaurant and accommodation.
Clean, modern and simple, it was nothing like I had envisioned.
After we settled in, we headed to dinner and a meet-and-greet with Council staff and other foodies taking part in the tour.
Here we enjoyed a glass of wine and a two-course meal, which included a marron and truffle risotto that for me was the dish of the experience.
The next day, our tour included a visit to the farmers’ market, Ryan Potatoes, Jarrah Jacks Brewery, Forest Fresh Marron, Fontanini Fruit and Nut Farm and finished with dinner at Tall Timbers wine bar.
Highlights were definitely getting down and dirty and picking our own spuds with Ryan Potatoes grower Glen Ryan, the beautiful scenery of Jarrah Jacks and a tractor ride through the stunning and extensive farm and picking apples straight off the tree with Tony Fontanini.
Mr Fontanini also gave us the lowdown on the avocado industry in the region, which is Manjimup’s biggest industry at the moment due to its irrigated water systems.
We finished off the day wine tasting at Tall Timbers and another stunning dinner of lamb and, of course, some delicious spuds.
The next day, my last, we took a scenic drive to the quaint mill town of Donnelly River where we were greeted by kangaroos and emus.
Fun fact: it’s where the Bunnings family began its empire.
Next we were off to another highlight of the tour – Charcol Springs Pastured Eggs – where husband-wife duo Charlie and Coleen Roberts and their two boys look after about 2500 chooks, complemented by cattle.
“The difference between free-range versus pastured eggs is that the chooks roam with cattle,” Charlie said.
A visit to their farm included a walk through the pen, collecting eggs and packing them in their crates.
A delicious morning tea made from fresh produce was also a highlight.
The tours are designed to change and embrace the seasonality of fresh produce, providing visitors with a unique opportunity to meet the farmers and experience where food comes from.
Our writer was a guest of the Southern Forests Food Council.
WHAT: Genuinely Extraordinary Southern Forests Food and Farm Experience
WHEN: June 1-4 (WA Day long weekend)
WHERE: Manjimup, Pemberton, Northcliffe and Walpole
COST: Single $1485 per person or twin share $1285 per person.