Getting away from it all is something we love to do, and although I do love being in the bush, you have to remember (ahem, Dave) that I’m a girl, so I’m also quite keen on the idea of not being too far away from civilization on holiday, from the point of view of nice boutique’y type shops or places to go out for dinner.
Empire Retreat near Dunsborough ticked both boxes. Discreetly signposted off Caves Road (so discreet you’re in danger of flying past) it’s situated at the end of a winding driveway that leads through manicured farmland past a lake and into a glorious wooded area where you’ll find the old farmhouse that’s now converted into a lodge. It’s not far from the lovely boutiques and shops of Dunsborough, it’s close to world class beaches and it’s only a hop skip and jump to several restaurants.
A Luxury Lodge with Indonesian touches
If you’ve been reading ZigaZag, you’ll know that I love all things Balinese, especially gardens, so the palm filled secret places, the quiet spaces, and the nooks and crannies where you’ll find yet another Indonesian statue or water feature or quaint bench just waiting to be discovered really appealed to me.
Don’t you think that the vast double doors leading to the wooded gardens and the Day Spa are stunning?
Once upon a time, Empire Retreat was a family farmhouse
The main part of the retreat is a 35 year old timber and stone farmhouse. You enter via a classy and very stylish drawing room, a great spot to sit and read the weekend papers. Walking on through the property you come to a quiet sitting room with a large TV that leads to a well equipped kitchen available for guests to use if they wish to cook.
On from this is an airy, atrium style dining room in which you feel completely at one with nature, in fact for me it must rate as one of the largest conservatory type rooms I’ve ever been in. The lovely thing is that you look out on the vineyard and forest, and although you feel as if you’re outside in the bush, you’re completely protected from the elements by floor length windows.
From my journal: “Kookaburras woke us up with a loud cackle, which seemed to be followed by a raucous dawn chorus this morning. Then as we had breakfast, blue fairy wrens and honey eaters darted around the trees outside and we enjoyed feeling at one with nature.”
Outside there’s a cute courtyard with a table and chairs complete with a large barbecue for guests to use while to the other side of the room is a second area overlooking the garden and the outside Jacuzzi, where you can sit and watch the world go by.
From my journal: “We get up early and wander around the lake, dodging a gaggle of geese and lots of guinea fowl, and we laugh at the antics of the ducks and their ducklings. It’s tranquil, and although you’re not actually far from anything at Empire Retreat, you feel a world away from everything. After lunch we relax in the outside Jacuzzi which completely eases our worries away.”
- You get the full on country experience at Empire Retreat and yet you’re close to Yallingup and Dunsborough where there are lots of Things to do and see.
- The grounds include open parkland surrounding a lake where geese, guinea fowl and ducks abide. Sit on the lakeside bench for some quiet contemplation.
- The separate luxurious Day Spa is set apart in the forest, down a wooded lane. You can choose from a selection of treatments. There’s also an undercover jacuzzi and a sauna in the grounds for guests to use at leisure.
- Empire Retreat is an adult destination. 10 Luxury suites or villas are completely private. Ours had a bush outlook on two sides, and we walked along timber boardwalks under tall trees, from the main farmhouse to reach it. Inside it’s take-your-breath-away luxurious, open plan with a step down to a modern lounge area and kitchen/dining space.
- There’s an open fire for winter days and a wooden decked balcony with a huge Balinese style daybed for summer days, while in the bedroom area there’s a big spa bath looking out onto woodland bush.
- Outside, and down some steps we were delighted to find an outside shower, overlooked by trees and Indonesian statues.
- There are several accommodation options to choose from at Empire Retreat including loft suites, a courtyard suite, deluxe suites and luxury villas.
- Breakfast is included in the room rate and what a breakfast you can have! Choose from a huge continental and fruit section followed by eggs Benedict , eggs Florentine, or gourmet omelettes with Yallingup woodfired toast, just as an example.
Prior to dinner we headed to Canal Rocks where we came across a wedding party having photos taken, then to Smiths Beach for a walk, and then we dashed to Yallingup to take pictures of the sunset. That’s the beauty about Western Australia … so many places to explore, and as yet roads that aren’t crowded which means we can get from one to another without hold ups.
Where to eat around Yallingup and Dunsborough
For dinner we went to one of the Margaret River region’s most stylish restaurants, at Windmills Break, which is practically next door to Empire Retreat, and we celebrated our anniversary with a delightful meal and a bottle of Flying Fish Cove pinot chardonnay (you have to try it), it’s definitely becoming our sparkly of choice these days.
We could have chosen the Italian restaurant, La Casina, which is also only a couple of minutes drive away on Cave’s Road, or Clancy’s Fish Pub, or Cave’s House all of which are close by. If none of these appeal there are plenty of eateries in Dunsborough – Empire Retreat is situated about half way between Dunsborough and Yallingup.
Then it was home to Empire Retreat to bed, and what a bed, a four poster with enough room for us both to spread out like star fish. After 26 years of marriage you’re allowed to do this you know 😉
And dream we did, of beaches and breweries more of which we’d discover the very next day.
Disclaimer: My stay at Empire Retreat was complimentary, but all views are my own. Here’s a link to the Empire Retreat Facebook Page
If you’ve enjoyed this post you might enjoy Part 1 of this 3 part series : Duckstein Brewery, Margaret River and please don’t forget to pop back next week for Part 3: Eagle Bay Brewing Co and the Best Beaches around Dunsborough.