If you’re flying into Perth and time is limited, but you want to see something a little different and off the beaten track, then a visit to The Ferguson Valley two hours south could just be the ticket.
Living in Bunbury means that The Valley is our backyard stomping ground given that we can reach Dardanup in around twenty minutes and explore the hills, dales, wineries, farmstays and galleries from there.
Things to do near Perth
But if you’re coming from Perth expect to drive for around two hours until you hit beautiful Ferguson Road and Pile Road, along which you’ll find wineries, micro breweries and one or two attractions before heading deeper into the area to experience the forests and river pools.
When I knew Caz and Craig Makepeace from yTravelBlog (considered Australia’s most successful travel blog) would be in the area I called to ask if they’d like to spend some time exploring, and was delighted when they said “Yes”. The tour guide in me sprung into action and quickly concocted an itinerary that I hoped would suit them as a family with limited time.
We drove first to Ferguson Farmstay where the very lovely owner Rosa had organised for Kalyra and Savannah to join in the early morning animal feeding, followed by a pony ride.
“We’ve designed our hosted farm activities especially for children and their parents to get a taste of country life. At 8.30am we begin with feeding the goats, emus, our kangaroo Matilda and our pigs. Then the kids take turns collecting the eggs from the chickens and putting out food for ducks, guinea pigs, and rabbits. Then if they like, the kids can have a ride on our very friendly and safe pony Fred,” Rosa told me previously on the phone.
What’s on offer at Ferguson Farmstay?
- Expect family accommodation, a function centre, wedding location and restaurant with fabulous views of the Ferguson Valley.
- It’s a 45 hectare property sitting on top of the hill designed to take full advantage of the Ferguson Valley views of farmland and vineyards – a view all the way to Bunbury and the coast.
- There are 10 self contained rammed earth chalets, great for family holidays romantic get-aways all with views.
- The restaurant is open Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm providing lunches and light meals using local produce.
Then it was off to Peppermint Lane Lodge where we rang the big bronze bell at the doorway to be greeted by owner Kim who ushered us into her beautiful home with private pool, and out onto the shady verandah where Lodge guests are served their breakfasts.
At Peppermint Lane Lodge you’ll find stylish accommodation in 4 cottages situated privately away from the main house. Each cottage is styled with contemporary furnishings and has its own verandah and bush outlook.
Kim and her husband Simon do all the cooking at the lodge. They offer breakfast and evening meals if requested too. With a French connection you can expect lovely touches in the gastronomic stakes which were evident in the way Kim presented our delicious morning tea – with sweet treats in long stemmed goblets and tea served in a vintage service.
Kalyra and Savannah helped Kim feed the chicken and collect the eggs, which were put into a small bucket (filled with leaves) to be taken to the kitchen for the next day’s breakfast.
What to expect year round in the Valley
In summertime The Ferguson Valley is a sea of golden brown, as the grass dries and the land begs for rain.
During Autumn you can expect a myriad of exotic colours as the trees begin to change colour and the grass begins to revive.
As soon as the first Spring rains arrive then the Valley responds with swathes of green painted across rolling grasslands which could make you feel as if you’ve just landed in Ireland – except for those eucalypt trees.
Kim explained to us how each year residents in this area long for the tinkle of the dried up Ferguson River as it starts running again in springtime bringing new life to the valley.
“It’s quite a talking point in the community and all of us living along the river are eager for news as to how far it’s progressed along the valley after the first rains.”
A visit to Gnomesville
Refreshed and with the children eager to be done with grown-up chatter we drove to Gnomesville. This is the most curious of places because you can’t quite believe the extent of things until you see for yourself.
“Gnomesville is the magical home to over 3000 Gnomes who have migrated here from all over Australia and around the world. Plan to spend a few hours wandering through the villages and glades full of playful, naughty and sentimental Gnomes climbing logs, hanging out in trees, playing cricket, even flying planes!”Ferguson Valley Visitor Centre
You’ll enjoy the clever Gnomish puns and, who knows, you may decide to return to contribute a Gnome of your own but Gnomish legend states that bad luck will follow if you decide to take home a souvenir.
For the history of Gnomesville and more quaint facts you might like to visit the Gnomesville website
What I didn’t know was that you can buy Gnomes at the Ferguson Valley Visitor Centre located on Ferguson Road in the Dardanup Townsite. So you could choose one to make your mark at Gnomesville or take home a unique souvenir of your visit. Gnomish history and fact sheets are also available.
Gnomesville is located by the roundabout at the junction of Wellington Mill and Ferguson Roads, Wellington Mill, approximately 30 minutes drive from Bunbury.
We stopped off at Aidan Winery, not for a wine tasting but for a quick snack where we had soup and salad, and Kalyra enjoyed a kiddies box which I thought was a great touch for a winery to add to its lunch menu.
Then it was a short drive to Ferguson Falls farm and winery which has just added a sleek new cellar door cum cafe to the estate.
Peter Giumelli warmly welcomed us to his three hectare vineyard that today produces quality award-winning wines. He told us stories about the Italian heritage of the valley, and how the Ferguson Valley hall and its events have ensured that old landowners and new lifestyle buyers have come together successfully to create a strong vibrant community in this beautiful part of the world.
“When we moved here, we moved to Paradise – yes, there really was a place in the valley with that name, Peter said. Today though I’ve been putting nets on all the vines which are just three weeks from harvesting to protect them from the parrots – it’s a big job.”
What’s on Offer at Ferguson Falls?
Wine, cheese and preserves tasting.
Share a selected cheese platter and bottle of wine in the gazebo enjoying the natural beauty of the tranquil vineyard and farm.
Open: Fri, Sat, Sun, & long weekends from 11.00am to 5.00pm – or call Peter and Margaret to arrange a suitable time for your visit.
Ferguson Falls wines
I particularly enjoyed the 2014 Semillon Sauvignong Blanc, a refreshing crisp white wine with a frangipani-like bouquet – “With additional tropical fruit mingling with some lively citrus characters on the palate. A delightfully fresh, crisp finish,” say the wine notes.
But top came the 2013 Primavera Rosso, a chilled wine ideal for spring and summer drinking. From the wine notes: “It exhibits soft, ripe, raspberry characters with a touch of mint on the back palate. Containing a slight effervescence, the wine is refreshing when chilled.”
There are so many things to do in Ferguson Valley. Due to lack of time I didn’t manage to take Caz, Craig and the girls to The Lyndendale Gallery, or to visit artist Jenni Doherty’s studio, nor did we get to a favourite winery of mine, Angelicus nor to The Moody Cow brewery or Ferguson Hart winery or Hackersley – and don’t even start on the lovely walks in Crooked Brook forest or the lovely Honeymoon Pools for a cooling dip in the Wellington Forest.
In fact if you travel from Perth, make it a weekend – there’s so much to do – and much relaxing to be enjoyed.
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