Building its reputation as a wine region as well as avocado growing increasing at an exponential rate, the orchards and rolling paddocks with their rich soils produce fruit, vegetables and nuts with flavour that is hard to rival.
Here’s where you’ll meet genuine locals and food personalities, primary producers, chefs and cooks. You’ll be welcomed through farm gates, into private homes, farm packing sheds and front doors at their venues to present a very special window into their lives.
This fertile land, 300 kilometres south-west of Perth, is rapidly earning a reputation as one of Australia’s premier growing regions. The towering Karri forests that surround the farming land not only deter pests and diseases, but large corporations as well. Third and fourth generation farming families work properties their great grandparents cleared by hand.
As past tours have shown, we arrive wide-eyed and hungry and leave as unofficial ambassadors with a deeper connection to the land and people of the Southern Forests region.
Early afternoon we meet and hop on our private bus. Driven expertly by our very own Cameraman, Anthony, we wind our merry way from the hustle and bustle of Perth down to greet the gentler rhythm of the Southern Forests town of Manjimup.
Check-in at the Kingsley Motel.
For a relaxed and easy first evening, we’ll dine in the restaurant at our accommodation. After our journey we’ll certainly enjoy a hearty country meal showcasing local produce. You’ll meet our friend and long-time local, Anthony (yes another one!) who will be on board with us for this adventure as our knowledgeable guide. It’s very rare that he can’t answer our questions about the land, farmers or their produce.
Only a couple of minutes drive and we’ll stop-off at our favourite Manjimup coffee roasters. Of course, enjoying your favourite morning refreshment first up is imperative to get the day rolling! The charming Rui will roast a batch of beans for us and explain the skill in getting it just right. Coffee/tea and pastries included this morning.
Through the first farm gate we’ll trundle to meet Jake who is one of the new generation of farmers. After completing his University education, Jake has brought new science to his family farm which encompasses many of the old ways. He’ll give a brief overview of the family’s farming history then we’ll meet their pasture-raised chickens, lambs who are raised on a holistic planned grazing system using strip grazing and healthy soils to reduce chemicals and fertilizer inputs and their new Strip Tilled vegetable growing system which allows them to grow a cover crop creating natural mulch creating a natural herbicide! You’ll love Jake’s commitment and I’m sure you’ll find this as fascinating as I do.
This next beautiful boutique property is another new destination for our tour. Since the late nineteen eighties, the Kordic family have been producing award winning wines, extra virgin olive oil and verjuice. A shared local platter lunch will be accompanied by sampling the elegant and unique character of the cool climate wines. Take a wander through the olive trees, some that are over half a century old. They provide essential and beneficial shelter for their vineyard and with olives handpicked and cold pressed, provides stunning oil that captures perfect spice and flavour into a gorgeous balance.
We’ll get back to our accommodation in time for a freshen up before dinner.
There’s a new kid in town and we’ll be all ears and wide eyed to hear about and see for ourselves what a group of Manjimup business people have all been up to during the COVID-19 pandemic! Manjimup town has a brewery!
Dinner is at one of Manjimups favourite watering holes, so if the fizzy stuff isn’t up your alley then you can save yourself for a wine tasting. Ed who runs this establishment is a mine of information about local vineyards and wine makers, he has no end of yarns to tell and is truly committed to spreading education about the fabulous wines from his big ‘back-yard.
Ed and his team will treat us royally as we tuck into local produce, many ingredients sourced by Anthony (the guide) from his network of primary producers. A long table dinner and a few glasses of what we fancy will set us up for a good nights sleep and our next adventures.
Coffee this morning is at another Manjimup favourite ‘fuel-stop’. This cafe is owned by a chef with predominantly Italian heritage, who spent 16 years working at Frasers restaurant in Kings Park. He chose a tree change returning to his childhood community to run his own business.
‘All aboard’ at our first experience this morning as Tony chauffeurs us around his farm on a purpose built trailer behind his tractor! This farmer is one of the first we ever met when we were introduced to primary producers when Anthony and I went for a ‘look-see’ visit at least 3 years ago. The property is on the famous Seven Mile Road which is well known for it’s fruit salad farms. Apples, macadamias, feijoas, walnuts, chestnuts, pears, avocados and more are grown on this family farm. We’ll finish with a spot of morning tea sampling Tony’s produce.
One of Manjimups first farming families have a beautiful property a hop, skip and a jump up the road. With Italian heritage and over 60 years of farming in this region, they are well known for being warm and welcoming. You’ll be able to purchase items that are genuinely farm-direct from their farm shop where you’ll meet the next generation of growers in this family. Jess and Adam will introduce you to their exotic range of unique fungi that have Perth chefs excited and inspired!
A new venue in Manjimup’s Heritage Park entrance building which houses the new museum is where we’ll lunch today. Homemade and with as few fresh food miles as possible, this venue champions local produce to create beautiful fresh dishes.
This next farm with an interesting history of tobacco growing is nowadays renown for producing apples, quinces, quince paste, lemons and passionfruit. Stemming from their strong Macedonian heritage and years of farming knowledge, this hard working Manjimup family grow some of the tastiest produce consistently year after year.
I’m very excited about this next and new experience for our tour. Neil is a certified horticulturalist and has developed methods of successfully growing spray-free produce. He says it’s all about building up the health of the soil. Undercover you’ll walk through many different plants and varieties at this nursery. Neil who was a chef for 5 years early in his career, has a committed passion for growing spray-free fresh produce and this is exactly why I trust the Southern Forest farmers to do the right thing by us as consumers. I know I’m eating the best produce when I cook with anything Neil has grown.
Cosy up for dinner as we head out to a very special venue. A wine-shed is our dining room for a tonights relaxed, long table dinner that will be laid in our host Bob’s no-fuss, Italian family style. Wood-fired pizza, fresh marron from the farm dam, home grown vegetables (fresh asparagus, if nature has provided), handmade cheese, antipasto treats and Italian salamis are on the menu. The wine is included in tonight’s feast and you’ll be treated to one of Australia’s best Pinot Noirs. Gather round the warmth of the pizza oven with its glowing fire, wine in hand and the conversation will be as warm and fun and the hospitality. This is always a favourite with our clients on these tours and it’s where fun memories are created.
After our regular coffee pick-up, we’ll visit a farm where you’ll meet husband and wife duo Charlie and Coleen. Working closely with the pair over the past couple of years, we have quickly realized how superior their product is compared to anything else on the market. Charlie and Coleen raise chickens on their farm pastures. Regenerating the paddocks scratching and fossicking amongst the grass, these happy chickens lay the best eggs! See how every egg is hand checked for any damage and graded in the packing shed, sip on a cuppa and nibble on a tasty homemade cake.
Father and son team, Bevan and Ewan manage this next 400 acre property together. Another example of the next generation coming home to bring new ideas and concepts to a family run property. Traditional vegetables such as broccoli, sweet corn and cauliflower are being supplemented with funky Spaghetti Squash, Wombok cabbage, new varieties of traditional produce as well as value-adding to their orchard harvest by making on-farm dried fruit products for local and export markets. Having completed an education a Harvey Agricultural School, Ewan can bring his youthful enthusiasm and learning to the land and benefit from his dad’s watchful and experienced eye.
Our final meal will be al-fresco at a delightful 90 acre vineyard. Upon first arriving in Australia this Macedonian family settled in Manjimup, attracted by its rich soils and ideal crop-growing weather. Their undying devotion to living off the land has seen them farm everything from dairy cattle and beef to mixed horticulture, potatoes, cauliflowers and beans. Today, with viticulture in their historical veins, three brothers banded together in 1996 to create their dream vineyard as a legacy to their late father and grandfather. Wine tasting will be accompanied by a specially prepared picnic-hamper lunch in the lovely private garden of the family home.
On our way out we’ll drop in to view Anthony East (Southern Forests Produce Direct) packing shed. This is where all fresh produce is collated each week, Matters of Taste’s Fresh Produce Box orders are individually packed and trucked direct to us in Perth.
Sit back and relax on the bus journey home, as the cameraman delivers us safely back to Perth.
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Are you an Annual Cooks Collective Member? If so, you’ll be entitled to $100 discount on this Food Tour.
You are welcome to call Anthony 0409 969 920 regarding questions about the tour or if you would like to express your interest.
Please be aware occasionally, changes in service providers are unavoidable and outside our control, so maybe subject to change. We strive to present you with the best any destination has to offer at the time of the tour. All tour experiences are subject to natures will so are dependent on seasonal weather!
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