Australia's western frontier draws keen surfers, outback adventurers and business executives with its natural assets, but the state that dominates roughly a third of the entire continent is beginning to lure visitors with something a little tastier. One thing's for sure, a Western Australia food holiday is a true feast for the senses!
Western Australia is experiencing a different kind of boom these days: a booming food scene. Big in size and even bigger in flavour, WA's multicultural menu is complemented by innovative beverages brewed by the likes of Little Creatures and Matso's. Follow this foodie's guide to the Golden State and treat your taste buds to a culinary holiday - one taste of WA will most certainly have you coming back for seconds.
For the market lover: Fremantle
Freo, as the locals call it, is a hive of activity when the weekend rolls around. The charming port town is only half an hour from the state's sunny capital, covered in a cloud of steam from coffee machines working overtime on the Cappuccino Strip. Tucked among heritage pubs and cafes on the corner of South Terrace and Henderson Street is the Fremantle Market - a grand Victorian dwelling that has been a mainstay on Freo's foodie circuit for well over a century. Things haven't changed much since the late 1800s when the Fremantle Market Hall served as a fresh produce wholesaler; these days 150 traders share the love under one roof, peddling their edibles to the eager masses every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
For the trendy bar-hopper: Perth
The enviable capital city of WA boasts sun-kissed foreshores, a stress-free attitude and, in recent times, a burgeoning small bar scene. Hole-in-the wall watering holes and designer drinking spots are popping up in laneways all over the city and in surrounding suburbs, welcoming patrons into courtyards, rooftops and subterranean hideouts for a tipple or two. The rustling melody of cocktail shakers rings throughout the CBD when the clock strikes happy hour – you won't have to look far for a kitschy bar whatever your style, corporate or casual. Hipster-friendly Northbridge, a few minutes from the city centre, has a buzzing bar scene to rival any eastern capital, but if you're homesick you can always visit The Brisbane or The Melbourne hotels.
For the brewery buff: Swan Valley
Wet your whistle in the self-proclaimed home of Australian craft beer with a hand-pressed cider or a Pale Ale. While classic country fare and a game of darts never goes astray, WA's pub scene has been taken over by crafty connoisseurs who each claim to know beer better than the last. It may be lauded for its award-winning wines but Swan Valley, an easy 20 minutes east of Perth, is also the so-called heart of beer country. Micro-breweries and German-inspired beer gardens around the area offer a smorgasbord of stouts, ales and pilsners thanks to modern pioneers experimenting with exotic spices and fruity flavours. Consider a pilgrimage to Duckstein Brewery, Feral Brewing Co or Ironbark Brewery for golden, yeasty, malty goodness.
For the wine aficionado: Margaret River
Where surf meets soaring forests and farmland gives way to creeping vineyards three and a half hours from Perth is Margaret River, one of the country's most celebrated wine regions. Viticulture is the lifeblood of the Margaret River region and a star on the Western Australia food travel scene - more than 100 cellar doors dot the agriculturally-rich landscapes, collectively producing around 15 per cent of Australia's premium wines. Tens of thousands of tonnes of grapes are crushed annually to the cheers of oenophiles everywhere. Whether you enjoy fruity cabernet blends or intense chardonnays, treat your palate to a Margaret River wine tasting, matched with equally impressive regional cuisine. Biodynamic, organic and sustainable are philosophies of the generations of producers who call Margaret River home.
For the seafood fanatic: Broome
Beyond Broome's world-famous Cable Beach is a different feast for the senses, served with a slice of lemon and a splash of tartar sauce. Broome is perfectly positioned on the edge of the Indian Ocean in the state's north, with some of the freshest seafood ripe for the picking off the mainland. You will find succulent seafood on offer all the way along the west coast, from snapper, squid and prawns caught in the north to scallops, oysters and muscles in the cooler southern waters. Broome's Wharf Restaurant is among the best places to satisfy your crustacean cravings but, if you're the do-it-yourself sort, you can always try your luck catching trevally or mackerel for a classic home-style cook up.