Mr Mustang Hire | Donnybrook
Donnybrook is a charming country town about 35 minutes inland from Bunbury and is mostly known for apples. It is the apple capital of the west and celebrates all things apples, with an annual Apple Festival, orchards galore where you can go apple picking and an Apple Fun Park (ie. the best playground you’ve ever seen). It’s pretty hard to beat a super fresh, just picked, crunchy, juicy, apple. But in recent years the region has been gaining attention for another type of fruit it grows, grapes, and by grapes, I mean wine. Part of the Bunbury Geographe wine region this pretty spot is producing some damn good wines and with all the other exceptional produce in the region it makes for the perfect day out.
We were pretty excited to be out for the day with the lovely Karen and Vince from Mr Mustang Hire on the Tour, Taste and Tapas adventure indulging in all things food and wine. Their stunning mustang is a 1965 classic called Sally (yes from the song Mustang Sally) and with its eye catching turquoise blue exterior and luxurious white interior this was certainly a wonderful way to spend the day! These are two people who are super passionate about the region and enjoy making the day special for their guests with extra little touches, like the blankets on the back seat, rolled up with matching ribbon in case it got cold and all in blue to match the car of course.
With the winter sun shining, our first stop was Barrecas Wines, a long standing favourite of mine having gotten to know Fil and Kelly over the years and I have seen the wines and the cellar door really grow and evolve over time. They are just some of the warmest, loveliest people I know and you feel instantly welcomed as soon as you walk in the door. They have plenty of loyal customers for a reason, you become part of their story and family and of course the wines are great too. It was a real treat to chat to Fil as he’s normally out in the vineyard and his passion and excitement for the land and the vines (his babies/children) is clearly evident. He knows every, single, one of them so if you get him talking about viticulture you might never leave (we could have easily stayed and chatted all day). Kelly is doing some fantastic things in the cellar door space with events, grazing tables, cheese boards as well as coffee and cake, it’s as much about the wine as it is about bringing people together. Delicious wine, yummy cheese covered in honeycomb, great conversation and a sneaky six bottles to take home!
Next stop was just down the road at Thomson Brook Wines, a first visit for me. A rustic cellar door, off the main roads and set amongst the peaceful countryside. Pam was very welcoming and kindly took us through their range of wines. They are a small family owned and managed winery (like many of the wineries in the Bunbury Geographe region) and as a point of difference they are RV friendly. With plenty of grassed area and open spaces you can enjoy a relaxed wine tasting, purchase a few bottles and settle in for the night! We particularly liked the ports and liqueurs, perfect for a cold winters night.
With our stomach starting to rumble it was time to head to Oakway Estate for pizza, after some more wine tasting of course. Wayne and Ria were very welcoming and we enjoyed chatting to Wayne about all things wine and viticulture and their tiny couple of hectare estate. We really enjoyed all of the wines including a delicious sparkling and some aged reds, so I managed to convince hubby that it was his turn to purchase (again). I truly get a lot of joy out of buying wine direct from the producers. It’s far more enjoyable and I’d much rather support the little guys where you know where the fruit comes from and you can see the care and attention that goes into the vineyard and ultimately the bottle. The cafe offers platters, pizza, craft beers on tap and also runs long table lunches on occasion throughout the year (which I hear are very popular and book out quickly). With more wine for Sally’s boot we were back on the road.
Last stop was Smallwater Estate, with views overlooking marron dams, vineyards and forest this was the ideal spot to finish up what had been a fantastic day. There’s been a few changes to Smallwater Estate lately, notably in regards to their restaurant offering. Now called Smallwater Kitchen and Deck, chef Jonny at the helm, a new outside deck ideal for days in the sun (hurry back summer!), tapas boards and yummy snacks a plenty, brunches, lunches and dinners, there’s plenty to love about Smallwater. Relaxed, casual atmosphere, delicious food, award winning wine and great service. The Rob’s Block Cabernet Sauvignon is always a stand out and we couldn’t go past stocking up on a few more bottles to round out the day.
We had the best day on our Mr Mustang Hire adventure, whether it’s visiting wineries for the first time or revisiting old favourites, there certainly is something to be said for that warm country hospitality. From our super friendly hosts Karen and Vince to everyone we met along the way, this was an utterly delightful way to explore the beautiful Donnybrook region in a little bit of luxury.
You too can have your own mustang adventure!
For bookings until the 31st December 2019 Mr Mustang Hire is offering a discount of $100 per booking when you mention ‘A Curious Road’. Send Karen an email: email@example.com and start planning.
Story and photos by Rhianna Henfry