We were pretty lucky that we managed to book Sean to take us on a tour on Monday 25 July - I had made contact very late, and had also later found out that he had originally intended to take the day off.
We were a group of 5 adults, 1 child (4) and an infant (4 months) and it was important to me that we had a flexible itinerary in case the kids started acting up. Sean had recommended that we base our tour on the Margaret River Discovery Tour, but that we could really do anything we wanted.
It was raining when Sean picked us up and apart from a couple of windows where it wasn't raining, the rain carried out pretty much throughout the rest of the day (we were later to find out that it was the wettest July day in Margaret River in 11 years). Sean was very reassuring and said that we would structure our day around the rain, so the first thing we did was to head to Cape Mentelle winery for a tasting. Sean's background in working in a winery was great as he was able to give us a lot of insights into the viticultural characteristics of the region, and was able to recommend a couple of very good wines from Cape Mentelle.
We then drove out to a forested area (still raining - good thing Sean was prepared with wet weather gear for all of us!) where Sean introduced some of the area's plant life, and explained the significance of one of the local waterfalls. On the way to the waterfall, Sean had pointed out three different types of flowering trees - and we sampled some local honeys from the flowers of those trees in front of the waterfall - a truly memorable experience.
The next bit was, for me, the highlight of the tour: a visit to Fraser Gallop winery and the chance to meet with winemaker Clive Otto. Sean had packed an eski with local gourmet foods for our "lunch among the barrels" - that was in itself great, but to taste the wines from Fraser Gallop was a revelation. With their focus on producing the very best wine in very small quantities, Fraser Gallop is a winery to watch for in the coming years. This was one of the most intimate winery visits I have ever done, and meeting Clive was a fantastic experience.
After a leisurely (i.e. boozy) lunch, we found a window of opportunity where it wasn't raining, and Sean suggested that we jump on the chance to go canoeing in the Margaret River. My 4 year-old daughter had been looking to this part of the tour the whole day, and the possibility that we could not go canoeing because of the weather was very real - but Sean had promised her that he would try his best to make it happen, and I'm glad he did!
It was absolutely magical canoeing in the river. There wasn't a soul in sight, the waters were calm, and Sean's secret canoe hideaway was in just the right spot (on the way in, we spotted a huge mob of kangaroos on the hillside, an extra treat). We took many photos while we were in the canoes (which were very stable - no one had previously fallen in and we weren't about to be the first!). My daughter was absolutely delighted to have been able to canoe in the river, and was the happiest little girl in Margaret River that day.
The last part of the tour was a short walk on the route of the Cape to Cape Trek. We headed out to Cape Mentelle (the cape, not the winery!) and the wind was blowing something fierce. The air was chillingly pure, and watching the waves break on the beach below the cliff we were standing on is something I will remember for a long time.
Sean has obviously put a lot of effort into making this tour the best that it could be. He told us about the lengths he went through to get the relevant permits and permissions to be able to run his tour just right. It has clearly paid off and is without a doubt the best tour I have ever done - both in terms of content and attention to detail. Something we really appreciated was that despite the challenging weather conditions, Sean did his best to make sure that we managed to do everything he had promised - trekking, a visit to the waterfall, off-roading, canoeing and a good amount of wine tasting thrown in for good measure.
Having done the tour, I can see why Sean is rated No. 1 on Tripadvisor - it is a tour I would highly recommend (and have, in the last five days already recommended to two others).
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