34 Degrees South Olive Oil, Edwards Wines and Gabriel Chocolate – Margaret River region

34 Degrees South Olive Oil, Rosa Brook

Latitude 33°55’51” South (rounded up to “34 Degrees South”), Longitude 115°12’39” East are the coordinates for Margaret River. Although the region is famous as wine country, its grape-friendly climate also provides perfect conditions for the growing of olive trees.

Well, maybe not-so perfect conditions all the time! It’s raining hard and there are muddy pools everywhere when we arrive at 34 Degrees South Olive Oil. We are ignored by the resident flock of geese busily hunting for snacks in the soft wet ground while the raindrops pelt down.

Geese hunting for snacks while it rains

The olive farm was started over 12 years ago by Sydney and Sharon Dunford on this 135-acre property, out of which 80 acres are now devoted to olive trees. The Dunfords are involved in all aspects of production, from the growing, harvesting, processing, bottling and all even down to the labelling.

We begin our tour with a brief tasting session. Olive oil tasting is an interesting experience. It’s not at all like wine or chocolate tasting, where it’s too easy to keep on ‘tasting’. I don’t know anyone who willingly drinks oil, so there’s a bit of natural reluctance to overcome. We certainly don’t knock the samples back like shooters – we take delicate, tentative sips, and I notice I’m not the only one trying not to grimace when we begin. But it’s really not too bad as long as you don’t gulp the samples down. The main difference I detect between these extra virgin olive oils is their degree of pepperiness. The last oil is everyone’s favourite and the easiest to ‘drink’ – lime-infused olive oil, which we are told is best drizzled over dishes just before serving – cooking with it diminishes the lime flavour. In between tastings, we each grab a slice of fresh Granny smith apple to help cleanse our palates. You’ve never seen a group of people so thankful for apple.

Olive oil tasting

Olive oil tasting – I can’t say I’d be keen to be an olive oil judge at the Royal Show – give me cakes, pies, ice cream or cheese any time!

Sharon explains the process used to create olive oil, starting from the harvesting of fruit. The processing plant is right here on the property. The olives are crushed within 8 hours of picking and run through a centrifugal decanter which separates the oil from the rest of the olive components. The waste produced from the processing is mixed with manure, used in worm farms and goes back into the olive grove, feeding future crops. The farm and the olive oil produced are completely organic.

Sharon explains the olive oil production process


Some of our party enjoy the briny taste of these olives.

Next, we visit 34 Degrees South’s shop, in a custom-made tent on the property that’s been fitted with jarrah timber floors and decking, where we sample more extra virgin olive oils and munch on olives (not me – I like olive oil but don’t like olives ). In addition to olive oil, 34 Degrees South also produces dukkah and scent-free olive oil soap, good for use by people with sensitive skin.

34 Degrees South olive oil products

34 Degrees South products – dukkah, organic olive oil and Castile olive oil soap.

One of Sydney and Sharon’s sons, who also works on the olive farm. He’s dressed most appropriately for this soggy weather. You may notice the raindrops on his jacket and rain falling in the background.

Throughout our visit, Spice the border collie runs around happily in the rain. Even as the downpour grows heavier, she’s out there, not a care in the world, tail wagging merrily.

A dog named Spice

It’s a little difficult to finish the pruning while the rain is so heavy. But Spice doesn’t mind.

34 Degrees South
Myra Downs Estate
Corner of Crozier and Jindong Treeton Roads
Rosa Brook, Western Australia
Telephone: (08) 9757 4045
Cellar door is open to the public; tastings by appointment
34 Degrees South Olive Oil won a silver medal at last year’s Perth Royal Show and will be competing again in 2012.

Edwards Wines, Gracetown

At Edwards winery, Christo Edwards tells us the story of this bright yellow Tiger Moth plane named Matilda which belonged to his dad Dr Brian Edwards.

Christo Edwards with Matilda

Christo Edwards with Matilda.

In 1990, Dr Edwards made an epic six-week trip flying Matilda solo for 12,000 nautical miles – from Hatfield, England to Langley Park in Perth. He was raising money for Legacy, the charity which supported his family after his pilot father Clifford disappeared while flying a bomber in World War 2.


Matilda. I can’t imagine what it was like flying in this on a six week journey.

Dr Edwards’ remarkable and eventful journey is documented in a book called The Matilda Mission (1993). Although Matilda’s flying days are over, she is proudly on display in the hangar located near the cellar door, a great source of interest for visitors to Edwards.

Matilda's journey

Across the wall inside the cellar door, dots mark Matilda’s England to Australia journey

In 1991 Dr Edwards and his wife Jenny bought this property as their country retreat, particularly appealing to Dr Edwards as he could get an airstrip along the back boundary. The first vines were planted in 1993. Sadly, Dr Edwards passed away around 7 years ago from leukaemia, but the family winery is going strong with Christo (viticulturalist) and his brother Mike (winemaker) at the helm. Edwards has won several Perth Royal Show wine awards and will be entering again in this year’s show.

Wine tasting at Edwards

Wine tasting at Edwards. The gentleman pictured is the very charming Benji Leggate, the man behind The Margaret River guide and smartphone app. Benji joined us for part of our Margaret River tour.

A lunch platter has been prepared for us by Blue Ginger Fine Foods & Cafe. Apologies – I don’t have the specific names of the products on the platter, but I can definitely say it’s magnificent! Cold cured meats including smoked chicken, cheeses, marinated sardines and olives… where would you start?

Platter of Margaret River goodies, by Blue Ginger

Platter of Margaret River goodies, by Blue Ginger

Platter of Margaret River goodies, by Blue Ginger

Platter of Margaret River goodies, by Blue Ginger


To go with the platter of goodies, crusty fresh bread. I ate about three or four slices of bread and butter, it was so good. And placed right in front of me.

Edwards, Margaret River

Edwards, Margaret River

687 Ellen Brook Road
Telephone: (08) 9755 5999

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Gabriel Chocolate, Yallingup

Our final stop before we drive back to Perth is Gabriel Chocolate in Yallingup. Regular readers will know I have been here before – but I’ll happily come back here any time.

Lawyers don’t just go on Masterchef Australia – some of them become chocolate makers. “Why chocolate?” a few of us ask. Gabriel grins and responds without hesitation: “Chocolate makes people happy”. After 8 years of research into chocolate-making and dreaming of a different life, ex-lawyer Gabriel, his wife Ruth and four children moved to Dunsborough a year ago to establish Gabriel Chocolate, specialising in producing single origin bean to bar chocolate.

Gabriel Myburgh of Gabriel Chocolate.

The beans come from Ghana, Indonesia, Ecuador and Venezuela but the chocolate’s made right here in on these premises in Yallingup, Western Australia.

The cocoa beans are hand-sorted, then roasted in a custom-converted chicken rotisserie. A machine called a winnower breaks the shells off the beans to reveal the cocoa “nibs”, which are ground to create cocoa liquor (not alcoholic), to which other ingredients are added to make chocolate. The shells and cocoa remnants are collected and go to local craft brewery and cidery Cheeky Monkey where they are used in the making of chocolate stout.

The chocolate bars are produced on the premises, wrapped by hand and sold in the shop.

Sorting cocoa beans

Gabriel gives us some freshly made chocolate to taste. Everyone dips their popsicle sticks in ever so politely. Well done, everyone.

We then taste Gabriel’s single origin chocolate. Like grapes and coffee, cocoa beans grown in different regions around the world under different environmental and climate conditions including temperature, humidity, rainfall and so on develop their own characteristic flavours, which are reflected in the chocolate.

Gabriel tells us he’s working with a number of local wineries to develop wine and chocolate pairings.

Chocolate tasting with Gabriel

Due to popular demand, Gabriel’s added white chocolate to his range. Unlike many commercial white chocolate products which contain no cocoa butter and are not really chocolate at all, Gabriel’s version is made with cocoa butter and vanilla. It’s ‘white’ because no cocoa liquor is used, yet you’ll see it’s not as white as standard commercial products. If you like white chocolate, it’s definitely worth a taste.

Chocolate tasting at Gabriel Chocolate, Yallingup

Staff are available to guide you through the tasting, sharing insights into the origin of the cocoa beans and the processes involved in making the chocolate.

After our tasting session, it’s time for a little chocolate shopping (and for some of us, even more chocolate eating). There are milk, dark and white chocolate bars available as singles or in packs. Chocolate bars with dried fruit and other flavours added are called “mendiants”. Gabriel and his team are constantly experimenting with flavour combinations – latest combos include lime and wasabi, green tea and black sesame… I reckon they should do a cocktails range – what do you guys think about margarita, with lemon and salt? Or mojito, with mint leaves and lime?

Chocolate on display.

Hot chocolate (available in milk or dark) is the drink of choice here.

Hot chocolate

Hot chocolate

The first time I visited, I regretted not trying one of Gabriel Chocolate’s housemade ice creams, hand-dipped in chocolate. I’m not going to miss out this time.

Ice creams

The strawberry ice cream is wonderfully creamy and tastes of fresh fruit. The crisp chocolate coating cracks when I bite into it. This is pure pleasure.

Chocolate-dipped strawberry ice cream

Chocolate-dipped strawberry ice cream.

Outside seating.

Gabriel Chocolate, Yallingup

Gabriel Chocolate, Yallingup. Definitely visit if you like chocolate! Windows Estate winery is right next door if you’re on a wine crawl.

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Gabriel Chocolate
Lot 14, 3220 Corner of Caves Road and Quininup Road, Yallingup WA 6282
Telephone: (08) 9756 6689
Open 7 days: 10am to 5pm

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Apologies to Gabriel for mentioning the competition, but during this trip I learned of a new bean to bar chocolate maker in the Margaret River region, Bahen & Co Chocolate. It’s on my To Eat list for my next trip to Margs. The region keeps getting better and better!

Perth Royal Show 2012
29 September to 6 October at Claremont Showgrounds
This year’s ‘guest town’ is Margaret River.
For more info, visit the website or Facebook page.
I’ll be going to the show this year after giving it a miss the past few years – will eat and tweet my way through – can’t wait!

TFP travelled to the Margaret River region as a guest of the Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia. The places covered in this post were visited over two days. Thank you to the Royal Agricultural Society for inviting me to be part of this tour.

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