We are now staying at Fonty’s Pool just out of Manjimup, a significant fruit growing region of Western Australia. Everywhere we drive orchards can be seen growing apples, pears, stone fruits, cherries and berries. The area around Manjimup and Pemberton has the largest avocado farm in the Southern Hemisphere, an enormous strawberry farm supplying 40 percent of Coles’ Australian market and the wine industry is proving the area has the perfect climatic requirements for growing grapes.
Fonty’s Pool was itself once an orchard. The farm was established by Archimedes (Archie) Fontanini, who migrated from Giangugnana in the Provence of Lucca, Italy, in the early 1900’s. Over the years Archie dammed the creek to create a swimming pool for this family and friends to enjoy over the summer months. Archie’s descendants still farm the land around the Pool, but today Fonty’s Pool is privately owned and run as a caravan park and swimming pool for locals to visit. The grounds are beautifully maintained and it is a very popular stopover for caravaners and campers.
Whilst we were in the area we decided we couldn’t go past a lunch at The Truffle and Wine Co. We both enjoyed the Mushroom and Mascarpone Black Truffle Risotto accompanied with freshly baked Baguette and Truffle Butter and a bottle of Fume Sauvignon Blanc Semillon. Very nice indeed. The farm is the largest truffière in the Southern Hemisphere and was established in 1997. Their first truffles were harvested in 2003 and today supply their Black Winter Truffles to distributors around the world.
A river cruise 12km down the Donnelly River to the Southern Ocean provided us with a look at how the area is recovering after the bush fire back in 2011. Many of the fallen trees are still visible along the banks but the regrowth recovery has bought back wildlife to the area – both on land and the water birds as well.
The region, known as the Southern Forests, is home to the giant Karri trees. The nearby Diamond Tree (52 metres), The Dave Evans Dicentennial Tree (75 metres) and the Gloucester Tree (52 Metres) are all climbable trees that over the years have been used a fire lookouts. Each has a platform in the upper canopy which was used by fire fighters to locate smoke and flames. Today they are open for visitors to climb – if you have a head for heights.