Shopping Cowaramup

Boutique and chic. Your guide to the best shopping spots for hand made goods and unique gifts in the Margaret River Region with Mia Lacy.

Ocean House

It was a seemingly chance remark that turned me into an Ocean House fan.

I’d just entered the wonderful retail therapy precinct at Hayshed Hill Wines for the very first time and my eyes were going everywhere at once. Our tour guide, who later turned out to be the owner of Wine for Dudes Tours, placed his hand briefly and reverently on one of the large soy candles and said ‘A friend of mine makes these.’

With one look, I took in the gorgeous branding and wondered who on earth had thought of that totally irresistible name; Ocean House. That candle was sold and in the tour bus, baby, along with – well, must I divulge the rest of my purchases?!

The experience got me thinking about all the lovely hand made and hand picked things that I’d been experiencing in the Margaret River Region. And who, exactly, was responsible for creating this inspired range of candles?

I met the delightful candlemaker, Maria Firmin, at her abode. It is filled with photo boards of her and her partner pictured beachside… oceanside… seaside, both here and all over the globe. And, it overlooks the Indian Ocean, which Maria promptly and fully credits as her creative muse. “Ocean House is both our home and our philosophy. That ocean changes from dawn until dusk and is a continual source of inspiration,” she explains.

A beauty therapist by trade, Maria says aromas and scents obsessed her so four years ago she turned to candle making as a creative outlet. Her Ocean House Collection is sold throughout the Margaret River Region at selected retail outlets including Hillzeez Down South Surf Shops and she is launching her newest scent, mango, soon. Inspiration abounds in Your Margaret River Region. I bid Maria bye-bye, put my creative radar into gear and pressed onwards in search of more artisans – and more reasons to shop.


Happs Pottery
Hand made ceramics at Happs Pottery

Happs Pottery, Dunsborough

Slow down or you’ll miss out on a magical experience – handling the exquisitely glazed ceramics created by contemporary potter, Myles Happ. I’m sure he must be a happy person too, because there are smiles lurking behind the curved lines of his intriguing art deco-inspired signature piece, The Laughing Jug. Each perfectly handcrafted piece is an utter work of art. The dishwasher, oven and microwaveable pottery has different and distinctive non-toxic glazes: ‘Bunker Bay’ is the green one on the Laughing Jug, and ‘Desert Day’ is the striking red one. As the Happs say, these items make everyday life beautiful. I just want more!

Happs Pottery, where I first encountered Myles’ irresistible ceramics, is at 749 Caves Road (hence the warning above to slow down or miss out!). The Happs family talents also run to wine making and Happs Wines & Pottery Gallery is located on pretty Commonage Road.

John Streater Fine Furniture, Yallingup Siding

Like the Happs’ creative output, John Streater’s furniture can be found around the state, throughout Australia and even overseas. I found John and his wife Pam at their workshop and gallery in Blythe Road, Yallingup, where he’s been since building it in 1988. As well as his exquisitely tactile timber pieces, there is fine art, jewellery, clothing and….well, plenty of scope for those in retail therapy mode! But it’s the beautiful, bespoke furniture that I’m drawn back to. The gallery’s 5-star review status on TripAdvisor indicates I’m not alone. John’s dubbed a timber artiste; a master craftsman. I couldn’t have added any more apt descriptors myself. The Streaters have added to John’s output in their attractive gallery by introducing quality jewellery and exquisite pieces by the likes of famous glass blower Alan Fox and fine artworks from painters such as Julia Carter and Tracey Keller. Oh, and whatever you fancy/wherever you live, John and Pam will ship to you!

Mukau Giftware and Gallery, Cowaramup

If you’re stuck for a present for anyone at all, then drop in. The husband, the kids, the neighbours – the in-laws! – it’s all here. Whatever the challenge, there’s an answer sitting on the floor or shelves, hanging on the walls or even dangling from the ceiling of this creative space. Owners Wendy and Kerry (who paints the wickedly wonderful cow portraits displayed upstairs under an alias!) share a New Zealand heritage which birthed the quirky name, MuKau, that also alludes to the cow-themed town they fell in love with back in 2011.


Mukau Giftware Cowaramup
Mukau Giftwares - the perfect spot for hard to find gifts

Anniebrook Wine & Flower Emporium, Carbunup

There’s no better name to describe this utterly unique attraction than emporium. I believe I was unaware of the term ‘permanent botanicals’ before visting Anniebrook. Now, I know that means the high quality artificial flowers I’ve used for ages! Anniebrook has superb silk flower bouquets for weddings, as well as natives, tropicals, trees and greenery. There’s also a Christmas department filled with fabulous Yuletide accessories for trees, tables, and anything decorative you could possibly need for the festive season. Even the Anniebrook range of hand-crafted Margaret River wines is presented with pretty flower labels. To complete the sensory overload, this emporium offers an array of giftware from scarves to essential oils, novelties and even garden ornaments. I highly recommend completing the experience with a cuppa in the sweet garden café.

Vasse Virgin, Wilyabrup

To arrive here, you drive along the country lane I think is the prettiest in the district: Puzey Road. The overarching trees touch each other and the farmlets on either side are like postcards. However, it’s what’s inside at Vasse Virgin that’s really worth writing home about. Twenty years ago, owners Louis and Edwina couldn’t find a chemical free soap so they created their own using extra virgin olive oil as the base. Their sensitive skin soap was a smashing success, which led to a skin care range that took off nationally, then internationally. Inspired, they looked at the humble, healing olives again – and added a gourmet food range. You can sample this and the skin care range at their beautifully appointed retail outlets at Puzey Road and Rosa Brook Road and, once you’re hooked like me, you can buy online through their website. Vasse Virgin also offers classes and workshops, including the Olive Oil Masterclass. Oh, and they have a range of accessories you can’t even begin to imagine you want and need – like the cloth covered clothes pegs that whispered ‘buy me because I’m cute!’ to me as I reluctantly left.


Vasse Virgin
A haven of olive oil goods at Vasse Virgin

Hillzeez Down South Surf Shop

We are talking cult surf retail territory here! Surfing culture and the Margaret River Region go together like boards and wax. Surfers make wine. Winemakers surf. And they need stuff to do it. Enter Hillzeez, which is the emporium beloved of surfers and skaters. They sell surfboards, wetsuits, bodyboards, skateboards, and all the stuff to wear while you are doing – or watching – these activities. All the current and classic favourite brand names are represented at the four Hillzeez outlets at Bunbury, Albany, Busselton and Margaret River. Venture inside – I guarantee you’ll feel like a teenager again in an instant, and that there will be something you simply can’t resist buying!

Fig Tree Lane, Busselton

My family say if shopping was an Olympic sport, I’d be a medalist. Retail therapy experts in South West Australia know this lovely arcade in Busselton well and I discovered it in no time at all. From end to end (yes, there is a lovely spreading Fig Tree at the entrance which it is named for), this lane is chock full of 25 boutique and specialty shops, cafes and beauty services. Locals call it iconic, and visitors call in for the quality and variety it offers: books, giftware, kitchenware, toys, hair, fine jewellery, beauty, fashion and delicious food outlets. Sit in the café under the fig tree and get the Margaret River Region vibes on!


Margaret River Tours

A full day tour taking in Margaret River’s premium wineries is probably not what you think of as retail therapy, but as I discovered: if you are pressed for time, this tour is like going on a shopping tour but better as you get to taste amazing wines and eat terrific food! What was impressive was the dazzling array of locally made produce, the high quality merchandise and the thoughtfully chosen retail gifts at the major brands we visited on this tour which included Voyager Estate where we enjoyed a delightful lunch, Leeuwin Estate, Watershed, Vasse Felix and Cape Mentelle. We were also spoiled for choice at McHenry Hohnen with their range of delicious small goods, and at the Margaret River Chocolate Co. and the Margaret River Dairy Co and best of all Margaret River Tours has an eski on board you can put perishable purchases into!

A final word

Some of the best and finest retail items made in the Margaret River Region are to be bought at the visitor centres at Dunsborough, Busselton, Augusta and Margaret River. Their policy is to chose quality, locally produced gifts and souvenirs and their secret is this: they know what you really really want because they make it their business to stock accordingly. So venture in and you won’t be disappointed in the retail range at the visitor centres – like the beautiful bears from the Balingup Lavender Farm.