“DIDN’T we have a lovely day the day we went to Katanning. A beautiful day, we had lunch on the way and all for under a pound you know.” (with apologies to Debbie Cook and Fiddler’s Dram).
Inflation and the years, have taken a toll.
Lunch we did. At the Williams Woolshed. A brilliant family business located 150km south east of Perth. A great location to stop with family and friends as you head your way through the Great Southern.
We enjoyed the most amazing scones with fresh cream and homemade jam, surpassed only by the friendly, welcoming service. Ray and Pete, my travelling companions, really thought they were special.
Our planned schedule was to test drive one of the great Audi sedans and visit the Dôme Café at the beautifully restored Premier Mill Hotel. Don’t ask. Can you do it all in one day, from Perth? Turns out you can, even if you linger longer in Williams; the bathrooms are to die for.
As readers may know I am not a fan of SUVs, I know some of you love them including the editor of this newspaper but me I am a sedan man.
I have test driven two Audis this month, the Q3 SUV 35 TFSI (from $46,400) and my preference the Audi A6 Sedan 45 TFSI (starts at $95,000 plus on road) in which we travelled to Katanning.
It is top of the range; bells and whistles throughout. The screen and dash technology, effortlessly engaging.
A 2.0 litre turbo petrol engine, seven speed automatic gearbox, all-wheel drive. Great fun to drive; more so on a long drive. And infinitely more invigorating than a swim at Scarborough Beach on a chilly June morning.
I was reminded of the silliness of the fascination with SUVs. A great sports sedan remains an extremely better driving experience.
The Audi quietness is absorbing; my grumpy travelling mates fell asleep before we hit the Albany Highway. Fortunately I was able to drown the snoring with the exquisite sound system playing The Wonder Years soundtrack; a perfect accompaniment.
The Premier Mill Hotel at Katanning is marvellous although it makes the rest of the town feel tired and unloved.
The locals seem to have their coffee meetings at Dôme which has been exquisitely incorporated into this fabulous development.
It’s almost a sanctuary and supremely superior to the overcooked chips and meat pie on offer, just a few doors down. Cliché and no longer acceptable.
As the Premier Mill Hotel website reminds us, Katanning is one of those great places; towns that lie halfway between here and there and not far from anywhere (find out more at www.premiermillhotel.com).
The drive home to Perth was an experience which will be discussed for generations. One of the more proficient travellers fell asleep in the back seat, looking comfortable; but again with the snoring.
Exasperatingly, the cruise control on the Audi A6 failed to engage. There were lights on the dash that were inexplicable.
More than 350kms without cruise, was dispiriting. A first world issue.
Turns out the backseat sleeper Ray inadvertently jammed his car keys into the middle rear seatbelt, rendering the usually reliable Audi technology disabled.
It only returned to normal once the aforementioned, sleeper Ray, alighted on our return to Perth. Audi recognised the safety issue.
Day trips with the right company can and should be a delight. Our day trip to Katanning was indeed that. Blended with one of the finest from Audi, a day trip to Katanning, a trip which we will laugh about for years to come.
But I recommend you don’t buy the grossly overcooked chips down the road!