Thirty minutes – that’s all it takes to reach the Swan Valley from Perth, a capital city blessed with a wine-growing region right on its doorstep.
Driving along the Great Eastern Highway to arrive in Western Australia’s oldest wine region, where the serried ranks of well-tended vineyards flash past your car windows, is a delightful kind of culture shock. Doing a daytrip to the Swan Valley is remarkably easy – not only geographically – as it’s all about indulgence of the gustative kind.
Begin in the Colonial streets of Guildford, the region’s National Trust market town encircled by the Swan and Helena rivers. A self-guided heritage walk – pick up a map from the Swan Valley Visitor Centre (corner of Meadow and Swan streets, Guildford) – presents beautifully preserved architecture, including the Colonial Gaol, the Gothic Revival St Matthew’s Church and the Art Deco Town Hall.
Stop for coffee at charmingly rustic café Little Guildford (104 Swan Street, Guildford) then start your engine for the 32-kilometre food and wine trail.
The route (north from Guildford along West Swan Road or the Great Northern Highway and back) loops through the towns of Henley Brook, Belhus, Brigadoon, Baskerville, Millendon, Herne Hill and Midland, taking in some 150 cellar doors, artisan producers, restaurants and cafés on the way. Such abundance means there’s no right or wrong way – simply your way.
In particular, sample the region’s famed verdelho from the 122-year-old heritage block at Mandoon Estate (10 Harris Road, Caversham) on the banks of the Swan River. Its cellar door tastings offer varieties from across the Swan Valley, Margaret River and Greater Perth Zone wine regions. While you’re there, grab a bite to eat alfresco at a table overlooking the vines at their Homestead Brewery, where craft beer and cider rule. Hit the trail again to visit cellar doors, provedores, honey producers, chocolatiers and more. And if you want to walk it all off, to the south-east of the Swan Valley is the unspoilt bushland of the Darling Range escarpment, where waterfalls, wildflowers and wildlife will wow you.
Grab a coffee for the road
A pit stop at this centrally located café involves choosing between single-origin espresso, cold-brewed and pour-over filter. All mighty fine.
313 Hay Street, East Perth; (08) 9325 9396
Pick up your car
Avis Perth City
46 Hill Street, Perth; (08) 9237 0022