It didn't take our thirsty colonial forbears long to recognise the potential of Western Australia's Swan Valley as a winemaking region. Today this picturesque part of the state flows with fine wine, delicious delights and all manner of other indulgences. Local writer Bonita Grima checks in with ten tempting things to do.
There are more than a few good reasons why the Swan Valley is a favourite day trip destination for Perth locals and visitors alike.
It’s Western Australia’s oldest wine region; it’s just a 25-minute drive from the capital; and it’s home to plenty of world-class wineries. However, there’s much more to experience in the Valley, so hire a car or book a tour and away you go.
Here are ten top things to do in the Swan Valley.
1. Enjoy the food, glorious food
Thanks to its climate and rich soils, the Swan Valley provides quality fresh produce all year round. From humble roadside stalls to fine dining restaurants like Mandoon Estate, there’s no shortage of ways to indulge your inner foodie. Download a map and follow the new Fresh Seasonal Produce Trail to buy direct from the grower, or fill your basket with gourmet goodies such as Australian-style nougat from Mondo Nougat, infused honey from The House of Honey, and preserves and olive oil from Providore.
Go wild while you’re in the valley! Young and old will love the chance to see, stroke and get a photo taken with all kinds of cuddly (and not so cuddly) critters at places such as Caversham Wildlife Park, Swan Valley Cuddly Animal Farm, the Western Australian Reptile Park and Whiteman Park. Choose from a variety of encounters and activities such as feeding a kangaroo, riding a camel, milking a goat or even petting a python!
4. Make like a master
Ever fancied yourself as the next Heston Blumenthal? Perhaps you’re a wannabe winemaker, or just wondering how to make that perfect flat white? Well, find out if you’ve got what it takes with the selection of masterclasses offered in the Swan Valley. Learn to make macarons with the experts at French-style patisserie Maison Saint-Honore, create an original blend at Sandalford Wines, or get your barista on at Yahava’s Koffee Academy. To create something longer lasting, put yourself behind the potter’s wheel with a lesson at the Guildford Village Potters’ Club.
The Swan Valley may be synonymous with wine, but did you know that it’s also popular with lovers of craft beer? With no less than six boutique breweries, you may have a hard time choosing where to pop in for a paddle. Elmar’s in the Valley and the Duckstein Brewery boast a German flavour, while Ironbark Brewery (which also makes seasonal ciders) produces a variety of styles from around the world. Even well-known wine producers Mandoon Estate are getting in on the action with their new Homestead Brewery.
7. Visit galleries galore
From painters to potters, the Swan Valley is home to some of the state’s most talented artisans. See sculptures at Gombok Gallery’s indoor space or outdoor sculpture park, or admire local Indigenous art at Maalinup Aboriginal Gallery. And if you’re a lover of linocut prints and textiles, Jude Taylor’s studio showcases her beautiful work inspired by West Australian flora.
8. Head for the great outdoors
Whether its picnicking in parks or strolling by streams, the Valley has plenty of wonderful natural spaces to enjoy. Whiteman Park and Middle Swan Reserve are perfect for families to rest and play, while walking trails at Bell’s Rapids or Noble Falls allow you to go with the flow of the landscape. Spring is the perfect time to visit, when the stunning wildflowers are on display.
9. Indulge in some ‘me time’
It’s easy to soothe body, mind and spirit in the Swan Valley. If you’re in need of a little pampering, Brookleigh Beauty and Spa tempts with luxurious day spa treatments, or three and five-day health retreats with a French Chateau-style stay. There’s also the more rustic, yet equally lovely, Swan Valley Retreat — which offers nine styles of massage. Located at the Novotel Vines Resort, you can let your worries drift away with a float in a pod at Float Swan Valley, or pop next door to Keishi Day Spa. Tara Yoga in nearby Ellenbrook offers a variety of classes and a sound healing meditation session.
10. Surpass your grape expectations
Last but not least, who could visit the Valley without finding time to drop in to one of its award-winning wineries? Choose from large established producers like Houghton Wines or Sandalford (where you can even arrive by river cruise from Perth), or opt for a boutique experience at Sittella. A sold out event during November’s Gourmet Escape food and wine festival will see head chef Mike Price teaming up with British celebrity chef and restaurateur, Marco Pierre White.
Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of top things to do in the Swan Valley? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Additional images: Bigstock
About the writer
Bonita Grima is a Perth-based freelance travel writer with a background in television and radio production in Australia and the United Kingdom. She believes travel to be a powerful tool that can challenge, inspire, educate and encourage empathy by providing a window into the worlds of others. After years of living and exploring overseas, she is now back in Perth, rediscovering and enjoying the West Australian lifestyle and all that it offers. When not working on a story, you’ll find her at the beach, on a hiking trail, drinking great coffee, discovering what’s new about town, and dreaming up her next adventure!