Indulge in more than 40 wineries in the Swan Valley, Western Australia’s oldest wine region.
By Kris Madden
The Swan Valley seduces visitors with a rich fusion of wine, food, art, scenery and nature and produces some of Australia’s best Verdelho (a valley speciality) Chenin Blanc and Shiraz varieties. Visit a cellar door and you’ll likely be greeted by the owners themselves, eager to share stories about the region's 180 years of viticulture. You’ll also experience world-class art galleries where you can often meet the artists. Discover the joys of holding and feeding wildlife, or play the didgeridoo and learn about Aboriginal culture.
- Discover the best produce on the Swan Valley Food and Wine Trail
- Cycle the Swan Valley Heritage Trail and uncover the valley's history and wildlife
- Taste a 'Brewer's Handle' in a boutique brewery
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Top things to do in the Swan Valley
Follow the Swan Valley Food and Wine Trail
You can experience the region's best food and wine producers along the Swan Valley Food and Wine Trail, a 32 kilometre (20 mile) scenic drive taking in more than 200 attractions, including fresh farm produce, distilleries and arts and crafts markets. Along the way, you can stop at some of Australia's most famous wineries such as Houghton Wines, which has been producing award-winning Western Australian wines for more than 175 years; Sandalford Wines, one of Western Australia’s oldest and largest family-owned winemakers; and newcomers such as Ugly Duckling, a boutique vineyard and cellar door that hand picks its grapes. At Great Northern Distillery the Kimberley Rum Company creates Canefire rum, a unique spirit that is made from sugar but does not contain molasses; or indulge in a unique range of flavoured vodkas at Old Young's Distillery such as chilli or pavlova.
Swan Valley Heritage Cycle Trail
Set out from the historic city of Guildford along the western edge of the Swan Valley for the Swan Valley Heritage Cycle Trail, a 12 kilometre (7.5 mile) bike ride. It takes in some of the attractions of the Swan Valley Food and Wine trail including Sandalford Wines and the Margaret River Chocolate Company, as well as Aboriginal art galleries. The route is well signposted with stops that interpret the history, characters and natural attractions of the region. There are a number of detours off the route such as Whiteman Park and Caversham Wildlife Park; the turn off to Lookout Hill offers expansive views over Perth city. A shorter cycle is the family friendly three kilometre (1.8 mile) Meet the Maker Trail which takes in five wineries along Guildford's Memorial Avenue.
Discover Whiteman Park
History and motoring buffs will love Whiteman Park with its Revolutions Transport Museum, Motor Museum of Western Australia and Tractor Museum of Western Australia. Revolutions displays a fascinating collection of more than 2000 artefacts, while the Motor Museum boasts beautifully restored displays dating back to horse-drawn carriages. It's a 6.8 kilometre (4.2 mile) detour off the Heritage Cycle Trail, or a 10 kilometre (6.2 mile) drive or cycle from the Swan Valley Visitors Centre.
Meet local wildlife
Caversham Wildlife Park, located inside Whiteman Park, is home to more than 2000 animals and birds and gives you an opportunity to pat a wombat, feed a kangaroo and view sheep and horse demonstrations. A further 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) from Whiteman Park at the Swan Valley Cuddly Animal Farm, you can meet farm animals and learn to milk a cow.
Satisfy your sweet tooth
The Margaret River Chocolate Company's Swan Valley chocolate factory is the largest in Western Australia and offers free chocolate tastings as well as a close-up look at how the chocolates are made. It's reached on both the Heritage Cycle Trail and Food and Wine Trail, but you might want to just head straight there.
Try a Brewers Handle
Those who appreciate hand-crafted beers will find plenty to tempt their palate at the region's boutique breweries, which use traditional techniques and the best local produce. Try the Feral Brewing Company or Ironbark, and ask for a Brewer's Handle to sample a range of their latest creations.
Explore historic Guildford
Guildford is well worth exploring before you head out on your drive or cycle. It is one of only two towns in Perth on the National Trust Register, a list of culturally significant towns, buildings and sites that are preserved for their heritage. Many fine colonial buildings from the town's early days still grace its streets. Four self-guided heritage walk trails with interpretive panels have been built and start and finish at the Swan Valley Visitors Centre in the Old Guildford Courthouse. The Captain Stirling Walk meanders for two kilometres (1.2 miles) past the beautifully restored 1841 Rose & Crown Hotel, Western Australia’s oldest continually operating pub; the 1896-built Guildford Grammar School, which has schooled many prominent Australian citizens; and the school's Chapel of St Mary and St George, one of the finest examples of gothic architecture in Australia.
Experience Aboriginal culture
Maalinup Aboriginal Gallery is an Aboriginal owned and operated business offering cultural activities, talks, performances and a taste of authentic Australian bush tucker (native foods), as well as a gallery full of authentic local Aboriginal art, exquisitely hand-painted gifts and high-quality Australian made souvenirs. Join in performances of dance, didgeridoo and storytelling.
Visit National Parks
Less than an hour drive from the Swan Valley Visitors Centre lies Walyunga National Park, which was used as a meeting place by the local Nyoongar Aboriginal people for more than 6000 years. The Swan River runs through the centre of the park, forming a string of calm pools along the valley floor in summer, a raging torrent of rapids in winter and one of Australia's best white-water canoeing courses featured in the Avon Descent race each August. Adventure Out Australia can arrange a day of rafting for the whole family. Alternatively, the easy 5.2 kilometre (3.2 mile) Syd's Rapids and 1.2 kilometre (0.7 mile) Aboriginal Heritage walking trail provide information on indigenous culture, plants, animals and the history of white water rafting here. In winter (June to August) and spring (September to November), the woodlands come alive with wildflowers.
For something out of the ordinary, Swan Valley Wagon Tours will take you on an exploration of the region by horse-drawn carriage. Or you could travel in high style in a Jaguar convertible or chauffeured Rolls-Royce from Belle Classic Limousines, or take a gourmet cruise on the Swan River by boat with Captain Cook Cruises.
How to get there
The Swan Valley is a 25 minute drive from Perth's city centre and 10 minutes from Perth's domestic airport. More than 20 operators offer tours throughout the Swan Valley, taking in award-winning wineries and fresh produce.