If you thought Perth is all about beaches, beers and sunsets, think again. Because at just 30-minute drive outside of the city, lies Australia’s second oldest, and one of the popular wine regions. With over 40 world class wineries, six breweries, two distilleries, and different fresh local produce, the beautiful Swan Valley, makes it feel like a different world.
Sitting on the Gnangara mound, a large mound of sandy but very fertile soil, its entire 105 sq km of land has been very thoughtfully planned. As you enter the Swan Valley and start exploring, you come across big and boutique vineyards harmoniously growing on either side of the road, making each sight a sight to behold.
[Also Read: A Day Trip To The Pinnacles And Lancelin, From Perth]
With open spaces, vineyard vistas and plenty of fresh country air, the Swan Valley is a perfect place for day-trippers in Perth looking for open spaces and fresh air. The only disappointment, however, is that there’s nothing (other than smart branding) to call Swan Valley a valley, given its entire region land is amazingly flat just like the surrounding towns. But what it lacks in ‘valley’, it makes up for in great produce, good wines and friendly, passionate locals.
How To Plan A Day Trip to Swan Valley From Perth
If you want to make your own way to Swan Valley, be informed that regular train services operate from Perth CBD to both Guildford and Midland — the two surrounding towns. But the sad thing is, there’s no public transport from these locations to the Swan Valley. So transport arrangements such as a hired car or a chartered bus trip should be made for a bit of convenience and time-saving, unless you’re planning to stay in Swan Valley for a few days.
Speaking per my experience, booking a day trip (from Perth) will apparently be the best and the most convenient way to explore the region on a fast track, as it will take you to a few big and boutique wineries, a couple of breweries, and (perhaps) even to the regions’ only chocolate factory. I booked a full day tour with SVTours that took us to two big wineries, two boutique wineries, a brewery and the chocolate factory. The entire day was loaded with tantalizing wine tasting, periodic snacking, and the many uninterrupted conversations with other tour members.
I think the idea of speed grazing, in small group tours, is simply brilliant. You get driven around the place, at a cracking pace, eating and drinking as much as you can in a fairly short time while learning about the local produce. Do some shopping during the process if something catches your fancy or simply enjoy the day sampling and watching demonstrations.
Kicking Off With Some Wine-Tasting: The First Half of The Trip
Following the Great Eastern Highway for a few quick minutes, and in about 30 minutes of drive from Perth, we entered the beautiful Swan Valley. A quick overview of the day by our guide and we reached the first wine tasting location of Sandalford Winery that has been producing its own trademark wines since the 1840s, making it one of Western Australia’s oldest, largest and most distinguished producers of premium wine.
Repeating the fundamentals of seeing, swirling, sniffing, sipping and savouring, we started our day with some sparkling, before slowly moving to sweet whites and reds. We tasted a total of eight different selection of wines, with some of the guests feeling overwhelmed and ending up buying a few bottles for later.
The WINEderful tastings, however, soon took a toll and started confusing our tastebuds, as we tried more and more, and further moved to our second winery for another selection of 7 different wines, at Mandoon Estate. Another big, though fairly new winery in the region, Mandoon Estate has been producing a large selection of their selective trademark wines. Though Swan Valley has over 40 wineries, speaking of the size, most of them are boutique wineries, except for the two — Mandoon and Sanfalford, that produce and sell their wines outside of their establishment in Swan Valley. Mandoon Estate also runs an in-house brewery and a restaurant perfect for some delicious afternoon munchies.
Our tour group grabbed a table at Mandoon’s Homestead Brewery, where I ordered for myself some tapas, and their freshly brewed lager to flush it down.
Second Half Of The Trip: Two Boutique Wineries, A Brewery, And The Chocolate Factory
Having our stomach satisfied, brain back to senses, and taste buds fairly neutralized, we headed to the first boutique winery at a short drive from the Mandoon. I think I like the idea of visiting boutique wineries and trying their products as they’re more particular and careful about what they produce — almost like buying some fresh produce from a local farmer than shopping in a big supermarket.
The first place we hit was the Windy Creek, that started producing their wines back in the 1930s, but with time they only got better. The atmosphere inside their boutique shop was comparatively cosier, and the bartenders, more customer-driven.
After sampling a few more fine wines that Windy Creek had to offer, we moved to another and the last winery we were visiting for the day — Lancester Winery, which turned out to be my personal favorite, for its perfect ambience that boast perfect mix of indoor and outdoor locale, some great wines — including Chenin blanc, Verdelho, Chardonnay, and the legendary Old Vines Shiraz — and a selection of local gourmet cheese.
The Last Two Stops: Mash Brewery & The Margret River Chocolate Factory
Nearing the conclusion of our trip, we were taken to a local brewery to taste some in-house and freshly brewed beer. Mash brewery, as was named, has been a part of the craft beer movement in the country, since 2006, and if they are pretty good at it.
It is a unique little venue with brewery equipment on view, tall ceilings, long gorgeous wooden bar-tables and painted pin-up girls on the wall. The restaurant area offered a rather casual eating experience with menus and plastic pots, and serviettes, knives and forks at your tables. The drink menu had a good selection of their handcrafted beer, with the wheat and Freo Doctor being the most selling favourites, though I ordered an Indian Ale!
Satisfied and pleased, we moved to our final stop that many of the tour members were long waiting for — the Margeret River Chocolate Factory. As the name rather suggested, it didn’t turn out to be a factory, but just a big, full of chocolate, consumer shop, with more than enough free chocolates to taste and even more to buy.
Things To Note
- The 32km loop of Swan Valley, with its 150+ attraction, can feel overwhelmingly massive if you’ve only a day to spare. The best idea would be opting in for a guided tour unless you’re staying there for a few days.
- Swan Valley is the first and the only Humane Food Region in Australia, meaning the kind of welfare that animals and their products get here is unmatched. Most of the items available here are moreover organic, making their way straight from the paddock to your plate.
- If you’re looking for some rural charm while living in Perth, Swan Valley has it by the truckload. It moreover borders two diversified towns of Guildford (popular for its heritage-rich) and Midland (a burgeoning retail hub).
- If you’re doing the tour on your own, it’s best advised to make a pit stop at the Visitor Center in Guildford on your way to Swan Valley to get your bearing.
- The Valley also has its own Heritage Cycle Trail with four different routes, each sign posted to tell stories, and depict interesting characters and points of interest. It’s said that touring the Swan Valley on a bicycle is the best way to go forward, but if only you’ve enough time.
Where Did I Stay In Perth
I stayed in a hostel called Haus Accommodation and totally loved it. The hostel was clean and exceptionally quiet, despite its central location. If you’re staying in Perth for only a few days and don’t want to spend all your money on accommodation, don’t think twice, the hostel’s close proximity to central train and bus station in Perth will only make you love your decision furthermore.
Have you been to Swan Valley? What did you like the most about the place?