Our weekends typically oscillate between our two great interests, getting out into nature and spending time eating and drinking our way through a region. Our trip to Swan Valley certainly leaned into the latter interest. Setting out to discover the best things to do in Swan Valley, we found that many of Swan Valley’s attractions revolve around the abundant produce of the region.
Forget the diet for your action-packed weekend in Swan Valley. Here it’s all about celebrating nature’s bounty through fresh local produce and artisan foods. From local wines to barista brewed coffee, weekend markets to fine dining, breweries to bush tucker trails, there is a broad range of culinary experiences here, all centered around the abundance of the fertile farming region.
Of course, there’s plenty to see between meals as well with ancient Aboriginal history, gorgeous natural surroundings, and heritage villages and buildings.
So grab your eating pants, some walking shoes, and read on to discover some of the best things to do in the Swan Valley, a place of plenty, right on Perth’s doorstep.
What Swan Valley Is Known For?
In short, Swan Valley is known for its ancient aboriginal history, its title as Western Australia’s oldest wine-producing region, the heritage town of Guildford, and for the plentiful produce that grows in the fertile soil of the valley.
For at least 38,000 years this area has been inhabited by the traditional landowners, the Noongar Aboriginal people of the Wadjuk tribe. The Noongar people say that the Wagyl, an ancient Dreamtime serpent carved the Swan Valley and the Swan River and still lies beneath the river today.
The Swan Valley is Western Australia’s oldest wine region with the first grapevines planted in 1829, some 50 years after grapes were planted in New South Wales. Following the first world war, waves of immigration saw many people from southern Europe, especially Croatia, settle here. This settlement has helped shape the style of the wines produced here.
The beautifully preserved old buildings of Guildford offer a window into the history of Western Australia’s colonial settlement. Some of the state’s oldest buildings can be found on the wide and splendid streets of Guildford.
The Swan Valley is also remarkable for its incredibly fertile soil and plentiful produce. In addition to wine, fresh produce is available seasonally and includes bush tucker, fruits, honey, nuts, olives, cheeses, chocolates, and much much more.
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Things to Do in Swan Valley
There are plenty of great things to do depending on your interest, but here are our favorites.
1. Visit the Swan Valley Wineries
The fertile farming lands and picturesque vineyards of Swan Valley lie right on Perth’s doorstep. The Swan Valley wineries can be visited just 20 minutes outside the state capital as a day trip or an easy weekend getaway.
The Swan Valley is home to more than 40 different wineries producing a wide variety of wines, so deciding on which winery (or wineries) to visit can be difficult. The good news is finding something that will suit your preferences for wine won’t be.
The most popular wines in the region are Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc, but you can also expect to find classic red varietals as well as less common varietals at many wineries.
Malbec, the Argentinian grape, is finding a home at many of the Swan Valley wineries, such as John Kosovich and Corymbia. Touriga Nacional and a range of alternative reds are available at Olive Farm Wines, the oldest winery in Western Australia. Those who love a good white should stop by John Kosovich for an unbelievable Chenin Blanc or sample the Fiano from Vino Volta.
For a unique experience, drop by Vino Italia. Run by Eugenio Valenti, an Italian immigrant who came across from Italy on a boat in 1952 to work on the railroads. His homemade, preservative-free table wine comes in a 2L bottle and includes some interesting stories for $10.
Beware, some wineries in the region are only open on the weekend or do not have a cellar door. Make sure you check online or call ahead to confirm availability.
2.Step Back in Time with a Walk along the Guildford Heritage Walking Trail
Arriving in the town of Guildford, you are immediately reminded of a bygone era. The historic buildings, homes, hotels, and churches remain some of the most well-preserved and beautiful examples of colonial architecture in Western Australia. The best way to experience the beauty of Guildford and its historic heritage is to embark on the Guildford Heritage Walking Trail.
The Guildford Heritage Walking Trail is a 1.8-kilometer trail through the historic town center. The trail begins at the Old Guildford Courthouse, now home to the Guildford Visitor’s Center. Following the red markers, the trail takes you past the old goal, town hall, and the Guildford Hotel, to name a few.
One of the best things to do in the Swan Valley, it’s also free; just make sure your camera is charged.
3. Stock Up on Local Goodies at the Swan Settlers Market
Only open on the weekend but a particular highlight of the region is the Swan Settlers Market. The market showcases the best Swan Valley has to offer. You can find a wide variety of artisanal goods from handmade candles to woodwork as well as a wide array of local produce.
The settler’s market is also a fantastic place to sample some of the international flavors of the region from the regular food stalls. If you have a sweet tooth, make sure to visit Mr. Cannolo for delicious homemade cannoli for an authentic taste of Italy. Big on the pig? Gryphon Smokehouse serves American-style BBQs including pulled pork, brisket, and more. Looking for some south-east Asian flavor? Head over to Umi’s Kitchen for authentic Malay cuisine.
3. Relax with a Mystery Picnic
Want the thrill of enjoying the best local produce from around the Swan Valley, direct from the farm gate or producer, without all of the hassle of planning your entire day?
Enter AmazingCo. With AmazingCo’s Mystery Picnic, you can enjoy a picnic with a twist. AmazingCo sends you to six secret destinations within the Swan Valley, where you collect treats for your picnic basket as you go. But instead of telling you where to go, you’ll need to work out each location by yourself by solving a riddle or clue.
At the end of the day, you will have been to some of the best producers in the region and have a picnic ready to enjoy at the final, picturesque location.
While the Mystery Picnic takes the hassle out of planning and adds a little fun and mystery into your day, you are still in control. There is no time limit, and you can add in other stops along the way, creating a totally unique and independent adventure.
3. Indulge in Locally Made Chocolate
Wine goes with chocolate, so it follows that wineries go with chocolate factories. Wherever you find a wine region, chances are a chocolate factory won’t be far away. For those with a sweet tooth, there are two chocolatiers in the Swan Valley to visit.
The oldest chocolatier in the Swan Valley, and in fact, in Western Australia, is Whistler’s Chocolate Company. Founded over 40 years ago, Whistler’s recipes have been passed down from generation to generation.
The Margaret River Chocolate Company has also moved into the Swan Valley. Bringing the craftsmanship and attention to detail they are renowned for.
Make it a taste test and grab a bag of chocolates from both. Be the judge of which one you think makes the best chocolate in the Swan Valley.
6. Enjoy Local Beers and Cider
As with chocolate factories, it is common to find a few breweries in the wine regions of Australia. What sets the Swan Valley apart is the number of breweries here. With over ten breweries and cideries to choose from, Swan Valley is a treat for beer lovers just as much as the wine lover.
With award-winning breweries like Feral Brewing and small boutique brewers like Txoko Brewery, there is bound to be something in the area to tickle your fancy.
7. Head Out to John Forest National Park and the Swan Valley Tunnel
John Forest National Park is one of the Swan Valley natural attractions not to miss. As the oldest national park in Western Australia, John Forest National Park was founded in 1898. The national park is a great way to stretch the legs between meals.
The most visited attraction within the national park is the Swan Valley Tunnel, the only historical railway tunnel in Western Australia. The Swan Valley Tunnel can be visited as part of the Railway Reserve Heritage Trail and is an easy 5 km return journey from the picnic area. Other highlights along the Railway Reserve Heritage Trail that are easily accessible from the picnic area include the National Park Falls (2km) and Hovea Falls (2km).
Hikers can enjoy the Eagle View Walking Trail, a 15-km loop trail with some of the best views in the area.
Interested in more hiking in the area? Check out the Bell Rapid’s hike.
8. Dine at the Historic Alfred’s Kitchen
A must-stop in the Swan Valley is Alfred’s Kitchen in Guildford. The longest-running roadside burger joint in Perth, Alfred’s opened its caravan doors to the public in 1946 and has been serving burgers ever since.
Made the same way for generations, these tried and tested burgers are sure to impress.
Try the Alfred Burger, served with egg, cheese, and bacon in layered toast with gherkin sauce, or go at the Cram Angus steak burger.
Reasonably priced, burgers at Alfred’s are half the price of a pub burger and twice the flavor.
Dinner at Alfred’s Kitchen is definitely one of the best things to do in Swan Valley.
9. Grab a Coffee from Willing Coffee in Guildford
No morning should start without coffee, and when visiting the Swan Valley, the best coffee can be found at Willing Coffee. Located on the most picturesque street in Guildford, Willing Coffee is number one here when it comes to coffee.
Specializing in espresso and filter coffee, coffee from Willing Co is the perfect way to start your morning. Willing Coffee also has a selection of baked goods and sandwiches for an easy breakfast on the go.
10. Try Wine and Cheese at Two Birds Fromagerie
Wine and cheese go hand in hand, so it’s no surprise to find a fromagerie amongst the wineries in the Swan Valley.
At Two Birds Fromagerie, enjoy gourmet cheese boards served with freshly baked bread and a flight of matched wines. It is the perfect way to enjoy what Swan Valley is all about.
11. Drop into the Distilleries of Swan Valley
You have already ticked beer and wine off the list, so you might as well go for the trifecta and sample the spirits of the region.
With five local small-batch distilleries calling the Swan Valley home, you will surely find something to take home.
The friendly staff at Old Young’s Distillery pride themselves on a fantastic tasting experience, showing off their delicious vodka and gin products and their vast distilling knowledge.
Harris Organic Wine and Spirits is the location of Perth’s only certified organic winery and Australia’s only certified organic brandy distillery.
12. Stop by Maison Saint-Honoré for Delicious Macaroons
This classic French patisserie in rural Western Australia is a special treat. Make sure you stop in for morning or afternoon tea.
Rows of colorful macaroons line the display case and are the perfect accompaniment to their delicious coffee.
If the thought of macaroons doesn’t tempt you, perhaps the thought of freshly baked buttery croissants will.
Easily one of the most delicious things to do in the Swan Valley, a stop at Maison Saint-Honoré in Caversham may turn into a daily routine if you are staying a few nights.
Pro-tip: Score a coffee and macaroon for only $5 with the code“Sweet Temptations.”
13. Pop in for a Pint at Rose and Crown
It wouldn’t be an Australian holiday without a trip to the local pub. Like many Aussie pubs, The Rose and Crown is on a prominent street corner, but few country pubs are as beautiful as the Rose and Crown in Guildford.
Not only does the Rose and Crown have charm, but it also holds the title of Western Australia’s oldest operating hotel. Of course, as well as the beautiful and historic building, the Rose and Crown also has cold beer and warm country hospitality.
14. Enjoy Dinner at Locale Mio
Local Italian restaurant Locale Mio specializes in small tapas-style share plates and wood-fired pizza. Local and international wines are on offer, as is a short beer and cocktail menu. A great way to kick off or complete your holiday to the Swan Valley, there’s a great atmosphere at this busy family restaurant.
15. Discover the Bush Tucker Trail
Discover the original produce of the region.The Bush Tucker Trail showcases the abundance that existed for thousands of years before farming and cultivation came to Sawn Valley.
Following the trail you will discover the Aboriginal heritage trails in the Walyunga National Park, the Maalinup Aboriginal Gallery, and a range of producers and artisans that have embraced the use of bush food in their products, continuing the traditions of the region.
Bonus: Entwined in the Valley
Entwined in the Valley is the annual food and wine festival in Swan Valley, occurring each spring. Over a three-day weekend, festival-goers get to sample and indulge in some of the very best on offer in the Swan Valley.
The event schedule changes each year, but Entwined routinely manages to impress year in and year out. There are culinary creations that will tantalize your taste buds and dining experiences showing off the best the region has to offer. You will also find hands-on experiences where you can learn to make local delicacies like cheese or nougat. Entwined is all about wining and dining ’til your heart’s content.
Entwined in the Valley is also a great opportunity for budding businesses to showcase their goods, especially those without a storefront or regular cellar door. This means it is one of the places you’ll get exclusive access to exciting up-and-comers.
Make sure not to miss an opportunity to visit during Entwined in the Valley and watch the Swan Valley come alive with promises of delicious meals, new vintages, and memorable moments.
Where to Stay in Swan Valley
Where to Stay in Guildford
The Stirling Arms
Another historic building in Guildford, The Stirling Arms, is Guildford’s oldest continuously licensed hotel. The Stirling Arms offers modern and spacious rooms at affordable prices. Space is limited at The Stirling Arms, with only nine rooms available and one three-bedroom apartment.
The Stirling Arm is also centrally located to some of the best things to do in Guildford with an easy walk to some of the best Swan Valley attractions.
Rose & Crown Hotel
The beautiful building and well-appointed rooms at the Rose & Crown make it a great option for accommodation. Another affordable option in Guildford, the Rose & Crown Hotel offers comfort and hospitality in a central location on the prettiest street in Guildford.
Where to Stay in Caversham
The Colony at Mandoon Estate
The Colony at Mandoon Estate is a wonderful option to stay in Swan Valley, especially if staying on a working vineyard appeals to you.
The Colony offers upscale accommodation with beautiful views over the nearby river or vineyard, making it a special place to stay.
Comfortable rooms with all the amenities you could want and extra touches like a welcome drink make The Colony a great option in the Swan Valley.
For a truly romantic weekend, enjoy the degustation menu at the on-site restaurant Wild Swan, and a visit to the cellar door. You are in Swan Valley for the wine, right?
Hopefully, you find some amazing and unique things to do in Swan Valley and you enjoy your visit as much as we did!
If you have any questions or comments about this Swan Valley blog post, please let us know below!
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