Explore the carefully preserved buildings and learn the stories of one of Western Australia’s first settlements, 12 kilometres north-east of Perth city.
One of three Swan River Colony towns established in 1829, Guildford originally connected Perth to the surrounding agricultural areas by steamboat and ship, playing an important role in the growth of Western Australia’s trade and prosperity.
Today, much of the town’s original 19th and 20th-century architecture remains, lovingly restored to tell the stories of their significant past.
Just a 30-minute drive from the city centre, it’s easy to get to know Guildford (known as Mandoon by the local Whadjuk Noongar people) on your next visit to Perth.
The best things to do in Guildford
Visit the historical pubs
Beer and wine are in plentiful supply in Guildford, with no less than three grand pubs, each within walking distance of each other.
Settle in for a pint in the historic Rose & Crown Hotel courtyard before ambling on to the spacious beer garden at the Stirling Arms Hotel, which hosts regular live entertainment.
Finish up with a hearty meal of smoked meats at The Guildford Hotel, a refurbished 19th century landmark.
Enjoy hearty smoked meats at The Guildford Hotel. (Image: supplied)
Follow heritage walking trails
Walk off a large lunch with a short self-guided tour of Guildford. There are four heritage walking trails weaving their way through the streets, each starting and ending at Guildford Courthouse (now the Swan Valley Visitor Centre).
Hop between the likes of the former station master’s cottage, the old agricultural showgrounds and the colonial gaol, reading up on their fascinating pasts via the interpretive panels as you go.
Begin your explorations at the Swan Valley Visitor Centre, which was once Guildford Courthouse. (Image: supplied)
Call into the Swan Valley
Guildford sits on the doorstep of Western Australia’s oldest wine region, the Swan Valley.
Take Barker’s Bridge out of town over the Swan River, and in less than five minutes you’ll be sipping on a verdelho in a vineyard.
Winery hop from Caversham to Herne Hill on the Swan Valley Fine Wine Trail, on an organised tour, or follow a different Swan Valley trail to stop by the growers and makers who call the region home.
The heritage shopfronts of the James Street strip are treasure troves packed with stories of eras past.
The furniture and collectables that line the shelves of Dr Russell’s Imagiarium, Jones of Guildford and George’s Furniture Restoration make unique mementos of your time in Guildford.
For more modern wares, check out The Artists Nook, which showcases stunning Australian-made homewares, jewellery, clothes, artworks and more. If you have a few hours to fill, book yourself in for an art workshop, too.
Discover antique treasures along Guildford’s James Street. (Image: supplied)
Guildford’s best restaurants and cafes
Kickstart the day with a specialty brew at Willing Coffee. Inside, the cafe gives a subtle nod to 1950s design, bringing curved lines, pink marble benchtops and chrome accents into the modern era.
Outside, locals surround the tables while their dogs wait patiently for pats from passersby.
The Meringue Munro Pancakes at Padbury’s Guildford are an Instagram hit attracting hungry crowds from across Australia.
Breakfast at Padbury’s Cafe Restaurant is a must, with diners flocking to the all-day cafe for plate upon plate of their famously fluffy souffle pancakes.
Served with a dollop of meringue, lemon curd, honeycomb and granola, it’s a dish for the serious sweet tooth. Come night, the focus shifts to salads, seafood and other proteins, all plated up in generous portions.
You must try the famously fluffy souffle pancakes at Padbury’s. (Image: supplied)
For a warming pizza and homemade pasta feed, there’s nowhere better than the friendly neighbourhood Italian, Locale Mio. Start with a plate of burrata and prosciutto before moving on to a fresh bowl of cavatelli or casarecce.
There are upwards of 20 pizzas on the menu, the 48-hour dough and woodfired oven producing perfectly bubbled and chewy bases.
While there are plenty of great places to dine in Guildford, none are more iconic than Alfred’s Kitchen. The late-night diner has been flipping burgers and boiling up pots of their much-loved pea and ham soup since 1946.
Get your hands around an ‘Alfred’s special’ and devour it by the fire pit, or find a seat in the refurbed 1900s-era train carriage.
Stop in for some late-night diner meals at Alfred’s Kitchen. (Image: supplied)
Where to stay
Spend a night (or a few more) at WA’s oldest operating hotel, the Rose & Crown Hotel.
Built in 1841, the 28-room lodge shares a large, leafy block with the historic pub, just across the railroad from town.
Closer to the banks of the Swan River you’ll find the Guildford River Retreat. Once the home of a local saddler, the 1897 Queen Anne-style home now hosts a six-room boutique BnB.
After a day of antique shopping and winery hopping, share a bottle of Swan Valley chenin blanc on one of the two large, garden-facing terraces. If there’s a chill in the air, make it a bottle of shiraz in the library.
The Rose & Crown is WA’s oldest operating hotel. (Image: supplied)
How to get there
Guildford is a 25-minute drive or a 30-minute train ride on the Midland line from Perth. From Perth Airport it’s an even shorter journey, taking just 10 minutes by car.
When to visit
Any time is a good time to visit Guildford, but the heritage buildings are even more beautiful against a backdrop of November’s blooming jacaranda trees.
If you plan your visit for January or February, the nearby vines of the Swan Valley will be ripe with crisp table grapes.
Pick your own at Padbury Pickings, or buy bags full from Kato’s 3000 Grapes or the many rustic roadside stalls.