February 16, 2023
6 mins Read
Just a short drive from Perth’s CBD or airport, the Swan Valley is the perfect day trip destination. But all the nougat, nuts and family-friendly fun will leave you wanting more than just a day to explore.
Crisp, tropical verdelho and intense chenin blancs are hallmarks of Western Australia’s oldest wine region. Beyond the Swan Valley’s vines and wines, there’s also an eclectic array of galleries, activities, breweries, distilleries and eateries to discover. Navigating your way through them is easy with nine themed trails; these three are just some of the highlights.
Until the mid-’60s, sticky, fortified wines were the favoured beverage in Australia, accounting for up to 85 per cent of all wine produced in the country. As table wines like chardonnay and shiraz gained momentum, fortifieds steadily waned in popularity. Now, these sweet, viscous, after-dinner tipples are back in vogue, and the Swan Valley is leading the charge.
Re-engaging with the dessert beverage is as easy as sipping and swirling your way through the valley along the Fortified Wine Trail, the only one of its kind in Australia. Of all the trails throughout the Swan Valley, this is the most extensive, with more than 30 stops.
First visit RiverBank Estate and Winery, where a nutty, spicy pedro ximenez sherry, a liqueur shiraz and a liqueur muscat will be at the ready. Both Windy Creek Estate and Olive Farm Wines deliver on range with seven different fortifieds each, offering everything from a luscious, apricot golden tawny to an exceptionally rich, caramel muscat. The rarest of Swan Valley fortifieds comes courtesy of Talijancich Wines, who have a complex, 30-year old tawny among the collection, made from 100 per cent estate-grown shiraz from 1950 to 1970.
In 2022, the viticultural sub-region of Baskerville is celebrating 100 years of wine making. Celebrate the milestone by raising a glass of tawny with one of the producers: John Kosovich Wines, Upper Reach Winery, Twin Hill Wines, and Harris Organic Wines.
Kangaroo feeding, train rides and mini golf; the Swan Valley is just as much a kid’s playground as it is an adult’s. The region is renowned for being overtly family-friendly, and the 10-stop Kids in the Valley Trail is testament to that.
Kick off a kid’s day out at Caversham Wildlife Park, where there are more than 2000 animals to meet, feed and snap selfies with. Kangaroo feed is free, but cuddling the koalas comes at a small additional price. The wildlife park sits within the larger bounds of Whiteman Park, a 4000-hectare expanse of natural bushland. Explore the further reaches by bike (BYO) or by pedal cart, available for hire from Pedal Play.
Any residual energy can be expended on a mini or ‘supa’ golf round. The latter is played on Supa Golf’s regular-sized course, though the large rubber ball and oversized plastic club heads make it much easier than the traditional game. Littler hands might prefer a round of mini golf on the neighbouring course or further down the road at Vines Mini Golf.
As hunger sets in, reroute towards The Henley Brook. This neighbourhood tavern boasts an impressive interpretive play area, perfect for keeping the kids entertained while mum and dad refuel. The trail isn’t complete without dessert, so finish up with a stop at Whistler’s Chocolate Company for a giant freckle or a theatrical liquid nitrogen ice cream from SubZero Gelato.
There’s a little bit of everything along the Sweet Temptations Trail, from liqueur to fresh produce. The one constant? A touch – or, in some cases, a lashing – of sugar.
At the start of the trail, you’ll find WA’s only publicly accessible macaron factory, Maison Saint Honore. What began as a humble foray into macaron making is now a fully-fledged production incorporating a French cafe and patisserie. Alongside umpteen flavours of the soft and airy biscuit, diners can order generous helpings of sweet and savoury crepes, croissants and delicate gâteaux.
Skip across Europe with a stop at the Mondo Nougat factory. Their namesake confection is based on a traditional recipe that’s generations old, from the owners’ hometown of Taurianova in the south of Italy. But the soft, chewy sweet isn’t the only thing on the menu, as rum baba, biscotti and cakes are also available.
Before winding up for the day, make a beeline for The House of Honey. There’s pot after pot of oozy liquid gold to sample, all harvested from the on-site apiaries. The bees gather pollen and nectar from native bottlebrushes, jarrah and karri, creating intensely flavoured and hyper-local honey. Find it flavouring The House of Honey’s range of teas, nougat, honeycomb and mead.
Just 25 minutes from Perth’s CBD, and an easy 10 to 15-minute drive from the airport, the Swan Valley is one of Perth’s most accessible day trips, perfect for a quick wander out yonder.
Take your own car or, if you plan on sipping on a few fortifieds, grab a taxi, hop in a rideshare or book a tour. The Swan Valley is also one of the only wine regions you can visit by boat; board your own or that of a tour group and cruise the Swan River to your favourite riverside wineries. For a truly memorable experience, charter a helicopter and make a grand entrance coming in to land on the grounds at Sandalford Wines or Mandoon Estate. That’s the spirit of adventure!
The 10 Swan Valley trails showcase everything from wine to bush tucker and breweries.
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