When we think about road trips our minds tend to wander to longer trips, but it doesn’t always have to be that way.
One of the many great things about living in Perth (Boorloo) is that even just a short road trip or day trip can take you somewhere that feels totally different, like the bountiful Swan Valley and the scenic Perth Hills.
So whether you’re a bit short on time or don’t feel like driving for hours, we’ve teamed up with Destination Perth to help you drive the dream and showcase the best of what both destinations have to offer, all under an hour away from the CBD!
Table of Contents
- Sandalford Wine Cellar Experience
- Whiteman Park
- Swan Valley Trails
- Fresh produce finds
- Pup-friendly pubs
- Antique Shopping in Guildford
- Swan Settlers’ Market
- Bickley Valley Wine Trail
- Bibbulmun Track
- Heritage Pub + Hike combo
- Araluen Botanic Park
- Serpentine Falls
- Perth Observatory
- Long lunch at Millbrook Winery
- Core Cider
1. How to get there
Both regions are easily drivable from Perth, with the Swan Valley only a short 25-minute trip north-east from the CBD, or just 10 minutes from the airport. The Perth Hills are a little further afield, around 45-50 minutes’ drive southeast of Perth.
2. Best time of year to go
Both the Swan Valley and the Perth Hills are great to visit year-round, with different attractions coming alive at different times. Late winter to early spring is a great time to adventure out to the hills if you’re interested in chasing waterfalls (and curling up next to a fireplace at the pub), while spring through to early summer is when the colourful wildflowers bloom, making for some beautiful hiking trails. Meanwhile the warmer months in the Swan Valley lean themselves towards sunny beer gardens, and picnics filled with fresh produce from the many providers around the area.
3. Best things to do in the Swan Valley
The Swan Valley is home to Western Australia’s oldest wine growing region, stretching from historic Guildford to the rolling hills of Chittering. It’s the perfect place to slow down and enjoy leafy green beer gardens, local produce, world-renowned boutique wineries, historic hiking trails and more with friends and family.
Sandalford Wine Cellar Experience
Sandalford Wines is one of the state’s most distinguished premium wine producers, and one of its most sustainable. The stunning Sandalford Bar & Restaurant is a lovely spot for a long lunch, combining modern Australian dining with contemporary Italian cuisine, best enjoyed in their leafy alfresco area. To really enjoy Sandalford you can embark on one of the many excellent experiences, including wine blending tours, food and wine pairings, winery tours or the Ultimate Heritage Indulgence Experience. This four-hour experience includes wine blending, a three-course meal and more! It’s the ultimate experience, combining everything into an epic four hour package.
This bushland oasis is free to enter, with options of paid or free attractions in a choose-your-own-adventure style. Caversham Wildlife Park, while paid, is worth visiting for a photo with the resident wombat. Mini rev heads will enjoy the Motor Museum, while smaller kids get a kick out of the Children’s Forest where they’re invited to search the trail for fairy doors. Playgrounds and open spaces abound, including Pia’s Place – a hit with children of all ages, needs and abilities.
Swan Valley Trails
If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed with what to do out in the Swan Valley, why not embark on one of their nine specially-themed trails? There’s literally something for everyone, with guided trips through the Swan Valley’s wineries, breweries and cideries, plus plenty of family-friendly offerings like markets, art studios, producers of sweets and more.
Fresh produce finds
Outside of wonderful wines to discover, the Swan Valley is rich in local producers making anything from bespoke sweets (Mondo Nougat, House of Honey, SubZero Gelato, Whistler’s Chocolate Co., Morish Nuts) to delectable, distilled spirits at Old Young’s and Sin Gin Distillery. There are also plenty of options for cider and craft beers to be found.
If your family also includes a fur baby or two, the Swan Valley is packed with pubs, wineries and cideries who are more than happy to have them along. Valley Social (pictured below), Funk 2.0, Lamonts, Talijancich Wines, Old Young’s Kitchen and many more are all dog-friendly for a day out with your pooch pals.
Antique discoveries in Guildford
The James Street strip of Guildford has become an iconic little stretch of Western Australia road thanks to the history waiting to be discovered. You can look-but-not-touch at the taxidermy displays in the Museum of Natural History, otherwise go digging through any of the marvellous antique stores all within walking distance of each other, including the world-famous Dr Russell’s Imaginarium.
Swan Settlers’ Market
No visit to the Swan Valley is complete without wandering through the Swan Settlers’ Market. From Friday to Sunday, this historical building is packed to the brim with vendors, selling lots of vintage and collectibles, arts, and crafts, and of course – delicious produce and cuisine from all over the globe. Just make sure to go there on an empty stomach.
4. Best things to do in the Perth Hills
Known for lush valleys, award-winning boutique wineries and cideries, bustling farmers’ markets, colourful arts scene and natural experiences, the Perth Hills will have you coming back for multiple day trips to experience all there is on offer, or even better, stay for a night or two and make a weekend of it!
Bickley Valley Wine Trail
While the Swan Valley gets much of the plaudits when it comes to great wine, nearby Bickley Valley is no slouch when it comes to boutique wineries and cideries, with vistas of vineyards, orchards and forests making it a beautiful region to drive through. Many of the charming cellar doors you come across are owned and operated by local families and young, progressive winemakers doing some interesting (and delicious) work in the space. This handy map will help you get started, just make sure you’ve organised a designated driver for the day, or jump on one of the many tours on offer!
If you’re looking to hit the trails, the 1,000km Bibbulmun Track is a world-famous hiking route between Kalamunda and Albany (Kinjarling), and its first section starts in the hills. Located in the heart of Kalamunda, the Northern Terminus is a showcase for the track, with a trail head that incorporates interpretive sculptures and information on the Noongar seasonal calendar.
From the Northern Terminus, there is a great day hike you can take to the Camel Farm (and return if you want to really stretch your legs). At 9km, you get a great introduction to the track, tackling the hills of Kalamunda National Park, a wildflower lined Piesse Brook (winter through spring) and a side trip to Rocky Pool. The trail is really easy to follow with the famous yellow and black Bibbulmun Waugyl there to guide you along your way.
Heritage pub + hike combo
If you’re keen on combining the best of both worlds, the Perth Hills has ample opportunities for you to combine a delightful hike with one of many excellent heritage pubs in the area. Follow the various pub walks mapped out for you by Parkerville Tavern, or work up a thirst on the trails near the Kalamunda and Mundaring Hotels.
Araluen Botanic Park
Just a short drive out of town you can visit one of the most spectacularly manicured gardens in the state, if not the country – Araluen Botanic Park. Open most days of the year, the botanic park features an incredible array of exotic plants, landscaped to peaceful perfection and bursting with colour during wildflower season making it a must-visit.
Once you’re there, put on your walking shoes, pack a picnic, grab the camera, and get ready to wander! Araluen Botanic Park covers a large expanse of land, with a plethora of pathways, recreational areas, flowing streams, natural scenery and more to explore. There are picnic and BBQ facilities throughout, and The Roundhouse Gift Shop also has plenty of options for some take-home keepsakes.
One of Perth’s most popular day trip spots, Serpentine Falls is only 55kms southeast of the city, just make sure you get there early to beat the crowds! It’s great to visit any time of the year, including summer – just head to the Shire website to check the suitability of the water for swimming.
The Perth Observatory has played an integral role in how we’ve understood the cosmos over the past century. Officially opening in 1900, the Observatory was originally located on Mount Eliza (Kaarta Gar-up), within King’s Park, before moving in 1965 to its current location in Bickley. The Observatory’s role now is primarily one of education, which is delivered through over 200 events each year, including tours, public talks and more, along with the on-site museum.
Long lunch at Millbrook Winery
One of the state’s most acclaimed restaurants, recognised locally, nationally and even by the New York Times, their one-acre garden and its 100 varieties of heirloom vegetables is a breathtaking achievement of hyper-locality. Set amongst the stunning surrounds of Chestnut Farm, the menu – created by Executive Chef Guy Jeffreys and Head Chef Justin Wong – is a true celebration of seasonality, particularly when enjoying their signature No Waste Monday offerings. Make sure to book ahead – as it is sure to be busy.
If you’re looking for a great day out with the whole family, Core Cider is a great option offering endless entertainment for kids both big and small with the authentic farm venue and bistro. There is something for everyone, enjoy farm-to-table food in their Orchard Bisto, cider tastings in the Harvest room or unwind with a picnic in their expansive Garden Bar with delicious pizza and a play area for the little ones. Head there in harvest season to jump on an orchard tractor tour or pick-your-own-fruit adventure.
Image Credit: Supplied/Tourism WA
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