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Guildford and the Swan Valley

Whether you are a local or a visitor to W.A. you will find this area is one of the fastest developing tourist hot-spots in the state. Located close to the city of Perth it is easily accessible by public transport and there are an ever increasing number of tourism related businesses starting up operations here.

 

The Swan Valley was once a poor cousin to the Margaret River wine growing area but today the valley is starting to compete strongly with its more southern rival.

 

Guildford was one of the earliest areas settled in the Swan River area and it retains a number of important historic buildings.

 

For some time Guildford was more important than Perth but eventually Perth took over and Guildford retired to a fairly quiet existence which is an atmpsphere it retains to this day.

 

Guildford post office

 

Guildford is centered on Stirling Square where you will find historic buildings and sites scattered all around. Just across West Swan Road is the heritage precinct that contains the old law courts, gaol, police quarters and post office. The old law court building is now the home of the visitor's centre.

 

St. Mathew's Anglican church sits on the west side of Stirling Square and around the corner to the east on Swan St. is one of the oldest hotels in W.A., the Rose and Crown.

 

Rose and Crown Hotel - Guildford

 

The Swan River winds its way south through the Swan Valley and there are a number of reserves and parks dotting the banks.

 

Fish Market Reserve (at the west end of Swan St.) and Lilac Hill Park just north of the river on West Swan Road are two of the closest to the centre of Guildford and both are suitable for a family picnic or BBQ and a stroll along the river bank.

 

Lilac Hill Park

 

After a wander around Guildford and a picnic in the park it is time to head a little further north on West Swan Road and start to explore the wineries, breweries and other speciality suppliers. You will find that many businesses that are well known in the Margaret River area can also be found right here on Perth's doorstep. This is a real bouns for those who are in W.A. for a limited time and aren't able to explore further south.

 

There are too many places to visit in just one day so if you get the chance to explore the Swan Valley then try and allocate at least a couple of days (preferably more if you can) to really see and enjoy everything that is on offer here.

 

Possibly the biggest attraction nearby is Whiteman Park and the Caversham Wildlife Park.

 

We had visited on a previous trip so this time our focus was wines, cheeses and more exotic products.

 

Sandalford Wines

 

This time our first stop was at Sandalford Wines located on the east side of West Swan Road. (Just watch for the signs.)

 

We have visited their Margaret River winery numerous times but this was the first time we had been to the Swan Valley business.

 

We knew what we were looking for as we adore their sweet dessert style wines. Looking at the price list might put some people off but have a taste anyway and then ask about what deals they have running. We got a bottle of Sandalera (one of our favourite sweet wines) that normally retails at $95 for $70! If that price still seems above your budget give the Liqueur Tawny and the Botrytis Semillon a go. Sadly Sandalford stopped making the Sandalera many years ago and it won't be long before it is no longer available. We aren't wine snobs but we do know what we like and on occasion we do go a bit crazy and blow the budget on something we really enjoy. In the end we came away with a bottle of each of these for a total of $120. RRP would normally be $150 so it does pay to ask about specials and discounts.

 

Cape Lavender

 

Not far up the road, this time on the west side is Mago Coffee and Cape Lavender. It is always interesting to drop in to as many places as you can just to see the different products available and sometimes you can pick up a bargain or two.

 

Mago Coffee

 

Attached to Cape Lavender is Mago Coffee. They specialise in a number of interesting coffee bean blends but as we currently have more coffee at home that we are likely to drink in the next 12 months we opted for some tea instead.

 

Grape vines in the Swan Valley

 

One of the places I just had to visit was Olive Farm Wines. I have memories of visiting the old winery on Great Eastern Highway many times as my father used to buy large flagons of sherry there when we lived in Bassendean. I also have some childhood memories of crossing the river in the dark of night in a old row boat and pinching a few grapes from the grape vines and running like hell when one of the dogs spotted us. In view of this adolescent misbehaviour I thought it only fitting that I buy some wine from Olive Farm to atone for my earlier sins.

 

Olive Farm Wines

 

Next door to Olive Farm is the Cheese Barrel which on the surface seems like a perfect marriage. Sadly there were no tastings of cheese on offer and the prices were quite a bit more than we are prepared to spend on cheese, especially considering the large range of excellent cheeses now available in many supermarkets.

 

Cheese Barrel

 

Our day trip finally came to an end but if we get the chance, we will be back again soon to check out more of the 40 wineries, 6 breweries, 2 distilleries as well as the Chocolate Factory, Providore, Mondo Nougat, Morish Nuts, House of Honey and the parks and reserves that make the Swan Valley a very interesting and popular place to visit.

 

Fish Market Reserve

 

Updated September 2015

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MORE PICTURES

 

St. Mathews - Guildford
St. Mathews.

 

Stirling Square - Guildford
Stirling Square.

 

War memorial - Guildford
War memorial.

 

Padbury Colonial Stores - Guildford
Padbury Colonial Stores.

 

Heritage precinct - Guildford
Heritage precinct.

 

Guildford
Guildford.

 

Swan River - Lilac Hill Park - Guildford
Swan River - Lilac Hill Park.

 

Wine tasting in the Swan Valley
Wine tasting in the Swan Valley.

 

 

 

 

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