The sunny, afternoon glow of Swan Valley is about more than its proximity to Perth, or its status as Australia’s oldest winery region. This Western Australian idyll is ideal, in fact, for fun-loving families of all kinds. Whether you consider yourselves historians, biologists, cyclists, foodies or downright explorers, a weekend in this sleepy haven spells a relaxing getaway with more options for your itinerary than you can poke a handmade chocolate, wagon ride or treasure map at. These are our three favourite routes for uncovering the secrets of Swan Valley.
X Marks the Spot
This route is complete with maps, food breaks and creative clues and is especially designed for families. Start your drive at the Swan Valley Visitor Centre where you’ll pick up your directions to either the Great Valley Rally or the Amazing Valley Chase. Follow Taylor the Tortoise or Sterling the Black Swan and learn loads about the indigenous traditions, settlement history, agriculture and icons of Swan Valley, before returning to the Visitor Centre to get your scavenger hunting Certificate! Competitive crews can race their way through the clues, or you can take your time and enjoy a lazy Sunday afternoon exploring Guildford, Woodbridge and several stops along the Great Northern Highway. It will take you at least three hours to make your way along the route and complete the steps, but you can take as long as you like. Be mindful that the Visitor Centre opens at 9 am and closes at 4 pm.
Follow your rumbling tummy!
Take an unofficial foodie pathway past the best of Swan Valley’s homegrown produce and homemade delights. Sweet tooths will go nuts over nougat at Mondo Nougat, and wannabe Willy Wonkas will enjoy seeing the process of chocolate-making (complete with a tasting!) at Whistler’s Chocolate Co. or Margaret River Chocolate Company. House of Honey is an interesting introduction to the secret lives of bees as they busy themselves producing everyone’s favourite sugary spread. To finish off a hard day’s work in the Western Australian heat, slurp a chilly treat from Oggies’ Ice Cream.
Swan Valley sure does have flora and fauna in abundance. Make it your mission to master a marathon of visits to all the local wildlife parks and reserves. Start with the friendly fur balls at Swan Valley Cuddle Animal Farm, where you can feed little rabbits by hand before jumping on a free tractor ride. Then tick Caversham Wildlife Park off your list, along with its 200 resident species! Dingoes, emus, echidnas, quokkas and cassowaries are just some of the Aussie favourites you’ll meet, and for a truly True Blue trip, witness shearing, mustering and whip-cracking demos at the Farm show. If you have a soft spot for the slithery, you’ll enjoy West Australian Reptile Park and its most famous guest, a South American Boa constrictor! This is a good place to be for lunch as there are BBQ facilities and a great picnic area huddled in Banksia woodlands. If you are interested in the facts and science of the animal kingdom, finish off at the Museum of Natural History.