Swan Valley, Australia: Wine, Chocolate and Koalas

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swan valley

Swan Valley, Australia: Wine, Chocolate and Koalas

Western Australia has some of the world’s best coastlines to explore, and it is easy to get drawn into visiting all the amazing beaches and attractions without considering other parts of what Perth and Western Australia has to offer – like the Swan Valley.

When I had my friend from Germany visit recently, she was all about the beach! Little did we realize that about 20 minutes out of the Perth, we were about to discover every food and wine lovers dream! The Swan Valley is home to Western Australia’s most established vineyards and is as stunningly beautiful as it is historic. There are a number of dedicated tour companies you can book to take you around the valley (and let’s face it, after sampling a few wines, it’s not such a bad idea), however we decided to self-drive and limit our wine intake on this day!

Food and Wine Trail

We pulled out our map of the 32km loop, which incorporated over 150 wineries, restaurants, breweries and distilleries. All the planning (aka hard work) was done for us! It was almost impossible to narrow down which wineries to visit, and we just couldn’t visit them all (though we would have definitely given it a go if we had time; I am always up for a challenge!). With all the wineries we visited, our favorite was Sandalford Wines. This winery is Western Australia’s oldest and largest, and has been a pioneer in the wine industry for over 175 years. The wine is pretty nice too!

Like every true traveler and explorer before us, heading off the beaten track and exploring as the locals do revealed some hidden gems that we wouldn’t have ordinarily experienced. The Swan Valley is an excellent place to visit to get a feel for some real Australian history, wildlife, food and wine.


Not only did we sample some of Australia’s finest wines, we stopped in at a few incredible breweries and cideries too. The beers and ciders produced by these brewmasters are handcrafted, using traditional techniques, which result in some pretty impressive ale.

New kid on the block, Homestead Brewery, has created some innovative beers and ciders using German manufactured Schulz equipment; a first of its kind for Australia. Not only are they producing quality brews, their chef paired a tapas style menu to compliment our beverage of choice! Even the German was impressed!

If you are interested in more Australian wine stories, Tasmania is home to a burgeoning wine industry as well.

Heritage Trail

On our way to the Swan Valley, we stopped at the historic suburb of Guildford. With many beautifully restored heritage-listed buildings and renovated character homes, it was like stepping back into the 1830’s (not that I have ever been there, but I can imagine!).

Guildford is located on the Swan River Heritage Cycle Trail, and if you follow the informative signs, you can explore the area without the need for a guide. The trail has three main entry points, one being at the Swan Valley Visitor Centre in Guildford that we used, and the others at the Maali Footbridge in Herne Hill and West Swan Hall.

We walked along the pristine Swan River to take in the scenery, and then checked out a few local art galleries. On our journey we came across the newly restored Guildford Hotel. This hotel was built in the 1880’s and added to the State Heritage Register in 1993. However, in 2008 the building was tragically burnt in a fire leaving just an empty shell. In 2016, the building underwent an enormous renovation and was restored to its former glory. I had never been inside the hotel before, but had driven past it for years as it sat there looking sad and lonely. The finished renovation is stunning and it was worth the visit to this beautiful building.

Fun for the Young and Young at Heart

It was time to up the energy levels (or try to shake off the wine haze) with a visit to the Margaret River Chocolate Factory. With free entry and free samples, we stocked up on chocolate buttons while watching the chocolatiers make pounds and pounds of delicious chocolaty goodness. Being the responsible adults we are, we consumed our daily caloric intake via chocolate and headed to our next stop!

swan valley

Swan Valley – Hug a Koala

In order to burn off that chocolate overload, we headed to the Outback Splash at The Maze. The waterpark section was only open during the hotter months of the year from October to April so we didn’t get to try it out this time. However, the main park is open all year round. The park has six mazes to test your brain power and speed, mini golf to satisfy the golf pro in us all, a children’s playground and a giant jumping pillow. We managed two mazes and got completely lost, but it was a lot of fun trying to find our way around.

They also have the must-do-activity for all tourists to Australia – hug a koala! Sounds cheesy, but who doesn’t love those cute furry guys? We managed to get in our obligatory koala and kangaroo hugs and photos here, and we were even lucky enough to bottle-feed a baby joey (awwwwww).

Like every true traveler and explorer before us, heading off the beaten track and exploring as the locals do revealed some hidden gems that we wouldn’t have ordinarily experienced. The Swan Valley is an excellent place to visit to get a feel for some real Australian history, wildlife, food and wine – all while being only 20 minutes from the Perth Central Business District.

Also check out Living In Perth.

Rochelle Mitchell

Rochelle Mitchell

Although born in Australia, Rochelle's passion for adventure has seen her travel all over the globe, from backpacking through Europe to living in the remote jungles of Central Africa. Fueled by strong coffee and a passion for adventure, she now lives in South America with her family writing quality web content and attempting to learn Spanish!

1 Comment

  • Erika

    Koalas and wine – what more could you want?

    June 5, 2017 at 8:16 pm