Discover Swan River with Avis
Follow the Swan River northeast from Perth for a delightfully relaxed drive into vineyards, rolling hills and historic towns.
With its gentle scenery, blue skies and short distances, the Swan Valley is an ideal short-break destination that won't have you driving for exhausting stretches, but will have you stretching your legs and shaking off your big-city stress in no time.
Head out of Perth on a creative food safari and you'll discover a wonderful array of artisanal producers, restaurants and cellar doors in Australia's second-oldest wine region, established in 1829. The Mediterranean-style climate favours grapes such as Shiraz, Verdelho and Chenin Blanc, and the Swan Valley's blended fortified wines are a fine way to round off gourmet meals.
This is a region for indulgence, so treat yourself to a comfortable road-trip experience with Avis Signature Series, which includes the best in luxury European vehicles such as the BMW X5, whose stylish and spacious interior and latest technology will turn your journey into an extra treat.
Start planning your trip
DAY 1: INTO THE COUNTRYSIDE
With Avis's innovative Digital Check In, you can fast-forward the collection process and get beyond Perth airport in no time. Although your destination lies east, first turn west into the city centre for the morning, since it's only a 20-minute drive.
Get your first encounter with the Swan River at newly developed Elizabeth Quay, whose promenades are studded with public art and overlooked by eye-catching contemporary buildings. Nearby is the vast, thousand-acre sprawl of Kings Park and Botanic Garden, which provides postcard hilltop views of city skyscrapers and water.
Perth's Elizabeth Quay frequently turns on the charm.
A delicious dessert at Mandoon Estate.
Now follow the river inland for 13 kilometres to Guildford, where suburbia gives way to rolling countryside. The historic town of heritage buildings and antique stores is hunkered under plane trees. Several signposted walks lead you past old cottages and other heritage buildings such as the wonderfully Gothic Chapel of St Mary and 1841 Crown and Rose Hotel.
Have lunch at Oscar's at Guildford Landing, whose light mod-Oz share plates celebrate Western Australian produce such as Shark Bay bugs and dry-aged Stirling Ranges beef. You'll find it hard to resist the apple and rhubarb crumble afterwards.
On the way out of Guildford, stop at scenic RiverBank Estate or Pinelli Estate for your first taste of the region's wine. Alternatively, Caversham Wildlife Park has a significant native animal menagerie that includes echidnas, spotted quolls and yellow-footed rock wallabies.
Stay the night at The Colony at Mandoon Estate, nestled amid Verdelho vineyards on the riverbanks at Caversham. You'll want to arrive early so you have time to tour the microbrewery or the vineyards and cellar door.
You needn't worry about imbibing: dine onsite at Wild Swan, which serves dishes such as lamb rump with smoked spinach, or venison tartare with rhubarb, all with bursts of added flavour from native ingredients.
DAY 2: VINE TIME
Is there anything more satisfying than sliding behind the wheel of a gleaming luxury car? As the crow flies, you don't have far to drive today in your BMW X5, but you'll want to take a meandering route that gives you time to enjoy both the luxury vehicle and the region's best vineyards.
Make your first stop at Yahava KoffeeWorks, which sources Arabica beans from 20 countries and gives demonstrations of the roasting process. Caffeine addicts will want to do the 90-minute "coffee safari" or even take a masterclass to improve their barista skills. Meanwhile, an outlet of Margaret River Chocolate Company nearby will satisfy anyone with a sweet tooth.
Mandoon Estate gleams in the sunlight.
Lancaster Wines is just the place to wet your whistle on a fine Swan River afternoon.
Later in the morning, head to the low-key corrugated-iron tasting shed at Lancaster Wines for a pre-lunch tasting platter and Shiraz amid the vines. Alternatively, at Garbin Estate Wines you can sample its speciality, Sparkling wine. Most is made from Chardonnay grapes, but you'll also find more unusual bubbly produced from Chenin Blanc, Semillon or even Shiraz and Merlot.
As you head slowly north, Windy Creek is a third-generation winery established in 1937, where you can sit out under parasols on a rose-perfumed terrace and try Vermentino or crisp Verdelho.
For lunch, head to Sitella. This vineyard is only a quarter-century old but has garnered accolades for its premium Verdelho, Chardonnay and Shiraz. A cheese-and-charcuterie platter might satisfy, or you can settle into the mellow restaurant for seafood chowder, caramelised pork belly or more adventurous seared kangaroo loin with emu chorizo.
As you putter north, you might be tempted by several other cellar doors such as Olive Farm Wines, Lamont's or Faber Vineyard, which runs an interesting behind-the-scenes tour. Check into Novotel Swan Valley Vines Resort in good time for a round of golf - watch out for the kangaroos - or an indulgent spa treatment.
Dine bistro-style at Muscats Restaurant. Start with a half-dozen oysters before moving on to pork tenderloin or sautéed pumpkin gnocchi, and be sure to leave room for dessert and a fortified wine.
DAY 3: GO BUSH
Tuck into the resort's sumptuous buffet before hitting the trails at Bells Rapids, a wiggly 20-minute drive away. A scenic walk along the Swan River - which here seems surprisingly wild - takes an hour. Keep an eye out for black cockatoos and ring-necked parrots.
Nobel Falls further east is another opportunity to walk along boulder-tumbled Wooroloo Brook. Otherwise, take a short detour to Karakamia Sanctuary, which protects some of Western Australia's most vulnerable and unusual creatures such as micro-bats, rat-like marsupials called woylies, and long-snouted, beady-eyed quendas.
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Caversham Wildlife Park is a must-visit for all lovers of Australia’s native flora and fauna.
Nine kilometres back down the road, Gidgegannup is tucked into folds of the Darling Range. Bushland and forest alternate with farmland where alpacas chew. The village has an interesting convict-era history, several art galleries, and farm doors where you can taste olives and goat's cheese.
Be sure to get into Gidgegannup's surrounds, especially during wildflower season. In F.R. Berry Reserve, a walk leads along Wooroloo Brook through a carpet of flowers and bright yellow wattles amid large granite outcrops - look out for bright blue lechenaultia. Indigenous Australians refer to it poetically as "the floor of the sky" for its colour, which can also range from purple to pale blue.
From Gidgegannup, a mere half-hour's purring drive in your BMW X5 returns you to Perth. However, if you fancy heading north to the farm-door trail and quaint townships around Chittering, or to Avon Valley National Park for white-water rafting and kayaking, then the Avis App allows you to extend your car rental as the spirit takes you. Drive on, wind the windows down, feel the breezes blow, and let the landscape work its magic.
Swan about this beautiful region in complete luxury with Avis and its selection of prestige vehicles - plan your trip today.