03.06.2016 - 05.06.2016
We headed south down the coast and it was a big shock when we hit the city suburbs. The traffic was relentless and it was a Saturday on a long weekend. It took us a while to get through the suburbs and back out, west. We were heading for the outer boundary of Perth and its suburbs, into the semi rural, Swan Valley. This is a valley along the Swan River renowned for its produce, wine, beer, cheese, chocolate and everything in between so we decided to spend a few days here exploring what was on offer. We booked a couple of nights in swan valley caravan park, and although the campsite was quite vile it was in a good location and the only place with any spaces.
After setting up it was late afternoon and we decided to have a wander around. The valley is basically two roads which join at the top and bottom to form a loop of the valley. Along here is all sorts of places to stop off and buy goodies and the western road has a walking and cycle path so we headed up here with somewhere in mind. We had read that although wine is big business in the valley it didn't have the perfect climate to make excellent wines but on the up in the area were breweries, particularly craft breweries. In only a couple of kilometres north of our campsite are three different breweries. Two of these specialise in German beers but the one we had in mind, called Mash was a craft brewery.
On entering huge stainless steel drums were lined up behind the bar and we were shown to a seat with a menu, full of beers and their tasting notes. We decided to get a tasting platter each and four tiny beers appeared on a wooden board all of them very different but really delicious. It was our first brewery experience and we loved it.
The next day was our only full day in the valley and we decided to walk since there was a walking trail, up the west road, across the river and then to the top to our final destination, Feral Brewery. Walking up the west road and across although was cold was pleasant and wandering across the valley through vineyards was really pretty. On the East however was a highway with no walking or cycle path so we had to detour a few times on the back streets. We had coffees and made several stops at anything that looked nice. We had a wine tasting session at one of the wineries where a friendly man explained to us the difference in all the wines and let us try the different wines on offer and we sat and had a delicious glass of Shiraz.
Another highlight was the Cheese Barrel. This is a winery and cheese place next door to each other and it has a cheese deli and cafe which has a beautiful verandah overlooking the green rolling hills. Upon entering a lady gives you a slate full of free tasters and their tasting notes and then you can pick a cheese plate to have of build your own from the huge variety on offer. We decided to have the local WA plate which was full of absolutely yummy cheeses from WA, breads, fruit and jams and we had a local glass of wine to wash it down. They give you a leaflet with all the tasting notes to look out for and recommend an order of eating them. We spent a long time eating a lot of cheese and by the time we had eaten five different cheeses and all the bread and crackers we were full up.
Our highlight of the Swan Valley however was Feral Brewery. This is a beer we have tried a few times while living in Australia and one of our favourites so we were excited to see what was on offer and see the brewery. The place looks like an old wooden pub, with lots of outdoor seating made of old timber on a wrap around verandah. Behind the bar are stainless steel drums and an endless line of beer pumps, there must be over 20 beers to chose from all with crazy names and inventive tastes. We decided to have the tasting board which came with six tiny beers and the bar man recommended we have two different boards and share so we can sample 12 different beers. They came with tasting notes and an order to be drank in and we sat down and spent a long long time trying different beers. There was everything from a 2% watermelon infused summer beer right to an 8% Russian Imperial stout. We absolutely loved trying all the different beers and once we had found our favourite sat down and enjoyed a cold evening with delicious beer. Chelsea liked the Hop Hog, an American IPA while Liam enjoyed Hopfen Phart, a German IPA. We had some dinner and were given cosy blankets and had a beautiful night outside.
The swan valley we enjoyed however since everything here is based on produce it is best to go with a designated driver. Although it is not far to walk, we probably walked around 6km in total, the roads do not cater for anything except cars. We were there in winter so lots seemed a little run down. We had green rolling hills, wineries and countryside in mind, like the countryside back home in the UK but in reality most of the Swan Valley is quite urban and developed. Nevertheless we have tried some delicious food and drink and treated ourselves far too much.