TRAVEL with pat and lew

Swan River wineries

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 19, 2007

The Swan River Valley is the oldest wine region in Western Australia, blessed with a Mediterranean climate tempered by Indian Ocean breezes, connected to Perth by the blue meandering Swan River. The wine varieties include Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz.

We choose to drive, and it takes us 30 minutes on the excellent highways, with not much traffic.

Our first stop is Sandalford, founded in 1840, one of Western Australia’s oldest and largest privately owned wineries. We enter a long gravel drive through white iron swinging gates. The grounds are magnificent. Grape vines stretch in the distance in every direction, vistas broken here and there with colorful trees and shrubs, including small bottle-brush trees, unique to Australia, with bright red spiky flowers. Spectacular.

We purchase several bottles of wine and a ceramic wine cooler. We’ll drink the wine before we go, of course, but will the wine cooler fit within our weight limit on Qantas? We’ll find out.

Giulford is advertised as historic town, but we don’t find much of interest. We go to another winery, which is also beautiful, then return to Sandalford for lunch, as they say on their web site, to dine “amongst the rustic ambience of limestone, wood and a grand open fire.”

There’s no fire on this warm day, but we have our best meal in Australia, including Tasmanian salmon, scrumptious bread pudding with vanilla ice cream, and of course, several Sandalford wines. Not too much wine for the designated driver; Pat is the designated taster.

We head to Caversham Wildlife park to walk off our lunch. This is a fun experience … big birds and small animals … kangaroos in a large open space … we walk among them., pet them, Pat even feeds them … kangaroo babies sleep in their pouches as we stroll by.

Leaving Caversham, we pass a large sunken area and stand spellbound as a brilliantly-blue peacock spreads his lustrous blue-green tail feathers in a spectacular example of avian courtship.

Our day ends as darkness settles on the harbor … blinking boat lights come alive … wine and cheese … reading our books … a great finish to a great day.

Glad we came to Australia. 

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