Top 10 places to visit in Australia this winter – Number 7

Re-posted from our sister site LifExchange Campus:

With so many places to visit and things to do no one can explore Australia with only a two weeks vacation. Over the next 10 weeks we will share new destinations to be explored on your 6-12 month LifExchange Work and Holiday program.

Winter is almost here in the US. Head down south for another summer and skip the cold.

Australia’s Summer Invites You! Experience Australia’s glorious summer from December to February. Walk along spectacular coastal cliffs from Sydney’s Bondi Beach to Bronte. Day trip from Melbourne to the vineyards, beaches, national parks, golf courses and day spas of the Mornington Peninsula. Taste Tasmania’s finest food and wine on the historic Hobart waterfront or explore food, wine and history in the Swan Valley, near Perth. Follow fresh seafood around the pristine coastline of South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula or watch coral spawning en-masse on Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef. Experience dazzling thunderstorms and blossoming vegetation in the tropical Top End. Or get up close to native Australian animals and ancient Aboriginal history in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, near Canberra. Summer in Australia is also the season for world class cricket, grand slam tennis, vibrant music festivals, NYE celebrations and outdoor cultural events.

WE CONTINUE OUR COUNTDOWN WITH NUMBER 7: South Summer in the Swan Valley

Summer in the Swan Valley is all about the good life. Drive to family-run wineries and boutique breweries or visit them on a luxury cruise up the Swan River. Dine alfresco in vineyard restaurants or spread out a gourmet picnic in the parklands. Explore the charming colonial village of Guildford, shop for art and antiques and travel back to the 19th century with a night in heritage-listed accommodation. The area is also home to wildlife sanctuaries, rambling countryside and national parks to walk, horse ride and cycle through.

Sitting north of Perth on the tranquil Swan River, the Swan Valley is Western Australia’s oldest wine region. Many of the 40 wineries are small, family operations, where you can chat to the grandchildren of the Croatian and Italian migrants who founded the region in the 1920s. Others are international labels with vast vineyards and state-of-the-art cellars. Contrast and compare the region’s specialities, such as verdelho, chenin blanc, chardonnay, shiraz, cabernet and fortifieds. Explore the region by bus, horse-drawn wagon, black cab or chauffeured car. Join a gourmet cruise from Perth or self- drive the Swan Valley Food and Wine Trail.

After the wineries, taste boutique beer at the four microbreweries or electrify your tastebuds with canefire rum or chilli-flavoured vodka at the distilleries. Dine amongst the vines in a winery restaurant or in a rustic café overlooking the countryside. Try hand-made truffles in the local chocolate factory and stock up on succulent summer grapes – a regional specialty – from roadside stalls. Add them to a picnic hamper loaded with local cheese, olives, tapenades, jumbo strawberries, juicy rockmelon and vine-ripened tomatoes. Lay out your feast next to the Avon River at Bells Rapids, at Middle Swan Bridge or amongst the banksia bushland of vast Whiteman Park.

However you get here, don’t miss a visit to charming Guildford, at the gateway to the Swan Valley and circled by the Swan and Helena Rivers. With polo fields, cafes serving Devonshire tea and buildings dating back to the 1840s, Guildford’s colonial past is ever-present. Take a heritage walk around the village or join a guided tour of Woodbridge House, where a prosperous 19th century family once lived. Browse the antique stores and art galleries along James Street and catch the monthly craft market at Guildford Town Hall. See local potters at work in an old cottage and view classic art works in a grand heritage-listed home. Spend a night in one of Guildford’s historic lodgings, which range from Western Australia’s oldest home to the federation-style pub. You can even cycle from Guildford to Swan Valley on the Swan Valley Heritage Trail.

You can also base yourself in neighbouring Midland, which also retains its heritage character. Or head deeper into the Swan Valley to Gidgegannup, which sits nestled amongst wildflower-sprinkled forests and native bush. All make good bases for adventure across the region’s many natural attractions. Wind through the jarrah, marri and wandoo woodlands in Berry Reserve. Hike, horse ride or cycle through similar scenery in John Forrest National, one of Australia’s oldest conservation areas. Get up close to koalas, kangaroos and dingos in the wildlife park in Caversham and see crocodiles being fed in the reptile park in Henley Brook. Lying to the valley’s north are Walyunga National Park in the Darling Range and Avon Valley National Park, a popular spot for white water rafting and canoeing.

This summer, combine sunshine with food, wine, history and idyllic scenery in the Swan Valley.

Are you ready to head to Australia now? If you are between the ages of 18-30 you may qualify for a Work and Holiday Visa. Pay for your travels, build your resume and make new friends. Contact us now to learn more.

Information provided by © Tourism Australia 2011