By: Fleur Bainger
Charmingly historic, Guildford’s antique shops, cute cafes and grand pubs make for excellent day trip material.
Better still, the heritage-listed town is the gateway to the Swan Valley’s wineries, foodie havens and a little-known sculpture park.
Top things to see and do
James St is Guildford’s main drag and the strip is home to a row of antique shops that advertise themselves with strings of ornate lanterns and vintage wares placed on the pavement. Find all manner of collectables and curios.
Dr Russell's Imaginarium
Tucked away off the main street, inside Ethel St Courtyard is this collection of wild and wonderful retro goods. The owner has been curating his offering for some 45 years. Expect to find moving dolls, authentic pressed tin signage, vintage toy cars, coloured glassware and loads of other oddities.
Sample local pancakes
Eating pancakes at Padbury’s on Terrace Road is a must-do. The meringue munro pancakes at this historic café-restaurant are legendary for a reason. Fluffy, thick pancakes are loaded with oozing lemon curd, honeycomb chunks, light meringue and toasted granola. They’re on the menu until 3pm each day. Share them - if you can.
Café Poste, housed in Guildford’s former Post Office doubles as a garden centre and its tables are dotted between greenery. Venture inside, where it feels like an eclectic manor; each ornate room is decorated differently, giving diners their own private space. Alternately, score a bowl of authentic Vietnamese pho soup at newcomer, Little A’s, or a ripper pie or cream-filled pastry at Guildford Town Bakery.
In Guildford, Alfred’s Kitchen is a tried-and-true spot famed for being the longest running roadside burger kitchen in Perth – and it has a fire pit for cold nights. Meanwhile, Joey’s Swan Valley Diner catches the eye with its cute pink and white stripes, and specialises in American style burgers, hot dogs and chips, plus there’s a fire pit and flower wall.
The Rose and Crown on Swan Street is WA’s oldest operating hotel, so is well worth a look. Other iconic public houses in the town include the chic, renovated The Guildford Hotel, the Stirling Arms Hotel and The Woodbridge Hotel, which all do good food and ice-cold beer.
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Swan Valley trails
With more than 40 world-class wineries, six breweries, two distilleries, three cideries, a meadery, endless gourmet producers, bustling markets and vibrant artist studios, the visitor centre has created a bevvy of Swan Valley trails to follow for any interest. There’s more than 150 places to discover, with the trails winding deep through the Valley, showcasing some of the highlights of the region.
The Gomboc Gallery Sculpture Park
Did you know a WA sculptor designed the AACTA awards statue? A huge version of the gold figure, created by prolific resident sculptor Ron Gomboc, stands in this unexpected Swan Valley park, along with many works from past Sculpture by the Sea exhibitions. Venture inside to Gomboc Gallery to see tableaux by prominent artists.
Hop between Whistler’s Chocolate Company, Mondo Nougat Factory, Pasta in the Valley (where they make you fresh pasta on demand) and The House of Honey (check out the Perspex bee hive), with a side trip to Harris Organic, the only organic distillery in Perth, doing gin, vodka and brandy.
Fresh produce hubs
Get your hands dirty at Edgecombe Brothers, where you can pick asparagus in a masterclass, or flit next door to Swan Valley Sisters, where local produce is sold from a shed; an earthy café opens on weekends.
Meeting the people behind the wines makes them more meaningful, and that’s all but guaranteed at many Swan Valley wineries. Descend into the atmospheric cellar, hand dug by the winemaker’s great grandfather at John Kosovich Wines and enjoy a tasting.
Alternately, BYO picnic, grab a wine ($5/glass or $10-$14/bottle) and find a place on the grass beside the vines at Windy Creek Estate. While you won’t meet family members, it’s still worth visiting Mandoon Estate, loved for its bustling brewery, swish restaurant, playground and decking beneath leafy surrounds.
At a glance
|Distance from Perth||13 kilometres, 23 minutes' drive from Perth CBD|
|Why go?||The strip of antique shops, the jam-packed Academy of Taxidermy, the treasures inside Dr Russell’s Imaginarium, Padbury’s pancake stacks, the Swan Valley’s sculpture park and family-owned wineries.|
|When to go||
Dec - Feb: High temps and low rainfall; a time of open-air music events and roadside produce stalls.
|How long to stay||Ideal for a day trip, although there’s enough to do for a weekend getaway.|
|Need to know||Being part of the wider Perth region, Guildford has all the amenities you’d expect such as fuel stations, public toilets, a strong phone signal and a lovely public park edged with historic gum trees called Stirling Square. The Visitor Centre is on the corner of Meadow and Swan streets.|
|Fast facts||Town population: 6,552
Indigenous people: Whadjuk Noongar.
|Insider tip||The Academy of Taxidermy and Museum of Natural History houses a trove of stuffed and moulded specimens – including dinosaurs - behind a nondescript frontage. It’s definitely worth a look.|
|Related road trips||Perth to New Norcia road trip|
While in Guildford, leave your wheels in one of the all-day parking spots and wander around on foot. The main sights are all within walking distance and you’re going to want to leisurely browse the shops. Drive to the Swan Valley and motor between sights.
What to pack
Guildford is a neat but casual destination. Wear light clothing in summer and bring a hat and sunscreen, while winter lends itself to long pants, jackets and an umbrella.
Be aware that many stops in the Swan Valley are along the busy Great Northern Highway, where vehicles drive at relatively high speeds, including a high volume of trucks. Read more long distance driving tips before setting off.
Eager to explore Guildford and surrounds?
Hop on a tour - RAC members save 15% on a full-day Swan Valley Winery Tour with Sightseeing Pass Australia.
Last updated September 2020