This is a Guest Post by travel writer Nina Burakowski, a Western Australian with a love of outdoor adventure.
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The Beautiful Bickley Valley.
It may only be a thirty-minute trip from Perth’s CBD, but once you’ve arrived in the picturesque Bickley Valley it feels like you’ve travelled a lot further.
As the locals like to say: “There really is a valley in the Bickley Valley” a cheeky snipe at the better known albeit flat Swan Valley located at the foot of the Darling Ranges.
Set 350 metres above sea level, the Bickley Valley is full of winding roads, sweeping vistas of orchards, vineyards and state forest. Amongst the green rolling hills, you’ll find boutique wineries, a fabulous cidery, scenic walking trails and quite literally – wild nightlife.
Bickley Valley Wine Trail
Once you’ve hit the end of Welshpool Road East, marking the beginning of the Bickley Valley, one of the first things you’ll notice are the sign posts advertising the Wine Trail. While the Swan Valley may get all the good rap and the tourists, the wines of the Bickley Valley are just as good, if not better. The unique topography and colder climate, including plenty of frosty nights in winter, means that many grape varieties, especially Italian and Spanish grapes flourish here.
The real charm of visiting these cellar doors is that in most cases you get to meet and chat with the winegrowers themselves. For many of the winemakers in the area, their vineyards are a labour of love that they juggle with regular day jobs, which explains why most are only open on weekends and public holidays.
There are ten boutique wineries along the wine trail and time permitting they’re all worth the stop. For some of the best bubblies in the state head to Myatts Field Estate where winemaker Rachel will gladly run you through their whole range of family made wines.
Slightly further down the road, new kid on the block, Plume Estate has some of the best valley views. Originally, from Holland, owners, Jim and Audrey have an assortment of richly flavoured wines produced by neighbouring wineries, Fairbossen and MyattsField.
Most of the wineries also have restaurants and you won’t find a better spot for a long lunch anywhere in Perth. Don’t miss out on the delicious platters at Fairbossen, where you’ll also find excellent coffee and cafe. Personal favourite, the quaint Vineyard Kitchen, at Brookside Winery serves delicious rustic fare using home grown and locally sourced produce.
Core Cider House
The only problem with the Core Cider House is that one visit is never going to be enough. Set amidst glorious views of apple orchards, the Core Cider House is the perfect location for any occasion – think long lunches with girlfriends, a romantic date, family get-togethers, even a wedding.
For a more formal dining experience, head upstairs and sit on the balcony or make it casual and grab a picnic rug and settle down on the grass. There’s a playground for the kids, petanque, tours of the orchard and plenty of other reasons to hang around for a lazy afternoon.
Like everywhere else in the Bickley Valley, the service at the Core Cider House is super friendly and attentive.
With so much food, wine and cider a bushwalk is the perfect antidote. There are plenty of walking trails suitable for long or short walks. The Bibbulmun track passes through the northern boundary of the Bickley Valley and has several easily accessible points along the way.
Another option is the 27 km Kattamorda Trail, which starts at Mundaring Weir Road and runs through forests, farmland and orchards along the top of the Darling Range all the way to the Bickley Reservoir.
For an after dark activity with a difference head to the Perth Observatory on Walnut Road. This is West Australia’s oldest observatory and after being forced to close due to lack of government funding, it has only just been reopened.
Volunteer astronomers now run the show and do a great job of hosting stargazing tours and other educational activities. The night viewing tours are a great way to find out more about the mysteries of the universe. Peek through some of the observatories amazing array of telescopes and view distant galaxies, nebulae, planets and clusters that are thousands of light years away.
Kanyana Wildlife Sanctuary
Also worth a visit is the Kanyana Wildlife Centre, which offers an interactive way to find out more about our native animals. The centre cares for sick, injured, orphaned and displaced wildlife, as well as being a breeding centre for threatened species.
The centre is open to the public most days and visitors can view the hospital for the injured and the sick animals. For another night time activity with a difference the centre has a great nocturnal tour where you can get up close and personal with some of our lesser known wildlife species.
Stay the Night
While the Bickley Valley is a great day trip, it’s even better as a weekend getaway. There are plenty of accommodation options including B&B’s, luxury retreats and self-catering alternatives.
Nina Burakowski is a Perth local with a penchant for outdoor adventures. After travelling around the rest of the world, Nina is now happily exploring her backyard. For more West Australian travel inspiration, visit her blog at West Australian Explorer or follow on Instagram @waexplorer, Twitter @waexplorer and on Facebook