Surrounded by hills, waterfalls, lakes, rivers, dunes and more, Perth is one of the best cities in the world when it comes to quality day trips. These little nature and picnic breaks are perfect if you don’t have the luxury of an entire weekend away and in some cases, if you only have time for a half day of fun (that’s just sad though).
Swan Valley– Ah Swan Valley…it’s as graceful and beautiful as the name sounds and only 40 minutes outside of the city. The valley is filled with award-winning wineries like Houghton, Sittella, and Sandalford. There are some good restaurants like Alfred’s and a plethora of dainty cafes in the area. My pick of the crop is Swan Valley Cafe which does some great vegetarian and vegan dishes. The food is not cheap but it tastes like it’s made with love and is fresh and delicious. The portions are huge, the coffee is great and the alfresco dining area is gorgeous with orange trees and vineyard views. You would never imagine the gorgeous interiors by looking at the cafe from the outside which looks a little bit like a petrol station. Never judge a cafe by its outer walls, I guess?
|There is no dearth of wineries in Swan Valley, the oldest wine growing area in Australia|
Another option to Swan Valley Cafe is taking your own picnic to Bells Rapids. Bells Rapids are accessible via Cathedral Ave and can be found just minutes off the Great Northern Highway. This is by far one of my favourite places around Perth. My partner who’s lived most of his life in the city had never been there and absolutely loved it. It feels like you’re in the middle of the Outback way up north. The rapids are surrounded by hills, there is water gushing over and around the rocks and there are little shallow pools to wade and swim in. A picnic here is right out of a postcard and winter would be the ideal time to go because of all the water. There are also some great hiking trails in the area in case you wanted to get rid of picnic guilt.
|Time for a swim in the natural pools of Bell’s Rapid. Credit: Weekend Notes|
If you’re planning to do the winery-cafe-brewery thing then having a car is ideal. If not, then Swan Valley is accessible by Public Transport. The Station is Guildford and you can then hire a bicycle through these guys from Brookleigh and explore the surrounding areas or head to Bells. At a really nominal rate (I think it’s $10) they will bring the bikes to you at the Visitors Centre in Guildford and if you only feel like biking one way, they’ll also come pick you up. All the downhill fun minus the uphill efforts!
Perth Hills– I love my hikes and therefore naturally, I love Perth Hills. I am part of a hiking group here and we do plenty of hikes up in the hills on the weekends…some of them overnight. There are numerous trails running through the hills catering to all levels. For day trippers, it’s fairly easy to do just a part of a long trail and to hike for as many hours as you’d like. If you’re not a fan of hiking alone then it’s worth it to join a hiking group that suits your level. This website has a few options.
|Moss covered Hovea Falls surrounded by forests. Photo Credit: Mignor|
John Forest National Park just at the start of the hills is one my favourites. It has several trails, forest views, wildlife, lakes and of course, the Hovea Falls. The moss and wildflower covered giant boulders of Hovea Falls look out at the tree filled valley below and the actual waterfall just flows over half of the boulders. The rest of the area is free for you to prance around on and to stop for a relaxing mid-hike lunch. On a sunny day, all you need is a couple of cold drinks, a good book, and some music and you could stay here for hours.
A little way up from JF National Park is Mundaring and the drive through Beelu National Park via the Mundaring Weir Rd is one that takes you through a leafy green shaded forest. Not only can you enjoy views of the gorgeous lake but you can also drive off into tiny nooks that are equipped with camping tables, views, BBQ pits et all. There is a special spot off of Mundaring Weir Road just after you cross the lake on your left. Here there is a wooden platform that juts out over the forest and has some really neat views of the lake.
|Picnic in the forest with views of the Lake. Photo Credit: Experience Perth|
On your way back take a little detour and drive through Bickley Valley with its expansive farms, grazing ponies, cosy cottages, orchards, and wineries. It’s beautiful in autumn and their wine route which can be found here is one that not too many people know of.
The hills are also great on a Sunday morning. Head to the Kalamunda Farmers Markets to pick up some fresh produce, cakes, pies, fruits,jams and more. Make an on the spot picnic and head to the surrounding parks and forests for lunch. Another Sunday staple in the hills is the Mundaring Weir Hotel, they have a band playing in the afternoon, some lamb roasting on the spit and delicious oven baked pizzas amongst other things. The seating area overlooks the forests and with the number of people present it makes for some fun and lazy people watching.
|Browse through fresh and local produce at the Kalamunda Farmers Markets. Photo Credit: Experience Perth|
|Mundaring Weir Hotel on a sunny day. Photo Credit: Mundaring Weir Hotel|
Lancelin– About 2 hours away from Perth, this is probably the furthest destination on this list. There are some great surf spots in the area but for me, the highlight is the Sand Boarding. It’s easy to hire a board from the local shops if you don’t have your own and it costs about $15 for a couple of hours. Remember to take along or buy some wax otherwise sliding down those massive dunes will be impossible. If you can’t master the art of boarding down while standing *bend those knees* then sitting down the board and letting go is also a tonne of fun (albeit a bit endearingly dorky). I was the master of sitting and sliding but after hours of falling and practicing, I have now learnt a manoeuvre or two. Remember to stay until sunset because that’s when the magic happens.
Also if you want to go a little bit further The Pinnacles are not too far away from Lancelin. As with most places in Australia having a car is the best way to get there. However, lots of companies like this one and this one organize combined day trips to Lancelin, Pinnacles, and a few other places. I also know a German guy who got there hitchhiking and said it was pretty easy. So hey, what if your budget is limited, your options aren’t!
|The Magical hour at Lancelin: At sunset, the grains turn from into a subtle glowing flamingo pink
Other spots I love:
Nobel Falls: En route to Avon Valley National park we came across these falls just by chance. It’s obviously a spot that’s really popular with families judging by the number of kiddies and dogs present. It’s great for a sunny picnic with your legs dangling over the flowing river.
|Nobel Falls with its shallow pools is perfect for some lunch time toe dipping|
Yanchep National Park: This was one of the first national parks I went to when I came to Perth. I like it because of the diversity it offers. There are long isolated trails that take you through ruins (the Ghost Walk), short 45 minute walks, a Koala trail, thousands of Kangaroos everywhere (they’re not a pest when you’re not from Australia), the fascinating Boomerang Gorge, fair few caves and a wetland area that’s gorgeous at sunset. Phew! And that’s not even all of it. The park also hosts a lot of cultural activities and demonstrations. Visitors have the opportunity to speak to the indigenous staff and learn more about Australia’s rich but often forgotten Aboriginal culture.
|Wetlands area at Yanchep National Park. Roos love this spot in the evening.|
Have you got any Perth Day trip favourites? Always looking for new spots to head to so share away!