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  • Writer's pictureNick Elsey

Swan Valley

Updated: Nov 14, 2018

29 Mar 2009

This one is a painful, oh-my-God early start. We have a 7:15 am flight to catch, so we pack, prep and book a taxi the night before so that we can make a clean start this morning. After 30 minutes of waiting, the taxi is still a no show – grrrrr!. I call to cancel it (so he doesn’t wake up the property owner if he ever did show up) and we now start throwing our gear in the car to drive to the airport, at which point the taxi cruises by, slows down and then drives off. GRRRRR!!

Thankfully, the traffic is almost nonexistent on the way, but I’m still pushing it to try and make up the time. All’s well until I catch the nauseating double-flash of the speed camera in my rear view mirror. GGRRRRRR%$*&$*%$^!!!! (If anyone from Adelaide Independent Taxi’s is reading this – you owe me the price of one speeding fine!)

The flight to Perth is reasonably painless, with entertainment provided by a couple of very loud, very Aussie and not so sober wide-boys from Perth. That is, it’s amusing right up until you see the flight attendants holding a strained and terse conversation with the pilot – this is the kind of behaviour that they’ll happily turn the plane around for these days to drop off the trouble makers where they found them.

Thankfully, it doesn’t come to that and we make it to Perth safe, sound, and thanks to a couple of time zones and the vagaries of Australian daylight saving rules, bloody early in the morning.

Guildford Park

Since it we happen to be on the right side of Perth for it, we begin by heading northeast to the Swan river valley, just a brief drive from the airport. This is one of main wine regions for West Australia, heralded by Guildford (no less) – the ‘Gateway to the Swan River’. Guildford is one of the towns created during the early days of settlement of Western Australia, conveniently placed a day’s ride (about 20 km) from Perth itself. It can therefore carry the ‘historic’ prefix more justifiably than most.

As for the Swan River Valley itself – not much to write home about I’m afraid. Tediously flat, dotted with annoyingly commercial wineries (some actually charge you to taste their wines for God sake) and little in the way of interesting scenery to make things more, well, interesting. But I think it just got us at a low moment, somewhat jet lagged and seriously caffeine deprived.

Tonight we’re checking in to “The Stables” in Fremantle (the port of Perth, about 30 mins drive west). The Stables are indeed a converted stable and while it oozes character and charm, it could also do with a good mucking-out, so to speak; it’s a bit grubby. We spend the afternoon reacquainting ourselves with ‘Freo, as it’s affectionately known around here. We were last here 12 years ago and we’re somewhat surprised how little it’s changed since then. The market is vibrant and fun, but the rest of the town has just a hint of seediness about it. Still, there are a few good places to eat and drink and even on a Sunday evening, there’s quite a crowd fully availing themselves of both facilities.

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