What a history! Featuring a unique melting pot of Indigenous, pioneering colonial and southern European roots, the Swan Valley's fascinating back story is one of the most interesting and diverse in WA's history. Here's a rundown.
The Noongar Aboriginal people of the Wadjuk tribe, the traditional landowners of the Swan Valley, have inhabited this region for over 40,000 years. According to Noongar beliefs, a Dreamtime serpent, the Wagyl, once travelled across the country, carving out the Swan Valley and the Swan River and still lives deep within the Swan River today.
There are many unique and authentic Indigenous experiences in the Swan Valley. On a bushtucker talk and tasting you can sniff, touch and taste a variety of herbs, spices, peppers and dried fruits and learn how to grow and use them in your cooking.
With its colonial buildings, convict history, antique stores, character pubs and village charm, Guildford, which is classified as a historic town by the National Trust of Australia (WA), oozes charm. Guildford was one of three towns established during the founding of the Swan River Colony in 1829 and many fine colonial buildings from the township’s earliest days continue to grace its streets.
Today, visitors can enjoy a host of walk trails around Guildford that showcase the beauty and history of the town. The River Ramble passes the historic Rose and Crown Hotel (built in 1841) and Padbury’s Store (1869), while the Stirling Square incorporates the best of the Meadow Street precinct including the Guildford Gaol (1841), the Courthouse (1866) and Taylor’s Cottage. There’s also the Captain Stirling Walk and the Town Walk to enjoy.
Southern European roots
Migrants flocked to the Swan Valley in three waves: after World War I, in the 1920s and following World War II. Croatian farmers were a huge part of this migration and were largely responsible for transforming the Valley from traditional agricultural lands to the vineyards we know and love today.
Southern Europeans joined the growing industry, drawing upon the winemaking skills of their homelands to help Swan Valley viticulture flourish. During this time the Swan Valley had more operating wineries than the wine regions in New South Wales or Victoria.
The significant Croatian influence has put the Swan Valley alongside other ethnically-driven Australian wine producing regions, like the German-influenced Barossa Valley and the Italian-influenced Riverland, and the Swan Valley today reigns as the oldest wine region in WA and the second oldest in the nation.