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 for those who don’t have the luxury of an entire weekend away or even for half a day of fun.
Swan Valley is 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, Sitella and Sandalford. There are some good restaurants and a plethora of dainty cafes in the area. My pick of the crop is Swan Valley Café 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 has orange trees with 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!
You could also picnic at Bells Rapids which is 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. 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.
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. You can hire a bicycle at Guildford station and explore the surrounding areas.
I love my hikes and therefore naturally, I love Perth Hills. 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.
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 John Forest Park is Mundaring and the drive through Beelu National Park via the Mundaring Weir Road 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 and barbecue pits too! There is a special spot off of Mundaring Weir Road just after you cross the lake on your left; a wooden platform that juts out over the forest with some really neat views of the lake.
On your way back, take a little detour and drive through Bickley Valley with its expansive farms, grazing ponies, cosy cottages, orchards and wineries. 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. You could head to the surrounding parks and forests for nice picnic lunch. Or else, visit the Mundaring Weir Hotel where 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.
About two 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 your knees, then sit down on the board and let go. 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.
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 organise combined day trips to Lancelin, Pinnacles and a few other places.
Yanchep National Park
I love this park because of the diversity it offers. There are long isolated trails that take you through ruins like the ghost walk, some short 45-minute walks and a Koala trail too! You could see thousands of kangaroos everywhere, the fascinating Boomerang Gorge, some caves and a wetland area that’s awesome at sunset. 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.