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The history of the Swan Valley

24th August 2018

We all love our time in the Swan Valley, but how much do we know about its history?

Even the team at Top Gun Tours (who spend several days a week in the Swan Valley), wanted a bit of a ‘refresh’ to see how much we really know, so we’ve taken this opportunity to write about it.

With its indigenous, pioneering colonials and southern European roots, Swan Valley’s history is a fascinating one!

Indigenous History

The Noongar Aboriginal people of the Wadjuk tribe, the traditional landowners of the Swan Valley, have inhabited this region for over 40,000 years.

With many unique and authentic Indigenous experiences in the Swan Valley, you can now learn more about the history and experience some of their culture and practices.

These experiences include a Bush Tucker Masterclass where you can taste, sniff and touch a variety of herbs, spices, peppers and dried fruits, as well as learn how to grow and use them in your cooking.

British Colony

Although the French travelled the Swan River as far upstream as Whiteman Bridge in 1801, it wasn’t until 1829 that European settlement occurred, following Captain James Stirling’s exploratory voyage in 1827.

In 1829, Guildford was one of three towns established during the founding of the Swan River Colony 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. From the longest walk, the ‘Captain Stirling Walk,’ to the ‘Stirling Square Circuit’, there’s a walk for everyone.

Then the vines started growing

We know what you’re thinking: “When did The Swan Valley become ‘wine country’?”

Well, the history of the Swan Valley’s grape industry dates back nearly 200 years to the early colonial settlement in Guildford.

In 1830, the very first vines were planted at Olive Farm Wines in South Guildford by botanist Thomas Waters. He recognised that the region’s warm climate and dry summers were the perfect recipe for grape growing.

Today, the climate in the region we now know as the Swan Valley proved to be ideal to cultivate vines and a thriving industry is still growing.

In 2014, a coffee table book was published to celebrate 180 years of wine making – ‘Spirit of the Swan-180 years of Winemaking in the Swan Valley’. The book contains historic photographs of the Swan Valley from across the decades, as well as the people who have shaped it.

rows of vines at sittella winery

Now that you know more about the Swan Valley’s fascinating history, are you ready to go back and experience some of it for yourself?

If you’d prefer not to walk and want a chance to try a range of award-winning Swan Valley wines too, we recommend you book yourself in for a wine tour.

With our decadent wine tours, you can explore the Swan Valley and learn even more about its unique history, as well as relax and unwind on our luxury bus.

Our wine tour even includes a visit to the historic Olive Farm Wines vineyard, on which the very first vines were planted!

Book your Swan Valley Wine Tour with Top Gun Tours and see more of the Swan Valley’s history this weekend.


Posted in Education and tagged on 24th August 2018.

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"This tour really was 'Top Gun'. Premier venues, tastings, lunch and coach travel with added fizz from Matt. We have been on wine trips around the world - California, France and Spain in particular - and this trip was up there with the very best. Close to Perth, short distance between wineries so more tastings and less travel time. Would recommend a visit to the Swan Valley. Many thanks again Matt for a fantastic day."