Sealink's relaxing, enjoyable Swan Valley wine cruise
As the river boat glides from the city’s hustle and bustle on its way to the peace and quiet of its pristine vineyard destination, features editor, John Newton, finds there’s anticipation and merriment in the air.
And so there should be with fine wine and charcuterie boards ready to be served on Sealink’s ‘Gourmet Valley Wine Cruise’ from Perth north-east to the Swan Valley - even before the 92-passenger River Lady has barely left the wharf.
The fact that is only mid-morning doesn’t deter the cruisers from polishing off their mid-morning scrumptious charcuterie board and a tipple or two of Western Australia’s top wines. These included:
* Windfall Wine Estate – Willyabrup WA: Frog Song W Sauvignon Blanc
* PEOS Estate – Manjimup WA: Four Jacks Late Harvest
* Driftwood Estate – Margaret River WA: Collection Cabernet Merlot
* Byron & Harold Estate – Great Southern Region WA:
And that’s before they’ve had time to study the 22 points of interest they’ll be sailing past on the 60-kilometre cruise along the Swan River to Sandalford Estate Winery - one of Western Australia’s oldest and largest wine producers - with a history in the Swan Valley linked to the time of European settlement.
The points of interest along the river are set out on giant coloured table maps and include the Perth Bell tower, WACA (Western Australian Cricket Association)), Swan River Pedestrian Bridge, Perth Stadium, Tranby House, Woodbridge Manor, Caversham House and, of course, Sandalford Winery.
Arguably, the most interesting and photogenic is the relatively new Matagarup Bridge, which provides pedestrian access between Burswood and East Perth to the 65,000 seat Perth Stadium.
Located between Burswood and Heirisson Island, it’s also known as Swan River Pedestrian Bridge and can move 14,000 people on event days. The 370-metre suspension bridge’s structural shape resembles two flying swans, with its arches representing the wishbones, but it can also be depicted as a swimming dolphin, a Wagyl serpent or a ribbon.
Two other major sporting venues – the Belmont and Ascot racecourses – are just a few laps away as the river, in some parts, narrows before it becomes no bigger than a canal as it flows into the vineyards.
Sandalford’s Caversham estate started producing wine 180 years ago, coinciding with both European settlement and the burgeoning colony of Perth and the birth of Western Australia’s wine industry.
After Queen Victoria granted John Septimus Roe, the State’s first Surveyor General, (4000 acres) of land on the riverbanks at West Swan in honour of his 57 years of service to the Commonwealth, he named the property Sandalford – a priory at his original home town in England.
After surviving the Depression, the estate flourished under the winemaking skills of pioneer Jack Mann and his son, Dorham, who advised the Roe family to expand to the Margaret River region.
The 1990s heralded a new area fo Sandalford Wines, when Western Australia’s Prendiville family – already involved in hospitality and tourism – identified Sandalford as a perfect fit for their growing portfolio.
Today, Sandalford is one of the State’s biggest and oldest wine producers and exports to more than 40 countries worldwide.
After a brief video insight into the winery, River Lady passengers are guided on a behind-the-scenes wine-making tour with more wine tasting followed by a top-notch two-course lunch and a wine tasting evaluation of Sandalford wines – all from barrels made by French coopers – at its award-winning restaurant.
* 2018 Estate Reserve Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon
* 2018 Estate Reserve Verdhelo (Margaret River)
* 2018 Margaret River Chardonnay
* 2018 Margaret River Cabernet Merlot
* 2017 Estate Reserve Shiraz
* 2018 Element Late Harvest
The latter was described by our guides as “just like smelling a big bunch of flowers”.
Despite a few wobbly steps on the walk back to the boat, everyone was in a jovial mood for the return journey – the same way - from Australia’s oldest wine valley. And things got even more lively when hostesses, Lauren and Jasmine, launched into a few blues numbers that, aided by yet more all- inclusive vino collapso, had the packed River Lady really in a party mood.
* Sealink’s ‘Swan Valley Gourmet Wine Cruise’ runs daily from September to April and on Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday during May to August.
It leaves Perth’s Barrack Street jetty at 9-45am and returns at 5pm.
More details at + 61 (08) 93253341 or sealinkrottnest.com.au or captaincookcruises.com.au
Enjoy a relaxing day out enjoying WA's best wines
River Lady winds her way up the beautiful Swan River
A stunning red and sumptuous treats to be enjoyed