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David starts in Fremantle.
David starts in Fremantle.
The picture perfect Perth.
A spot of wine tasting along the way.

Best Western drive WA

Thursday, November 15, 2001
Take a drive from Fremantle to the Swan Valley discovering all the beauty and history the coast of WA has to offer.

The City of Fremantle has pockets of beauty and history. The busy port town, just 20km from Perth, has its own identity. There are many street-side cafes and lots of historic buildings. In 1855, a ship with 259 convicts arrived, and was just the first of many. The Fremantle Arts Centre was once a lunatic asylum, the Town Hall was built in 1879, and there are plenty of locals who swear Fremantle has more than its share of ghosts.

The Swan River was named in 1697 by the Dutch explorer, de Vlamingh, after sighting many beautiful black swans. The river starts in Fremantle and winds north through Perth to the Swan Valley, Western Australia's gourmet area. It's a great way to enjoy some easy driving, and if you want a bird's eye view of Perth before you leave, Kings Park is the place to go.

he Swan Valley has been a haven for viticulturists since the 1880s, and only 20 minutes from Perth's CBD you will arrive in Western Australia's oldest wine region.

The Sittella Winery, named after a tiny local bird, is on four hectares in Herne Hill. The owners, Simon and Maaike Berns, planted their vines eight years ago, and opened to the public five years later. They produce around 12,000 bottles a year, most of which is consumed by the local market. Their verdelho recently won a Perth Royal Show bronze medal. They open from Wednesday to Sunday, offering wine tasting, sales and tours. Their restaurant is earth rendered from local soil and has a Mediterranean feel, as well as wonderful views across the valley.

An absolute must is a stop at the Margaret River Chocolate Company. This is Martin Black and Patrick Coward's second shop, and what they produce is simply heavenly. They create European-style chocolate delicacies from the world's finest raw ingredients. The aroma is enticing, and you can watch experts handmaking their tempting morsels through glass windows. There is a cafe that sells slices and sweets, tea and coffee, and of course, hot chocolate.

Next stop should probably be the Swan Valley Oasis Resort. A game of Supa Golf might be a good idea after the chocolate indulgence.

Andrew van de Mere came up with the idea for the game while hitting a tennis ball with a golf club, and Paul Hanssen and his brother made it into a business. The idea is to make golf easier and more accessible to all. The clubs are bigger, the balls are bigger and the holes shorter. The 18-hole course is about 1.8km long, and is built like any other course. There are par threes, fours and fives, bunkers, water traps and hazards. Nine holes can be played in about 1½ hours.

The balls are made the same way as a golf ball and are dimpled, but are the size of a tennis ball. There are four clubs, with heads two to three times bigger than usual. They are called Big Boy, which is like a driver, Striker like a six iron, Jigger is like a wedge and the Putta is like a putter, but spelt differently!

They open every day and it is a good idea to book if you want to play on weekends. There is a Best Western hotel with restaurant and function centre at the course.


From Fremantle through the Swan Valley.

More information

Swan Valley Tourism Council
Best Western: Ph: 131 779
Margaret River Chocolate Company
5123 West Swan Road, West Swan 6055
Ph: (08) 9250 1588 Fax: (08) 9250 1355
Sittella Winery
100 Barrett Road, Herne Hill 6056
Ph/fax: (08) 9296 2600
Swan Valley Oasis
10250 West Swan Road, Henley Brook 6055
Ph: (08) 9296 1166 Fax: (08) 9296 1063

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