Our Guildford heritage walk takes you on a self-guided stroll around the historic Swan Valley town. Just 25 minutes from the centre of Perth, the Western Australian capital, Guildford warrants a stop before you start the Swan Valley Food and Wine Trail and the best way to explore the charming town is on foot.
Our Guildford heritage walk will give you a great introduction to historic Guildford, gateway to Western Australia’s Swan Valley wine region and its main town. Just a 25-minute drive or 27-minute train ride from Perth city centre, Guilford and the Swan Valley make an easy yet rewarding day trip from the WA capital.
Dating to 1829, Guildford was one of three settlements established during the founding of the Swan River Colony, along with Perth and Fremantle. One of only two towns in Perth listed on Australia’s National Trust register, Guildford is well worth discovering and the best way to explore the historic town is on foot on our self-guided Guildford heritage walk.
Guildford Heritage Walk and Where to Eat, Drink and Stay in the Historic Swan Valley Town
Guildford is home to many handsome colonial and Federation-era buildings, as well as big old pubs, charming art galleries, cluttered antique stores, and lively cafés. You can easily amble around the town in an hour if you’re content with just admiring the building facades, but allow at least two hours if you want to stop for coffee and browse some shops.
Guildford also marks the start of the Swan Valley Food and Wine Trail. With its award-winning wineries, lively breweries and distilleries, quaint arts and crafts galleries, buzzy cafés and shops, and roadside stalls selling fresh regional produce, the Swan Valley on the north-eastern outskirts of Perth is Western Australia’s most accessible wine region.
The Swan Valley is also Western Australia’s oldest wine-growing area. Soon after colonisation in 1829, the first grape vines were planted in Swan Valley, which became the home of viticulture in the state owing to its warm and dry climate.
While wine regions such as the Margaret River are now the more fancied grape growing areas, the Swan Valley still produces wines of great quality, such as dry, fruity Verdelhos, Shiraz with soft, plum-driven characteristics, and Cabernet with ripe blackcurrant notes and soft tannins. All are worth tasting, as are the traditional fortified wines.
The Swan Valley itself is much older, of course, having been inhabited for some 40,000 years by the indigenous Wadjuk tribe of the Nyoongar people, who believe the Swan River and valley were carved out by a Dreamtime serpent, the Wagyl.
The best way to explore the area is by driving the Swan Valley Food and Wine Trail, a sign-posted 32-km loop taking in all the area’s main attractions. Pick up a handy map and brochure from the visitor centre in Guildford. Start out as early as you can, so you have enough time to drive the Trail before lunch.
But before exploring the Swan Valley wine region, do try our Guildford heritage walk. Park your car near Guildford Train Station, on James Street or one of the side streets such as Stephen Street or Ethel Street, then begin our Guildford self-guided stroll below.
Guildford Heritage Walk – Self-Guided Stroll Around the Historic Swan Valley Town
This easy self-guided Guildford heritage walk takes you around the historic town centre so you can take in the most impressive architectural facades. Start with a stroll along James Street, exploring the three blocks between Ethel Street and Meadow Street where you can browse half a dozen antique and bric-a-brac shops and stop for a coffee at one of several bustling cafés.
Along the way, have a look at handsome Seaton Ross House, near the corner of James and Johnston Streets. Part of the Johnson family complex, which includes the imposing Johnson’s Mill, it served as a maternity hospital from 1930 to 1946.
Continue along James Street to the corner of Meadow Street and stop to admire the splendid white Art Deco Guildford Town Hall, dating to 1938, the Uniting Church next door, and Guildford Council Chambers Library, dating to 1900.
Pause our Guildford heritage walk to browse the fascinating Guildford Art Market behind the library on Meadow Street, then stop to absorb the stately exteriors of a few more grand buildings alongside it, including the Commissariat Store and Garrick Theatre (1878), Du Cane’s House (1852), and, opposite, Kings Cottage.
Cross James Street and the railway line to explore Guildford’s main historic precinct where you can admire the magnificent Post Office, dating to 1897, on the corner of Stirling and James Streets, beside it the Mechanics Institute, established in 1862, and the Old Courthouse and Gaol (1866), which is where you’ll also find the excellent visitor centre.
Turn right on Terrace Road to see the splendid old Rose and Crown Hotel, dating to 1841, then cross the road to take a look at a handful of charming shops and cafés, and the historic Baker and Gull’s Store just up from the corner of Terrace Road and Meadow Street.
Continue our Guildford heritage walk along Meadow Street towards the Swan River to see St Charles Seminary and, across the road, Moulton’s Landing, a scenic spot where the original town wharf once stood. If you do the slow Swan River excursion to the Swan Valley wine region, you’ll cruise right by here.
Backtrack along the opposite side of the road for lovely Moulton’s Cottage, built in 1841 in the Victorian Georgian style by merchant Abraham Moulton, as his home and general store. One of the earliest examples of a settler’s cottage, it was built with local clay bricks and has lovely verandas and French doors.
Turn right onto Swan Terrace to see the enormous Crosslands House, also known as Riverleigh. Dating to 1897, the gracious mansion is a fine example of Gold Rush architecture with a lovely Art Nouveau turret. Cross the road and wander through pretty Stirling Square to view St Matthews Church, where our Guildford heritage walk ends and you can cross the railway line to James Street to return to your car.
To get to the Swan Valley wine region from here, from James Street, turn left at the traffic lights onto Meadow Street, which becomes the West Swan Road, and follow the sign-posted trail through Caversham, West Swan, Middle Swan, Herne Hill, Millendon, Henley Brook, Belhus and Upper Swan, stopping at wineries, breweries, distilleries, shops, galleries and cafés.
Houghton’s Winery, established in 1836, along with Sandalford are the best-known quality wineries, however, there are many smaller boutique wineries offer wines that can only be bought from the cellar door. Do contact the wineries first or check their websites, as cellar doors may be closed or opened only by appointment during these challenging times.
If you enjoyed Guildford and the Swan Valley, from here you could continue on to explore these charming historic towns. At the end of the West Swan Road, you turn left (north) onto the Great Northern Road for Moora, which is 142km away. Stay on the Great Northern Highway for 55km, then turn left on the Bindoon-Moora Road for 86kms to Moora.
Where to Eat and Drink in Guildford
All of these Guildford cafes, bakeries, restaurants and pubs are located on our Guildford heritage walk. Opposite Guildford Train Station, the Guildford Milk Bar (199 James Street) offers everything from all day breakfasts (locals love the eggs with chorizo) and burgers Asian specialties (regulars know to ask for extra house-made chilli sauce). Guildford Town Bakery (175 James Street), pictured above, bakes daily baguettes, focaccia and sourdough, sausage rolls and pies (try the Ned Kelly pie with beef, cheese, bacon and egg), as well as vanilla slices, lamingtons and donuts galore. The salted caramel and lemon curd bombolini are popular.
The retro Guildford Village Tea Rooms (169 James Street) does outstanding club sandwiches, as well as cheese toasties and hearty lamb and thyme pies. Padbury’s (114 Terrace Road), located in an atmospheric building dating to 1869, offers breakfast, lunch and dinner – from a brekkie of ‘magic mushrooms’, a mountain of locally-grown, seasonal mushrooms, poached eggs and toast to sliders of softshell crab and pickled carrots, to heartier mains of lamb shank and pork belly, ideal for wintery dinners. For dessert, the lemon meringue soufflé pancakes are a must.
Guildford has some great pubs in grand old buildings. The majestic Guildford Hotel (159 James Street) – which we included on our list of the best things to do in Perth that involve eating and drinking – is located in a handsome restored 19th century building with a baroque façade, belvedere tower, original exposed brick. A cold craft beer and a plate of mac and cheese croquettes in the sunny courtyard is a must.
The heritage-listed Rose and Crown (105 Swan Street) is Western Australia’s oldest hotel and offers hearty pub grub in a renovated Georgian building dating to 1841. The lovely beer garden is home to the state’s oldest rose bush. The Woodbridge Hotel (50 East Street) became a pub in 1902 and is located in a Federation-style building dating to 1883. The Woody, as it’s known to locals, has a classic country pub interior decorated with vintage mirrors and old pub signs, good food and its own brew.
Where to Stay in Guildford
If you become smitten with Guildford – or have one too many brews – and decide to stay the night, here’s where to stay in Guildford. All of these properties make a great base from which to do our Guildford heritage walk and a Swan Valley excursion.
You can continue your Guildford heritage walk after checking into The Rose and Crown Hotel (105 Swan Street), which is located in a particularly lovely, leafy part of town, within minutes from charming shops, restaurants and cafés, has a choice of heritage suites featuring 19th antiques in the historic building or modern comfortable rooms in a newer building with private bathrooms and kitchenettes. The on-site restaurants and bars are much-loved by locals.
Built in 1852, The Stirling Arms Hotel (117 James Street) has smart light-filled rooms, some with balconies and terraces, and private bathrooms, along with a big three-bedroom apartment with kitchen that sleeps ten if you’re exploring the Swan Valley with family or friends. Guests love the food, from the coconut Exmouth prawns to the Wagyu burger and slow-braised lamb shanks.
Guildford River Retreat (18 Victoria Street) has friendly hosts, sprawling gardens, a swimming pool, and big rooms with bathrooms, basic kitchens, and private entry in a guesthouse on the Swan River. The handsome main building dates to 1897. The Sandalford Winery is just a 7-minute drive away and there are restaurants within a 10-minute stroll, along with barbecue facilities if you want to eat in.
Do let us know if you do our Guildford heritage walk in the comments below or on social media – we’d love to know how you found our self-guided stroll around the historic Swan Valley town.