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The concept of speed grazing is brilliant: you get driven around the Swan Valley at a pretty cracking pace, eating and drinking as much as you can in a fairly short time, while learning about the produce you’re sampling and watching demonstrations. It’s the brainchild of Loris Harding, who’s been a tourism operator for more than 17 years and seems to know pretty much everything about everything that happens in the Valley. Here’s a rundown of her tour:
We got picked up from the Swan Valley Visitor Centre in Guilford, but there’s also a pick up point in the Perth CBD. Loris drove us into the Valley, pointing out landmarks and talking about the history of the region all the way. The first stop was Yahava KoffeeWorks (which was just as well since it was 8:45am on a Saturday morning). The philosophy of the place is “life’s too short to drink bad coffee” and I couldn’t agree more.
First up, we did a coffee tasting, which included three different coffees from different regions around the world. All through the tasting the tour guide gave us really interesting information about coffee, as well as demonstrating several different contraptions for brewing it. We also got a quick explanation and demonstration of roasting coffee and got to throw some chocolate coated coffee beans in our mouths before we headed out the door.
Next up was the Windarra honey shop, where the owners gave us some really interesting information on the importance of bees to the world’s ecology, as well as explanation of how they harvest honey. We also got to taste several different types of honey, which all had very unique flavours. The showroom also contained a hive with glass on both sides so you can watch the bees at work.
Next we moved on to Maalinup Aboriginal Art gallery, which is one of WA’s only Aboriginal owned and run art galleries. As well as a large showroom of beautiful and colourful art, we also got to taste a range of ‘bush tucker’, including sandalwood nuts and bush tomatoes.
Next was Oggie’s ice cream, where Loris rushed out from behind the steering wheel of the bus to head behind the counter to offer us tastings of all the different flavours of ice cream, including mascarpone and wild fig, snickernut and whiskey cream. Note: the serving sizes here are huge!
Loris then drove us up to the All Saints church, the oldest church building in WA, which was built in 1837, near the site where Captain Stirling first camped on the banks of the river.
From there, we arrived at Edgecombe Brothers, one of the original families in the Swan Valley. Here, we got to try fresh asparagus that had just been picked that morning, which enticed us to promptly buy a tray to take home.
Next we finally got to try some wines, at the picturesque Windy Creek Estate, which Loris informed us has the largest selection of wines in the Swan Valley. The wines we tasted were all really good, and came with delicious cheeses and chutneys to compliment them.
Next it was on to Mondo nougat, where we saw the nougat makers at work in the factory before getting to taste some of the fruits of their labour. Then it was straight next door to Morish Nuts where we sampled several varieties of nuts, with the highlight definitely the wasabi macadamias.
To cap off the tour, we went to Whistlers chocolates, who are third generation chocolatiers. They had a little sample pack waiting for us and the favourite for me was the chocolate-coated raspberry licorice.
Four hours after we’d been picked up, we were back at our car, stuffed full and with a new appreciation for all the amazing producers in the Swan Valley