Top daytrips from Perth
The Swan Valley, Western Australia's oldest wine growing region, is often overlooked in favour of its big brother in the wine stakes, the Margaret River. But the wineries in this pretty valley cut through by the lazy Swan River produce some great wines and it's only a half hour drive from the city centre - close enough to be able to linger over a long lunch at one of the winery restaurants.
The best way to explore the valley is on the signposted, 32km loopSwan Valley Drive. It begins and ends in Guildford, which is 15km from the city via the Great Eastern Highway.
No visit to Perth is complete without a day out in Fremantle. An easy half-hour drive from the city centre, it is one of the best preserved examples of a 19th century port streetscape in the world, and has the largest collection of heritage-listed buildings in WA.
There are some great attractions to explore here, including the Western Australian Maritime Museum at the wharf, the Arts Centre, and the rather spooky convict-built prison. Once out of gaol, there are weekend markets, dozens of bookshops, boutiques and homeware stores, a brewery, countless cafés, restaurants and pubs, and fresh fish 'n' chips at the Fishing Boat Harbour.
The western slopes of the Darling Range - around a 45 minute drive from Perth - make a great Sunday drive, with bush walking trails, fascinating history, fabulous art galleries and a choice of two food and wine trails: the Mundaring Hills Wine Trail and the Bickley- Carmel Valley Wine trail. Most cellar doors are only open on weekends and public holidays.
Wine aside, Mundaring is most well known for its weir, built in the 1890s to provide water for the Goldfields Water Scheme that still pumps water 400km to Kalgoorlie - it's the perfect picnic spot.
A drive through the Pinnacles Desert in Cervantes is one of the country's most spectacular road trips. Here, within sight of the sea, thousands of huge limestone pillars rise out of a stark landscape of yellow sand in Nambung National Park.
Don't let the fact that it's a desert deter you: Cervantes is just a two-hour drive north of the city, and the 4km Pinnacles Loop Drive through the national park is fully accessible to 2WDs. Cervantes is also famous for its rock lobster; it's best eaten on the beach and there are a number of places where you can buy some in town to take away.
Rising like a shimmering Spanish mirage, New Norcia, 132km north of Perth, is Australia's only privately-owned monastic town. It was founded in 1846 by Spanish Benedictine monks, just 17 years after the establishment of Perth. A century and a half later it is still a working monastery, with a dwindling handful of monks in residence, although the mission and schools have long closed, and the main business of the town is the baking of the slightly sinful pan chocolattiin the wood-fired oven in the renowned abbey bakery.
You can tour the churches and historic colleges and the museum and art gallery are full of gifts from the Queen of Spain and paintings by Spanish and Italian masters, including works by Raphael.