The gift of the past

The Guildford Hotel. Image by Tourism Western Australia

In July, Perth’s suburb of Guildford became the largest historic site added to Western Australia’s heritage places register. It’s the perfect Aussie travel secret, (reluctantly) shared by Geri Vladeva…

Not many of Perth’s visitors head to Guildford. Although the town is the gateway to the Swan Valley, Western Australia’s oldest wine region, it’s often overlooked. Finally recognised for its historical significance and heritage beauty, the little boutiquesque town might get busier next summer (so plan your visit while it’s still a secret)!

The town is one of three settlements established at the beginning of the Swan Colony in 1829 and it’s the best preserved from colonial times. Its design represents an idealised English country town with pubs, general stores and post office all arranged around the church square.

Stirling Square. Image by Geri Vladeva

Strolling Guildford’s streets, feel the laidback atmosphere from a bygone era, when people had time for a chat, and
no one had yet heard of the minimalist decoration style. ‘Trendy’ in Guildford are Georgian and Federation styles. The gorgeous homes are dormant in a lush wrap of greenery and roses. Many wear a poppy plaque on their front gates – a sign they were home to an ANZAC.

In summer, Guildford bursts with al-fresco dining in historical buildings, garden-cafés, tearooms and a main street inlaid with antique shops. James Street is like a treasure hunt. Among the several antique and retro shops, you are sure to find your gem. If you are not up to shopping, you can still enjoy the sights, sipping from behind your coffee in one of the street cafés snuggled between the shops showing off their yesterday’s extravaganza.

The town is one of three settlements established at the beginning of the Swan Colony in 1829 and it’s the best preserved from colonial times.

Guildford reveals its best only if you get on your feet and keep walking. Take your map of the heritage walk trails from the Visitor Centre and get exploring. On your way, you will pass by the old post office, now housing a garden centre with an outdoor café. Stirling Square is the heart of the town and offers a grand stage for the ANZAC Memorial and shady benches for weary explorers.

Guildford street scene. Image by Tourism Western Australia

NEED TO KNOW

Twenty-minutes’ drive or a train ride from Perth station will bring you directly to James Street, Guildford’s busiest locale. If you are flying to Perth, take a taxi, Uber or Ola – the suburb is ten-minutes’ north of the airport.

WHERE TO SHOP

Some of the notable retro and antique shops are Retrofind, Trading Treasures, Curio Warehouse and Jones of Guildford. Goodwood Antiques on East Street specialises in everything French, antique or not.

A favourite of all is Panache Living, a boutique shop but more a universe of an exquisite interior, fashion and gift shopping.

Antique shop in Guildford. Image by Tourism Western Australia

EAT, DRINK AND SOCIALISE

Perthies from all over the city love coming to Guildford for a Sunday brunch or evening with friends. Padbury’s Café Restaurant offers fine dining and excellent service. Its historical building is always full of happy chatter. For a more down-to-earth food experience, join the locals at Alfred’s Kitchen. Since 1947, this roadside kitchen serves its trademark pea and ham soup until the wee hours around a glowing log fire and in a 1906 train carriage.

For hearty meals, head to the three old heritage listed hotels – Rose and Crown, Stirling Arms Hotel and Guildford Hotel.The latter you will recognise by its belvedere tower. Little Vines and the Riverside at Woodbridge offer quieter ambience and gorgeous country views. For a quick snack and a good coffee, Poste Design Centre and Café offers a chic experience amidst lavish greenery.

Guildford offers tranquillity and entertainment wrapped with an old- fashioned but not outdated golden ribbon. Pop in for a visit when you’re in Perth, and enjoy the gift of the past.

Geri Vladeva is a freelance writer and publishes about female travel on her blog When Woman Travels.

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