A Bickley Valley orchard in bloom.
Although it’s no more than half-an-hour’s drive from the city centre, Kalamunda (known as ‘a home in the forest’... ’kala’ being the Nyoongar word for ‘home’, and ‘munda’ being the Nyoongar word for ‘forest’) seems miles away from the suburban sprawl. Spring is the best time to visit: the creeks are flowing, and almost everything is a lush green with smatterings of colour thanks to the native wildflowers.
Kalamunda Farmers Market (photography Haydn Zubek).
On the eastern fringe of the metropolitan area, more than 70 per cent of the shire is made up state forest, national parks, green open spaces and water catchment areas. The top attractions (Bickley Valley, Zig Zag Scenic Drive, Kalamunda Mountain Bike Circuit) are within an easy ten-minute drive from the town centre. There’s a lot to love in the town itself – buildings such as the Kalamunda Hotel, Best Drop Tavern, old Bottle Shop, and Dreams Jewellery and Gifts feature quaint architecture and add to the country-town vibe. Then there are the manicured grounds of Stirk Park, in the middle of the town, great for a picnic or a game of footy if the kids need to let off some steam. Our favourite thing in Kalamunda is the locals, who are incredibly proud of their town and are fairly chuffed when asked about what to do and see.
WHERE TO SHOP IN TOWN
Dreams Jewellery and Gifts | The oldest shop in Kalamunda (at over 100 years old), it’s a great place to shop for a personal one-of-a-kind gift.
Kalamunda Village Markets (first Saturday of every the month) | These markets draw visitors from all over Perth, and with good reason. You’ll find fresh fruit and veg, as well as hand-crafted arts and crafts.
Europlace Kalamunda | Even if you aren’t English you’ll appreciate this shop laden with old-fashioned tinned shortbread, toffees and British sweets. Good for the kids.
Kalamunda mountain biking. Photography by Travis Deane.
Core Cider House.
Core Cider House
Spectacular views of the surrounding orchards provide a stunning backdrop for an afternoon or evening spent eating and sampling locally brewed cider. The food here is as good as, if not better than, plenty of the popular restaurants in Perth. TIP Try the mulled cider during colder months (and grab a blanket from inside if you’re a cold). (08) 9293 7583, corecider.com.au.
Le Croissant du Moulin
A visit to this little cafe for a bowl of coffee is a must-do, either on your way to Kalamunda or once you’ve completed the Zig Zag Scenic Drive. The interior is
a little simple but, boy, do the exquisite pastries make
up for it. NOTE These aren’t Perth prices; a regular
coffee is just $3.50, and it’s $5 for a bowl (and by bowl they mean HUGE mug). (08) 9293 4345.
The secret of the Perth Hills... great tapas! There’s a plethora of tapas options, and there’s a special gluten free menu too. If you plan your visit for a Sunday arvo you’ll catch live music from 4pm. Make sure you book. (08) 9293 3337.
Village Pizza Kitchen
This joint isn’t fancy but the kids will love it. There are menu items like the Spongebob Pizza and The Monster Truck Pizza, but don’t let that put you off – they churn out some seriously tasty stuff. Don’t go too hard too early; you’ll need room for the dessert pizzas. (08) 9291 4444.
SCOOP PICK Brookside Vineyard & the Vineyard Kitchen
This quaint boutique vineyard could be straight out of Under the Tuscan Sun. No kidding – there’s even a table with chairs sitting in the green hillside (waiting for a lady in a white dress, of course). Although it’s the smallest vineyard in the region, the wine doesn’t miss a beat (try the Petit Verdot and the Methode Champenoise). The rustic restaurant The Vineyard Kitchen turns out country-style meals with a modern touch, and the menu makes the most of the fresh produce from the onsite vegie patch. Booking is a must; if it’s shaping up to be a sunny day, opt to eat outside.
The Zig Zag was initially a railway line and its crisscross engineering made it easier for trains to climb up the steep slope. Nowadays it’s a scenic 3km road, which you can drive, cycle or walk (or run if you’re crazy fit), and it’s a must-do during a visit to Kalamunda. From the road there are sweeping vistas over the plains across to the city, and luckily there are ample opportunities to stop and get out your camera (lookouts are located roughly every 50m). It’s tempting to take all your snaps early on but we recommend waiting until you’re part way down the slope when it isn’t quite as steep and you’ll be able get wildflowers in the frame too. Bear in mind the road is only one way – the entry at the top of the range is located on Lascelles Parade and you’ll come out at Ridge Hill Road. TIP If you’re a keen bean, get up early and watch the sunrise. If it’s chilly you’ll see mist on the range.
We definitely recommend taking the short drive from the town to the nearby Bickley Valley, which is especially pretty in spring when all of the fruit orchards are in full bloom. Think endless rows of pink and white blossoms. The Bickley Valley is the most stunning wine region in the hills, and in terms of scenery we think it’s better than the Swan Valley (yes, really). There’s something about vineyards sprawling across rolling hills that puts a happy smile on your face! The Bickley Valley Wine Trail makes things super easy (grab a brochure from the Zig Zag Cultural Centre, or spot the signs that start at Aldersyde Winery on Aldersyde Road, six minutes from town). Note that most cellar doors and vineyard restaurants are only open on Fridays and over the weekend (some take appointments during the week). We recommend taking the trail at a leisurely pace otherwise you’re sure to overlook the properties selling fresh produce (asparagus anyone?) or the quirky attractions such as the cyclist in the hay bale (see family ideas, below).
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