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Valley of taste

The Straits Times | Tuesday, Sep 23, 2014

LAST year, Singapore was Western Australia's (WA) second largest inbound market for visitor arrivals and the fifth largest for Australia.

The number of Singapore visitors to the country hit 340,500, increasing by some 14 per cent over 2012.

Slightly more than eight in 10 were repeat visitors, Singapore Market Profile 2014 statistics released by Tourism Australia show.

That's not surprising given that destinations like Perth are just a five-hour flight away, and the surrounds of this WA city offer rich pickings of things to see, do - and, yes, taste - for food-loving Singaporeans.

Wine goldmine

Take the Swan Valley - Perth's Valley of Taste - a halfhour drive from the city's centre.

So popular is the Valley, it attracts 2.1 million day trips each year. Make the Visitor Centre your first stop for advice; it is open seven days a week.

The easiest way to experience the region is to follow the award-winning Swan Valley Food and Wine Trail (www.swanvalley.com.au).

The 32km scenic loop covers relaxed wineries, lively breweries, fine restaurants, bustling cafes, shops and roadside stalls selling farm-fresh produce.

The region's viticulture heritage is strong as the Valley, with its 150 wineries, marks 180 years of winemaking this year.

Located at the entrance to the Swan Valley, Houghton Winery, with its semi-alfresco dining café, has been producing WA's award- winning wines for more than 175 years.

Or have a sip of premium wines and taste local cheeses at the bar of Lancaster Wines' famous outdoor tasting shed.

At Sandalford Wines, one of WA's oldest winemakers, opt for the Winemaker for a Day experience.

But the Swan Valley is more than viticulture.

There are also five boutique microbreweries and two distilleries offering handcrafted, organic and preservative-free brews.

They include Elmar's In The Valley (a German-themed stop in the heart of the Swan Valley) and Duckstein Brewery (one of the pioneers of craft brewing offering traditional German dining experience and live music on weekends).

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