Armadale Hills Scenic Drive, Western Australia
A country drive is a long held Australian tradition, especially if it includes pubs, parks, picnics, bush walks and fun.
The Armadale Hills Scenic Drive ticks all the boxes on this list, plus more.
It is best to start at the Perth Hills Visitor Information Centre at 40 Jull St, Armadale. The friendly staff were happy to share tips on the most popular destinations in the hills, and supplied maps and guides to take with me.
My first stop was at the Last Drop Elizabethan at 25 Canns Road, Bedfordale. This is an old-English style pub that brews specialty handcrafted beers on site. The rafters in the main bar are covered in an entertaining variety of beer coasters. The pub has a very comfortable vibe inside and lots of shady outdoor areas to enjoy a drink or meal. Their beef and beer pie, braised in house ale with flaky puff pastry, has been a local favourite for decades.
Next stop was at the Churchman Brook Dam at 96 Churchman Brook Road, Bedfordale. This is the ideal destination for a picnic. There are free gas bbqs, undercover seating and toilets available in the manicured grassed areas. Work off your lunch by taking a bush walk in the area and enjoy the native flora. The dam is a water catchment reservoir and there is no unauthorised entry into the water.
Retro Rescue at shop 2/508 Brookton Highway, Roleystone has an amazing shop frontage. Only open Friday, Saturday and Sundays it is still worth a stop. Look carefully in the gardens there and you may see some interestingly repurposed retro kitchen items. This stop is well timed to grab a refreshment at the Thai food cafe next door.
Araluen Botanical Gardens at 362 Croyden Road, Roleystone has been the subject of a previous article I wrote about, the annual tulip festival. Read more here. Any time of the year is a wonderful time to visit Araluen. Each season showing different displays of both native and exotic flora. It was relaxing to walk around at leisure enjoying the variety of colourful blooms and listening to the sounds of the bush. There are 14 hectares of gardens set out amongst the 59 hectares here. Australian native bushland at the gardens including Eucalyptus, Marri and Blackbutt trees. Creeks run through the gardens and lovely water ponds are home to lily pads. Stroll at your own pleasant pace from one garden area to the next. The paths are easily negotiated. There are some steps, but these can be circumnavigated for those with mobility issues.
Local farmers often sell produce at their farm gates, with handmade signs announcing what is in season. I love it. My favourite fruit is a nectarine. It was a pleasure to stop and purchase some ripe, juicy and bursting with flavour delicious nectarines. These fruits are ripen on the tree and full of nutrients. A sign advised me to toot the horn upon arrival. The farmers wife came out from the house and gave me a sample to taste. She sells her produce by the boxful. This way there is extra to give to friends who will enjoy as well.
The Naked Apple Cider House at 1088 Brookton Highway, Karragullen is set on 15 acres of bushland, 3 of these are gorgeous gardens. I was fortunate to be met with a friendly greeting from owner Ross. He is born and bred here and opened the business as he wanted to do something good for the local area. They make their cider with locally grown apples, the cider is also made locally. They started to make their cider 8 years ago and sold the produce to other people. 3 years ago they made the decision to open the Naked Apple Cider House.
Western Australian wines are available here, as is Whipper Snapper whiskey (made in East Perth) and Old Young gin and Vodka (made in the Swan Valley). Read my article about Old Youngs here. It is great to see WA businesses supporting each other.
Open Wednesday to Sunday, it was once the site of a garden nursery and the gardens are so beautiful that up to 50 weddings a year are held here. The cosy seating both inside and outside invite you to relax and spend time here. Their cider is delightfully cold and refreshing. Food is also available here.
Between 1950 and 1962 displaced persons from post WWII Europe emigrated to Australia. These migrants were housed in two campsites in Kelmscott, Perth. The men were employed by the Metropolitan Water Supply. On one of the two campsites Migrant Park has been established with poster boards detailing information and individual stories of people. As I read the boards and looked out at the peaceful park, I could almost hear the whisper sounds of children playing in the past.
There are a few other stops on the Armadale drive for people to discover for themselves. The ones mentioned above were of interest to me and took a full day of travel as I tend to stop and enjoy each site, giving it the attention it deserves, and having chats with people. If you just drive the trail, it will take around an hour or so, but where is the fun in that?
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