I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that our Swan Valley Wagon Tour was our BEST KidzaBuzz voucher family adventure to date. Considering that we nearly diverted the horses to Joondalup Hospital 10 minutes into the tour, this is not a statement made lightly.
I mean, there was the wine. The wine helped. Wine, as you well know, turns every day into a fun day. So the inclusion of wine in a family adventure is always going to score bonus points. But it was so much more than that!
Swan Valley Wagon Tours is owned and run by Peter and Alida. Nicer, warmer, more welcoming people you’d be hard pressed to meet. They LOVE their wonderful draft horses, and they LOVE sharing them with people. I loved them for this. I loved them for including the kids. My kids, specifically.
I wasn’t sure about the whole ‘kids on a horse-drawn wine tour’ thing. I actually rang Alida beforehand, to check whether I wouldn’t be best leaving them at home (with fingers crossed, willing her to say yes, take them to the grandparents instead). But no! Kids are welcome, and kids are included, and there’s plenty for them on the tour to keep them interested.
Unless, that is, your kid’s allergic to horses. Which brings us to the hospital bit. Turns out Ben’s allergic to horses! Dramatically and without questions allergic to horses! We discovered this VERY EARLY ON. Alida asked Ben to join her at the very front of the wagon – prime position! – and for five glorious seconds he was in his element. Then he started sneezing. Then wheezing. By the time we got to our first stop – Swanbrook Winery – the kid was a mess. Eyes swollen, gasping for breath, the whole deal. Now, I’ve seen this all before, although never with horses, admittedly. Dogs and cats and guinea pigs and rabbits and dust and carpet and mice, yes, but never with horses. We spend A LOT of time at Lansdale Animal Farm, and he’s never, ever had a reaction. The whole horse allergy thing took me by surprise.
Ben’s appearance took everyone by surprise. He looked like he’d gone ten rounds with Tyson. He was also – and I say this will all the love of a concerned mother – laying it on THICK. He was loud, and flailing, and even managed to tip over a table. I would, at this point, like to apologise to the following people:
The lovely, lovely couple on the wagon trail with us. They’d anticipated a leisurely tour of the Swan Valley to celebrate a 50th birthday. Instead they got us, the Griswalds. For that I am forever sorry.
The lovely, lovely lady doing the wine tastings at Swanbrook, for robbing her of her antihistamines. What we’d have done without her, I DO NOT KNOW.
The lovely, lovely diners of Swanbrook Winery. I don’t suppose you wanted a side serving of Elephant Boy with your delightful antipasto platters.
The employees of Swanbrook Winery, who showed genuine, actual concern for Ben, and didn’t even mind when Frankie tipped his entire hot chocolate over the floor. They were wonderful. I’d LOVE to go back to Swanbrook, but I have a sneaking suspicion there’s a picture of us at the entrance, with a big red line through it.
The antihistamines worked – thank goodness – so instead of turning back, as had been a very real possibility – we continued on to the next stop: a little art gallery next to Oasis Supa Golf, where we fed the emus and tried Quandong chilli jam. Delicious!
From the gallery it was on to Oggies Ice Creamery, where Ben made a DRAMATIC recovery. This place is legendary. The homemade ice cream is bonkers, and there’s a little playground for the kids, too. Suffice to say, Frankie had a tantrum when it was time to get back on the horse, and had to be dragged, screaming, up the steps to the wagon. We made SUCH a good impression.
The last stop was my favourite of all the Swan Valley wineries: Edgecombe. This is a family run winery, and I love it for the same reasons I love Swan Valley Wagon Tours. It’s got HEART. We tasted the wines while the kids coloured in, and – had the antihistamines not been about to wear off – it would have been pretty close to idyllic.
Guys, I cannot recommend Swan Valley Wagon Tours highly enough. Go on your own, go with the kids (although admittedly, we left two-year-old Alice at home, ‘cos she’s a wild thing), go with visitors from interstate and overseas. Peter and Alida will make you SO welcome, and even give you warm blankets when the cold breeze picks up. Maybe don’t take Ben though. Ben should probably stay at home, in his bubble.
Swan Valley Wagon Tours are in the new edition of Kidzabuzz! Check out V62 for 25% off for up to four people.