Ringing the changes

A NEW coach tour operator will hit the road this week with the opening of Bells Estate in the Swan Valley.

Mulberry Farm, one of the Swan Valley’s best-known establishments, has been relaunched

as Bells Estate in a

move inspired by

Perth’s controversial Bell Tower.

And servicing the estate will be new coach operator Bells Coach Tours.

Originally built by Boat Torque Cruises owner Trevor Kitcher, Bells Estate will join a stable of tourism oper-ations in the Bells group, including a cafe and restaurant at the Bell Tower on Barrack Street, the re-branded River Bells boat cruise and the new Bells Coach Tours.

Mulberry Farm origin-ally was built as a lunch stop for the Boat Torque River cruises but, during the past 17 years, has grown into a popular restaurant and function centre in its own right.

“We changed it (Mulberry Farm) to Bells Estate to brand it and create a sisterhood with the Bells restaurant and cafe at Barrack Street,” Boat Torque Cruises business development manager Amanda Hoyne said.

“The cafe at the Bell Tower is already open and the restaurant is opening at the end of September. We’re also re-branding a Boat Torque boat the River Bells,” she said.

Boat Torque is looking to strongly re-brand its entire stable of tourism experiences – which it claims caters to tourists visiting WA irrespective of their budget.

Bells Estate also is looking to capture the lucrative corporate market and establish a reputation for the estate with the meetings, incentive, conventions and exhibitions indus-tries.

“We already do a lot of weddings, at least once a week, but we’re looking to expand to attract a variety of functions. Bells Estate appeals to the locals too,” Ms Hoyne said.

Accommodation plans are on the drawing board, adding yet another dimension to the estate and broadening the appeal to include Perth people looking to get away from the city for the weekend.

“Boat Torque has also got a half share in Gloucester Ridge and we’ve opened up a

cellar door tasting room for the Gloucester

Ridge brand at Bells Estate,” Ms Hoyne said.

“The Swan Valley is growing in its own right and one way of looking at it is as the local Mar-garet River region.”

With a number of high-profile vineyards in the region, including Sandalford Wines and the Houghton Wine Company, operators in the Swan Valley are seeking to brand the area as a local wine region for visitors to Perth who don’t have time to make the trip down to Margaret River.

However, with devel-opment surging ahead in the Swan Valley, the Bells Group is operating in an increasingly com-petitive market.

“Sandalford has open-ed a restaurant and they have their own boat tour, but we (Boat Torque) also take people to Sandalford daily – the Swan Valley is more the destination,” Ms Hoyne said.

Boat Torque currently operates tour buses to transport clients to the boat cruises on the river. From the start of October, however, the Bells Coach Tours will operate further afield to include tours down to Pemberton and the Gloucester Ridge Vine-yard.

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