Given that Perth is one of the world’s most isolated cities, it’s hardly surprising that many people skip the Western Australia capital when drawing up their Aussie itineraries. Geographically, Perth is closer to Jakarta than it is to Sydney. Its nearest major city (Adelaide) is more than 1,300 miles away. But Perth is well worth the detour. Here’s why…
Perth is home to a number of famous beaches including Cottesloe and Scarborough. However, it seems that the city’s entire coastline boasts golden blonde sands and clear blue waters. In fact, Western Australia is home to 12,000 kilometers of mostly pristine shoreline on the Indian Ocean. And if you want to take in as much of the seaside as possible, you can do this in Perth. A 25km coastal walk and cycle track extends from Cottesloe to Hillarys Boat Harbour, which happens to be the perfect place to stop for a well-earned refreshment.
At first glimpse, Perth’s city centre resembles a mountain of gleaming skyscrapers. But as you explore the downtown area you’ll find a mishmash of historic architecture, manicured parks and hipster enclaves, all jumbled together to form Perth’s unique atmosphere.
Particular highlights include the futuristic Elizabeth Quay, quirky Northbridge, and the so-called Historic Heart of Perth, in the city’s East End. We were only there for a day so we didn’t visit any museums or galleries, but there’s plenty of those too. These include the Perth Cultural Centre and the Art Gallery of Western Australia.
- Why Perth should definitely be on your Australian travel itinerary
- Vegan Berlin: My must-eat places on a short city break
- Sightseeing in Singapore: All the best things to see and do
- Postcards from: The Archipelago of Gothenburg
- Reykjavik on a budget: How to make your money go further in the Icelandic capital
Perth council also runs free i-City Walking Tours every day. If you are on a budget, it might also help to know that free CAT buses run on various routes throughout the city.
Who doesn’t want to see kangaroos when they come to Australia? We were treated to our only glimpse of the iconic marsupials in the “wild” during our time in Perth. We caught them roaming the grounds of a local golf club as the sun was setting. You can often see regular visitors hopping through Joondalup and Wanneroo Golf Courses at dusk. (For some reason it seems that kangas have a thing for fairways.)
Freemantle was possibly my favourite place in Perth. In fact, I think it deserves a separate blog post (watch this space!). I loved the area for its vibrant atmosphere, classic architecture and village vibe. Main attractions include the Markets, Prison and the WA Maritime Museum. But Freemantle also boasts a great cafe culture and music scene with plenty of bars and restaurants to keep visitors happy throughout the day and night.
At 990-acres, Kings Park is among the world’s largest inner-city parks. It’s home to the Western Australian Botanic Garden and a large swathe of conserved bushland, highlighting the state’s biodiversity. The park also contains State War Memorial and benefits from unrivalled views over Perth CBD and beyond. For all these reasons, it attracts more than five million people per year, making it one of WA’s most visited attractions.
I mean, look at that face and tell me it’s not worth travelling half the world just to see one of these smiling, little marsupials. To see quokkas in their natural environment, there’s no getting around it – you have to come to Western Australia. That’s because they’re only found on a couple of islands off the coast of the state. And Rottnest Island is perhaps the most popular one to visit from Perth. It was a Dutch sea captain who gave the island its name in 1696. It literally translates as “Rats’ Nest” in reference to these furry critters – which he mistook for giant rodents.
The Gateway to WA
Western Australia remains one of the lesser-explored regions Down Under, making it somewhat of a hidden gem for tourists. And given that the state accounts for a third of Australia’s landmass, there’s plenty to see or do. Among the highlights, WA boasts are Broome and the stunning Kimberly region, the vineyards of the Margaret River and the thriving Ningaloo Reef. In fact, there’s so much on offer, you could plan your whole Aussie trip in WA alone.