Perth is where I grew up, on the beach and in the sun. I was lucky enough to live in a city that has an average eight hours of sunshine a day! Furthermore, Perth is known to be one of the sunniest cities in the world. If you are anything like me, a beautiful sunny day instantly puts me in a better mood. When I am not off travelling the world, I spend time at home with my family just 2 streets away from the beach. At the end of each day, the sun sets over the Indian Ocean with stunning pinks, crimsim and purples that makes the water glow. When you live in Perth, it isn’t the summer without going to the beach at least once a week. I would argue that Perth has some of the best sunsets in the world! I might be bias, but you need to go and judge for yourself.
Having a girlfriend from Europe, I started to see my own city with new eyes. Showing someone else around a place that is so familiar is actually surprisingly eye opening to how lovely it is. Seeing her face light up as we explored. I showed her all the special places we have in Perth and in this post I want to inspire you visit as well. I want to share all the places that you can not miss and couple of places that you will not read on Lonely Planet or Tripadvisor.
Exclusive tips from a local Aussie girl. I will go into detail and give you as much useful information as I can.
So, here we go…
The Largest Inner City Park In The World
In Perth, did you know that we have the largest inner city park in the whole world? Kings Park spans 4.06 km² and is it bigger than New York’s Central Park which is 3.41 km². Pretty cool, right? Part of this park sits high up on Mount Eliza which will give you a great view of the whole city and the Swan river. Kings Park is also home to the Western Australian Botanic Garden which beautifully displays over 3,000 species of the State’s unique flora. Two thirds of the park is protected as bushland and provides a haven for native biological diversity. Parking is free and it is accessible by public transport but I would recommend getting your walking shoes on and walking there from the city.
You will have the instant urge to get out your camera as you enjoy sweeping views of the Swan and Canning Rivers and the skyline. If you look in to the distance you can also catch a glimpse of the Darling Ranges.
As you are walking up to Kings Park from the city centre, take a minute to look at the Barracks Arch. Read the history about how this Arch came into existence. You will be able to see the Western Australian’s Parliament House behind the arch. Remember to charge up your camera because you are guaranteed to capture some great snaps.
Want to watch a movie under the stars? Kings Park also has an outdoor moonlight cinema in the summer! You can bring your own food and drinks (do it and save money). Want more information, click here. It is a very cool way to spend an evening in Perth.
Stroll Down London Court
Right in the centre of the city, if you go to 647 Hay Street you will notice a medieval style entrance. Walk through. The entire street emulates old streets in London. It is definitely worth a small wander through to take a couple of pictures and do a little sight-seeing. There is also an old clock which goes off each hour and has small figures that move around the clock. When I am in the city, I always tend to take a casual stroll down the lane because it is also a great shortcut between 2 of the biggest streets in the city Hay Street and St Georges Terrace. If you are passing by, take a stroll down London Court.
Go Check Out Elizabeth Quay
Perth is a little behind than other capital cities. There has been a lot of work done in recent years to improve urban development, tourism and to give the city a “face lift”. Elizabeth Quay is a new development that better connects the city to the Swan River. In the years to come Perth’s skyline is going to change and evolve as more projects in the area are completed.
There is a full-scale replica of the Duyfken at the quay. It was built a few years ago to commemorate 400 years since Dutch discoverer Dirk Hartog landed off the coast of WA. You can take a tour of the Duyfken if you fancy a bit of Australian/Dutch history. There is an audio tour that walks you through the ship, its history and parts. You will step back in time 400 years and listen it what it was like aboard the ship in the early 1600’s. The tour will cost $12.50. Even if doing this tour isn’t your thing, you can still take some great pictures of the ship.
There are statues, sculptures, artwork, cafes, mini golf, basketball courts and more to check out. It is definitely worth a visit.
Kangaroos on Heirisson Island
On the fringes of the City of Perth you can visit Heirisson Island, the home of a colony of Western Grey Kangaroos. The island is in the city’s East side and can be accessed via the Causeway. At dawn and at dusk are the best times to catch a glimpse of the islands inhabitants. It is very rare to see kangaroos in the centre of Perth, so this place is pretty special.
There are so many great things about Fremantle, it is an awesome place and you won’t want to leave. You can spend days enjoying everything this bustling, dynamic port city has to offer. It has long been renowned for its eclectic mix of arty and alternative vibes. Fremantle’s streets are buzzing with the song of buskers, the side walks fill with a wild collection of art and music floats out from trendy cafés and bars. I would highly recommend spending a couple of nights in this area.
If you want a really cool and different hostel experience, there is a modern hostel inside an old prison! Get locked up for a couple days... Fremantle Prison is a must see place. We stayed for a night and I will admit it was a little bit freaky when you walk back at night towards the old prison, but hey, that is all part of the fun! The hostel is inside the old Women’s section and you have the opportunity to learn all about the history on the tours of the prison. It is super clean with really great facilities and super friendly staff. Do yourself a favour and stay here if you are exploring Fremantle.
Enjoy a delicious coffee on the ‘Cappuccino Strip’ as you wander down trendy Wray Ave, South Tce and High St. You can’t go to Fremantle without seeing the Fremantle Markets for local produce and Aussie souvenirs. It is on the corner of Henderson Street & South Terrace, Fremantle. The market is open Friday 8am – 8pm and Saturday, Sunday & Monday 8am – 6pm.
Enjoy some street food at one of the outdoor food markets or food trucks or indulge in some fish & chips at the Fishing Boat Harbour. After tantalising your taste buds with some good food, you can take refreshing tip at Bathers Beach only a stone throw from Fremantle city centre. Right next to the beach you can get your history fix at the WA Maritime Museum and Fremantle Arts Centre. After this you need to feast on the local flavours and enjoy the indie vibes at the many restaurants and cafés. The number 1 place you must go to as the sunsets is Little Creatures Brewery. Sample some of Perth's local beer straight from the brewing vat in this warehouse style brewery.
Go Straight To The Beach
A popular Perth ritual is to get up early and head straight to the beach for a refreshing morning dip. The coast line to the North of Perth is all part of Marmion Marine Park. The Marine Park has great a snorkelling and diving playground of limestone reefs and crystal-clear lagoons. Migrating humpback whales can also be spotted between the months of September and December along the coast. You should start your beach hopping at Cottesloe Beach which is our most iconic beach for a swim, surf or stroll along the coastal path. Chill out at the beach under the shade of the Norfolk pines.
Heading North on West Coast Drive is the best coastal drive to take on a beautiful sun day. Take a stop at City Beach. This pretty white-sand beach offers sheltered swimming as well as a little surf, a grassed area, barbeques and a couple of beach cafes providing good options for a lazy lunch. Watch the sunset over the Indian Ocean at Mettam’s Pool and go for a sunset swim. There are so many beaches to go and check out. Jump in the car and drive along the coast and take a look around.
Chill Out At Hillarys Marina
Hillary Marina is only a couple minutes from where I live and I think it has it all. I have made many happy memories with my friends here and I hope you create new ones. It has cafes, restaurants, bars and an abundance of different shops to check out. It attracts families with its small sheltered beach for kids to go swimming and do water activities. Right next to the Marina there is Sorrento beach which is like a sheltered crystal lagoon in the morning. It is a lovely place to put a towel down and enjoy the sun. If you’re visiting Perth, take it from me and spend some time relaxing around this area like a Perth local.
Do you love coffee? Voyage Kitchen has some of the best coffee on the West Coast and is only a 5 minute walk from the marina. Don’t take it from me and try the coffee for yourself. As for the menu, first of all I will say it is pretty expensive for a backpacker but damn it is delicious. If you have a few more dollars to spend then have some food here. It is really good fresh modern Australian food. If you are in the area for breakfast and love lovely fresh avocado, pouched eggs, chargrilled tomatoes with feta on delicious ciabatta bread order ‘Norma’s Breakfast’.
Paradise on Rottnest Island
This island is one of my favourite places on Earth which is a huge call. If someone mentions Rottnest Island (which we fondly call Rotto) my mind instantly floods with happy childhood memories. Growing up in Perth and having this small piece of paradise so close to home was a privilege and a blessing. If you have never heard of this amazing place before Rottnest Island is only 19 km off the coast of Perth and it is simply stunning. This island is the perfect place to escape the city for a weekend or better yet the whole week. Once you are on the island, you will find yourself riding a bike taking in the fresh salty air and peddling past crystal clear water. You can take a ferry to the island from Fremantle or Hillarys Marina.
Rottnest’s coastline is truly a picturesque island paradise. Just imagine yourself on a long white sandy beach. Then exploring sheltered coves. Next taking a dip in at one of the bays surrounded by marine life. There are over 60 beaches and hidden coves lining the 11km diametre island for you to explore. You could never get bored of this beautiful place.
GO. Just do it. This place is so amazing that it deserved its own post. Read more about Rottnest Island and why I rate this place so highly!
Go See All The National Parks
This is the part where I tell you that you need a WA National Park Pass. From the Ningaloo Coast in the north to the spectacular Karri forest in the south, WA is home to stunning natural scenery. This is your ticket to exploring over 27 million hectares of national parks and marine reserves. Doing day trips to national parks was one of the first things I did with Tina when I brought her to Perth.
Go visit Yanchep National Park which is north of Perth 50 minute drive from the city. It has walking trails and also includes a raised boardwalk among trees inhabited by cute sleepy koalas. There are also caves at this park, my favourite is the Crystal Cave which is an underground limestone cavern with stalactites and stalagmites. Take some snaggers (sausages) for the barbecues and there is a lot of shaded table areas to enjoy a yummy picnic. Serpentine National Park is my favourite waterfall in Perth for a swim. Located just 50 kilometres south-east of the city is best known for its waterfall and dams.
Other National Parks around Perth:
Avon Valley National Park
80 kilometres north-east of Perth via the Toodyay Road is known for a wide variety of wildlife and spectacular scenery across the Avon Valley. The campgrounds have wood barbecues, picnic tables and pit toilets.
John Forrest National Park
Has excellent recreational facilities including barbecues, picnic areas and trails – view the beautiful scenery throughout the park and spend time at Hovea Falls, Jane Brook and the National Park Falls.
Gooseberry Hill National Park
A hilly 33-ha reserve which has magnificent views of the Swan Coastal Plain. A one-way scenic drive, known as the Zig-Zags, leads downhill through the park and will provide amazing photography.
Massive Tip... Get A Car
Maybe the 1 downside to Perth for a traveller is that all the really amazing stuff isn’t easily accessible by public transport. Most of the must see places that you need to drive to yourself. Trains and buses are frequent and reliable travelling from within the metropolitan area, however, if you want to really see everything Perth has to offer travel you will need a car. Keep this in mind when you plan to go to Perth.
Where To Start Looking For A Car
The best website for second hand cars in Australia is Gumtree.com.au. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get something reliable. Avoid making a common mistake that travellers make all the time, don’t buy from a dealership. Dealerships do overcharge you and take advantage of people who don’t know how much cars should cost. So, buy privately and make sure you always offer less than it is advertised for. There is another website called Redbook which will tell you exactly how much a car is worth in Australia. The advertised price on gumtree is always negotiable. If you are really smart, you can buy something undervalue and sell it for the same price when you are done with it. I bought a 2008 Mazda CX7 Wagon when I was travelling with Tina December 2016 to March 2017 and sold it for more than I bought it for!
Avoid Backpacker Cars
I would advise against buying cars from adverts on backpacker noticeboards or websites. Why you might ask? Backpackers don’t usually service their vehicles or fix the little things when they go wrong. Generally, they don’t look after the car as well as they should and put a lot of kilometres on the clock in a short period of time. So, buying from a family that has serviced the car regularly and have a logbook of the service history on Gumtree will be a safer bet. You can buy all the camping and travelling equipment second hand on Gumtree as well.
Type Of Car
The type of car you buy will be dependant on how much time and amount of money. I would always suggest buying a car that you can sleep in. Firstly, accommodation in Australia is expensive and you can save a lot of money if you sleep in your car instead. If you are planning (which you definitely should) to go up to the amazing Ningaloo Reef, having a 4 wheel drive will be very handy on those outback dirty roads. Another tip, really look at the fuel consumption and the engine size of the vehicle you want to buy. Australia is a very big place and you will do a lot of driving. Petrol is expensive and it will be a large expense when you are travelling around.
All This And More
I could keep writing and writing about all the places you should go. However, if you can do all of these then you are going to get a great taste of what the lifestyle is like in Perth. I have only touched on places and things to do in and around Perth here in this post. Now, I need to tell you a little about all the other amazing places we have in Western Australia. You are going to need to take an amazing road trip!
Down of Perth is a region overflowing with locally-grown fruit and vegetables, meat, seafood and local businesses selling anything from homemade ice cream to olive oil, tapenades and chutneys. All of this is fringed by some of the most pristine coastline in the world. Head to the beaches and you may find you are the only person on it. The picture perfect, calm waters of Geographe Bay entice families and sunbathers, while the dramatic west facing coastline between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin attracts surfers, kite boarders and those who love some action on the water. Top that off with an extensive underground cave network, migrating whales, stunning wildflowers and it becomes visible why this region really does have so much to offer.
You will see our beautiful coral coast of Western Australia. Follow the coastline up and discover some of the world’s most diverse marine habitats just metres away from pristine beaches. You will be in awe of World Heritage listed Shark Bay and Ningaloo Reef. It is the largest fringing reef in Earth and one of the few places in the world where you can swim with the largest fish in the sea, the gentle whale shark. You will meet Monkey Mia’s famous wild dolphins up close and personal. You will be able to wander the fascinating natural formations of the Pinnacles Desert moonscape. For the ultimate coastal adventure, take a hike along Kalbarri’s dramatic cliff faces and see where this 400-million-year-old river gorge meets the Indian Ocean.
Keep Travelling Up North
You will find adventure in the ancient gorges of Karijini National Park. Why not take a once in a life time flight over the Bungle Bungle Ranges or a boat cruise alongside Western Australia’s King George Waterfalls which is the largest in Australia. With a 4 wheel drive you can tackle the legendary Gibb River Road, be awe-struck by some of the oldest artworks on Earth. Witness the illusion of the Staircase to the Moon or take in Cable Beach's sunset from the saddle of a camel.
Western Australia has all the natural beauty you can handle. Book your tickets and see it for yourself.