HEARD the saying west is best? Well Perth locals will testify to that. Their city boasts a thriving beach culture, a smorgasbord of restaurants and great pubs and clear blue skies as you watch the sun set on the water. It's a haven for sun worshippers and wherever you look you're guaranteed a smiling face. It's little wonder.
Nestled alongside the Swan River 20km inland of the Indian Ocean, the climate is Mediterranean, which means for most of the year the city's weather is fine and sunny - in fact, the sun even makes its presence felt during a brief, mild winter.
The city leaps to life in the evening with an eclectic mix of cuisine and culture and in the suburb of Northbridge or south of the city in gorgeous portside Fremantle. Up high on the edge of town nature summons locals and visitors alike to soak up some panoramic views from King's Park, as you kick back and relax in the Botanic Gardens.
West Australians believe their vast, fascinating state is a country in its own right and it all begins in beautiful Perth - after all, the nearest capital city is more than 2000km away in Adelaide. Which brings us to another point of the magical attractions that are found north, south, east and west of Perth. There's the splendor of the Margaret River wine region in the south to a short ferry ride to tourist hotspot Rottnest Island, or the harsh beauty of desert country inland and some amazing fishing communities as you head north along the coast to such places as Monkey Mia with its cavorting dolphins.
When it comes to eating and drinking in Perth, the sheer variety of high quality eateries and watering holes mean you won’t have to look to far to find a bite, pint or cuppa.
With a name like that, how could you not want to get down on some of these delicious grilled sandwiches? While the moniker is enough of a reason for us, Toastface Grillah treads on more than the words on the side of the building, managing to turn relatively simple toasted sandwiches into an art form.
Cottesloe Beach Hotel
Imagine your favourite pub. Now imagine it bigger, located in Perth’s sublime Mediterranean climate, and sitting just across the road from Cottesloe Beach coast with all the shimmering blue glory of the Indian Ocean stretched out in front of it. That image you’ve got dancing in your head? That’s the Cottesloe Beach Hotel. Nestled between John Street and Warnham Road on Marine Parade, this spot is a favourite of locals. Boasting a history that stretches back to its opening in 1905, the hotel’s got areas for the stylish crowd, those looking to relax with some tasty food and quality drink, and an area for those looking to quench their thirst and grab a feed after a frolic in the ocean. The CBH really goes off at the end of the week, hosting one of the finer Sunday sessions in the area.
Little Creatures Brewhouse
Little Creatures has grown from a collection of mates brewing hoppy American Pale Ale in a huge shed on a crocodile farm in Fremantle in 1999 into one of the most revered breweries in all of Australia. Luckily for you, you can get your sips straight from the source next time you find yourself in WA. The Great Hall is the place to go for a few frothies and some pizza while surrounded by the production that goes into making such tasty beer. Or you can hop into the Brewhouse to learn more about the different LC beers on offer or take a tour.
Little Olive Leaf Café
South of the Swan River, in the town of Willagee, sits the Little Olive Leaf Café and its delectable range of yummy muffins and quaint outdoor garden seating. This family-run spot is a perfect place to grab a quick snack and a cup of java.
King Street is an option for quirky gifts, clothing and home wares and the historic street also is home to designer boutiques like Cartier and Louis Vuitton.
Fremantle Markets has been a "Freo" icon for many years and offers just about everything from fresh and interesting foods to crafts and gifts. There's also the buskers and artists who contribute to the cultural experience which is steeped in history and tradition. Friday 9am - 9pm, Saturday 9am - 5pm, Sunday 10am - 5pm. Monday Public Holidays 10am - 5pm. Corner of Henderson St and South Tce, Fremantle.
Gosnells Art Markets is an original art and craft market and there is live music and free children's activities to keep everyone entertained. Every second Saturday of the month (except January) 10am-4pm City of Gosnells Town Square (adjacent to the Agonis)2232 Albany Highway, Gosnells.
Perth City Markets Perth City Markets bring high quality markets to the Perth cultural heart and central shopping precinct each weekend. Sift through antiques, collectibles, books, stationery, crafts, fresh food and produce, home wares, furniture, handcrafts, food products and preserves, health and wellbeing products and much more. Perth Cultural Centre Precinct, adjacent to the Art Gallery of Western Australia and Alexander Library.
WHETHER you choose to pop your dancing shoes on or don your "drinking boots" as the Aussie vernacular goes, Perth is the place to party.
Northbridge is the first place that pops up for sheer entertainment value and it hosts a range of nightclubs, pubs, cafes and eateries, presenting a mix of cultures and cuisines.
One of Perth's most popular (and most photographed) venues is the Brass Monkey. Here you can monkey about in funky bars, go upstairs for a cafe bar, sports bar, balcony area and a courtyard. Then there's the Monkey's Grapeskin wine bar. Check out Durty Nelly's Irish Pub for contemporary Irish dining, ales, lagers and stouts, live entertainment amid a friendly Irish atmosphere.
Go a little South of Perth to Fremantle for more nightclubs and bars, including The Metropolis nightclub and famous Little Creatures Brewery and Restaurant.
And remember it is more than a bunch of nightclubs and pubs that makes Perth special for nightlife. For something a little more refined, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra performs a regular program of from its home at the Perth Concert Hall. Each year the Perth International Arts Festival draws enormous crowds and features music, visual arts, dance, circus among many more enticing attractions.
What to do
One of the things that makes Perth so great is its mix of attractions and neighbourhoods providing everything from walking paths to the hottest and hippest places to hang out. Here are just a few highlights to make some time for if possible.
This district of Perth isn’t for everybody, but if you’re a younger traveller or love being around the louder, more rambunctious nightlife, Northbridge could be the perfect place for you. The revitalisation of this section of Perth has seen a younger crowd flock to the hip, happening collection of bars and restaurants. Even if you don’t decide to stay in the aforementioned Alex Hotel, Northbridge is still a perfect place for a night out with mates. You can enjoy everything from the vintage style and boutique cocktails of Ezra Pound and the Mechanics Institute to the live tunes flowing out of William Street’s the Bird.
Kings Park and Botanic Garden
If you want a taste of the outdoors but don’t feel like going the sandy route, look no further than Perth’s amazing Kings Park and Botanic Garden. Just a short walk from downtown Perth, this green oasis is home to dozens of amazing walking paths and vibrant blooms sure to satisfy the senses. Going toe-to-toe with any other inner city park in the world, Kings Park draws in more than 6 million visitors a year. Go for a walk or jog, a picnic or to bask in the incredible views of the Perth skyline or the Swan River, which sit beneath this beautiful, elevated public space.
Hit the Beaches
There’s no two ways about it: Perth is home to some of Australia’s most beautiful beaches. The two standouts are Cottesloe and Scarborough, which do tend to attract quite a number of people looking for fun in the sun. However, there are plenty of others from which to choose if you’re looking for something a bit more secluded. If you fancy a snorkel, check out Mettams Pool, located near the intersection of Giles Street and West Coast Drive. There you’ll find an amazing ecosystem of marine life and flat water that makes it a suitable swimming spot for splish-splashers of most ages and abilities.
Or you can make the trip out to The Basin off of Rottnest Island (more on that a bit later). Just don’t forget the sunscreen!
Places to visit outside Perth
One of the most popular destinations in WA is Margaret River region, home to some of Australia’s finest wineries. This area, which stretches for about 100km from Cape Naturaliste down to Cape Leeuwin, has become one of the hottest spots for wine in the whole country.
From there, the world is your vino-covered oyster, especially if you are fond of cab sauv and chardonnay, two varieties for which the Margaret River region is known for. With dozens of incredible farmers and producers ready and waiting for you to swing by and have a few swirls and swigs, the number of stops on your great Western Australia wine tour is limited only by you and your schedule.
The quality of the Cullen Restaurant matches up to the choice wine on offer Source:cullenwines.com.au
One of the staples of the Margaret River region, Cullen Wines in Wilyabrup is a consistent award winner that is more than worthy of a few hours of your time. Take a tour, do some tasting, or stick around for a while and have a sensational meal at the Cullen Restaurant, which provides a fantastic view of the vineyard.
Voyager Estate can help you broaden your horticultural horizons sip by sip Source:voyagerestate.com.au
No pretentiousness here! Voyager Estate doesn’t require you to be a sommelier or have sampled hundreds of bottles from around the world in order to have a good time. Here you can learn a bit more about the art behind some of your favourite drinks and also see just how well they go with food from the region. Sit down for a 4- or 6-course Discover Menu lunch and let chef Santiago Fernandez and his team whip up a meal you won’t soon forget.
With more than 120 years of experience under its belt, Brookland Valley is one of the most well-established and revered wineries in all of the Margaret River. With an open date of 1894, this 5-star favourite of locals and visitors alike serves up delightful versions of two of the regions staples—cabernet and cabernet sauvignon. You’ll know you’re in the right spot when you see the huge bronze statue of Daphnis, a Greek character known for playing the flute.
The seaside location of Fremantle provides another vantage point of the great lifestyle that characterises the more populous regions of Western Australia’s west coast. Once you’re there, it’s on you to learn why Lonely Planet recently named it one of the best cities in the world to visit. Toward the water sits the Docklands district, which features plenty of great attractions. Grab a few drinks and learn a bit at the Little Creatures brewery, get some fish and chips into you at Fisherman’s Wharf, or head toward the water to check out what all the fuss is about at the revitalised Docklands precinct. The Maritime Museum is well worth a visit, too.
Further inland sits the Cappuccino Strip, spanning from the corner of Bannister Street to Parry Street. Here you’ll have no shortage of choice if you’re looking for a café or pub. You’ll find iconic places such as the Sail and Anchor and the Monk Brewery and Kitchen, as well as holes in the wall pumping out beautiful mugs of coffee and tasty treats. The party continues into the night with thousands heading out for live music and comedy on the strip. At the southern end of the range are the Fremantle Markets. Step into the beautiful Victorian-era heritage building and marvel at more than 100 stalls featuring food, clothing, and handmade goods.
Sensing a theme here? The beauty of Perth and its surrounds is something that should be taken advantage of by any visitor, and Point Walter is a great place to do so. Point Walter sits in Bicton, on the south side of the Swan River toward the west where it flows into the Indian Ocean. You can hop in for a swim, do a bit of fishing, rent some nearby paddle boards and test your balance or fire up one of the many grills dotting the area around the river and get your Australia on with a good old fashioned BBQ.
The best places to stay in Perth
There are dozens of awesome accommodation options all over Perth, Fremantle, and other surrounding areas. Here are a few highlights, fit for those looking for something slightly more upscale or out of the ordinary.
This funky addition to the Perth hotel scene has been welcomed with open arms by locals and visitors alike. Breathing some new life into the accommodation scene, the Alex Hotel offers hip, lively digs for you and your fellow travellers. There are 74 rooms from which to choose, with those on the west side treated to a breathtaking view of the city. That being said, it might not make much a difference where your room is, as the building’s rooftop terrace and the bar in the lobby are great spaces to hang regardless of your personal lodgings.
The Alex is especially great for those travelling alone. The vibrant shared spaces are not only comfy and cool to relax in, but also breed interactivity between guests, which can lead to everything from a solid recommendation from a local, to travelling or dining and drinking companions for the day.
Boasting “luxury Fremantle accommodation for the mobile and modern citizen right in the heart of Fremantle,” the Hougoumont Hotel is worth the effort that comes with trying to pronounce it correctly when your friends ask you where you stayed on your trip. The hotel’s name originated from a ship, the last to ferry convicts to Australia, built in Burma. The ship itself was named after the location of the Battle of Waterloo. Despite the origins of the name, we can just about guarantee your stay at this classy, boutique Fremantle hotel will be much nicer than the boat trips of yore.
Crown Metropole Perth
From one of the most trusted names in Australian accommodation comes the Crown Metropol Perth. This giant, extravagant hotel has everything you need to enjoy a fantastic holiday, from award-winning restaurants such as Rockpool and Nobu to a live theatre and the action and excitement of the Crown Perth, the city’s only casino. The resort sits across the Swan River from the CBD.
Chill with the Quokkas on Rottnest Island
Rottnest Island sits due west of Perth, floating in the Indian Ocean in anticipation of you coming over to play. Perfect for a day trip or a longer stay in one of many luxurious options and enjoy a day out in the wild.
How to Get to Rottnest Island
To get to the island you’ll hop aboard the Rottnest Express, which transports thousands of adventure seekers to the area each year quickly and comfortably. In less than an hour you’ll cruise through the Indian Ocean before disembarking for your island adventure. You can hop on board at the Barrack Street jetty in Perth or start your voyage further south from the B-Shed and Northport pick-up spots in Fremantle. As you can imagine, locals and visitors alike flood the island in the summertime, especially during school holidays, but don’t let that scare you off. There’s plenty of space to explore and discover the island even when others are doing the same.
What to Do on Rottnest Island
Perhaps the best thing about Rottnest Island is that you can make what you want of it.
Want to just kick back and relax on some secluded beachy areas? Go for your life. Looking to strap on a helmet and cruise the island on two wheels? Go for it with a bike rental from the Rottnest Express.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find the most adorable quokka on the island and grab a photo with it. Rotto is the place to find these magnificent marsupials, but we strongly suggest you resist the urge to stuff one in your backpack even though, yes, they are the cutest things we’ve ever seen! If you work up a sweat, just hop in the ocean and have a snorkel at The Basin, located on the northeast coast of the island. Rottnest is a fantastic spot to be active, be chilled or be a combination of both.
Where to Stay on Rottnest Island
While we would never argue with spending a packed day on Rottnest Island, there are so many awesome opportunities to explore and play that stretching your trip overnight could be the best move. If you decide you do want an extended stay, there are plenty of different options from which you can choose when it comes to setting up base for a day or two.
Most of the best accommodation is located on the northeastern portion of the island. There you’ll find everything from luxurious hotels and boutique cottages dotting the coast and providing breathtaking ocean views. Or, if your tastes aren’t quite as high society, you can find much more affordable, basic accommodation in the form of cabins and camping areas.
Where to Eat and Drink on Rottnest Island
If you’re lucky enough to get to the island early, it’s hard to pass up the Rottnest Bakery as your first stop. This now iconic eatery pumps out freshly baked bread every day, using only locally sourced ingredients from the island to craft loaf after loaf of deliciousness. Scrumptious pies are certain to satisfy the heartier crowd, while other bakery staples (including coffee, of course) can also be purchased and devoured.
If you want another dose of cute quokka action, the Quokka’s Arms at the Rottnest Hotel can deliver it. Sit down for a cold, frosty pint and some pub grub as the little beauties meander around looking for scraps. Human food is dangerous for quokkas to ingest, so be sure to keep your crumbs to yourself! Of course, you might not even notice the little buggers, as it can be tough to rip your eyes away from the incredible ocean views the hotel offers.