Stories of 2019 #61: 8 Reasons to Visit Perth, Australia

One in 10 people who live in Perth was born in the UK and they often faced the question, why Perth? The WA for Western Australia was replaced with ‘wait awhile’ as the world’s most isolated city had little going for it. But they have waited, and now the city is booming with pop-ups, bars and hip suburbs. So much so The New York Times named it one of the top places to visit in 2019. From Leaderville to Fremantle, to the Hummus Club restaurant to secret speak-easy bars – Perth has come out from under-the-radar and put itself on the map. 

I was lucky enough to visit and here are my top 8 reasons to visit Perth.

1 The CBD

Perth is a young city and one that is continuing to grow year on year. With exciting things happening right in the heart of the it, there is no better time than to experience Perth. When I was thinking about going, I did not really know what to expect. This would be my first experience of Australia and whilst I have family who live in Perth, you hear and read much more about what to do in the glamorous city of Sydney or the cool city of Melbourne. But what about Perth? Fortunately, I was very surprised. While it is not quiet a big as other cities in Australia, Perth packs a punch with what they have to offer to tourists with a growing set of shopping malls, museums, parks and places to eat and drinks.

Attractions include; Yagan Square, Elizabeth Quays, Perth Zoo, the Perth Mint and the Bell Tower to name a few spots.

2 Rottnest Island

Only 19km from the coast of Perth, Rottnest Island boasts some of the best coastline, marine life and the iconic smiling quokkas. This little island got its name when the Dutch explorer – William De Vlamingh – found this island and mistook these quokkas for the common rat and the name Rottnest translates simply to, rats nest! But now, having a selfie with these smiling ‘rats’ has become a main attraction for visitors. So when you are making your way around the island, be sure to keep your eye out for the happiest animal on the planet.

Once you have arrived in ‘Rotto’ as it is better know as to the local Aussie’s, this idyllic island playground offers up 63 beaches, 20 pristine bays, and plenty of coral reefs to snorkel in. But to make sure this beautiful reserve stays in its pristine state, the island is car-free with the exception of the Bayseeker Bus. The best way to explore Rottnest is to hire a bicycle and explore this 11km long and 4km wide island. Cycle to Cathedral Rocks and see the seals or to the Wadjemup Lighthouse to take in the view from the highest point. Take a picnic (watch out for seagulls if you stop for lunch at The Settlement – they got lucky and left with our pies), your bathers and suncream for the perfect day trip from the city.

Get there by ferry from Perth City, Fremantle and Hilarys.

3 The Coastline

From a morning dip to a dazzling Indian Ocean sunset – you can play all day at Perth’s many beaches. Think crystal blue seas and white, soft sand and you have the Western Australia coastline. Forget the bar crawl and do a beach crawl up the coast in your car or you can even walk, run or cycle! One day, when I was in Perth, I choose to walk from North beach to Scarborough and then up to Hilary’s.

Cottesloe beach is the poster girl for Perth’s coastline and it is not a surprise when the beach has 1km of paper-white sand and some of WA’s best swimming spots. Generations of families have spent over 100 years of summers here, cooling off in the ocean with the iconic Indian teahouse in the background and the floating bell on the distant shore. This is also the beach that you may have seen many people standing on in their swimming costumes and santa hats on Good Morning Britain on Christmas Day.

Further up the coast is City Beach, Scarborough, North Beach and at the top of the coastal path, Sorrento’s where Hilary’s Harbour is. All just as breathtaking as each other and all have restaurants, bars and playgrounds for the children. Make sure you catch the sun set into the ocean, as the sky lights up with vivid oranges and deep reds!

4 Wineries

Several wine regions are waiting to be sampled by you. But the closest one to Perth’s city is the Swan Valley. Easily reached by car or you can enjoy a scenic cruise on the river from the city centre.

Swan Valley is the oldest wine region in WA and you can taste your way around the valley from wine to chocolate to cheese! Make sure you have lots of room in your belly to fit it all in – especially at the chocolate factory where there is plenty to try! Swan Valley is a 32km loop that is home to over 200 attractions. If you are here for the wine, maybe join a tour or get yourself a driver so you can have a few (or many) glasses of fine wine. All the wines are paired with a breathtaking view over the valley and you can meet all the makers of these delicious products. The Swan Valley is renowned for its Verdelho, Shiraz and Cabernet.

A little further afield is the Great Southern wine region and Margaret River. I did not get to visit these other two but what I saw of Swan Valley has made me add the others to my bucket list.

5 Food and Drink

Chefs, baristas, mixologists and winemakers. In Perth you can now indulge your senses in the city that is making waves in the culinary world. Roof-top eateries, whole-food cafes and speakeasy bars are constantly opening in the hip suburb of Northbridge and the CBD.

As Perth is one of the sunniest places in Australia, Perth is blessed with a climate that can grow avocados, kiwis, papaya and everything in between! And being sat on-top of the Indian Ocean, they have a sea that is brimming with fresh fish and seafood. So, with local produce fresh and available pretty much on their door-step, you can see why Perth is making waves. This is not just in the CBD either, head to suburbs outside of the city precinct and find yourself cafe and restaurant hopping.

I was only in Perth for just over two weeks and I think I gave it a pretty good go at tasting some of their culinary delights. My favourite being The Hummus Club in Northbridge. Yes, that is a whole tapas style menu dedicated to hummus… I mean, it cannot get better than that! I also tried charcoal ice-cream from Hilary’s harbour, had falafel bowls at Glory Bowls in Scarborough, dukkah avocado toast in the city, smoothie bowls in Freo and BBQ breakfasts at my uncles!

The question really is, where should you go first?

6 Sunshine

Did you know they get an average of 8.8 hours of sunshine everyday throughout the year? However, I beg to differ as when I was there most of my days consisted of rain but I shall continue to have faith in the stats… But because there is so much sunshine, the people of Perth make the most of it and head outdoors to enjoy walking, cycling, running or playing games in the park. So make sure you soak up some of the delicious Aussie sunshine!

7 Fremantle

A short train ride away from downtown Perth is Frementle or ‘Freo’ as the locals call it. A history but hip area in Perth.

Freo is more commonly known for being the world’s best-preserved example of the 19th century port streetscape. But this is not all the suburb has to offer. You can have a coffee along their iconic Cappuccino Strip, shop at the Fremantle market or delve into the history at the prison. The streets buzz with buskers jamming in the streets and quirky, cool people as they dine in hipster style pop-ups, trendy coffee bars or rummage through thrift stores.

Head to Freo for a day trip, like I did, or better yet, stay for a night or two and soak up the nightlife.

Fremantle is not the only hip place to explore in Perth. In the heart of the city – Northbridge is a place not to miss – as well as, Leaderville.

8 Kings Park

Forget New York’s Central Park – Perth is actually home to the largest inner-city park.

Perched high on the hill, Kings Park provides the cities best panoramic views of the CBD and the river. Try to imagine 400 hectares of bushland, flowers, local WA plants, 75-year-old trees, shrubs and colourful birds. Pretty impressive! Simply wander around and take in the beauty of the nature and think to yourself, “I can’t believe I am in Australia.” (Like I was)

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Stories of 2019 #48: Realities of Solo Travel

I have been home now from travelling for over four months. But as soon as I got home, it was like I had never even been? Not one for being quizzed, I loved hearing about what everyone else has been up to. Life went on, I signed back up to the gym, I went back to work and daily life continued on without much thought about what a big deal it kind of was?! It is only since someone said to me, “how mad was it that you went to Australia?” that I started thinking, yes, that was mad! I went to Bali and Australia all on my own.

Now, I know that really this is not that big a deal. I know people who have left for god knows how long, and I only went for a tiny dent of that time but it is the fact I still packed my bags and went. Personally, for me, I love to travel and experience the different cultures but I do not know if I could do that length of time, over the other side of the world for so long? Especially for my first trip. Just over three months was the perfect step for me.

So, this post is a reflection on my time as a solo traveller.

I was meant to go with a friend from home but as it turned out being it was not meant to be as she got ill and other things got in the way. Luckily, she is back to full fighting health and even got to do her stint of solo travelling! But I do think it was a blessing in disguise that we went separately. It would have been a completely different experience and looking back at my time away, I would not have wanted it any differently. Being solo forced me to be social, forced me to step out of that comfort zone and take risks you would not take if you had the comfort of a friend. It also enabled me to do what the hell I wanted! If I wanted to go to bed at 9pm (in true party style), I could. If I wanted to stop and have endless cups of coffee, I could. And if I wanted to go anywhere and do anything, I could. That is the beauty of travelling on your own. It is flexible and completely up to you.

My highlights

All the people I met being away were my highlights! I made friends with people I never would have made friends with if I was not on my own. Once I had got into the flow of just being myself, I was chatting to everyone. I have got the traveller conversation nailed… What’s your name? Where are you from? How long are you away for? Are you going up or down the coast? How long are you at this hostel for? If you have stayed in hostels and travelled, I bet you have had that exact same conversation at least 20 times!

Rosa and Alex, were two girls I pretty much spent a whole month with and we would all get upset if one of us choose to stay somewhere for one day longer and then would be all happy again when we were reunited. It was hard to say goodbye to these amazing ladies but I am sure I will see them again. I also made friends with Tom in hostel bus after the Greyhound, Sean in a exercise class in a hostel, Ali over a box of goon, Jada on the Uncle Brians Tour in Cairns and Mary on our skydive. So many people make your experience whilst you are travelling and I know you would meet people if you were travelling with other people but being on my own made me chat to anyone who would sit next to me and I loved that aspect sometimes (yes, sometimes, if you carry on reading lol).

Really it is such a bizarre concept staying in hostels, sleeping in a room with people you have never met from around the world. But the people you met, are those who you would never have the chance to meet at home and that is one big highlight for me!

Another highlight for me was having that peace and quiet when you needed it. Travelling can be tiring. You are constantly surrounded by people and constantly trying to make some sort of conversation. Truthfully, the only time you are completely on your own is when you are in the toilet. The full door toilet, not even them cubicle ones. I remember in Melbourne, one girl even said she was so fed up with talking to people that one time she sat in the toilet and read her book for an hour just to have a break. For me I went the beach or the park but each to their own hey!

I remember one afternoon in St Kilda, Melbourne, I laid down for near enough two hours staring into the sky, relaxing my body and thinking about everything going on. It was beautiful. I also did this on the beach in Byron Bay one morning. If I was not on my own, I would not be able to do this (well, not without feeling a little bit bad). Taking a break where necessary is a hidden beauty of going on your own.

St Kila, Melbourne

My not so highlights…

I had many lows when I was away. More lows in Australia than I did in Bali. I think this was primarily down to being on my own in Australia, compared to Bali, where I was with a big group of bloody amazing girls. Not having an organised day or group, made you have to make an effort and sometimes you were faced with a true sense of loneliness. Everyone you meet, is at a different point in their travelling experiences. I met people who were itching to meet people and go exploring but then I also met people who were on their second year, working and the novelty of the excited traveller had worn off.

Just keep on smiling // Me in Brisbane

I found this happened more in cities like Sydney or Brisbane, where people based themselves for jobs. Especially in Brisbane, I was hit square in the face with loneliness. It was horrible and an experience I really wish not to have again. Do not get me wrong, the city was lovely and I spent three days doing some fun things like seeing a circus show, eating I think the best pizza, petting joey’s and watching fireworks but I also cried in the cinema toilets, looked for tickets home and just wished I was moving to the next place already. I did not expect it to hit me like it did. You feel silly too (well I know I did) because I was in Australia?! Australia! Living the dream and travelling and you could not moan or be upset to those at home, in the cold, working hard. But honestly, talk to people. Let them know you are feeling low and they can send you virtual hug. Also, do things you enjoy. Yes, I may have cried in the cinema toilets but I also love the cinema and saw a really good film – Crazy Rich Asians.

I also had this feeling in Byron Bay. It was my first night after the overnight bus from Sydney, where I had the most amazing few days with Cole, and I had spent all of my first day in Byron Bay on the beach, alone. That evening, I cooked dinner and felt brave enough to go into the social area. All I saw was people on their phones (one time I think they are a curse travelling) or in big groups (intimidating…) and ended up rushing back to my bunk, feeling like a complete loser at travelling. I text my friend, Jessamyn, saying I can’t make friends and I am being unsociable. Upsettingly saying to her I thought travelling would be all party, party, party. But like she said, you do not need to make friends. You have friends at home! This was just what I needed to hear. Why was I putting such a pressure on myself to make friends? So, if you ever have this feeling of not making friends, just remember your friends at home waiting for you and simply remind yourself that tomorrow is a new day, ready for new adventures. You are there to see the sights and when you stop worrying so much, I found I relaxed and was able to speak to people. This early night was actually followed by two of my most favourite nights travelling, so it is proof it works!

Byron Bay beach (nice and cloudy)

No experience is smooth sailing and we all need them times were we are suffering to realise what we are made of. So, as much as I did not like the low points I had, they made my trip what it did and made me stronger for future ones. I am still amazed I actually went. But even though I have been to the other side of the world on my Tod, I still get incredibly nervous to do things on my own. I am not now this independent women, I get nervous going to bloody London or have spent the last few months deciding what to do next and whether I could do that trip on my own (totally forgetting I have done it before…). We often forget what we have achieved when we get more concerned with worry about the future, filling our heads with self-doubt. I remember feeling so incredibly nervous waiting at Heathrow Airport for my flight to Bali but then I also felt incredibly nervous waiting for my flight home, wondering what is next for me? As deep as this will sound, you are solo in life, whether you are in Boxfield Green or a hostel in the depths of Cape Tribulation being bitten alive by mossies! I somehow managed to get the courage to go away solo then and now I need to get the same courage to do my next trip or next step in life and my time away solo has taught me that for me, India Paine, this is possible.

That took a turn there at the end but that is me always going off on tangents! If you want to travel solo, I highly recommend but just expect you have to take the rough with the smooth. However, it will be the most amazing time.

Stories of 2019 #17: Smoothie Bowl Addict

I confess. I am a smoothie bowl addict. I do not care if they contain hundreds of hidden calories, they look and they taste bloody delicious! Pink, purple, blue, Halloween themed, topped with heaps of peanut butter, fruit, granola (best part), flowers, who knows you may even find a mermaid in the depths of a smoothie bowl. I mean there are even Instagram accounts dedicated to the smoothie bowl… How can you resist when they look THAT good.

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Yummy Blue Smoothie Bowl by @isiaaak

A post shared by Smoothie Bowl Recipes (@smoothiebowls) on

You do have to go out and source a smoothie bowl if you want them to look good, unless you are just a domestic goddess and can blend up something as good as this. I know I can’t, so I go on the global smoothie bowl hunt.

They became popular in 2016 and was a huge Instagram trend due to their drool-worthy look. But what really is a smoothie bowl I hear you ask? Well, it is a mix of frozen fruit, vegetables and other so-called superfoods such as yogurt, avocado and oats. This forms a ice-cream like texture, so instead of putting your smoothie in a cup and drinking with a straw, you pour it into a bowl and eat it with a spoon. Then it is time for the crown jewels – the beautiful toppings that are carefully placed sometimes in lines on top of your smoothie, which can be pretty much anything. The aim of the smoothie bowl is supposedly to make you eat more mindfully as you cannot gulp it down – unless you want brain freeze…

However, they are said to be very high in sugar so maybe consume in moderation.

I have to say, not to blow my own trumpet, but I like to now call myself the global smoothie bowl connoisseur. Ubud, Canguu, Byron Bay, London, Townsville, Hitchin, I mean do I need to convince your further? Joking, when I am making smoothie bowls good enough to go on the smoothie bowl accounts, I know then I am the connoisseur.

Anyway, here are where I have had the delicious smoothie bowl.

The Avocado Factory, Canguu // Avo Island Smoothie Bowl
Watercress, Ubud // Acai Superfood Smoothie Bowl
Puri Garden Hotel and Hostel, Ubud // Smoothie Bowl
NUUT Nutrition Bar, Fremantel WA // Nourishing Glow Bowl
Acai Brother, Byron Bay // Ain’t Nothin’ Butter Bowl
The Beet Bar, Townsville // Peanut Butter Swirl
Pluk, Amsterdam // Unicorn Acai Bowl
Feya, London // Pastel Rainbow Smoothie Bowl
Chia Cafe, Hitchin // Acai Smoothie Bowl

By the looks of things I need to take my own advice and think about moderation ha ha. Now make sure you share your smoothie bowls with me and I can go and try too!

Stories of 2019 #11: Noosa, Australia Travel Guide

Turquoise seas, white sand beaches and hidden fairy pools – Noosa is a must visit spot when on your East Coast Australia road trip!

Noosa National Park, Australia

Located appropriately on the Sunshine Coast, Noosa is the go-to destination for the fellow Aussies but for a first-timer Australia is big, if you hadn’t notice, so finding the right places to stop at can be hard.

For me, it was sandwiched between the city of Brisbane and the small town of Rainbow beach (mainly used for Fraser Island). I found that Noosa was the perfect place to practice your surfing, do a spot of shopping or fill up on delicious food from Hastings Street.

As a typical backpacker, I stayed at Flashpackers on Pacific Avenue. I have to say this was one of the best hostels I stayed at during my three months away. Family run, small and had all the amenities any backpacker could dream of! They had breakfast each day and even held a cheese and wine night whilst I was there. See, who said backpackers had to slum it!

The hostel was around a 10-minute walk to the bus station, where you pick up the Greyhound bus, and the liquor store (result). And, then a further 10 minutes walk was the main area of Noosa, Hastings Street.

I had some delicious meals here in Noosa, mainly for lunch as I would often cook in the evening. If you walk along Hastings street or the beachfront you will find plenty of places to stop and have a bite to eat. For me, I choose Blended Health Bar, Raw and Rice and Noosa Acai Brothers.

I also walked off this delicious food with the 6.5km walk along the picturesque coastline, from Sunshine beach to Noosa Heads main beach. I spotted whales and dolphins jumping about in the sea. It is said you can also see koala bears in the trees but unfortunately we did not see any. You have to really keep your eye out for them!

The main part of the walk I was looking forward too was finding the fairy pools. A wild swimming spot where the waves have filled deep pools in the rocks with the bluest water. The perfect spot for a refreshing dip after a long, hot walk. It was not too busy when I was there, as I hear it can get super busy with lots of tourists trying to also get in the pools. Thankfully, for us there was only a handful of people jumping in and out, myself included!

Noosa Fairy Pools // I am in there by the rocks!

Now you have walked your daily quota of 10,000 steps, it is time to chill on the beach. Lie back on your beach towel and listen to the Laguna Bay waves as they crash against the sand. Writing this is making me wish I was right there, right now! It is also an excellent spot to watch as the surfers ride the waves or, like me, catching the waves into the shore with the bodyboard. Noosa is one of the best spots for surfing and attracts plenty of them long-haired, toned surfers! Especially in March when they hold their annual Festival of Surfing. Sounds terrible to me *wink wink*. If you don’t fancy the main beach and want something a little more private, Noosa has plenty more to offer. Check out Visit Noosa for more information.

That is all I got up too on my few days in Noosa but there is also the Noosa Everglades, where you can go kayaking. Some friends from the hostel did a tour of the Everglades and said it was lovely. So another one to add to your list of recommendations from this post.

I did really enjoy Noosa, apart from here I was chased by a magpie down the road! A genuinely terrifying moment in my life ha ha. But my time to get back on the Greyhound bus came around too quickly but at least I left wanting more.

More Australia posts to come!