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!
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?
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!
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)