From a local to you – Perth Travel Journal
Perth the capital city in Australia’s largest state, Western Australia, famous for its natural beauty and biodiversity. Also my hometown. Save the binge partying for Thailand because Perth’s lifestyle incorporates outdoors, foodie pursuits and over recent years, fitness and authentic mother nature based adventure.
I was super excited as the plane touched down onto the runway in Perth and could hardly contain myself. Eagerly anticipating for the seat belt sign to flash giving me the go ahead to open the overhead luggage compartment, to then realise as I was in the last three rows of the plane I was going no where fast, anytime soon. As I waited patiently, I reflected on the past 8 months in the remote Pilbara region and how quickly time had passed, well, up until waiting to disembark off the plane that is.
Relax, Feast and be Merry. Things to see and do in Perth.
Perth’s multitude of cafes leaves no worries in finding a place to suit, whether it be in the city, by the beach or in a quiet neighbourhood. Beginning each day catching up on emails and a little work, I found myself not only enjoying a strong long black, however also, the extra options of access to power points and free wireless internet from Dome Cafe at Brookfield Place and several of the cafes at Claremont Quarter.
Western Australia is mostly famous for its natural landscape. One of the key features of Perth’s environment is the bush and while urbanisation has reduced the number of old trees through disease and clearing, there are some pockets of native bush land left in and around the city thanks to residents who passionately engage with local councils. A short drive from the central business district is Perry Lakes and Bold Park, one of my favourite places where the old Tuart tree still grows and Banksias attract the Black Cockatoos, a species of bird endemic to Western Australia. There are some short hiking trails deep within Bold Park that provide some lovely views over the city and ocean. Shenton Bushland nearby and Star Swamp further along the northern coast are less visited places also worth visiting.
A tofu curry laksa from Tui Cafe in West Perth will fire you up to embark on an afternoon of exploring through Perth, you may need a coffee immediately afterwards to start that engine thanks to the generous serving!
Ranked number one on Trip Advisor is Kings Park Botanic Garden and don’t let this touristy tag deter you from making a visit to this wonderful pocket of the city because all the locals visit it regularly too. I wrote a fairly detailed post about exploring Kings Park some time ago here.
Those with limited time in Perth, will appreciate the garden beds of densely populated wildflowers around the Frasers Avenue Precinct and Lotterywest Federation walkway in Kings Park and Botanic Gardens. The one stop to see Western Australia’s wildflower biodiversity and even a few of the endangered flora around the state. Remember not to step in the garden beds and keep an eye out for reptiles who live in the area.
Pack a picnic and laze around on the lawn near the Kings Park visitor centre, in the sun lost in your own thoughts, or in good company. The views across the Swan River and out to the Perth Hills are sensational.
Fat Maki on Mayfair Street in West Perth opens for the business lunch trade.
Fresh ingredients homemade into a satisfying bowl of Japanese greatness and topped with a decent drizzling of mayo. Following replenishment of the belly, walk down to Watertown Brand outlet for some bargain shopping with your cup of takeaway coffee in hand.
Along Perth’s coastline there are a number of beaches to stop in via bicycle or a scenic tourist vehicle route. Each beach is slightly different from the next, Leighton beach is accessible along the Fremantle train line and a small cafe scene can be found on the other side of the sand dunes. Cottesloe Beach is well known to travellers and walking the path between this beach and Swanbourne provides more uninterrupted views the entire way with a several spots for coffee and food.
Further north is City Beach, where the waves and beach front are a little bigger. Hit up one of the restaurants after a swim or use the BBQS to cook up a feast at sunset under the sheoak trees.
Not all perfectly blue sky days are swimming weather and in this case, the deck chairs in the new City Beach precinct are a great spot to soak in the sun on a windy chilly day. Odyssea Cafe do a decent long black coffee in a nice outdoor alfresco area overlooking the beach, I took the opportunity to catch up on emails a few times in the afternoons. Of course, a rosemary & pineapple chilli margarita with modern Australian food at sunset sounds like a great idea!
While not shy to adventurous foods in Perth, there remains a desire in the heart to seek out the classic tastes and as such, Choux Cafe who specialise in real butter croissants and French patisserie delights is where I find myself after a drive along the coast. Try the Criollo, a soft cake of sponge, creme brulee, vanilla poached apple and a gooey caramel coating. The chicken and avocado baguette is also delicious.
The town of Mosman Park nestled between the Indian Ocean and Swan River is an easy drive from either Fremantle or Perth. Bay View Park lookout is a quiet spot to soak in those stunning panoramic views. A number of other parks and paths connect and trace the cove to North Fremantle. The locals support a bush care programme which has seen a return of native birds to the area, so keep an eye out! With some time to spare, drive to Bicton and walk the sandbar, seen in the picture below.
Being strong supporters of airbnb, there is also value in a hotel stay and Frasers Suite, close enough to Perth’s opulent Crown Casino, yet not as expensive to overnight in is a rather nice way to treat yourself when you’ve been treading Pilbara red dirt for months. Located downtown on Adelaide Terrace, Frasers Suite provide a professional service in the elegant lobby. Serviced spacious apartments with views and in most instances a balcony. Not too many hotels in Perth feature a sauna and this indubitably was a bonus to the meaning of relaxation.
The Perth hills is a superb retreat from the city at a 30 minute drive and one spot to keep in mind is Lesmurdie Falls. It’s worth noting there are many hiking and cycling trails, lookouts and a small local producer scene to turn a short Perth Hill road trip into a full day event.
Lesmurdie Falls is ideal for those with limited time or not physically able to complete long hikes, truth be told I wasn’t prepared for this one and walked the trail to the waterfall in thongs which was a little uncomfortable, however the scenery distracted this minor detail. There isn’t a great deal of shade and a hat is essential in the sun.
A further 15 minute drive will bring you to a secluded little restaurant called the Vineyard Kitchen. Sitting under trees at white clothed tables sipping local sparkling whilst biting into lamb brains is a wonderful way to lunch. Book in advance, this is a beautiful place to enjoy classic wholesome food. If the forecast is rain, the tables are relocated in the rustic shed so you won’t miss out on the creme brulee!
Little has changed in Fremantle since the 90s except for the street art and food scene, located on High Street is this unusual artwork, a geometric optical illusion. This particular artwork seems to divide people, those that love the surprise and others that voice it detracts from the classic buildings. The artwork is actually thin aluminium sheets which are self adhesive and perhaps those that haven’t taking a liking to the artwork haven’t realised it’s not painted on.
Tucked away in a Perth neighbourhood, Samson’s Paddock is a small establishment outputting food of substance and flavour. A whiskey menu to entice, the tapas dishes are hearty, however still offers salad choices which is not a bad idea when you are five days into holiday eating. The dessert perhaps memorable because it was a black sesame creme brulee and a fancier version of the humble banana cake.
Little Creatures is the largest restaurant in the southern hemisphere, it’s also a fantastic spot for a boutique brew anytime of the day. I’ve always loved the casual ambience of this restaurant and brewery. If it’s just the two of you, head upstairs for a slightly out of the way area. If you have the whole family with the little ones, walk to the end of the building to the sandpit. Everyone will like the sandpit.
Possibly the largest collection of cheesecakes to be found in Perth is at Greens and Co in Leederville, this people vibrant cafe is a great spot to sink into one of the couches for late night coffee and cake.
Anyone sleeping over in the city on a Saturday night needs to be in the know for Sunday breakfast spots as the CBD tends to be dead quiet early morning. The Petition Kitchen on the side of the heritage State building is open from 8am for breafast. Mano a Mano blended coffee, open kitchen and house made crumpets with roasted peach and whipped buffalo – this is a stylish place to enjoy breakfast.