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perth

Travelling to Perth? Read this first.

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Perth is having a moment; there’s no way to deny it.

From the local brews to the hipster central hotspots, Perth is Australia’s new must-see destination and it’s not hard to see why. Awesome barrier reefs, expansive desert landscapes, wine country, white sand and blue water beaches, creative little creatures, and more are all rolled into one fantastic hotspot on Western Australia’s Coast and it’s a great place to vacation.

While I tend to take the road less travelled—beer tours! music festivals! fancy eats!—there’s a guide to getting the good stuff like a local as well, and this one is it. So sit back and relax; I’ve got suggestions to where to stay, where to play, and where to shop in an ultimate guide to living it up in Perth.  

Where to Stay

Perth is bursting with things to excite someone who really loves finding their niche in the travel market through accommodation; from great Airbnb rentals to state of the art boutique hotels, there’s plenty to excite a person who prides themselves on making a particularly excellent choice.

For lovers of the quiet B&B atmosphere I suggest Pension of Perth in Northbridge; with it’s classic, rustic-chic bed and breakfast style, it’s perfect for a couple taking a romantic getaway or for a writer’s retreat that ends with you writing the next screen adaptation for Australia. There’s private rooms and a townhouse, and it’s all minutes walk from Perth Central without being in the middle of the hustle and bustle—this means you get to eat, drink, be merry, and then come back home to relax.

Anywhere I go, I always suggest checking out Airbnb, especially if you’re looking for a local experience, or plan on going with a lot of people. There are some really great finds, from chic, luxe getaways close to the city and the beach, to huge Fremantle palaces to bring the whole family along, it’s hard to find something that won’t fit. Plus, you’re benefitting from the locals who are always inclined to give you good recommendations for eating, playing, and beaching!

And my ultimate recommendation for accommodation comes from personal experience at COMO The Treasury, and I’m fairly sure it’s the best place I’ve ever stayed (and there’s a lot of great options in Perth). Stark, modern interiors, specifically crafted restaurants and cafes, and a storied past (it used to be a government building), COMO by far is the coolest digs in Perth. If you’ve got the extra pocket change, splurge for a room here with modern art made by local and international artists on the wall, a meal at their rooftop hangout Wildflower, or a lazy day hanging around their in house library. Can you imagine anything more sumptuous than that?

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What to Do

Do. There’s plenty to play with in Perth; from the Kings Park (the largest city green space in the world) to Cottesloe Beach, taking a tour of Perth’ must-sees are super fun, sometimes off the map, and impossible to miss. For a look at the native creatures up close, check out Perth Zoo. For an overlooking view that makes for great panoramic shots, go with the Lotterywest Federation Walkway. For a history lesson, The Perth Mint is the oldest functioning mint in the world and the Old Mill is a quaint relic of life in the mid-19th century.

  1. Think Perth is just about the wine tours in Swan Valley? Think again. The microbrewery revolution in Perth has hit its stride and spending an afternoon tasting all the hops is certainly a great way to taste the flavor of WA. Check out favorites like Mash Brewing, Colonial Brewing Co., and Indian Ocean Co. for classic tastes that are always good, or strike out and make a date with Cheeky Monkey Brewery and Cidery and Feral Brewing Co.—either way you roll, you can’t go wrong.
  2.  Perth has a great many music festivals (that also happen to be conveniently located on their stunning beaches) that shouldn’t be missed. Sets on the Beach is Perth’s hottest beach party, both literally and figuratively. Featuring both local and international talent, Sets fest banks on the beautiful summer weather and killer beach sunsets, not to mention it’s awesome lineups,  to give you the best time around. For urban and underground music, check out The Origin (it’s Perth’s answer to the growing hip hop scene), and try St. Jerome’s Laneway for an international fest that hits up locations all over Australia and Southeast Asia, bringing some really big acts and a whole lot of jamming fun.
  3. Do you consider yourself to be a bit of a foodie? Then Perth is going to be your taste bud heaven. From one of a kind gourmet grilled cheeses at Toastface Grillah to streetside food trucks offering excellent bratwurst at Run Amuk, you’re going to go hungry and come back really full, really satisfied, and really in love. Hit up La Veen for a flat white, The Raw Kitchen as an ode to the clean living revolution, and Lot Twenty for some great outdoor vibes. For dinner, make sure you don’t miss No Mafia’s Australian-Italian menu or The Old Crow for a 5-course style eatery that mixes authentic gastronomy with local favorites and trendy dishes.

What to Buy

Anything Quokka. This fluffy marsupial always wears a happy smile and has been deemed the happiest animal on the planet (truth is, if I were this cute I’d be perpetually happy too), and is a much smarter find than going for the run-of-the-mill kangaroo. While we love our two-legged pouch friends, the quokka is the younger, more adorable cousin that makes for a perfect stuffed animal to take home to just about anyone. Don’t miss your chance, these furries are one of a kind.

Aboriginal Art. How can you go into a cultural mecca and not partake in the local arts? So when in Perth, grab some great Aboriginal pieces that won’t only be a talking point for all those dinners but also will enrich the community and keep the incredible artistry alive. Hit up galleries like Japingka and Creative Native Perth for some clever finds.  

  1. As a colony of Britain and just excellent located for some international trading, antiques are not hard to come by in Perth, and spending a day searching for treasure might just be your perfect answer for a rainy day plan. From awesome furniture finds to old fishing equipment, even if you don’t plan on taking anything home, it will certainly make you feel like you’ve just encountered old pirate’s booty after a day in Curio Warehouse or Bluebird Vintage.
  2. Okay, maybe this one is a bit of a stretch if you’re imagining the airfare it would take to book an extra street just for your new favorite instrument, but there’s no harm at all in going to Didgeridoo Breath and trying one out on your own. Grab a picture (and maybe a tiny souvenir from the shop) and turn that moment into a great postcard from Postagram or a magnet from Sticky9. It’s going to be way better than anything you imagined picking up at one of those tiny tourist shops.  

Any additional places, things, eateries, or stays that I missed in my list? Let me know what makes Perth your favorite place to visit, and I’ll be sure to check it out next time I’m there. Until then, bon voyage!

Featured image credit: Gnangarra…commons.wikimedia.org [CC BY 2.5 au (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/au/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

First image credit: Greg O’Beirne (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Short Adventure Highlights in Perth and Surrounds

Perth has a reputation for being one of the most isolated cities in the world, however once you see it, you’ll feel much less sorry for the locals! Here are a few highlights within reach with a rented car or a tour for a short getaway from the urban sprawl.

Caversham Wildlife Park

For those who have yet to cuddle a koala this should be a peak experience! The park houses around 200 species of animals, including all the Australian staples such as wombats, dingos, wallabies, kangaroos, possums and many species of birds. Located a short drive into the suburbs of Perth, this is the perfect day out for families with kids and those with limited sightseeing time.

Nambung National Park

This is the gorgeous spot where you’ll be able to appreciate Australia’s own version of Monument Valley – albeit in miniature. Unique limestone pillar formations, called the Pinnacles, rise out of the desert sands, forming an unforgettable landscape and offering the perfect photo opp to share with friends and family back home! Located 162 km northwest of Perth, you’ll find plentiful beaches as well as bushland walks here. Head for a picnic to Hangover Bay (I kid you not, welcome to Oz and it’s creative approach to place-naming!), which offers BBQ facilities and a beautiful white beach with regular visits from bottlenose dolphins…

Lancelin Sand Dunes

I have to admit that personally, I love the desert landscape. It appears desolate and yet is full of life if you know where to look. Plus the silence and the starry skies above create an amazing atmosphere, if you get to camp in one overnight. But Lancelin, found 1.5 hour’s drive out of Perth, is primarily a destination for those who love the adventure sport of sand boarding, and it doesn’t get better than the pure white sand dunes in this area, which are the largest in WA and offer 45 degree angles! Watch out for avid motorbike and four wheel drivers though, and try and stay for the spectacular sunset.

Kalbarri National Park

Speaking of adventure sports, if abseiling is more your thing, head straight for a camping weekend at the gorgeous Kalbarri National Park, full of impressive gorges, the most famous being the 80km Murchison River Gorge. This park offers great hiking opportunities as well of course, and once you get super-sweaty, have a dip in the inviting waters of the Murchison river – a great reward just for making the effort to reach it! The park is located 485 kilometres north of Perth, so you will need to fly to Perth and make your way from there. It’s worth spending a few days exploring here, if your itinerary allows for it.

Monkey Mia Dolphins

If you’re after a longer vacation and a 10 hour drive does not put you off, Monkey Mia is one of the most famous spots along WA’s coast: it’s a dolphin paradise. Located in the Shark Bay Marine Park, a World Heritage Site where dolphins come inshore for a daily visit and feeding in the crystal clear waters, so you can get really close and personal with them. Shark Bay is also a prime sailing destination, with the park being home to abundant wildlife, including dugongs, sea turtles, pelicans and whales. Could you ask for more?

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Patricia Bieszk is a freelance writer who loves to camp in Australia’s amazing national parks and explore their natural wonders.