Ocean Beach Hotel in Cottesloe, the "swanky" part of Perth with a super beach. Have a lazy day at the beach then get into OBH for a cold, cold Hahn beer or something similar. Fridges full of chilled glasses ensure this is a cold beer. Ignore the TVs and the sport. Just take a seat at the open bar front and enjoy the sunset over the Indian Ocean. Sydney may have its harbour, but it doesn't get the sunset. Enjoy the multitude of colour across the ocean as the sun dips behind the horizon ... then order another beer.
Easy Perth Backpackers is a fantastic place to save money and chill for a while in Perth. They have the cheapest rates going for Northbridge and allow you to bring in your own beers/'goon' from the off license.
Try Duende Restaurant in Newcastle Street - Fresh ingredients, great atmosphere, and very talented chef make this the best kept secret in the area.
The staff are great, the menu changes with the season, the coffee sets a high standard, and the food is fresh and consistently well prepared.
Try their cakes - they make them on-site (rare for Perth).
A relatively little-known wine region around four hours' drive south of Perth in the south-westernmost corner of Australia. Both the climate and the grape blends are reminiscent of Bordeaux, although the wineries have a strong Aussie accent: friendly, fun and also offering great food. My favourite is Wise Winery on Eagle Bay, which offers sweeping vistas of Geographe Bay from a panoramic dining terrace - the perfect setting for a delicious lunch, accompanied by a glass of 'Half Wit' Chardonnay or their 'Coat Door' Shiraz / Cabernet blend. The sheltered crescent of Meelup Beach is just down the road.
Semillon Sauvignon heaven, with a simple roast tomato soup, sitting on a simple bench overlooking the vines, a golden light like chardonnay filtering through the leaves. Bliss.
One of the best things about Perth is you’re only ever a train ride from the beach. If you can’t be bothered to make the day trip to the wine regions of the Swan Valley and Margaret River, spend a morning stretching out on this secluded patch of sand, and take a dip in the Indian Ocean. There’s a free shuttle bus that runs between the city and the sea, but it’s only a fifteen minute walk from the train station if you want to soak up the scenery.
Google map: tinyurl.com/qgf5g9
The Swan Barracks were built in 1896, and this imposing stone structure is one of the oldest buildings in Northbridge. But you won’t find soldiers in the cavernous drill-hall – the historic building has been converted into a bright and breezy hostel, and the modern rooms have a laid-back vibe, with bar fridges and widescreen TVs. A stone’s throw from the bus and train station, and next door to the lively bars and clubs of Northridge, this hostel is a quirky mix of old and new, and even has its own ‘Barracks Bar’, complete with barrel bar stools.
In the heart of trendy Northbridge, this gallery is part of the modern Perth Cultural centre, with a Centenary Gallery building housed in an old police station. There’s an exhausting collection of art on show, but the main draw is the ongoing exhibitions of Western Australian art from the 1820s-1960s, and traditional and contemporary Indigenous Art. Entry is free, and the colourful Gallery Shop is a work of art itself, stocked with beautiful books, prints and cool design products.
Catch a ferry along the Swan River to Fremantle, or ‘Freo’ as it’s known to locals, for the oldest market in Western Australia. It’s worth the trip just for the Ferry pilot’s funny anecdotes and pocket history of Perth, as the odd pod of dolphins swims by in the water. The market’s historic Victorian buildings have been restored and now 150 stalls sell an eclectic mix of pottery, prints and fresh food. The rest of Freo is worth checking out for its colonial history – many of the old buildings here were built by convicts - and the excellent microbreweries for a quick pint; ‘Little Creatures’ is worth a look for its ‘tasting room’.
This sprawling 400 hectares of bushland is only five minutes away from the city centre and is a great place for a bush walk or barbecue. There are guided tours through the botanical gardens, filled with exotic birds and wild flowers, but it’s more fun to make your own trail up to the State War Memorial, for picture-perfect snaps of the Swan River. Climb further up the DNA tower for a 360 degree view of the city, and take a tram back to the bottom is you’re feeling weary.
Rottnest Island (or 'Rotto' to the locals), is a 30 minute catamaran ride from Fremantle. It's the only place where you can see quokka, which resemble small kangaroos.
Rottnest has fabulous beaches in crystal clear water and is great for a day out or short trip from Perth. No cars are permitted, so cycling is popular.
A hotel and beer garden overlook Thomson's Bay and there are a selection of food outlets and cafes at the Settlement.
You can even stay in the former Aboriginal jail, which is now a hotel.
Ferry from Fremantle to Rottnest (booking ahead is recommended). Return journey approx $60 at time of writing.
Google map: tinyurl.com/kuw36s
The Mint was one of the places where Australia’s coinage was produced but now it mints mainly commemorative medals and the like – the 2000 Olympics medals for instance – but it stages a ‘Gold Pour’ half a dozen times a day. This is industry as theatre, as a bloke melts down gold (and they do use real gold, unlike other mints that have a similar attraction) and pours into a mould, plunges that into a bucket of cold water and then presents the finished article for the audience to admire – all of this done with an informative and witty patter. It was fascinating and the Mint also has a very upmarket gift shop and tea gardens.
This was, I reckon, the best cuppa I had for the entire nine weeks I was away from home – a fresh pot of Orange Pekoe made with leaf tea not bags, slices of lemon instead of milk, piping hot water for top-up and a plate of excellent scones with raspberry jam and cream - terrific.
Yes, you heard correctly. Not much like the UK Scarborough beach, imagine laying on the beach watching dolphins about 1/2 mile offshore, the lifeguards having a quick check to make sure they 'were' dolphins. Fantasic, free car parks all they way down the miles of great beaches. Wish I was back there.
Google map: tinyurl.com/pmtpa8
Star Anise is a relaxed fine dining restaurant with chef David Coomer consistently creating exceptional cuisine. Some of it influenced by south-east Asia and all of it outstanding.
The degustation menu is fantastic giving you a little more than a taste of his favourite items on the menu. Ma hor a well known favourite with a slice of pineapple, caramalised duck, seared scallop with a mint, chilli and coriander dressing. Licorice ice cream is another established favourite but if it's not on the menu it's worth a trip back.
The wine list is dominated by Australian wines but there are generally a few international gems as well.
If rain stops play I wholly recommend the art gallery. It's not so big, so it doesn't take long to get around but it's air conditioned and quiet. There is always a gallery of indigenous art and the other galleries are rotated often. One really exciting exhibition is the Year 12 Perspectives; the state's best (equivalent) A-Level art pieces which are breathtaking.
It's right by Perth train station, quite close to the museum too (gold coin donation for entry there) and on the Northbridge side - so easy to get dinner afterwards!
Google map: tinyurl.com/owslht
Indian vegetarian restaurant run by volunteers. Good food. You pay what you judge the meal to be worth and the profits go to charities in India.
(NB No alcohol) Mon-Fri. Lunch and evening
Microbrewery and bar in a huge converted boat shed on the Fishing Boat Harbour in Fremantle – you can sit and drink their Pale Ale while you watch it being made. Also has a restaurant and a harbourside terrace.
Cycling around the Swan River between the Narrows bridge and Stirling bridge at Fremantle can be made into a half-day trip stopping at the excellent cafes at Matilda Bay, Peppermint Grove, the Left Bank (Fremantle) and Coffee Point (Applecross).
Bikes can be hired at many bike shops around the city. Go in the morning when it's less windy.
Google map: tinyurl.com/qzwd4q
There are many excellent courses around the city and the public ones are very cheap. Try the nine-hole at Point Walter for beautiful views of the river and $15 for a round.
Honour Avenue, Bicton, Point Walter, on the south side of the river; tel: 8 9330 3262
Google map: tinyurl.com/o4m6jc
OK, so Perth is probably Australia's least interesting city, but you know there are worse places.
It is also a good jump-off point to go and visit Wave Rock, which is about 350km, or a four hour drive, due east. It is truely spectacular, less commercial than Ayres Rock and also serves as the main water source to the desert town of Hyden below.
OK, it is a long way to go just for a wind-eroded, 15m-high rock, but if you're in Perth you'll probably be bored and desperate.
Google map: tinyurl.com/len4qv
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