Be sure not to miss the world’s most isolated capital city, Perth. There’s plenty to see and do in the capital city itself and its nearby surrounds. Here’s my list of my favorite things this city has to offer!
Kings Park and Botanic Garden is located close to the Perth City Central Business District (CBD) and is a must do while you are in Perth! Offering stunning panoramic views of Perth and Swan River. The War Memorial, which is in Kings Park, is the perfect place to have a picnic. Plan to spend at least a couple of hours walking through the gardens which showcase indigenous plants from various regions of the state. The visitor’s center has guides who offer free tours at regular intervals highlighting flora and fauna found throughout different parts of Western Australia and organized by region. There’s a lot inside Kings Park so be sure not to miss the War Memorial, Treetop Walk and DNA tower. For a challenge, enter the park via Jacob’s Ladder.
No trip to Perth is complete without spending time in Fremantle (aka Freo). This southern suburb is easy to access from Perth City via train.
I took a historic tour of the world heritage listed Fremantle Prison. They offer three tours, I took both the Doing Time Tour which offers a look at the facilities and insight to what life in the prison may have been like for the inmates and the Great Escapes tour, which offers stories of some of the more famous or notorious inmates (and their attempts at escape) and gives you a peek at the women’s prison (which was a new backpackers styled hostel about to be opened when I was there). The prison employs guides who are both former prison guards and former inmates. My guide was full of information, engaging, dynamic, and remained elusive as to his own status as a former inmate or prison guard.
While in the neighborhood, be sure to schedule time to wander through the Fremantle Markets. They’re a typical market with food, produce, arts, and crafts.
I enjoyed thoroughly investigating the cafe’s and shops in the area. If you like craft beer, you’ll want to be sure to stop in Freo to enjoy a craft beer at one of Fremantle’s many pubs which offer more selection and variety then you’ll typically find on the East coast.
If you’re visiting in or around April, be sure to check the dates for the Fremantle Street Arts Festival which had bands, vaudeville, circus, bands, comedians, and more.
Biking Rottenest Island was a highlight. The island, which has been fondly named Rotto by the locals, is accessible by ferry just outside of Perth and it is a vehicle-free island. I rented a bike and enjoyed the island’s 26 km loop. Regardless of if you’re there for the island’s popular snorkeling or biking, you are sure to meet the island’s unique residents: the quokka. The quokka is a small marsupial, quite friendly with humans and were mistaken for rats by the Dutch explorer’s who named the island “Rotte nest” or “rat nest”.
Penguin Island is a nearby nature reserve about 40 minutes (by car) south of Perth. I took the train and a bus with a short walk the rest the way to the ferry so it took a little longer then by car. The island is famous for having a colony of penguins in Western Australia and is a great day trip. There is a ferry to take you across for a fee and the ride itself is roughly 5 minutes. You’ll see people wading out in the channel on their way over to the island. It is recommended you don’t do this because there is apparently a nasty rip tide that has taken lives. Swimming on the island is not discouraged however. Once on the island, you can explore it as the island is outfitted with boardwalks. There was a sea lion napping on the beach while we were there, and the sea birds paid us no attention. All in all, I had a lovely day taking photos, exploring the island, and catching some rays.
I’m a large fan of the WA Museum (free, gold coin donation) located in downtown Perth. This museum has an impressive collection of taxidermy animals, pinned butterflies, and I spent hours in the Aboriginal culture section (which was very honest about the ugly side of settlement by Europeans in Australia).
Art Gallery of Western Australia (free, gold coin donation) is a fantastic public resource for both the community and tourist alike promoting local culture and talent (as well as from abroad). I cruised through it really fast, but I did enjoy the featured projects from local high school students.
You’ll be sure to plan a stop to Cottesloe Beach while you’re in Perth. It’s iconic in its own right, and if you follow the tourism promotions you’ll be bound to see pictures from there which you will recognize on sight. My visit coincided with the Sculptures by the Sea festival so we got an extra treat enjoying some artwork as well.
Go wine tasting in the Swan Valley. I took a 1/2-day tour with one of the local providers. I really liked being out and about wine tasting without having to worry about drinking too much. I did not like how fast paced the tour was because I don’t like being tipsy before the tour was over.
Hillarys Boat Harbour is a wonderful place north of Perth. Complete with beach, restaurants, and shops, it’s the perfect day trip to enjoy while in Perth
Be sure to visit the Perth Mint while you’re in Perth. I got to see the world’s biggest gold coin, watch them melt gold into a gold bar, and mint your own commemorative coin.
There are many other things you should check out while you’re in Western Australia. If you have 4 or so days you would like to adventure out of Perth, consider heading southward. Check out my amazing road trip to Albany (from Perth). If you have at least 8 days, drive northwards to Coral Bay or Exmouth where you can swim with the whale sharks (seasonal).