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Perth City Guide

Perth City Guide
September 07
09:00 2015

Australia’s most far-flung capital city, located in the south west of the island nation, Perth is well worth the effort it takes to get here. The capital of the state of Western Australia, Perth is a laid-back city with fresh air, blue skies, beautiful beaches, an attractive riverside setting, and a surprisingly cosmopolitan air, given its remoteness from, well, everywhere.

Here’s my Perth City Guide:

What to see in Perth

Perth’s historic city centre has handsome buildings dating back to the mid-1800s, beautifully preserved or restored, such as the Perth Town Hall (1867), known for its remarkable clock tower. Just as stately are the Central Government Offices (1874), Government House (1859), the Supreme Court (1902) and the adjacent Old Court House, dating back to 1836. However it’s not just all historic buildings. The buzzy arts precinct across the railway line in Northbridge is home to the Art Gallery of Western Australia, home of the world’s finest Aboriginal art collection.

Perth - Art Gallery of Western Australia

What to do in Perth

Perth has a temperate climate and locals are very active and outdoorsy so soaking up the sunshine and clear blue skies should figure heavily on any itinerary. In the city centre, bucolic Stirling Gardens, part of Western Australia’s first botanical park, and sprawling King’s Park are perfect for a stroll. Down on the Swan River, take a ferry from Barrack Street Jetty to Mends Street Wharf where South Perth’s Sir James Mitchell Park has stunning vistas of Perth’s skyline. If you want a more formal walking tour, you can take a Two Feet and A Heartbeat Walking Tour or an Indigenous Heritage Tour of Kings Park or Fremantle. All of Perth’s beaches are beautiful, but for a first-time visitor Cottesloe Beach is picture perfect, with white sands, magnificent Norfolk Pines and plenty of cafes and bars.

Perth - stunning cityscape from King's Park

Perth – stunning cityscape from King’s Park

Where to shop in Perth

While there is great shopping in the Central Business District as the city centre is called, and nearby Northbridge, Fremantle, or ‘Freo’ as it’s known to the locals, is my pick of the shopping districts. Amongst the handsome façades and big old corner pubs of the West End area of Fremantle are chic boutiques and concept stores that are well worth exploring. B&M Store is a favourite for its design and homewares, Love In Tokyo by local designer Sheree Dornan has wonderful clothes and handmade jewellery, while Cocoon Textiles across the road has bold prints. For a break, head to the The Attic coffee shop before checking out the Fremantle Markets.

Perth - Fremantle, fish and chips at the wharf

Perth – Fremantle, fish and chips at the wharf

What to eat in Perth

Perth’s dining scene has really come of age over the last few years with restaurants such as Restaurant Amuse and Rockpool Bar & Grill setting the bar very high. However, one of the real pleasures of eating in Perth is visiting Northbridge and William Street, Perth’s Chinatown or Asia-town. Here you’ll find Vietnamese noodle-houses, Korean BBQ restaurants, and Chinese restaurants — Good Fortune Roast Duck House is a standout — as well as Asian supermarkets and specialty grocery shops. A must do in Perth is having fish and chips in Fremantle at Fisherman’s Wharf and followed by Australian craft beers at nearby Little Creatures.

Perth - authentic Vietnamese food

Perth – authentic Vietnamese food

How to escape Perth

While Perth has myriad charms, the rest of rugged Western Australia is fantastic to explore, however, for a quick taste of what the rest of the state has to offer, head over to Rottnest Island – or ‘Rotto’ as the locals call it. A 25-minute ferry ride from Fremantle (20 kilometres off the coast), Rotto is perfect for exploring on foot or on a bicycle — as there are only a few vehicles on the island. Swimming, surfing, snorkelling, diving, and fishing are other pastimes that the locals come here for, as well as seeing the cute, friendly quokkas — miniature kangaroo-like marsupials unique to Western Australia.

About Author

Lara Dunston

Lara Dunston

Lara Dunston is an Australian-born, Asia-based travel and food writer who has contributed to Australian Gourmet Traveller, Feast, Delicious, The Guardian, National Geographic Traveller, Wanderlust, The Telegraph, The Independent, CNN Travel, Travel+Leisure Asia, DestinAsian, Conde Nast Traveller China, and more. Since leaving Sydney in 1998 with her photographer husband Terence Carter, she has lived in the Middle East, spent eight years living out of a suitcase, and now lives in Siem Reap. Lara and Terence blog on slow, local and experiential travel at Gran Tourismo

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