Perth City Guide
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.