Perth is on the opposite side of Australia from most of the action and was referred to by Bill Byron as 'the most remote city on earth'. What should you make of that? I found Perth to be a lively, laid-back place with a sunny and dry climate, without the humidity suffered in some other parts of Australia. These are the things I think you really shouldn't miss.
Only an easy 15 minutes drive from Perth, Cottesloe is a lovely beachside suburb. The beach here is amazing with great facilities including changing rooms and some foodstalls. There is a grassy bank with a few shade-providing trees behind the beach which is a great place to sit as you catch whatever breeze there is whilst taking in the view. There are lots of trendy bars near the beach too which are a great setting for a sunset drink overlooking the Indian ocean.
Dutch explorers first named Rottnest Island 'Rattenest' in 1696, on account of mistaking the quokkas living on the island for large rats. I fell in love with the quokkas, they are such funny little critters. One even gave me a little lick and I was so enticed I barely noticed a large black snake slither quietly past me in the bushes - eek! There is evidence the island has been inhabited since long before the Dutch spotted it though with aboriginal artefacts found dating back around 30,000 years. The Island is a fantastic place for diving and has a lot of shipwrecks off its shores. There are also exploring trails, including undersea snorkelling trails. There is no traffic on the island so many people take bikes to explore enhancing the island's image as a tranquil escape from the mainland. Sitting on the beach at Parker Point it is possible to see Perth's CBD skyline. Rottnest, or 'Rotto' as it is referred to colloquially, is easily accessed by ferry from Fremantle or by small plane, making it possible to visit as a day trip.
The town of Fremantle at the mouth of the Swan river was settled in1829, before Perth. It is an atmospheric town with lots of historic buildings to admire, a museum, a prison and the Round House which was built in 1830 as a gaol and is Western Australia's oldest building. Fremantle is a great place to enjoy fresh seafood and there are lots of al fresco dining opportunities. Shopping is fun, with a variety of shops to choose from (a lot of them seem to sell UGG boots!) and there are also some interesting markets.
|Get into trouble at the Round House|
Caversham Wildlife Park
Of course, if you've come all the way to Australia (it's a long way from most places) then I'm guessing you'll want to see some of the Aussie wildlife. I visited Caversham Wildlife Park which is a low-key kind of place. The atmosphere was very relaxed and you could tell the animals were relaxed too (they were either ignoring the tourists pawing them or they were fast asleep!) There are plenty of opportunities to meet the animals and take photos and the staff give talks and host feeding sessions too.
|Caversham Wildlife Park|
King's Park and the Botanical Gardens
High above Perth's Central Business District is King's Park, a beautiful expanse of quiet parkland and home to the state war memorial as well as a statue of Queen Victoria looking stern. The avenue approaching the park is lined by trees on either side, each of which, touchingly, was planted to honour the memory of a fallen soldier. The Botanical Garden hosts a huge variety of plant species and is a beautiful place to escape for a while.