What to do in two days in Perth

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There are not many hotels that you visit where you walk out of the lift and are able to check how you look in a mirror once owned by Mussolini. This is just one of the many reasons that using the Parmelia Hilton Hotel as a base for your stay in Perth is a wise move.

Having only two days to explore the city and it’s surrounds, I really don’t want to waste time on public transport trying to get to all the places I want to see. Plus, I’m a walker, so I like to get out and about to explore on foot.

That’s exactly what I do as soon as I drop off my bag, change into something cooler – Perth is considerably warmer than the Melbourne I left behind – and take a few minutes to do a happy dance about the truly fantastic room I’m in, but more on that later.

At the suggestion of the hotel staff, I decide to walk up the hill to King’s Park, from where, I’m told, you can get a fantastic view of the city. ‘Walk up the hill’ does not do justice to the near-vertical climb I undertake (note: there are actually people running past me as I try to look nonchalant). However, once my legs stop shaking from the effort, I am indeed impressed by the view.

The view isn’t the only thing that makes the climb worthwhile. As home to the Western Australian Botanic Garden, there are so many flowers and plants on show that are native to the state. Also, given that it’s still spring during my visit and there’s been plenty of rainfall, everything is looking lush and lovely. And if you have a head for heights, then don’t miss taking a walk over the treetop bridge – it’s really not for the faint-hearted though!

I had honestly thought that I would walk up here, take a look around and be back down the hill in about an hour, but time just runs away from you up here. So, rather than explore the city centre, I decide to head back to the very welcoming room that is mine for the next two days.

I’m lucky enough to have scored a Queen suite, which, like all the rooms in the hotel, has been recently refurbished. The furniture, which to my untrained eye has a decidedly French provincial feel, is complemented by restored antiques and a few impressive pieces of artwork, which I’m reliably informed are part of an extensive, original collection. However, after walking further in the warm afternoon than I expected, it’s the Serenity bed that’s calling me. Maybe just a five-minute lie down before dinner …

If you’re a foodie, then the explosion of restaurants that have hit the Perth dining scene won’t disappoint you. But there’s only one place I’m having dinner tonight and that Long Chim – a restaurant by David Thompson, who many consider to be the world’s best Thai chef. Located in the pristine State Buildings, the restaurant itself has an edgy, street vibe, which perfectly matches the food on offer.

With Long Chim meaning ‘come and taste’, that’s exactly what you should do. Don’t feel compelled to sit and have a full meal if your budget doesn’t stretch to it, but if you like spicy food – and I mean seriously spicy – don’t leave without trying the Chiang Mai Larp of Chicken.

The extra three hours I gained flying over from Melbourne are starting to catch up with me and it’s time to call it a night, ready for tomorrow’s trip out to the Swan Valley.

If you’ve got plenty of time to spare over in the west, then you might think about heading to Margaret River to sample some of its renowned local produce and wine. But if time is tight, the Swan Valley is only a 25-minute drive from Perth and it’s a great place to get a taste of the west.

Today there’s something a little different on the cards – an asparagus masterclass! To showcase what’s on offer for Entwined in the Valley, which happens the first weekend in November, I’m off to the Edgecombe Brothers Winery. This unpretentious family-run winery is the domain of Alfred, who today is playing host to a group of 20 guests, all keen to find out more about asparagus. He’s incredibly passionate not only about his asparagus, but the whole of the Swan Valley. Keeping the group entertained and contained is no mean feat, but Alfred takes it all in his stride. After telling us all about the green vegetable we’re here to pick, cook and eat, we’re off across the road to where the asparagus grows.

Knife in hand, Alfred shows his willing pupils how to spot a stalk that’s ready for the chop and then we can’t be stgopped. Soon, there’s what seems like a ton of asparagus and now it’s time to cook it for lunch. As it’s so fresh, there really isn’t much that needs to be done – a quick blanche and then it’s on to an olive-oil laden impressive homemade BBQ. After a few minutes, it on to our plates, sprinkled with Parmesan and a squirt of fresh lemon and we’re allowed to tuck in.

Who would have thought a plain vegetable cooked in such a simple way could be so delicious? But delicious it is. And don’t forget it’s good for you – just ask Alfred, who’s more than happy to explain it’s therapeutic properties as he shares the wine he also produces. As we leave, we’re each given an asparagus plant to take home, but as I’m heading back to Victoria, I have to leave mine behind.

On the way back to Perth, I get the chance to stop off at The House of Honey and Whistler’s Chocolate Company. Now, I’ve always found honey too sweet for my taste buds but I think I’ve just been having the wrong stuff! The range on offer at The House of Honey is mindboggling and each has its own distinct taste. And don’t worry about choosing the wrong one; its honey bar gives you plenty of opportunity to try until you get just the right one. The bees behind The Honey House frolic in local lavender and the fragrant sweet nectar that results is delicious.

If chocolate is your vice, then you really can’t go past Whistler’s Chocolate Company. This family business only sells its wares in WA, so visitors should stock up on their newfound favourites – mine is the chocolate-covered pretzels if anyone’s interested.

After a full day of doing nothing more than eating and drinking, you would think I wouldn’t have any appetite left. You would be wrong. Tonight, I’m off to the Adelphi Grill – the house restaurant of the Parmelia Hilton. The restaurant is actually a well-known and well-loved local favourite – it’s not just a place where guests and out-of-towners eat.

As is popular in many restaurants these days, the open kitchen allows you to watch the chefs, hard at work preparing your dinner. I would heartily recommend the steak and, if you’re one of those people who like your food with a bit of a kick, chef Chad Miskiewicz’s South West fiery fillet won’t disappoint. And, if your budget won’t stretch to steak, the dinner special at $25 is a perfect excuse to sit and marvel at the original bawdy mural, by legendary Australian cartoonist, Paul Rigby. A nightcap in the bar, before a peaceful night’s sleep, rounds off the day perfectly.

With only a few hours left on my last day, I would love to take the ferry over to Rottnest, but I’m probably pushing it for time. So instead, I opt for a walk around the newly emerging Elizabeth Quay. If you’ve got a musical mind, you can have a go at ringing the bells at The Bell Tower. The tower, although all glass and modern, was actually built to house the bells from St Martin’s in the Field Church, Trafalgar Square, London, which pre-date the 14th century. Even if you’re not musical, the view from the observation deck is pretty special.

It’s been a whirlwind trip west and, as I head back to the airport, I’m already planning what I’ll see on my next, much longer visit.

Debbie visited Perth as a guest of Parmelia Hilton Perth.

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Written by Debbie McTaggart


Total Comments: 14
  1. 0

    I have never looked at Perh as a holiday destination…until now..
    I have always had the inclination to be a bell ringer..It’s time I got my finger out ( in this case my whole arm)..and went to explore this lovely city..:)

  2. 0

    Debbie, a trip to Fremantle, and then up along the coast and the beaches from Leighton Beach through Cottesloe, Swanbourne, City Beach, Floreat, and Scarborough, to Hilarys Boat Harbour, is a must.
    If you have time, a whale-watching cruise from Hilarys BH is a worthy way to spend 2-3 hours.
    Rottnest is a great little island, with dozens of fantastic beaches – but you have to watch the strong winds in the afternoons. You’ll have to toughen up if you want to do Rottnest, it has numerous big hills, no cars, and the only way to get around independently is by foot or on a bike! There is a bus service around the island, that runs every 35 mins, and stops at 18 destinations around the island. The bus service stops at 8:00PM, though, which is long before sundown in Summer (which is around 8:30PM-8-40PM).
    A self-drive tour through the South West of W.A. is a must if you have several days to spare. The Karri Forests of the deep SW are awe-inspiring, and the Capes (Leeuwin and Naturaliste) are worth a visit to see the cleanest ocean you’ve ever seen, and waves that haven’t seen land for 8,000kms.
    Perth and WA are full of hidden surprises, you really need to contact a local to get the “inside info” on what to see.

    • 0

      Thanks Aaron. I am so pleased that some of the readers of this blog recognize Western Australia for the gem it is. It is a great holiday destination and I love living here and I have lived overseas and travelled quite a lot but Perth is definitely my home.

  3. 0

    Perth is my home town and I love t! I have lived in other places around the world but Perth has always been home for me. If visitors come from far flung destinations or the Eastern States, I am always proud to sow them the city I call home.

  4. 0

    I’ve been to western Australia twice, found it lovely, only ‘trouble’ with this glorious state is the distances – huge. Some of my favorite places close to Perth

    Rottnest island – I thought it was pricey to get there
    New Norcia – day trip from Perth, charming town run by monks – no KFC or big macs – !!!!!
    Fremantle/coogee beach – pricey to park around Fremantle

    Further away from Perth my favorite places include Coral Bay, Karratha, Kalbarri (north) and south of Perth Bussellton – Margaret river, heading inland Hyden (wave rock) – just before hyden I loved a little town Corrigan which had a beaut dog cemetery, fancy headstones etc.,

    Western Australia is lovely but for folk like myself on the east coast it’s just soooooo far away and there is so much driving. Been twice, last time travelled north nt/wa border across to coast, then Derby downwards then across nullabour.

    • 0

      I am glad some of your memories are positive. I agree with distances and getting around is difficult. Perth is very expensive too, felt my locals and visitors alike. But the weather and the beaches are glorious (not all beaches are paid parking as yet).

  5. 0

    Perth is boring,overpriced and is the Nanny State of Australia. Don’t waste your time.
    I live in Perth.

    • 0

      Oh dear, that’s a tad harsh !
      What do you mean ‘nanny state’. As visitors I thought it was pretty, good roads, a little pricey but I enjoyed my visits. Maybe for residents of WA there are issues, but both my husband and I enjoyed our time there.
      Australia Is just fabulous – each state is different – we are so very lucky.

    • 0

      Maybe Watto should move to another state in he is unhappy here in Perth!

    • 0

      I worked in Perth 4 two years, travelled north as far as Port Hedland, found it spectacular. It’s way ahead of the eastern states.

  6. 0

    Been there a couple of times and have been most impressed. Lots to do and see within a reasonable distance. We could move there tomorrow apart from the fact that family is all along the east coast and, as has been pointed out, it’s just too far. I have a friend in Ireland who took some convincing that to get from one side of Australia to the other by train is a three day journey.

  7. 0

    WA being “too far” for many from the Eastern States is both a good thing and a bad thing. Sadly, our existence/ point of view is too often ignored by the media and by politicians. Clearly there are more listeners and votes in places such as Eastern Sydney for example. But the good thing is that many of the best places to visit in WA have yet to be inundated with tourists – so I shouldn’t be telling you this.

    The South Coast of WA (my country) is absolutely glorious. It has some of the best beaches in the world – Esperance, Hopetoun, Bremer Bay, Albany, Denmark and further West. We have the Stirling Ranges and the Porongurups – Bluff Knoll is a great climb (1,000 metres) and the Porongurups grows arguably the best Reislings in Australia. Mt Barker and Denmark are both noted for their wineries and rich lifestyle. Denmark is especially “laid back”.

    Travel West from Denmark to Pemberton amidst the giant Karri trees and see the petrified forest, the treetop walk, the Diamond Tree Lookout, more fantastic wineries and the Shannon River coastline. Travel on to Margaret River before you head North to Busselton and Perth..

    Albany is WA’s oldest town. It nestles between Mount Clarence and Mount Melville. It is the last place in Australia seen by many First World War troops and this is recognised by an outstanding War Museum. Albany has other sights, the Whaling Station, The Blowholes, The Gap, Middleton Beach and Oyster Harbour to name a few. It is a pretty place and ten degrees cooler than Perth.

    Then there are the National Parks. The Stirling Range and Fitzgerald National Parks claim unique landforms, flora and fauna. Both have tremendous beauty. Travel further East and Cape Le Grand features stunning, unbelievably beautiful beaches or visit the islands off Esperance and be joined by wild dolphins in the trip.

    Travel North from Esperance to Kalgoorlie’s minefields and fascinating history or back to Perth via WA’s Wheatbelt. The earliest wheat and sheep farming settlements are on the railway line from Cranbrook to Wagin, Narrogin, Northam and beyond. Enjoy the lakes at Pingrup. Lake Grace and Dumbleyung, the Mallee Hens at Ongerup or just the trees and surrounds – Jam trees, Sheoaks, Mallee, York Gum, Yate, Gimlet, Salmon Gum and so on.

    While Eastern Australia is well trodden and endlessly interesting, our little secret, the beautiful South of WA, remains a gem. Please don’t tell anyone.

    • 0

      Very well written Black Fox and so inviting. No wonder the sandgropers choose our south west for many of our holidays over faraway places.

    • 0

      Agree, I left Swan Valley (while working in Perth city) and moved to Bridgetown and then Napier, near Albany. Both lovely places and well off the tourist trail. That bottom south west corner is well worth a visit.
      We have since lived over East, Tassie, then Coffs and now Bundaberg, and while the last two do feel a tad like coming back into civilisation, it is now getting a bit overdone city-wise, and we are hankering back to the quiet forests of the south west of WA.



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