Having spent a lot of time in Perth for work, I thought I should ‘down tools’ and explore what this western city had to offer those taking things at a more leisurely pace. I had often thought of Perth as being a sleepy city, with reduced opening hours and closed on a Sunday and while it may not be as fast paced as Sydney, it offers a great mix of culture and nature.
The centre of Perth is easy to explore on foot, but if you’re a little more mobile, I’d suggest hiring a bike and really branching out. There’s a very easy cycle path which will take you all the way to Fremantle and although it takes about two to three hours, the café culture and prison make it worthwhile. No trip to Perth would be complete without a visit to Fremantle Prison, with its tunnel tours highly recommended for those who don’t mind small spaces! If you’re not so keen on suiting up in hard hats, overalls and harnesses, then wait until it gets dark and take a torchlight tour with a little hint of spook! Don’t worry about cycling back, just jump on the ferry or train and you’re back in Perth in no time.
The beaches surrounding Perth are some of the best stretches of sand seafront I’ve seen so close to a city. Sydney may have Manly, but Cottesloe Beach, south-west of the city, certainly holds its own. And once you’re tired of lazing on the sand, enjoy a bit of culture with a look at the Jarrad Street home of former Australian Prime Minister, John Curtin.
While it’s nice to get out of the city and see some of the surrounding attractions, I’m equally impressed with the beauty of Perth. The laidback atmosphere appeals to my casual persona and I’m more than happy to while away the hours in the sunshine, watching the world go by. I’m only tempted to move to head to my next spot to relax, Kings Park. With 400 hectares of parkland, including botanical gardens, Kings Park is perched on the top of Mount Eliza, and the views of the city and the Swan River are truly spectacular.
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Accommodation in Perth can be expensive, so it really pays to look at all options and to plan and book ahead. It’s certainly worth taking a look at the City YHA, which offers en suite double rooms from $108. Rooms are clean, come with linen and you have access to the gym, pool, bar and BBQ. It’s also a great opportunity to meet different people.
Perth also has a great free bus service called the Central Area Transport Services (CATS) and these buses are colour coded depending on the route.
Fremantle Prison offers several different tours and for just $16 (concession) you can get a taste of what it was like for convicts in 1850.
Being on the water in Perth isn’t expensive, with a comprehensive and accessible ferry service operating between the city, Fremantle, Rottnest Island and South Perth. You pay depending on which zones you travel through but you can buy a concession DayRider for $4.60 or $11.60 full fare.
For an inexpensive dinner option head to car-free Rottnest Island for fish and chips by the shore.
This is my idea of a splurge, a night in Arundels Boutique Accommodation in Fremantle. After a day of walking, sightseeing and maybe even cycling, being able to relax in a spa bath before sliding into a comfortable king size bed is simply heaven. Rooms are available from $160 – $260.
If you would like to travel like a high roller, take an air taxi to Rottnest Island and have lunch at Riva, located at Rottnest Lodge. An air taxi only takes 12 minutes from Fremantle and will cost you about $110 per person return, but there is a minimum of three people required.