Perth skyline from Elizabeth Quay.
The world’s most remote capital city, where sipping down gorgeous sunsets with your favourite refreshing drink is the done thing, as the sun sinks slowly into the Indian Ocean, novel for many – tempted? This is one of the many fantastic opportunities this modern and evolving city offers.
Surrounded by the raw natural beauty of the Swan River and Kings Park and flanked by many kilometres of pristine ocean beaches, Perth is best experienced outside.
Where is Perth
Perth is the capital of Western Australia. The state of Western Australia occupies the western one-third of Australia, in which Perth sits down in the South-West corner on the Swan River.
In Australia, the nearest capital cities to Perth are Adelaide 2,690km to the east and Darwin 4,027km to the north.
The other two big Australian capitals of Melbourne – 3,414km to the east, and Sydney – 3,933km to the east are further away again.
The nearest place to the west of Perth is another country on the other side of the Indian Ocean, the island of Madagascar and South Africa.
How to get to Perth
Perth has wonderful international and domestic airports. You can fly into or out of Perth to just about anywhere internationally. Qantas https://www.qantas.com/au/en.html and Virgin https://www.virginaustralia.com/au/en/ airlines fly to all the major Australian capital cities outside of Perth, there is also a great network of regional locations within Western Australia that can be reached, with Qantas Link and Virgin.
Getting to Perth by vehicle from the east or north makes for one epic road trip. Allow yourself time not only because of the distances involved but because there is so much to see, it’s not your average point A to point B road trip.
You can also get there by train, The Indian Pacific http://www.greatsouthernrail.com.au/trains runs between Sydney and Perth another option.
How to get around once in Perth
We decided not to hire a car, instead using public transport on this trip. And to narrow our focus to Perth and Fremantle not venturing too far out into the suburbs.
We found it is totally achievable and financially viable, with a little pre-planning and by keeping a timetable in your daypack it can be done.
Catching a TransPerth Bus.
Riding a TransPerth Train. Pic Clancy Parker.
At times the convenience of a car would have been very handy, however not having the hassle of finding parking and paying for it, navigating a city you’re not familiar with and the outlay of rental money on days when the car would be parked up, made the eight days of navigating public transport worth it.
Top Tip: Choose your accommodation carefully. Get yourself as close as you can to most things you want to see and have, a public transport station or stop nearby to where your staying – plan.
In Perth, you have two options when it comes to public transport. The Transperth http://www.transperth.wa.gov.au network of trains and buses which detour out all over the place-costs money. And the Cat (Central Area Transit) http://www.transperth.wa.gov.au/Timetables/Live-Perth-CAT-Times buses which are a free service running around the CBD of Perth and Fremantle. These Cat buses often cross at different points so it is easy to get off one and on to another to get to where you want to go.
Great map of where CAT buses run.
Transperth also runs a ferry across the Swan River from Elizabeth Quay to South Perth.
Where to stay in Perth
We stayed at the Comfort Hotel Perth http://www.perthcityhotel.com.au, it’s actually in East Perth on Hay street. It would be roughly a 15min walk from the centre of town, a bit longer with kids. It was within walking distance of Langley Park and the Swan River and had a Red Cat bus stop almost at the door. The hotel itself was clean and tidy with good WIFI a great shower and friendly helpful staff.
The hotel is a $35.00 taxi fare from the airport, roughly 20 – 30 minutes.
Alternatively, if you were travelling by road and had a caravan or camping gear or had a hire car from the airport and were looking for a cabin as an alternative to a hotel, then Karrinyup Waters Resort http://www.kwr.net.au is the go.
The cabins are wonderful, some with ramps for wheelchair access, each powered site has a concrete slab for the caravan, the camping area is grassed and shady.
There is a well-appointed camp kitchen with tables, chairs, BBQ, sinks and fridges. Several playgrounds for the kids not to mention a bouncing cushion.
The swimming pool area is simply stunning with something for everyone and well worthy of the resort name.
One of three pools.
Powered Caravan Site.
Cabins, with wheelchair ramps.
Unpowered Camping Area.
BBQs and Sinks in Camp Kitchen.
Seating area in Camp Kitchen.
Playground near Pool.
Bouncing Pillow – Endless Fun.
Playground near Camp Kitchen.
Places to see while staying in Perth
There are many options here, unfortunately, a lot of them cost money. However, travelling with kids you want to give them the best experiences possible while getting the best bang for your buck – without breaking the bank.
I have broken it up into two sections, free activities and ones that will cost you a little coin.
Activities with costs attached
Allow a full day to explore the expanse of this zoo. The gardens of this place are as much a feature as the animals. The animals, over 1500 of them including elephants, rhinoceros, orangutans, giraffes and lions are surrounded by lush gardens, there is something for all your senses and all ages – a great day out https://perthzoo.wa.gov.au
It’s not every day you see an elephant being taken for a walk.
Sculpture at the entrance to the zoo.
On a warm day, what’s left to do?
Elephants love to swim and play.
We caught a Red Cat (Free) from our hotel into the CBD, taking a short walk to Elizabeth Quay. We then boarded a Transperth Ferry ($6.20 one-way family four 2×2) to cross the Swan River to South Perth. Then it’s a short five-minute walk to the zoo.
Note: The map on the left are the possible vehicle routes. The map on the right is the public transport route, this is a bus route from CBD, Google maps didn’t have a ferry option which runs directly between Elizabeth Quay and South Perth foreshore and my recommended option.
It cost us $80.00 for entry which got us a family ticket (2 adults x 2 kids). How much it costs others will depend largely on the makeup of your group. Allow a full day, you won’t get much change.
Top Tip: Although there is a nice café at the zoo, buying lunch for a family of four will add $50.00 to the bottom line of your day, pack a simple picnic into a backpack and take your own, make sure you take your water bottles too as there are refill water stations all over the place.
AQUA – Aquarium of Western Australia
Western Australia has 12,000km of coastline with many different ecosystems. A visit to AQWA at Hillarys Boat Harbour https://www.aqwa.com.au takes you on a journey from the tropical north to the icy waters of the Southern Ocean. It’s an underwater journey of Western Australia’s marine life.
Every now and again the extra special AQWA residents, drop by and say Hi.
A beam of light highlights a highlight.
Lots of child interaction at AQWA.
A familiar face from northern Australia.
From the city by car – Drive north, approximately 17km from Perth on the Mitchell Freeway. Exit left at Hepburn Avenue for Hillary’s Boat Harbour and AQWA.
Note: The map on the left are the possible vehicle routes. The map on the right is the public transport route.
if you’re driving a car there is free parking at the Marina, however, be aware on weekends and during school holidays it can get busy.
From the city by public transport
Take a Joondalup line train from Perth to Warwick station. Connect with the No.423 bus to Hillarys Boat Harbour and AQWA. The cost of fare was $12.60 – a family rider ticket (2 adults & 2 kids).
Note – this ticket is only available after 9 am on any given day.
It cost us $79.00 for a family ticket (2 Adults x 2 Kids) once in the door, you can stay as long as you like. There is a lot to see, depending on the level of engagement & interaction of your kids to how long you might spend there. My two absorbed everything in like sponges we were there for around four hours.
Top Tip: AQWA did have a café inside, however, there are nicer offerings in the marina. Perhaps plan your visit to AQWA to marry up with Hillary’s Boat Harbour. Making Lunch somewhere over in the marina, AQWA in the morning before lunch at the marina. Spending time in the afternoon enjoying the marina, alternatively, it could also be completed in reverse if it suits you better.
The swimming area at Hillary’s Boat Harbour.
Looking towards the retail and restaurants of Hillarys Boat Harbour.
Go to a show or exhibition
We’re here and ready to explore the cretaceous.
When two kids from remote northern Australia arrive in a major capital city, what’s something they’re never done? Been to a major show or exhibition. So when the opportunity arose to check out ”Dinosaur Discovery – Lost Creatures of the Cretaceous” put on by the Western Australian Museum it was perfect and too good an opportunity to let pass. A brilliant show, with life-sized dinosaurs that wowed all the senses. Kids were transfixed and engaged not to mention excited from go to woe.
Of course, this show will probably have moved on, however the moral to the story is to keep an eye out for others like it. Especially during school holiday periods, The Western Australian Museum has a revolving door of good stuff.
Life-sized dinosaurs and heaps of touchscreens.
Dinosaurs that towered over city skylines.
The Dinosaur Discovery show we saw was at the Perth Convention Centre. The Blue Cat Bus will get you practically to the door.
Dinosaurs filled the room, top to bottom.
Larger than life.
A family ticket (2 adults x 2 kids) was $70.00, again once in you could stay as long as you like, which was great because it was not just a looking thing there was a lot to touch, and play with, engage with – total interaction. We enjoyed this exhibition and did not get much change out of two hours.
Sci-tech makes all things science engaging, stimulating and fun. From the thought-provoking activities of the main area to the space discovery zone and planetarium your grey matter won’t stop ticking over and the smile, won’t leave your dial while it’s happening. A really good space for kids to interact with science and for parents to interact with their kids while enjoying their discoveries.
Learning and having fun.
The disabled are well catered for.
Learning through interaction.
Jump on a Yellow or Green Cat Bus, they don’t take you directly to the door, however, you’re not far away. An easy walk of perhaps 200-300 meters will get you there.
Underwater and I’m dry – “cool”
What you’re looking for from the outside.
Is it inevitable?
Note: The map on the left are the possible vehicle routes. The map on the right is the public transport route.
A family ticket (2 adults x 2 kids) was $52.00, once in the door you could play as long as you wanted to. We stayed for around four hours.
Driving the Mars Rover – A boy’s own adventure.
Top Tip: Don’t miss the Planetarium Show, fantastic!
Top Tip: Be warned this place has a killer gift shop, which is hard to avoid at the end when leaving. Be prepared to part with some coin or have your game face ready to go.
Maritime Museum Fremantle
The Maritime Museum is part of the Western Australian Museum, it houses a bit of everything relating to Western Australian maritime history, from pearling luggers in Broome to submarines and wartime stuff, to immigration history and America’s Cup with Australia two. It’s a great display, with lots to see and read http://museum.wa.gov.au/museums/maritime.
Old Pearling Lugger from up Broome way in the North-West.
Boat John Sanders went around the world in. Angle shows the biggest wave he surfed.
From Perth station jump on the Fremantle Line train, and take the train to Fremantle. From the station, it is a short walk around the corner to the museum situated on the waterfront at Victoria Quay. The cost of fare was $12.60 – a family rider ticket (2 adults & 2 kids). Note – this ticket is only available after 9 am on any given day.
Note: The map on the left are the possible vehicle routes. The map on the right is the public transport route.
Entry to the Maritime Museum was $30.00 (2 adults & 2 kids) once in it was up to you how long you stayed.
Top Tip: If you have kids six or under this museum might be lost on them a bit, my eight-year-old enjoyed it my then five-year-old couldn’t get out quick enough.
Top Tip: This museum will often have a feature exhibition attached to it, which will cost extra to see. The price I have stated only gets you into the Maritime Museum.
Activities that were free
Perth’s pride and joy. Explore the bush while in the city, covering more than 400 hectares and supporting 200 native plants and strands of eucalyptus, and wander pathways that interlink different sections of the park. Large grassed spaces give loads of space to run the kids ragged, while the views of the Swan River and Perth skyline are stunning.
The Noongar Aboriginal people refer to the area as Kaarta-Gar-up for them the area was prime hunting land, their stories are represented around the park, and make interesting reading.
Standing atop Mt Eliza, city & Swan River in distance.
There is much to see and do in Kings Park, one could easily spend as little or as much time there as one pleased or as time allowed. I found the park to be a great place to be without being anywhere specific. Kids had the freedom to move without restriction, and parent’s opportunity to take a little time out. Come to the end of the day you have still been out and about, and seen some stuff, but the kids are tired and the parents are not shagged. https://www.bgpa.wa.gov.au/kings-park
This beautiful memorial and cenotaph sit atop Mount Eliza, overlooking the Swan River and Perth skyline. Take a moment to explain to kids why it’s there and what all the names mean. My eight-year-old after a bit of discussion reflected as he took in the view of the skyline and city.
A short walk from the War Memorial is the
This may not mean much to many of you, but to a mob from the Kimberley who know and understand the country – exactly where this ancient old tree came from and the journey it made to get to Kings Park, we were very excited to see it doing well. The kids and I paused for a bit and had a few quiet words, this old Boab has definitely taken one for the team – the winters are freezing in Perth for a tree from Fitzroy Crossing.
A long way from home but surviving with the help of a great view.
Not far along the walking track from the Boab tree is the
Tree Top Walk – Elevated Bridge:
This is a wonderfully positioned elevated walkway, 620 metres long and pretty much up in the canopy of the eucalypts – birdsong abounds as you wander across, and fantastic views of the Matilda Bay brewery can be had and Perth’s wonderful river system.
Off we go.
Matilda Bay Brewery from halfway along.
Up with the birds in the treetops.
There are three to choose from
Ivey Watson – Lottery West Playground
This is a wonderful playground set over several levels with lots of different activities to amuse the kids and engage their minds. All ages are catered for, let the kids off the leash, it’s fully enclosed – fenced all around. Stickybeaks Café provides the necessary coffees and chai for parents.
Synergy Parkland (May Drive Parkland)
This space will engage the kid’s imaginations and engage their minds. As they take the windy walk over the lake in search of life-sized dinosaur footprints and mega marsupials.
Rio Tinto Nature Scape
A fantastic environment to get the kids engaged and excited about the natural environment, learning about different materials and ecosystems while being able to touch, feel, smell and see.
Top Tip: The three parks are not close to each other, they are a little spread out. If you are planning a day to visit all three perhaps visit in a vehicle rather than public transport.
A good old fashion picnic – With so much space and a good choice for playgrounds, pick carefully and the view will be eye-popping. Pack yourself a picnic and enjoy. You’ll be spoilt if you do.
Shaded and fun.
On what to play next.
Swinging good fun.
Top Tip: If you get the chance the DNA tower is pretty good.
Top Tip: If you are in town in September (Spring) check out the wildflower displays in the park. Perhaps the wildflower show.
From the Perth CBD (Elizabeth Quay) jump on a Green Cat Bus or the 935 Transperth bus both travel along St Georges Terrace. The Green Cat will get you to the entrance of the park at Fraser Avenue, then it’s a beaut walk down to the War Memorial then where ever after that. The 935 will take you through the park and out the other side. Remember the Green Cat is free, the 935 you will have to pay a fare.
Top Tip: Kings Park is only 1.5km from the CBD however for those who choose to walk Jacobs ladder awaits a staircase of 242 steps on an incline of 40 meters. A challenge for some, to be avoided for others.
Perth’s love affair with the Swan River is rolled and moulded into what is today Elizabeth Quay. A vibrant waterfront playground is full of waterparks, parks, walking paths, restaurants and cafes. It’s a lively free space on the banks of the river that bridges the gap to the CBD and invites you to explore and enjoy such places as Barracks Street jetty, The Bell Tower and Langley Park. https://www.mra.wa.gov.au/projects-and-places/elizabeth-quay/see-and-do
My intrepid explorers.
Playground fun at Elizabeth Quay.
Sculpture of all shapes and sizes.
Get yourself into the CBD then walk down to Elizabeth Quay. Alternatively, both the Green & Blue Cat buses stop there.
It’s free, the only spend you’ll have is food or drink or the ferry to South Perth.
The Dolphin Sculptures:
Swimming into town from 20 January – 4 March 2018 in iconic locations around Perth. This interactive art display will be a spectacular sculpture trail for all to enjoy, and taking the family for a day out to visit the dolphins will be a must-do activity. My kids loved it! We had to jump off buses to have a pic with a newly spotted dolphin, grab the app, and follow the trail. It’s a great intuitive.
The interactive sculpture had us looking for dolphins all over town.
London Court – Centre of Perth
Built in 1937 London Court is one of Perth’s best-loved heritage-listed shopping destinations. Captured in a setting of Tudor England and located in the heart of Perth city, the court links Hay Street Mall and St Georges Terrace. Walking through your eye is drawn to all parts, it takes a little while to fully absorb and appreciate the surroundings. This is as good a place as any to stop for coffee or a bite to eat, and just take it all in for a while.
Old London Court is in the middle of modern Perth.
Perth Cultural Precinct
The Perth cultural precinct is a revitalised space in Northbridge, where the arts, culture, knowledge and community come together. The area is home to the Art Gallery of Western Australia, The Western Australian Museum and the State Library. All of which have permanent and feature or touring exhibitions or displays, they are a revolving door of good, interesting and ever-changing stuff.
Top Tip: If you are in Perth during a school holiday break make a point of checking out what is on. School holidays are prime time for great exhibitions, displays and workshops.
Take a stroll through a beautifully preserved 19th-century port streetscape, where you can see two hundred years of European history in a single day – just 30 minutes from Perth.
Grand old architecture is a highlight of a visit to Freo.
Following the walking path from the Maritime Museum at Victoria Quay, it’s a short walk to the
The Round House was the first permanent building built in the Swan River Colony. Built-in late 1830 and opened in 1831, it is the oldest building still standing in Western Australia, used until 1886 it was the site of Western Australia’s first hangings. The Roundhouse also housed many Aboriginals from all over the state before they were transported to Rottnest Island. Today people are free to move about inside the Roundhouse and get a feel for what it was like all those years ago. http://www.fremantleroundhouse.com.au
One of Western Australia’s oldest buildings.
The kids get an understanding of the way it once was.
Gold coin donation.
Keep following the walking trail from the Roundhouse which overlooks the ocean, eventually, after a pleasant walk you’ll end up at
Fishing Boat Harbour:
The harbour is but a short walk from the middle of Fremantle. It has been a working fishing port since the early 1900’s when it was only a single timber jetty and fish market. Today you can still see the fishing boats come into the port and offload their catch of the day. While enjoying a coffee or a lunchtime feed of Fish N Chips in a buzzing, vibrant harbour. With restaurants, cafes, sculptures and a hive of working and social activity this is a nice place to take a look at and perhaps spend a little time.
Remembering the past.
Getting ready to tuck in.
Leaving the harbour almost directly across the street as you wander under the Norfolk pines is the
Shipwreck Galleries Museum
A grand entrance to a beautiful old building.
This is another offering from the Western Australian Museum, however, it is vastly different to the Maritime Museum. Inside you will learn about all the early explorers of Western Australia’s coast, the routes they took, where the wrecks lie, the names of the explorers and the countries they came from. They have the wreck of the Batavia on display and hundreds of other relics, maps, cannons, anchors, etc, etc. There are many volunteers floating around only too happy to help explain things. Both my kids got a lot more out of this museum than the Maritime Museum, the exhibits, maps, touchscreens and as my eight-year-old pointed out ”I know some of these names” – locations in Western Australia that were bestowed after explorers or members of exploring parties. This museum was a bit more real. http://museum.wa.gov.au/museums/shipwrecks
The other ship didn’t stand a chance.
The Batavia wreck – is very cool.
Enjoying the captain’s quarters.
Gold coin donation.
Top Tip: We visited both Museums in Fremantle. If you’re thinking of only going to one and tossing up to which, I think the Shipwreck Galleries is the better of the two.
From the Shipwreck Galleries Museum, it’s an easy walk into the centre of Fremantle and the famed Cappuccino strip, as you walk you are shadowed by the beautiful architecture of this old port town. It’s everywhere the boldness and attention to detail of the period, as captivating as it is demanding of you to slow down and take it all in.
”Make sure you visit Fremantle on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday” and get amongst the vibe and the hustle that is the markets. Every one of your senses will be activated upon entering this place, a hive of activity awaits.
Top Tip: This market is super busy it’s a thriving, beating place – keep the kids in close check, little curious minds are easily distracted and wander, easily lost.
PS: Fremantle Prison: We did not get to see the Prison on this trip, sometimes you just run out of time. However, we had full intentions of going and think it would be a great day out, it will be one of the first places to visit next time.
Go visit a beach
So many – spoilt for choice. Take a drive between North Beach in Fremantle up to Cottesloe and along the West Coast Highway to Hillarys passing City Beach, Scarborough, Trigg Point, and North Beach and you’re sure to find your place in the sun. With endless white sandy beaches, and eye-popping turquoise water all with waves of various sizes, a bad decision is hard to make.
Take your pick they are all pretty good.
This is an iconic Perth beach, the surf club, the Norfolk Pines and great sunsets, it is a really nice, enjoyable place to spend some time.
Long white sandy beaches, this place is great for a walk. With the newly open waterfront baths and café – restaurant scene it’s well worth a look.
Top Tip: All these beaches are ocean beaches and as such have all the associated dangers, swim between the flags on patrolled beaches.
Top Tip: Get down to the beach early, and have your fun in the morning before the sea breeze blows up. The Fremantle doctor, as the prevailing sea breeze is affectionately known, can make a good beach day uncomfortable.
Australia’s sunniest capital is more than sunsets over the ocean. Visit and you’ll experience a vibrant riverfront city which is overseen by one of the nicest City parks around – Kings Park. With a beautifully preserved old port town just down the road and fringed by stunning Indian Ocean beaches, Perth has the natural attractions, outdoor climate & dining options to package up into a memorable visit.
Have you been to Perth recently? perhaps you’re planning a trip. Would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.
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