We had come all the way from Europe to Australia and rationalized: Perth is on the way home (kind of ...), let's spend the weekend here before flying back to Dublin. Perth in Western Australia is about a five hour flight from Sydney and reminded me of flying from New York to San Francisco or Los Angeles in the U.S. Here are 14 experiences that we enjoyed on our visit to Australia's wild west.
1. Sidewalk Cyclists
We were walking about town on a Saturday morning and immediately noticed a large number of cyclists coming up the sidewalk. They seemed to have been out for a morning ride and were on their way to a cafe for a coffee and chat. A number of the riders smiled and waved at us as we went past. I liked Perth's vibe already!
2. Perth CBD
Perth is a wealthy city centered on mining and petroleum industries. The central business district features an impressive array of glass skyscrapers shining in the perpetual sun.
3. Fremantle High Street
In contrast, Fremantle, just a 45 minute train ride away really does feel like the wild west. Short two story buildings that wouldn't look out of place in Gold Rush era San Francisco lined the high street. Visiting was like taking a step back in time.
4. Fremantle Markets
Fremantle is known for their weekend markets. We browsed stall after stall featuring food and drink (e.g., an unbelievable array of coffee beans), arts and crafts, and even live music. The Freo markets were well worth the visit.
5. Shipwreck Galleries
We took the opportunity to get out of the intense sun for a bit and check out the Shipwreck galleries in Fremantle. The museum was fascinating and featured the 1629 recovered wreck of the Batavia with a backdrop of mutiny and massacre added to the story.
6. Fremantle Harbour Walk
Walking along the harbour in Fremantle is a relaxing, almost zen, experience. We enjoyed the sunshine while checking out the colorful ships in port. Looking into the crystal clear water, we saw hundreds of tiny jellyfish floating past.
7. Sweeping Views from Perth Botanical Gardens
The botanical gardens in Perth is an ideal place to watch the sunset. We enjoyed sweeping views of the Perth skyline as the sun slowly dipped below the horizon.
8. Perth Wildlife in the Park
The botanical garden also features ample wildlife and beautiful flowers. We spotted a fox (considered a pest locally but still beautiful) and a cheeky cookaburra, a large member of the kingfisher family. This particular cookaburra was stalking a couple having a sunset picnic in the park. Before they knew what had happened the bird had swooped in and nabbed some of the crackers they were eating with their cheese and wine! They really are beautiful birds (and clearly stealthy!)
9. A Vietnamese Odyssey
When in Perth, definitely give Vietnamese cuisine a try. There are a number of Vietnamese restaurants just a short walk from the train station.
10. Riverside Walk
We particularly enjoyed walking along the Swan River in Perth. You get beautiful skyline views, can easily spot squawking parrots frolicking in the park, and can check out the Bell Tower, a thoroughly modern structure containing 18 historic bells (some are hundreds of years old).
11. Across the Indian Ocean
The air in Perth is some of the freshest in the world. There is no significant land mass to the west until you get to the coast of Africa! Looking out over the Indian Ocean in Perth, it feels like you're looking out into infinity.
12. Container Port
The ocean views may feel infinite, but the world is clearly a small place in the end. We watched as enormous container ships made their way into port delivering goods from around the world.
13. Street Art
We really enjoyed the street art in Perth and surrounding areas like Fremantle. We'd round a bend and bam! walk right into a stunning work.
14. World Class Beaches
A final highlight of our visit to Perth was a drive along the coast to see some of Western Australia's best beaches. Even if you're not up for a swim (we definitely weren't as the surf was a bit rough and we're not strong swimmers), we enjoyed hiking along the trails that connect the beaches. Make sure to stay on the trail though. There were signs warning of the presence of snakes.
Overall, Perth was a welcome diversion on the way home to Europe after a business trip in Sydney. Because we'd come all this way, it would have been a travesty not to take a few days of vacation to explore. We always make the most of our business trips by building in some time for fun and hope you adopt this philosophy too!