What is there to see in Perth at the far reaches of Western Australia? We had come all the way from Europe to Sydney and rationalized: Perth is on the way home (kind of ...), let's spend the weekend there before flying back to Dublin to see what this part of Australia is all about. Perth 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. Read about Perth points of interest embodied in 14 experiences that we enjoyed on our visit to Western Australia.
1. Explore Perth's CBD
Perth is a wealthy city centered on mining and petroleum industries. The central business district (CBD) features an impressive array of glass skyscrapers shining in the perpetual sun.
2. Perth's Sidewalk Cyclists
We were walking around Perth's CBD 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!
3. Fremantle Things to Do: Walk the High Street
In contrast to Perth, Fremantle, just a 45 minute train ride away feels 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 Freo was like taking a step back in time.
4. Fremantle Things to Do: Weekend Markets
Freo is known for a variety of 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 Fremantle markets were well worth the visit.
5. The Shipwreck Galleries at Fremantle
Why visit Perth? The fascinating Shipwreck Galleries in Fremantle made the weekend city break worth it in and of itself. The museum featured the 1629 recovered wreck of the Batavia with a backdrop of mutiny and massacre added to the story. We bought an absolutely fascinating book about the mayhem that ensued after the ship sunk called Batavia's Graveyard.
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 Kings Park and the Western Australian Botanic Garden
Kings Park and the Western Australian Botanic Garden 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 Western Australian Botanic Garden also features ample wildlife and beautiful flowers. We spotted a fox (considered a pest locally but still beautiful) and a cheeky kookaburra, a large member of the kingfisher family. This particular kookaburra 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 in Perth
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. Take A Riverside Walk in Perth
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. Gaze Out Across the Indian Ocean from Perth
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 staring into infinity.
12. Fremantle 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. Western Australia's 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. Perth's 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), you can hike along the trails that connect the beaches. Make sure to stay on the path though. There were signs warning of the presence of snakes.
Overall, Perth proved to be a welcome diversion on the way home to Europe after a business trip in Sydney. We even managed to squeeze in a road trip from Perth to Margaret River. Because we'd come all this way, it would have been a travesty not to take a few days of vacation to explore Western Australia. We always make the most of our business trips by building in some time for fun and hope you adopt this philosophy too!