We have not yet been to Australia, but this post by Australian-born guest writer Melissa Peters shines a light onto Perth that makes us want to head there immediately. Read on to find out why Melissa says we should visit Perth, one of her favorite cities Down Under.
Looking at a map of Australia, you can easily see why many people do not have Perth on their itinerary when visiting Oz. Located just under 4,000 km across the country from Sydney, and stuck way down in the southwestern part of the continent, Perth is famously known as one of the most isolated capital cities of over 1,000,000 people in the entire world.
But 1,600,000 live there happily for plenty of reasons and those who make the trip there are rewarded with the experience of Australia’s finest beaches, coffee culture, kangaroos and coastal hiking treks. Read on for the top five reasons that make Perth a city you shouldn’t miss on a trip to Australia:
1 The journey to Perth
If you are traveling through Australia by train, the journey between Sydney and Perth is one of the most spectacular routes in the country. The trans-continental trip takes four days and three nights and is regularly named as one of the world’s greatest train journeys. Considering that fares start at AUD759 for this trip, you might consider buying an Australian Rail Pass for your visit, which allows you to take any train in the country, including the famous Ghan, for just AUD990 for a total of six months – the easiest and most comfortable way to see as much of Oz as possible. The 65-hour train journey from Sydney to Perth offers some of the country’s most stunning scenery, kangaroos, the Blue Mountains and the smallest town on the continent – Cook, with a population of four.
2 The laid-back vibe of the city
Sprawling along the Indian Ocean and centered around the Swan River, Perth is one of the most scenic cities of Australia. With a population of 1.6 million people it is still the fourth largest city in the country, however, the vibe of Perth is much more laid-back than in Sydney and Melbourne. Perth is famous for its love of good coffee and is home to hundreds of coffee shops that celebrate the art of making excellent coffee creations. The city has a number of great markets and shopping areas such as Kings Street, London Court and Northbridge. Plus, thanks to its perfect climate it’s the ideal place to check out some of the many nearby beaches.
3 The beaches
Perth has undoubtedly some of Australia’s most beautiful beaches, and thanks to its West Coast location, the sunsets here are always magnificent. Cottesloe Beach is the easiest to get to via public transport (take the Fremantle Line to Cottlesloe Station), as is Scarborough Beach (take the Clarkson Line to Glendalough Station and change to the 400 bus there). Swanbourne Beach is the right beach for you if you’re looking to swim naked, being the Perth’s only nude beach.
Shoalwater Marine Park, just one hour south of Perth, is the best place for snorkeling, and in addition to shipwrecks and cavernous reefs, you’ll get to see dolphins, sea lions and penguins here.
If you are looking for a truly unspoiled beach experience, head over to Rottnest Island, 18 kilometers off the coast of Perth and easily accessible by ferry. The tiny island (11 kilometers long, and 4.5 kilometers at its widest point) has some of the most remote and untouched beaches of the continent with crystal clear turquoise water. The further you go from the ferry terminal, the more deserted the beaches – we recommend you hire a bike for the day (a full loop around the island is 25km) when you get off the ferry. If you want to spend the night here, make sure to book in advance, as accommodation on the island is limited.
4 Kangaroos and koalas
In Pinnaroo Valley Memorial Park you can see kangaroos in a more natural environment. It’s the perfect place to head to for a picnic in the company of some kangaroos. It’s the cheapest way to see them up, close and personal.
You could also head to Caversham Wildlife Park where you can cuddle koalas and feed kangaroos. The park is easily reachable from downtown Perth, admission is AUD24.
Perth’s zoo has a designated Australian Bushwalk Tour where you can wander the paths inside their natural habitat. You can wander on visitors’ paths and get close to native Australian animals such as the dingoes, emus, koala, numbats, quokkas, red kangaroos, short-beaked echidnas, southern hairy-nosed wombats, Tasmanian Devils, and Western grey kangaroos.
5 The natural attractions around Perth
Perth is surrounded by so many natural attractions that you can spend weeks here hiking, boarding down sand dunes, cycling, or exploring national parks. Some of the places that shouldn’t be missed include the Lancelin sand dunes (about 90 minutes north of Perth), where you can race up and down giant sand dunes in 4WDs, sand boards or motorbikes; and the Pinnacle Desert in Nambung National Park (two hours north of Perth) is one of the most otherworldly places on the planet: a desert filled with eerie limestone bricks sporadically scattered over vast yellow sand dunes. Both places can be combined in a day trip, if you have limited time.
The Bibbulmun Track is one of the most beautiful long distance walks in the world, spanning 1000 km from Perth to Albany. If you don’t want to walk the whole trek, you can opt for a day hike or an overnight hike.
If you are into cycling, you shouldn’t miss the Munda Biddi Bike Trail which follows the coast for 332 kilometers from Mundaring (north east of Perth) to Collie in the south.
If you are planning to explore Perth’s foothills, you could also consider staying in Armadale, close to the parks, gardens and local wildlife of the area, yet at the same time still offering enough bars, restaurants and shopping facilities. My top choice for a place to stay here would be the Heritage Country.