I arrived in Perth at 10:20pm on New Years Day. To say it was quiet is an understatement. I think it’s clear to say they must have had one big New Years Eve bash the night before! One thing I learn’t pretty quickly is that everything changes on a bank holiday and a weekend, most banks and post offices are closed and even some shops. On the Sunday it was even more noticeable – apart from the huge Coles supermarket everything was closed. Even in England now a Sunday is like any other day, even banks are open on a Saturday. I also noticed that everyone was getting in their last few days of holiday before starting back to work on the 4th January. By Monday however everyone was back into a routine, the beaches slightly quieter, shops open all day and business back to usual.
The transport system in Perth is one of the best I’ve ever seen. At the airport I had two options, I could get on the free terminal link bus to Terminal 3 and then get a 40 minute bus into the city center for around AU$16, or I could grab a cab. I decided to get a taxi mainly because it was so late and a bank holiday. A taxi is only AU$40 into the centre (current conversion is around £22), so its not that expensive and you have the benefit of going straight to your hotel door.
All bus routes were well thought out and you were tripping over stops that you could hop on and off. If you are travelling a lot in one day I would suggest you grab a day pass at AU$12.10, this will get you on any bus, train or ferry link all day! If you are staying in the center (Zone 1) then look out for FTZ (Free Transit Zone) as you can literally jump on and off any bus there for free.
1. City Beach
I took bus number 82 to City Beach and it took around 25 minutes to get there. As it is in Zone 2 you pay the standard $4.50 which gives you unlimited bus transport (in Zone 2) for 2 hours. One of the best reasons to go to City beach is for peace and quiet, as you can imagine most of Perth’s beaches are completely packed (especially in the holidays). City Beach is extremely large so there’s much more space to relax whilst others play volleyball or BBQ on the grass area. Make sure if you’re taking the bus that you go to Ocean Drive, there are several bus stops at City Beach and if you get it wrong you’ll be met with a mountain of sand dunes. I wouldn’t advise climbing through them to the beach, unless you want to make friends with a few snakes and local Goanna’s!
2. Monkey Mia
I am yet to make it to Monkey Mia but it looks like a dream come true. Just enjoy a relaxing day at the beach and when you paddle in the shallows wild dolphins will come over for a little attention. Who wouldn’t want to experience that?! Check out some of the tour operators that include Monkey Mia, often they are quiet reasonable and $500 can get you a 4 night tour experiencing Monkey Mia and other exciting places like The Pinnacles. It includes all accommodation and 3 meals a day so can often work out cheaper than other options.
Depart Perth central station via Platform 7 and in about 30 minutes you’ll be in the heart of Fremantle, a popular place for a more lively night life and great eateries. Try Little Creatures, a fantastic Micro Brewery with delicious food.
Cottesloe is known for its gorgeous beach, unlike City Beach it is often a lot busier, however that is also because there is more to do there. The suburb has some great restaurants and shops, try a beautiful coffee shop, perfect for sitting outside and people watching!
5. City Centre & Bell Tower
Perth has excellent shopping facilities and include everything from high end outlets to the cheap and cheerful Target store. I also came across the most strange mini mall within the main high street, London Tower. The frontage is an old English style building with a huge clock that chimes on every hour, drawing crowds. When you walk through it’s almost like walking through ‘Diagon Alley’ in the Harry Potter series, extremely old English architecture full of little trinket shops and cafes. Its the most bizarre thing in the middle of such a modern city but well worth a look!
During the summer months Perth can reach extremely high temperatures such as 37 degrees Celsius or above. Unlike other parts of Australia its a very dry heat and they wont see rain for months at a time. You won’t miss the posters and adverts about wearing sun cream and the high risk of skin cancer. Its essential you wear a high factor sun cream at all times, even by the beaches where they may be a slight breeze those rays are so full on that you won’t notice until its too late. After 1 day wondering around the city center (wearing factor 50) I had clear tan lines on my shoulders and legs. Other consequences of this beautiful weather include bush fires, just keep an eye out for the local news updates as they are often out of control and easily started.
Perth has so much to offer and apart from the fact that its pretty isolated I cannot see why more travellers don’t visit. It is by far the cheapest city to fly into from most western countries and its slightly cheaper than staying in Sydney or Melbourne. If you get more time in this incredible part of Australia then be sure to travel south to the Margaret River. Its about a 5 hour drive which most Aussies see as ‘nipping to the shop’ whereas I explained that back home that would get me from my southern home town up into Scotland! The Margaret River boasts some spectacular views and best of all some fabulous wine tasting experiences.