10 Things to See and Do in Perth

By: Tom Honeyman

Perth, the capital of Western Australia, is often described as one of the most isolated cities in the world.  It lies a 42 hour non-stop drive west of Sydney across bush and desert (Jakarta is closer), so it’s understandable where the assertion comes from.  But the city, with its gorgeous climate, never-ending beaches and relaxed pace of life, is an absolute dream.  Making the trip there is more than worth the effort, and once you’re there, who knows how long you’ll end up basking in Perth’s glorious isolation?


10. Go to the Beach

The weather in Perth from April to October, and even on the odd day through the winter months, makes trips to the beach absolutely mandatory.  Two of the more well-known spots are Scarborough, with its never ending stretch of brilliant white sand, and Cottesloe, known for its beautiful seaside green spaces, and famous Indiana Teahouse Building which has a restaurant on the top floor, perfect if you’re looking for some shade and a bite to eat.  Located close by are The Cott Hotel and Ocean Beach Hotel which are great for anyone in a livelier mood looking for a decent watering hole, and somewhere to dance while the sun sets over the Indian Ocean.  If you’re looking for somewhere a bit quieter check out Pinky beach or Rockingham south of the city to name just a couple.  There’s more than enough sand and sky to go around.

Cottesloe Beach

9. Have a Sunday Session

If you ever want to take a break from party tradition by holding off until Sunday to let loose, Perth is the place to do it.  Many pubs and bars around the city pride themselves on their late- weekend hospitality with parties that begin mid-afternoon and go on well after the summer sun has set.  The Cott Hotel in Cottesloe hosts perhaps the most well-known Sunday get together, with live music and Djs getting things going against the breathtaking beach backdrop.  Closer to the city center, on the Scarborough Beach Road, the Paddington Ale House – or simply just The Paddo, provides a healthy selection of beers to choose from, as well as a breadth of Sunday events.  If things go on into the wee hours, The Shed in Northbridge has to be the place to finish off.


8. Visit Fremantle

A short half hour drive south from the center of Perth takes you to the port town of Fremantle.  First established in the 1820s, Freo – as it’s known locally – has a rich mix of historical and cultural attractions, complemented perfectly by some great bars and eateries. One of the main draws is the now decommissioned Fremantle Prison, which has stood since the 1850s and has been transformed into a public museum. Featured on the UNESCO World Heritage List among the Australian Convict Sites, you can take a tour or explore at your own leisure.  A short walk down to the waterfront you can find Little Creatures Brewery, which has been producing its signature Pale Ale since 2001.  Tours run at 1, 2 and 3pm every day, after which you can enjoy a refreshment and delicious food in their bar or on the patio.


7. Head South on a Road Trip

West Australia is one of the world’s best places to take a round trip, and in Perth even keeping it local and heading a couple hours down the coast is an amazing experience.  Around 3 hours south from the center of Perth is the town of Margaret River, a renowned surfing location.  Previous surfing experience is not a prerequisite for your visit as there are a few places to take lessons, such as Margaret River Surf School.  If catching a wave isn’t your thing, you’ll be pleased to hear the wider ‘Margs’ area is one of Australia’s foremost wine producing regions, accounting for around 20% of Australian wine production.  Margaret River Tours offer half or full day tours of some of the area’s finest wineries, allowing you to sip away while enjoying the gorgeous Mediterranean-esq surroundings.

Near Margaret River


6. Watch Some Sports

Perth is home to 2 Aussie Rules Football teams that play in the professional AFL– The West Coast Eagles and the Fremantle Dockers.  Both teams play at the 40,000 capacity Subiaco Oval, and spending an afternoon at this magnificent venue taking in Australia’s favourite sporting spectacle is an opportunity you can’t miss.  The season runs from late March until September.  Also in Perth, in the east of the city center is the WACA stadium, named after its owners the Western Australian Cricket Association. The stadium plays host to the Australian national cricket team a few times a year so be sure to catch a game if  you’re lucky enough to be in town when they’re playing.

Neale Cousland / Shutterstock.com
Neale Cousland / Shutterstock.com

5. Explore Kings Park

Overlooking downtown Perth on the shore of the Swan River estuary is the lush urban greenery of Kings Park.   The park is one of the biggest inner-city green spaces in the world, as well as one of the most visited – about 5 million people enter the park each year.  As well as providing amazing views over the city, Kings park is home to the Western Australian Botanic Garden, The Aboriginal Art Gallery on Fraser Avenue, and many trails and memorials, including the Bali Memorial dedicated to the 16 West Australian victims of the 2002 tragedy.  Kings Park Volunteer Guides provide free guided walks of the park every day (apart from Christmas) which depart at 10am and midday.

Kings Park Perth

4. Rottnest Island

Lying 11 miles off the coast in the Indian Ocean is Rottnest Island, or Rotto for short.  The island gets its name from its native Quokkas, originally thought to be large rats by the Dutch settlers who named the island Rottnest, which translates to ‘Ratnest Island’ as a result.  The island has many beautiful bays complete with white sand and glittering turquoise water – The Basin being a favourite – and is a very poplar day trip location for those looking to sunbathe, swim, dive or fish.  Only emergency and service vehicles are permitted on the island, so renting a bicycle is the go-to mode of transportation for visitors.  If you want to stick around for more than the day, limited accommodation is available in the form of cottages, cabins and campgrounds. Sea taxi’s leave throughout the day from Hillarys, Perth and Fremantle.

Rottnest Island

3. Aquarium of Western Australia

If you don’t manage to see enough of the Indian Ocean’s inhabitants while snorkeling, or if you’re apprehensive about coming face to face with some if its more infamous species in open water, then the AQWA, located in the northern suburb of Hillarys, is definitely worth a look.  The aquarium boasts Australia’s largest underwater walking tunnel as well as a multitude of areas showing marine life from specific oceanic regions on Perth’s doorstep, from the tropical north to the cold and rugged Southern Ocean.  If you’re unable to dive in open ocean but want to get an up-close experience of West Australian sea life then submerge yourself and take a ‘Reefwalk’ through an amazing coral reef, no diving experience required!


2. Spend a Night in Northbridge

Perth is a fixture on the Australian backpacker trail, and is the starting point as well as the destination for many a traveler’s road trip.  Most of the city’s hostels are located in Northbridge, and as such you can find a crowd to have a good time with seven nights a week. The western themed Mustang’s Bar is great for live music and a few beers, and The Deen is right round the corner on Aberdeen Street if you want to take it to a club.  Before all this however, many of the hostels have great bars to get things kicked off, The Bamb’u is right in the thick of it all and has a relaxed atmosphere and reasonable rates.

Perth at night


1. Perth Cultural Centre

The Cultural Centre is an area of the city center just north of Perth Station containing, among other things, the Art Gallery of Western Australia and the Perth campus of the Western Australian Museum – which were established in the late 19th century.  Wandering through some of the museum’s permanent exhibits you can learn about prehistoric and indigenous West Australia, as well as the city of Perth’s recent history.  The Art Gallery, due to its geographical location, places an emphasis on artwork from the rim of the Indian Ocean, and is also home to the State Art Collection, which was first started in 1895 and has grown into one of the finest collections of both indigenous and non-indigenous art in Australia.

Australian Aboriginal Art