I’ve been very quiet and off the grid this month and that’s because I have taken a month off to spend quality time with my sister and her family in Perth, Western Australia – enjoying the joy of the reverse seasons and the chill of Winter in July.
Whilst most people on holiday in Perth concentrate on exploring the city’s main shopping area, outlet shopping at Water Town, hitting the tables at the Crown Casino and eating at the many of the North Bridge and South Perth restaurants – this trip for me was all about ‘Going Local’ i.e. experiencing how the locals live, making time to drive out to and exploring the areas that I normally would not have time to visit, if I had been on a short holiday.
First up, I rented a car at No Birds – probably the city’s cheapest car rental at A$33 a day including a zero access insurance coverage.
TIP: If you plan to do the same, don’t forget your local driving license and bring along your GPS or else be prepared to rent one off the car rental company. You will also need to rent a car seat if you have toddlers with you. As a back up, go get a local 30 day mobile plan with wifi so that you can use Google maps on your phone and you are good to go.
With car settled and a trusty GPS, I decided to fully explore places that I could actually drive to and park at for free or with very little hassle and here is where I headed to and I I hope that it refreshes jaded perspectives, especially for those of you who have been there and done that ‘seen-the-city-already-thing’ in Perth.
HEAD TO THE BEACH
Cotteslow Beach – there are a couple of good beaches in Perth but I like Cotteslow as the beach area has a jetty to walk out to and plenty of lovely beach front restaurants to try.
I ended up having lunch at the Cott & Co Fish Bar at the Cotteslow Beach Hotel. The food was worth the drive out for and complete with a glass of pinot grigio and a light sea breeze, there’s not much not to love about making the drive out.
A FULL DAY AT THE PARK
Whiteman Park – If you have kids with you, or just want a chill afternoon at a one-stop destination, Whiteman Park is the best place to head to for a whole day of entertainment.
Start with the Park’s main highlight – Caversham Wildlife Park. This is where you get to pet your cuddly Koalas, Kangaroos, Wombats and other small and cute critters and you can easily spend about 2 to 3 hours there.
After that, head for lunch at the Park’s Village Cafe and then go shopping at the Handicraft store or pick up some snacks at the Lolli Shop there. If you have the afternoon free, go explore the Tractor Museum, Motor Museum and Revolutions Transport Museum. There is a Heritage Tram and Vintage Train Rides to take for a small fee. Alternatively, grab the kids and head to the Woodland Reserve to explore the Children’s Forest. Feeling just plain lazy – just get a bottle of wine, some coffee and snacks and get ready to chill out on a mat and enjoy the great weather as you find a spot on the Park’s spacious Picnic Grounds.
INTO THE BUSH AND BEYOND
Serpentine Dam and Falls – this makes a truly scenic drive out to the Australian countryside. Find yourself in the Serpentine National Park area which is also home to a Dam, a Waterfall and several lush picnic grounds.
The area is a sanctuary for an array of plants, birds and animals (particularly kangaroos). Part of the Darling scarp, the park is stretched up the steep slopes of the Serpentine River valley, past a sheer face of granite polished smooth by the rushing waters.
We love the picnic area – come armed with proper bird feed and you will be surprised at the tame birds who will shyly but happily come around for a quick snack.
CHECK OUT A CHARMING SEASIDE TOWN
Fremantle – a lovely and charming seaside town with a great weekend market that is just about 20 mins from Perth city. It reminded me of what Devonport is to Aucklanders. Walk around the Cappuccino Strip, head to the shops along the same strip, head to the markets or make a beeline for the water front. Alternatively a day at the playground in front of the Esplanade hotel (pictured below) or rent a bike to get around. Whatever you choose, a day in Freo as its fondly called is a leisurely and fun affair.
If its not the markets (pictured below) that you after, Fremantle is also one of the points that you can sail from (by chartered ferry) to Rottenest island and other various offshore attractions.
Then there are the great eateries – my recommendations Cicerellos for Beer Battered Fish and Chips, Little Creatures for drinks, bites and heavier meatier items amongst the many other choices that line the waterfront marina deck.
EXPLORE WINE COUNTRY
The Swan Valley – the area is just a 20 minute drive from the city and not just famous for its vineyards which offer free tastings but also factories and retail shops for Chocolate, Cheese, Nougat and Honey.
As far as eateries and vineyards go, Mandoon Estate is probably the easiest stop for a quality vineyard and restaurant.
Otherwise drive along and explore and stop for a drink and nibble at the many independent vineyards along the stretch of the Swan! Download the food, wine and attractions trail map HERE
THE JOY OF FOOD SHOPPING
Food Shopping – if you are the type of traveler like me who is inspired by food and loves carting back loads of delicious eats then you have to check out these mega-marts that offer great discounts.
I headed to Spudshed, the Liquorshed and Aldi, three new finds for me that had amazing deals and variety in terms of fresh produce, gluten free food options and price-friendly food gifts that I could bring home to friends and family.