Tourism Western Australia
Western Australia
Perth & SurroundsOccupying a spectacular stretch of the Indian Ocean coastline, Perth is surrounded by beauty. From the historic port of Fremantle, and the secluded bays of Rottnest Island, to the states oldest wine region, the Swan Valley.
All the essential ingredients for an amazing holiday can be found in Perth. Think endless beaches and ocean sunsets, new dining, shopping and cultural precincts and a lively emerging cultural scene, parks, nature reserves and marine adventures, fresh local produce and it's very own wine region. Little wonder Perth's up there with the world's most liveable cities. Centring on Australia's sunniest capital city, Perth invites you to relax and enjoy the outdoor lifestyle, from city to country and river to sea. Regular flights to Perth depart from overseas, all state capitals and many regional locations. Alternatively, you can make the journey part of the adventure boarding the legendary Indian Pacific rail, taking an epic road trip across the Nullarbor, or joining a summer cruise of the coast. Take your pick of 19 pristine beaches, from iconic Cottesloe to the surf hotspot of Scarborough. Or hit the neighbouring city of Fremantle to soak up a little heritage and culture, strolling through one of the world's best-preserved 19th-century port streetscapes and sampling the catch of the day at the Fishing Boat Harbour. Make the short hop by ferry from Perth to Rottnest Island, a car-free and carefree Class A nature reserve blessed with some of Australia's most beautiful beaches and secluded bays. Or follow the river 45 minutes inland to taste the fruits of Western Australia's oldest wine region - the Swan Valley - touring the cellar doors, boutique breweries and providores of fine fresh produce. To the south, Rockingham and the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park offer close encounters of the marine kind, from penguins and dolphins to dive wrecks and snorkel trails. While the vibrant seaside town of Mandurah invites you to spend a day on its pretty foreshore or wide-open waterways, dining or picnicking, fishing or bird watching, sailing or paddling. To the northeast, the rolling hills, orchards, vineyards and pastures of the beautiful Avon Valley make for a scenic day trip to Western Australia's first inland settlement and the river that inspired the greatest white water race - the Avon Descent.
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Things to do
Kings Park and Botanic Garden
One of the largest inner-city parks in the world, Kings Park and Botanic Garden covers 400 hectares of Perth's heart with serene natural bushland and sculpted gardens. It's perched high on the crest of Mount Eliza, making it a top spot to take in sweeping panoramas of Perth's city skyline and Swan River. Pack a picnic or barbecue and take the 15-minute walk to Kings Park from Perth's centre, or hop on a free CAT bus. Pick up maps and brochures from the Visitor Information Centre, take a free guided walk or enjoy a self-guided tour. Join the locals for a coffee at one of the cafes, or lunch and dinner in the fine dining restaurant. Relax while the kids enjoy the playgrounds. Take a walk through the treetops along the Lotterywest Federation Walkway, stopping to learn about local fauna, Indigenous culture and European history. The first park to be designated for public use in Australia (in 1872), Kings Park is also home to the State War Memorial and State Botanic Garden. It showcases 1,700 unique native species and a dazzling display of wildflowers in spring celebrated with the annual Kings Park Festival in September.
For those who love being on, in or near the water, Mandurah is a dream destination just 50 minutes south of Perth. There, you'll find some of Australia's most spectacular waterways, including the Peel-Harvey estuary, which is twice the size of Sydney Harbour and blessed with abundant wildlife, pristine beaches, beautiful blue-green waters and a buzzing foreshore area. Being less than an hour's ride from Perth by car or train, it's little wonder this water-side playground is one of the capital's most popular day trips. You can experience the locals' favourite pastimes by hiring a boat, houseboat, kayak, canoe or jet-ski, or joining one of the many cruises to explore 130 square kilometres of beautiful waterways. It's not uncommon to encounter some of Mandurah's other waterway residents too, including more than 130 different species of birds and one of Australia's healthiest populations of wild dolphins. An abundance of sea life also makes the waterways a great place to fish. Go prawning on the rivers in early summer. Cast a line into the estuary or Peel Inlet to chase herring, sand whiting, bream and tailor. Go crabbing in the shallows to scoop the famous blue swimmer crab. Or join a deep-sea fishing charter. Off the water, you'll find four-wheel-drive adventures on the sands of Whitehills Beach or Tim's Thicket Beach. Located just 15 minutes south of Mandurah, these are the closest beaches south of Perth where it's legal to take your four-wheel drive onto the beach. If you have young children, there are many other ways to fill a day with fun, including water parks, a funfair, adventure playground and mini train, while history buffs will enjoy the free foreshore heritage walking tour or Community Museum. As Western Australia's largest regional city, Mandurah makes the ideal overnight base, with many gourmet restaurants and cafes overlooking waterfront boardwalks, museums, theatres, galleries and seasonal events - including the annual Crab Fest in March. You'll find plenty of accommodation options. Take your pick from four-star resorts and holiday houses overlooking the estuary, or bed and breakfasts and caravan parks.
Perth Hills
The Perth Hills region, nestled in the Darling Range, is just a 30-minute drive from Perth, but a world away from city life. Filled with tree-cloaked valleys, striking granite outcrops, tumbling waterfalls, dazzling spring wildflowers, vibrant country villages, blossoming orchards and foodie delights, the Hills are also home to one of Australia’s oldest conservation areas and some of Perth’s best-emerging wineries. Start your Perth Hills escape in one of the region’s three main townships: Kalamunda, Mundaring or Armadale. Heading east from Perth city, make the local visitor centres your first stop to pick up info and free maps. There are more than 40 scenic drives, wine trails, wildflower trails, bike trails and walk trails to choose from, including the world-class off-road Munda Biddi Cycle Trail and one of the world's great long-distance walk trails, the Bibbulmun Track. Immerse yourself in a day of forest bathing and bush picnics at one of many national parks and state forests, including John Forrest National Park (Western Australia's first national park) and pretty Lake Leschenaultia. Learn about the region’s rich flora and fauna at the Perth Hills Discovery Centre, or on a guided spotlight tour of Karakamia Wildlife Sanctuary. Stroll through the magnificent gardens of Araluen Botanic Park, or discover one of the world's great engineering feats, the Mundaring Weir and No 1 Pump Station, constructed in the 1890s to feed freshwater to the goldfields, 560 kilometres to the east. More of the region’s colourful history can be unearthed at the District Museum, Bert Tyler Vintage Machinery Museum, Armadale Outpost Telegraph Centre, Bodhinyana Monastery, History House Municipal Museum and Minnawarra Park Historical Precinct. The region's arts centres, studios and galleries celebrate the region’s beauty and creativity in photography, sculpture, textiles and more, while its winemakers and producers have created an extravaganza of flavours, village markets, festivals and unique foodie experiences. You can even pick your fruit at harvest time. Spend the day filling your picnic hamper or sampling the Hill's fine wining and dining options. Or stay and enjoy more Hills hospitality at a farm stay, cottage, hotel or bed and breakfast.
Dine at Balthazar
Balthazar restaurant is situated at the base of an original Art Deco apartment block, the 'Lawson' apartments. Balthazar's thoughtful and clever dishes focus on local produce and they are confident you and your guests will be very pleased. Much like their food, the carefully selected wines are aimed to take diners on a journey. They focus on terroir-driven and minimal intervention wines, no doubt they can find something incredibly unique for you with their always changing wine list.
Rottnest Island
Famous for its laid back atmosphere and beautiful beaches, Rottnest Island lies just 19 kilometres offshore from Perth surrounded by the sparkling Indian Ocean. This is where the locals go swimming, surf, snorkel, fish and relax. Surrounded by coral reefs and shipwrecks, the diving and snorkelling are out-of-this-world. Rotto is a car-free zone and hiring a bicycle is the best way to get around. There's also the local Bayseeker bus that regularly runs around the island and can drop you at some of the more secluded beaches and surf breaks. There are 20 bays to choose from, meaning you can often find a stretch of sand all to yourself. The island's fascinating history is brought to life in guided tours that detail its past as a former Aboriginal prison and also its role in Australia's World War II military defence system. Underground tunnels, the lighthouse and colonial buildings are worth exploring. Watch out for the quokkas, the cute marsupials which were the inspiration for the island's name. Accommodation-wise there is something to suit everyone's budget, from beachfront villas to tent sites. Get to Rottnest Island on a 30-40 minute boat ride from Fremantle, Perth or Hillarys Boat Harbour.
Swan Valley
Indulge the senses with a trip to the Swan Valley. The vineyards of Western Australia's oldest wine region invite you to sample their fruits, feast on award-winning local produce and discover local heritage. Just 25 minutes east of Perth, the Swan Valley is a world away from city life. You can reach it by road, or take the scenic route aboard a Swan River cruise from Perth's Barrack Street Jetty - the only one in Australia that departs from a capital city and delivers you to the doorstep of an award-winning wine region. You can even winery-hop in the back of a horse-drawn wagon or chauffeured classic car. Many of the vineyards are still owned by the descendants of early European settlers, who may share their story over a fruity red at the cellar door. Alongside these charming family-run wineries you'll also find some major international players, not to mention the more recent emergence of award-winning boutique breweries and talented artists. Do lunch at one of 70 restaurants and cafes, or pack a picnic and take your pick from many natural beauty spots and admire the spring wildflowers. But be sure to leave room for some gourmet local delights, from olives, cheeses and preserves to chocolate, nougat and ice creams. Besides fine food and wine, there are many other passions you can indulge in, from horse riding, cycling, hiking and golf to wildlife, art, history and Indigenous culture. At the hub of the Swan Valley, Guildford is brimming with colonial charm. Follow the heritage trail passing historic pubs and quaint cottages, take a stroll down the antique strip, browse the boutiques and art galleries or enjoy an afternoon of live music in the beer gardens. For some family fun of the furry variety, head to Caversham Wildlife Park - home to one of Western Australia's largest collections of native Australian wildlife where close encounters with koalas, wombats, kangaroos and a whole array of farm animals can be found.
Dine at Wildflower
COMO The Treasury’s destination restaurant Wildflower occupies an elegant, contemporary space on the hotel’s fourth floor, offering sweeping views across the city and the Swan River. Wildflower serves contemporary dishes revolving around the indigenous ethos of six seasons, celebrating the best of West Australian produce.
Visit Fremantle
The vibrant city of Fremantle blends the old with the new, creating an enriching cultural experience. Maritime, convict and colonial history can be explored in one of the best-preserved examples of a 19th-century port streetscape on Earth, while buzzing markets, lively bars and casual street cafes give you a taste of 21st-century life with the locals. As Perth's neighbouring port town, Fremantle (or Freo as it's affectionately known) is just a 30-minute drive or train ride from the city. Or, you can hop on the ferry from Barrack Street for a leisurely cruise down the Swan River. If you're hitting the heritage trail, be sure to include a visit to the Western Australian Maritime Museum, World Heritage-listed Fremantle Prison and Western Australia's oldest public building, the Roundhouse. You can even take in some classic colonial architecture as you sip your coffee on the Cappuccino Strip or a cool beer at one of many heritage pubs. And if you venture into the Fremantle Markets, you'll experience the exotic aromas, sights and sounds of an icon that's been bustling for more than 100 years. At its shores, the redeveloped Fishing Boat Harbour that has been in operation since the early 1900s is still the best place to sample fresh local seafood, only today you can wash it down with a locally-brewed ale or premium West Australian wine. For shopaholics, the pickings are just as rich, from high street fashion to local designers, homewares to curios and a range of galleries, including Aboriginal art. And after sundown, you'll see the street cafes, bars and clubs crank up the pace to create a buzzing night scene. If you're making Fremantle your base, you'll find plenty of budget backpacker accommodation, as well as boutique bed and breakfasts, self-catering cottages, apartments and hotels to choose from. Freo is a town that is proud of its authenticity, anything-goes attitude and creativity. Experience it at its best by timing your visit to coincide with one of its many famous cultural festivals.
Home to one of Western Australia's most iconic beaches, Cottesloe is famous for its swimming, surfing, Indian Ocean sunsets, lively Sunday sessions and world-class annual sculpture park exhibition. From the city, it's a 15-minute drive, or you can catch a train on the Fremantle Line, hop-off at Cottesloe station and walk eastward to Cottesloe's retail hub or cross the tracks and head west to the beach. On weekends during summer, the 'Cott Cat' shuttle bus runs regularly between the railway and the water. Swimmers, kite surfers and bodyboarders adore Cottesloe Beach for its crystal clear water and consistent swell, while its rocks and reefs are ideal for snorkelling. For a lazy afternoon picnic, find the perfect spot under the stands of majestic Norfolk Pines that cast cool shade across the foreshore's terraced lawns. You'll find plenty of stylish eateries along and around Marine Parade, many with sweeping ocean views. Book a table for dinner and enjoy one of the finest sunsets in the world. Or, for more casual fare, grab some fish and chips, pick your spot along the shore and watch the sun dip into the sea. By day, take a stroll into the shopping heart of Cottesloe and treat yourself to a spree in the 'village' taking in the high end and trendy boutiques along Napoleon and Station Streets. Then enjoy lunch at the fresh food market, an intimate cafe; or fine dining restaurant. By night, the Indian Oceanside pubs and bars are abuzz every evening and host some of the best Sunday sessions in Perth, with live music and DJs. If you're staying overnight, Cottesloe offers plenty of hotels, motels, apartments and house stay as well as hostels for budget-conscious travellers. Why not plan your visit to coincide with Sculptures by the Sea, a free event transforming Cottesloe Beach into an open-air art gallery for three weeks every autumn. This world-class exhibit, only seen in two other places in the world, is a crowd favourite year after year.
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