Perth

Perth’s vibrant CBD and neighbourhoods are full of varied cuisines and chic boutiques, while its sandy suburbs are a surfer’s paradise. 

Perched on the western extremity of a sparsely populated state the size of India, sitting pretty between the desert and the deep blue sea, Perth is at once a tough, self-reliant urban outpost and a sophisticated, modern city.

A completely unique strain of Australian culture has evolved here and, with cheeks flushed from the success of its vines and mines, Perth's young population is raring to show off its many and varied attractions to visitors.

The vibrant CBD and inner neighbourhoods are bursting with colour, culture, quality cuisine and chic boutiques, while the city's sandy suburbs sway to a more relaxed surfy beat. Along the coast, most days start with a dip in the Indian Ocean and each weekend is signed off with the traditional Sunday session, where locals and blow-ins sip craft beers as the heat that's been building all day is suddenly soothed by the cool afternoon breeze known as The Doctor.

In Perth, people surf before breakfast on enormous waves that break straight onto suburban beaches and graze in sun-splashed al fresco markets. Perthites play and watch sport with an unbridled passion and they tuck into some of the very best seafood and finest wines in the world – just some of the attractions that await any visitor to the world's most isolated state capital.

When to go

Perth is a pleasant place to visit year-round. Summer (Dec-Feb) delivers beautiful conditions if you don't mind the heat, but the period around Christmas can be a bit crowded. Early spring and late autumn are the optimum times to aim for.

Visa requirements

Everyone visiting Australia (except New Zealanders) needs a visa. Nationals of 32 countries (including Singapore, the UK, the US, Japan, Canada and most European countries) can get an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA), which most travel agents will arrange at the time of booking a trip. If booking independently, you can apply for an ETA online at www.immi.gov.au.

Money

The Australian dollar (AUD$) is used throughout Australia.

Transport

From the airport a taxi to the city centre will take around 25 minutes and cost about AUD$40 (taxis are metered). The Perth Airport Shuttle bus is AUD$15 each way. Perth's Central Area Transit (CAT) buses are free and a great way to get around the city.

Health and safety tips

Beware prolonged exposure to the sun, always use sun protection (factor 30 and above) and wear sunglasses and a hat. Some hazardous snakes and spiders can be present in the city's parks and gardens - avoid touching anything unfamiliar. Shark attacks have occurred on WA's beaches and dangerous rips and large surf conditions can occur - always swim between the flags and listen out for lifeguard warnings. Petty crime does happen, keep an eye on valuables, particularly when eating and drinking at outside cafés, bars and restaurants. Avoid places such as the train station late at night.

Emergency details

Singapore Embassy:

The closest Singaporean Consulate is in Canberra (tel: (61) 2 6271 2000, www.mfa.gov.sg/canberra).


Police:

For police or urgent medical assistance dial 000 (or 112 from a mobile phone).

Basic greetings
English Aussi slang
Board shorts (long swimming/surfing shorts) Boardies
Speedo-style men's swimming costume Budgie smugglers
Whoops Bugger!
Clothes Clobber
Friend Cobber
Pub grub Counter meal
Unwell Crook
Cigarette Dart
Toilet Dunny
Are you serious? Fair dinkum?
Hello G'day
Alcohol Grog
Really rather good Grouse
See you later Hoo roo
The answer to everything No worries
Alcohol (typically beer) Piss
Small measure of beer (about half a pint) Pot
Awfully pleased Rapt
Saltwater/estuarine crocodile (the big, bad bitey ones) Saltie
Large measure of beer (about two-thirds of a pint) Schooner
Bottle of beer Stubbie
Flip-flops Thongs
Can of beer/small boat Tinny
Food Tucker
Good result You beauty!

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Subiaco Stadium

Between Subiaco Road and Roberts Road, Subiaco

See a game of Australian Rules Football at the Subiaco Stadium (officially called Patersons Stadium), home of both Western Australian's AFL teams, the West Coast Eagles and Fremantle – if you can catch a derby game the atmosphere will be electric. Then explore the fashionable suburb that surrounds this stadium on the western side of town. Visit the Station Street Markets for brunch on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

Swan River and the Bell Tower

Riverside Drive

Head down to the jetty on Riverside Drive and wander the banks of the Swan River between the three bridges to get a feel of the waterway that in many ways defines Perth. The sail-shaped copper wings of the tower containing the Swan Bells (a bicentenary gift from the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields in London's Trafalgar Square) dominate the cityside banks, and the top of the tower is a good spot to take in the majesty of the river.

The Beaches

Between Fremantle and Hillary’s Boat Harbour

Slap on some sun cream and explore Perth's sensational suburban beaches. Around 50km of soft, sandy, uncrowded beaches lie between Fremantle and Hillary’s Boat Harbour. If you have an urge to go surfing, head for Scarborough or Trigg; if you're more into a lively après-beach scene, choose Cottesloe, which offers good food, cocktails and fabulous sunset views. Families will enjoy Sorrento Beach (especially snorkelling in the calm, deep-blue water of Mettams Pool) and Rockingham Beach. The excellent AQWA (Aquarium of Western Australia) at Hillary’s Boat Harbour, where WA’s five coastal environments are brilliantly recreated, is great for kids.

Fremantle by Tram

Fremantle

OK, so technically it's a separate city, but any trip to Perth should involve at least a few hours spent soaking up the scene around the old docks of its seaside neighbour, Fremantle, just 19km downriver. One way to do this is to hop on a Fremantle Tram Tour to check out the convict-built Old Fremantle Prison, the 'Cappuccino Strip' and the lively markets. On Friday nights take a tram-based torchlight tour of Fremantle's oldest and spookiest buildings, including the prison and the Arts Centre and Museum Grounds, originally built as an asylum for the criminally insane.

Heath Ledger Theatre

174–176 William Street, Northbridge

Catch a show in the stunning Heath Ledger Theatre, a 575-seat performance area dedicated to one of Perth's most famous sons, and part of the State Theatre Centre of Western Australia. Located on the corner of Roe and William Streets in chic suburb of Northbridge, the theatre stages performance art from dance to drama.

Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island

Grab your swimmers, a set of good goggles and some picnic supplies, and board a boat for a day trip over to Rottnest Island, an idyllic isle just 18km off the Western Australian coast. The trip along the Swan River from Perth to Fremantle and then out into the open Indian Ocean is great in itself. Once on the island, check out the super-cute native quokkas and do some sensational snorkelling on world-class beaches. Hire a bike to explore more of the island.

Shop

Canning Vale Markets

Corner of Ranford and Bannister Roads, Canning Vale

Every Sunday, between 7am and 2pm, Canning Vale Markets sees over a thousand stalls tempt browsers with an eclectic selection of new and preloved treasures, including clothing, curios and collectables, furniture, fashion accessories, books, war memorabilia, music, toys and gifts. When your sugar levels drop, there's plenty of food on offer too. There is a small entry fee.

Budget $

Harbour Town

840 Wellington Street, West Perth

A mega mall with a difference, Harbour Town not only offers myriad designer labels at brand direct and factory prices, it also has a special 'Tourism Lounge', where overseas visitors are issued with a special card for additional discounts and given advice on how to approach their shopping experience. Come here for clothing, footware, jewellery, homewares and speciality stuff.

Budget $

London Court

Between Hay Street Mall and St Georges Terrace

London Court, which dates back to 1937, is a monument to mock-Tudor kitsch, but in between the two replica clock towers that bookend this curious thoroughfare (London’s Big Ben and the Gros Horloge in Rouen, France) are over 60 speciality boutiques selling everything from cigars to diamonds.

Budget $$$

Periscope

274 William St, Northbridge

Since 1998, small and brightly lit Periscope has offered Perth's fashion conscious pavement strutters a selection of cool and contemporary clothes from international and Australian labels and brands, as well as a range of artistic jewellery.

Budget $$

The Butcher Shop

276 William Street, Northbridge

When the much-loved local store Keith & Lottie closed in 2009, the spirit of the place morphed into The Butcher Shop, which continues to carry a range of über cool art, art-based products and artistic supplies. There's also a sister store in Fremantle (14b Point Street, Fremantle).

Budget $$


Dine

Alfred's Kitchen

The menu at Alfred's Kitchen offers a wide selection of burgers, which are cooked to order – as they have been since 1946. There's nowhere to eat inside, but there is a great big open fire outside that people gather around to bite their burgers, munch their steak sandwhiches or slurp their pea and ham soup. Service is swift, the meals are good and generously sized, and they come with a very reasonable price tag (less than $10).

Budget $

Cheeky Sparrow

Shop 1/317 Murray Street

This laneway café-bar has a relaxed vibe and a number of quirky design elements, including a dartboard half way up a wall. Its location, being tucked away down a lane (you actually enter via Wolf Lane), gives the Cheeky Sparrow a real hidden gem quality, but this is backed up with some seriously tasty offerings on the menu. The pizzas and tasty charcuterie plates are available until late.

Budget $$

Jackson’s

483 Beaufort Street, Highgate

Aim to get one of the private booths at Jackson's – perfect for enjoying the experience of dining at one of Perth’s top venues. Expect interesting combinations, such as apple risotto with grilled chorizo and scallops.

Budget $$$

Matilda Bay Restaurant

3 Hackett Drive, Crawley

Beautifully situated on the banks of the Swan River, the Matilda Bay Restaurant is popular for its sensational location and spectacular views. The menu rarely disappoints and features rotisserie items, fresh crayfish, plus favourites such as chargrilled sirloin and rack of lamb.

Budget $$

The Aviary

1/140 William Street

A multi-function fine food and wine complex, The Aviary includes super sophisticated venues such as The Nest, Perth’s largest rooftop bar, and The Birdcage, serving all kinds of wonderful Asian-inspired fare. The menu here consistently wows, as does the starlit venue.

Budget $$$

Tiger, Tiger

Shop 4, 329 Murray Street

In an all-too-often overly expensive city – picking up a cup of reasonably priced coffee expertly made with a Dutch-built Kees Van Der Westen 'Spirit' espresso machine is a proper treat. The rest of the menu at Tiger Tiger (mostly breakfast, brunch and lunch) delivers on taste while giving the bank balance a break too. 

Budget $

Stay

Atrium Hotel

65 Ormsby Terrace, Mandurah

Located within easy walking distance of the beach, the Atrium Hotel has a heated indoor pool and spa, a cocktail bar, a restaurant, a sauna and tennis courts. There are over a dozen different styles of accommodation to choose from, ranging from standard studio rooms to deluxe apartments, and most rooms have balconies.

Budget $$

Duxton

1 St George’s Terrace

This beautifully renovated hotel is located in a heritage building that formerly saw service as Perth’s old tax office. A favourite spot for well-heeled concert goers, the Duxton is close to the Concert Hall, and is also convenient for access to the Swan River and all kinds of shops. The hotel has free, quick Wi-fi, and excellent facilities including a gym and pool.

Budget $$$

Pensione Hotel Perth

70 Pier Street

Although part of a group, the recently refurbished Pensione Hotel Perth is famed for the friendliness and attentiveness of its staff and the quality of its rooms. The hotel is in a central location with easy access to the free CAT bus route around Perth. The rooms are modern and comfortable, and the hotel boasts a bright bar and grill where the service is excellent.

Budget $$

Perth City YHA Backpackers

300 Wellington Street

Super central, the Perth City YHA Backpackers is in a beautiful building and offers great access to the city and to the railway station. It is commonly and consistently named as a favoured venue for budget-conscious travellers. Private and shared rooms are available and the communal facilities include kitchens, a cinema room and a gym.

Budget $

The Terrace Hotel

237 St George’s Terrace

The centrally located Terrace Hotel features jarrah staircases, crystal chandeliers and period furnishings, as well as a beautiful outdoor garden restaurant and café. Often there is live music on the patio. The food and service both go beyond the typical call of duty and the excellent levels of hospitality and quality management are legendary.

Budget $$$

The Witch’s Hat

148 Palmerston Street

Backpacker accommodation in a classy and clean federation-style house, which offers alfresco dining and has an internet café. Handily located near the bus terminal, the railway station and stops for the city's free CAT transport lines, The Witch’s Hat is also close to the restaurants and shops on James Street. All rooms have air con and you can choose between dorms and private doubles.

Budget $




Perth Fashion Festival

Date varies in September

One of Australia’s most happening and welcoming fashion festivals, the PFF sends an eclectic serving of sartorial inspiration down runways in chic venues across the city, many free to the public.


Perth Fringe Festival

24 January - 23 February

Four fabulous weeks of seriously fringe-worthy events, from cabaret to sketch and stand-up comedy, and film and visual art exhibitions to theatre and music. Over 450 shows are performed in more than 60 venues across the city.


Perth International Arts Festival

7 February -1 March

Performance art on an epic scale, from an Israeli dance troop to a life-size bouncy castle Stonehenge. Spilling across unique venues and awesome outdoor spaces across the city this is a cultural feast to suit all tastes.


Perth International Comedy Festival

18 May

Two and half weeks of belly laughs and side splits served up by a cast of local and international funny men and women.


Perth Pride

Date varies in November

A celebration of diverse sexualities, this festival provides a platform for cultural expression for the LGBT community of Perth and beyond.


The Awesome International Arts Festival for Bright Young Things

Date varies in October

On a mission to engage and explore the creative minds of young people, this festival showcases contemporary art from all over the globe, including film, animation, theatre, dance, music, sculpture, installation and new media. Free and ticketed.


Foodie

Begin with a caffeine kickstart at 1905 Coffee on Newcastle Street in trendy Northbridge. Perth now rivals Melbourne in the quality coffee stakes and this joint knows how to grind a mean bean. Its also part of a philanthropic project, training people with various disadvantages, and they serve brilliant breakfasts. Save room for exotic elevenses, though, because Northbridge throws many temptations at your senses. Stroll past tanks of live mud crabs and crayfish, sniff the sharp tang of lemongrass in the air and have a chew on chickens’ feet or dim sum.

For lunch, head to the Swan Valley to explore Perth's lovely larder and earn an appetite. En route check out the extraordinary Chocolate Gallery at Western Australia's oldest confectionary company, Whistler's Chocolate Co, then sample a delightful drop at the cellar door of Talijancich Wines, where they have been producing fine wine for three generations. Continue on to Lamonts for a glass of their 2009 vintage sparkling and a light lunch from the 'small taste' menu.

Pick up some cheese for later at The Cheese Barrel, then head back to the beach in time to catch the sunset at the Indiana on Cottesloe Beach, where you can see the last of the day disappearing into the ocean while munching on a charcuterie plate or some locally caught seafood. Finally, stop off for a nightcap and sample some craft beers at The Old Brewery, on the banks of the Swan River.

Places to visit:
1905 Coffee, Whistler's Chocolate Co, Talijancich Wines, Lamonts, The Cheese Barrel, Indiana, The Old Brewery

Shopaholic

Pack the plastic and head downtown for some local flair. For the ultimate sartorial souvenir, check out Wheels & Dollbaby on Hay Street, a fashion label founded by local designer Melanie Greensmith and seen adorning Sarah Michelle Gellar in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

From here, head around the corner to the Wesley Quarter, a fashionista's paradise located within William, Hay and Murray Streets, where you'll find all sorts of boutique outlets selling high-end labels, plus plenty of fancy food. Buy yourself a more transient souvenir in the shape of lunch at The Painted Bird Bar & Kitchen, then check out what's on offer in Perth's new high church of retail, art and culture, One40William.

For a change of pace and scenery, hop on a train heading north to Whitfords, where Wanneroo Markets (Fri–Sun) boasts an eclectic selection of delights, from jewellery and footwear to books, homewares, collectables and art. If inspiration strikes, you can even buy a tattoo, a permanent reminder of your time in Perth.

There are markets to explore all across Perth's suburbs, from Mandjar Markets on the lovely Mandurah Foreshore on Sundays (Oct–Apr) to the iconic Fremantle Markets (Fri–Sun). If you're here on a Saturday, sign off at the Bathers Beach Sunset Market in Freo, which offers delectable fresh food and camel rides on the beach.

Places to visit:
Wheels & Dollbaby, Wesley Quarter, Wesley Quarter, The Painted Bird Bar & Kitchen, One40William, Wanneroo Markets, Mandjar Markets, Fremantle Markets, Bathers Beach Sunset Market

Adventure

Start your action-packed day with a gentle run around the beautiful grounds of Kings Park and Botanic Garden. Just 1.5 km from Perth's CBD, the 400-hectare park looks out over the Swan River and the Darling Range and is a wonderful spot to catch the first rays of dawn.

If running isn't your thing, hire a bike from About Bike Hire and see the sun up from the saddle as you pedal along the banks of the Swan River. You can ride 25km to Fremantle along bike paths if you have the time and energy, and then get a train back.

ABH also hire basic kayaks for those who want to explore the river from water level, but for a more adventurous paddling experience, try River Gods who run trips to Shoalwater Bay, where you can paddle double sea kayaks among colonies of Australian sea lions and pods of dolphins and spend a few hours snorkelling in the pristine waters of Shoalwater Islands Marine Park.

It wouldn't be a trip to Western Australia without catching a wave, though, so be sure to check out Scarborough Beach Surf School, for a lesson, or hire a board from Surfboard Hire Perth if you already know what you're doing.

Feeling brave? Finish off the adventure with a night dive in one of the many fantastic spots around the Swan River and Freo with Dolphin Dive Fremantle.

Places to visit:
Kings Park and Botanic Garden, About Bike Hire, River Gods, Scarborough Beach Surf School, Surfboard Hire Pert, Dolphin Dive Fremantle