Perth, Western Australia is often a less well-known part of that huge island situated South East of the globe known as Australia. Isolated geographically from the other big cities on the East Coast, the state certainly is worth taking the time and effort to pay a visit.
The Cockroaches, the highlight of our Saturday nights
My first introduction to W.A. was at the age of eighteen. My parents had moved there for work a year earlier and had found themselves living in Karratha, a remote mining town on the North West Coast – miles from anywhere. To say it was a culture shock for me, is a massive understatement. We are talking Kmart, The Walkabout Hotel and The Cockroaches. Now, don´t get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with Kmart, it was the hub of the town, where everybody met on a weekend, people of all ages hanging out in their well-stocked aisles which, I may add, became rather depleted when there was a cyclone alert – just think 2020, COVID and panic buying here! Cyclone alerts were common features of our daily lives and were a good excuse to stock up, bolt down and have a party. The Walkabout Hotel… another key meeting place, a weekly disco, some rather choice music featuring some local bands like The Cockroaches, the highlight of our Saturday nights. To be fair, their music wasn’t that bad, and they did play a particularly good cover of David Bowie´s Changes – although maybe I was just pleasantly consoled by the fact that there was no sign of Waltzing Matilda. To be honest, this part of Australia, although an experience not to be missed, is not somewhere that you would want to hang around for too long, we are talking Crocodile Dundee country here.
Swimming outside of the shark cage
But… the beaches are amazing. Pure golden sand, turquoise sea and miles of emptiness. Swimming OUTSIDE of the shark cage, however, is at your own risk - a vital point I learned AFTER I had been snorkelling in a remote bay just off Port Headland. Shark, incidentally, also features on the menu at most fish and chip shops as does Calamari and Red Snapper, my favourite.
Over the years, I have often made the long, arduous drive to Karratha from Perth. It takes two days and is mostly made up of barren landscapes and kangaroos. However, there are some interesting places to stop on route. Coral Bay is one, a camper’s paradise where you can enjoy diving, sailing and BBQs. There is Shark Bay too, a wonderland of world-class natural attractions, the Shark Bay World Heritage Area was the first location in Western Australia to receive UNESCO status in 1991.
Perth and its perks
YAY! My family finally moved to Perth… Like Karratha, Perth has beautiful white sandy beaches, it is nestled between the gorgeous Swan River and the sea. It´s a relatively modern city offering a relaxed easy-going beach lifestyle, it is also Australia's sunniest and windiest city thanks to the Fremantle Doctor. There are so many wonderful places to visit in Perth, it would be impossible to mention them all here, so I have chosen my own personal top ten:
1. The Swan River - If you are looking for a nice relaxing morning, afternoon or maybe even the whole day then taking a stroll, run or bike ride along the Swan River is ideal. It links the hills, suburbs and the ocean. Take a picnic and see if you can spot any of the famous black swans.
2. Fremantle - Located just outside of Perth, Fremantle is not only an ideal destination for taking ferry trips out and around, but it is also a dynamic port city to spend some time getting to know. In Fremantle, you will find a variety of great alfresco dining options as well as some pretty unique architecture. Brimming with music and art, it is also known for the talented street artists performing around every street corner. You can head down charming little bustling alleys and shop at busy, unique markets.
3. Rottnest Island - Just 19 km off the coast of Perth City, but an entire world away, lies the sunny holiday island of Rottnest, blessed with a casual atmosphere, picturesque scenery, dazzling marine life and some of the world´s finest beaches. Several daily ferries go over to the Island if you just fancy a day trip, and you can also hire bicycles to get around and explore.
4. Cottesloe Beach - If you´re in for a good swim, like surfing, snorkelling or dolphin-spotting, then Cottesloe Beach is a great destination. Enjoy the pristine white sand, sparkling water and the laid-back surf culture of this stunning coastline. This is the reason why Cottesloe Beach is one of Perth's most iconic beaches.
5. Kings Park and Botanic Garden - If you´re up for a good picnic spot, head over to Kings Park and you´ll find a stunning view of the Perth City Skyline and Swan River. The park is a mixture of grassed parkland, botanical gardens and natural bushland, it is home to hundreds of native plant varieties. It also features a tree-top sky walk – not to be missed, I promise!
6. Sun City Golf - Being a keen golfer myself, this championship golf resort is a must – what more can I say – FORE!!
7. Yanchep - Not as prestigious as Sun City but this town in the northern suburbs also hosts a pretty good golf course. While there, you could visit the nature reserve where you can see a wide variety of animals indigenous to Australia. I particularly like the Kuala Bears and the 28-ers (parrots renowned for the 28 colours of green in their plumage). You can also see kangaroos but there will be plenty of those on the golf course. Oh, and if you lose your ball in the brush, take your club in with you as there is a good chance of seeing a snake nestling there.
8. Mullaloo Beach - My parents’ local, just 20 minutes from Perth's City centre. Enjoy a calming dip in its refreshing waters and let your children enjoy the soft white sand stretching as far as the eye can see. Children of all ages will enjoy the various parklands, free BBQ areas and playground facilities. This beautiful beach allows you to enjoy a stunning view of the sunset making it an excellent way to end your day. If you happen to be in Perth for Christmas, this is the place to be.
9. Hilary´s Marina - Eat, drink, shop, swim, sail, fish, picnic - you can do it all here. With an array of shops, cafes, bars and restaurants you can catch up with friends and dine alfresco while the kids go play on the beach or in the large activity park.
10. And finally, Mum´s back garden - Set amongst the leafy suburbs of the north, just two miles from the beach, this is my own little piece of paradise. Here, there is food on tap, drink on tap and baby sitting on tap… Cosy sofas, cloudless skies and the cool water of the pool to keep me refreshed throughout the day - what more could a lady want?