Top Places to Visit in Perth and Western Australia
Perth is the capital of Western Australia, the largest state in Australia. It is situated along the Swan River which was named after the black swans that are nesting in the wet areas. Another interesting fact I heard was that a certain part of the river looks like the shape of a swan, and it seems to be true!
Perth has a population of over 2 million and is the fourth largest city in Australia after Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. In 2017, it came seventh in the world's most livable cities. Compared to the other cities in Australia, Perth is very laid back and less crowded.
There are many fun things to do and places to see in this great western state of Australia.
The beautiful Swan River meanders through the city of Perth and flows to the Indian Ocean at the Port of Fremantle. With over 50 kilometers of cycling tracks and walking pathways built along the Swan River, the public has easy access along this beautiful foreshore. Popular activities here include biking, cycling, skating and walking. The river is also a great place to go fishing, sailing, windsurfing and kayaking.
The Swan River divides the northern and southern suburbs of Perth. The Kwinana Freeway crosses the Narrows Bridge that provides the link across the river. Local residents always share a good conversation on which side of the river is better to live in. Those who have been living north of the river for decades will say their side of the river is the best and vice versa. I have lived and grown up in the south so I think south of the river is better!
In 2012, the heritage listed public land known as the Esplanade Reserve between the city and the Swan River underwent new development with the construction of new buildings, apartments, retail stores and landmarks. The place is now called Elizabeth Quay and it officially opened in 2016.
There is a railway station and ferry jetty at Elizabeth Quay. Several interesting sculptures and water features can be seen in the vicinity. Overlooking the Swan River, Swan Bells (also known as Bell Tower) is now a prominent landmark in Elizabeth Quay. The tower has a set of 18 bells hanging and it is one of the largest sets of change ringing bells in the world!
Landmarks in Perth CBD:
- Swan Bells on Elizabeth Quay
- Barracks Arch on Elder Street
- Central Park Tower on St Georges Terrace
- Council House at Stirling Gardens
- Perth Town Hall on corner of Hay and Barrack Streets
- Parliament House in West Perth
- Narrows Bridge
- Supreme Court Gardens on Riverside Drive
- Perth Mint in East Perth
- Perth Arena on Wellington Street
- Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre on Mounts Bay Road
CBD Shopping Malls
Perth's major streets in the CBD are St George's Terrace, Murray Street, Wellington Street and Hay Street. The Hay Street and Murray Street Malls are two parallel pedestrian shopping malls in the CBD. There are a variety of shops and cafes in the two malls, together with several covered shopping arcades that stretches across the major streets in the area. Be sure to check out the Piccadilly Arcade for electronics, books and magazines. The Victorian looking Trinity Arcade has several levels of fashion stores, antiques, cafes and lots more. More shops can be found at Allendale Arcade, Enex100, Carillon City Arcade and Forrest Chase Shopping areas.
Shopping arcades and malls to visit in Perth CBD area:
- Hay Street Mall
- Murray Street Mall
- James Street Mall
- Forrest Chase
- Watertown Brand Outlet Centre
- Trinity Arcade
- Carillon City
- London Court
- Plaza Arcade
- Cloisters Arcade
- St Martin's Arcade
- Gledden Arcade
Get a glimpse of London in Perth! The clock on the tower at the Hay Street end of London Court chimes every quarter of an hour with mechanised knights moving around in the castle. There is another clock at the St Georges Terrace end. The London Court shopping arcade between Hay Street and St Georges Terrace is open-roof and displays England's architectural facade from the Tudor and Elizabethan eras.
Shops line both sides of the London Court arcade, selling souvenirs, contemporary-style clothings and fashion accessories. Unknown to most people, there are shops and offices on the upper levels of the London Court.
Perth is one of the most isolated populous city in the world. Its closest neighboring city is Adelaide which is 2,130 km away!
Located on the corner of St Georges Terrace and Barrack Street in the heart of the city, the Stirling Gardens are Perth's oldest public gardens. They were named after Governor James Stirling and originally used for growing grapes and other fruits by a colonial botanist named James Drummond.
In 1845, the gardens were opened to public as a botanical garden. Some of the original trees are still standing here. In recent years, sculptures and a water feature have been added in the gardens.
Sitting on 400 hectares and an altitude of 43 metres, this large urban park has a whole lot of gardens, playgrounds, picnic areas, landmarks and monumental structures. It overlooks the lovely Swan River and has a fantastic panoramic view of the city skyline.
There are many interesting things to do in Kings Park, from sightseeing to dining, trekking, cycling, picnics and barbeques. You can easily spend the whole day at this highland park!
Things to see in Kings Park include:
- Kings Park War Memorial
- Edith Dircksey Cowan Memorial
- Botanic Garden
- A Giant Boab Tree
- DNA Tower
- Aboriginal Art Gallery
- Jacob's Ladder
- Tree Top Walk
Built in the 1835, the Old Mill on Mill Point Road in South Perth is Perth's best known landmark. It produced up to 680kg of flour per day until 1859 when operation ceased due to lack of profits and the mill's unfavorable location. The mill and cottage at the site were then used as a hotel, residence and poultry farm. The tower has been restored to its original condition and is now a sightseeing attraction in Perth.
The Perth Zoo was opened in 1898. Currently, there are over one thousand animals in the Perth Zoo, from Australian native animals to exotic non-native species. The zoo also participates in breeding endangered animals under the conservation programs. Come and see the numbat, an endangered marsupial and Australia's only mammal to feed on termites.
Do you want to see some Australian animals?
Green Tree Frog
Blue Tongue Lizard
Spiny Leaf Insect
A few of Perth's suburban beaches are very close to the city. The beaches in Scarborough, Swanbourne (nudist beach on the north side), City Beach and Cottlesloe are all within 20km from the city centre and they are amongst the finest in Australia. Located next to the Indian Ocean and in the vicinity of Perth's busy residential suburbs, these areas are populated with shops and cafes. They are some of Perth's popular hangouts places for both local residents and tourists.
For an ultimate island getaway, take a ferry or plane to Rottnest Island. There are lots of natural attractions, fishing spots and wildlife encounters on the island. Accommodation is available for those who want to stay overnight on Rottnest.
Activities on Rottnest Island include:
- Train rides
- Lighthouse tours
- Seaplane adventure
- Educational tours
- Museums and galleries
Perth's best nightlife places are in Northbridge that is walking distance from the city centre. Cafes, pubs, night clubs, restaurants, shops and cultural activities create an exciting atmosphere here in the evenings. A great place to shop and hangout with your mates.
Perth Cultural Centre
The Perth Cultural Centre is located between the CBD and Northbridge. It is made up of cultural and learning institutions including:
- The Art Gallery of Western Australia
- Western Australian Museum
- Central Institute of Technology
- Cinema Paradiso
- Blue Room Theatre
- Perth Gaol
- State Library
- State Records Office
- Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts.
Perth's official Chinatown is on Roe Street in Northbridge.There are two white lion statues on each side of the archway on Roe Street. This place comes alive after dark where the restaurants are the main attractions. On the other side of Northbridge on William Street is the real Chinatown where crowded Asian provision stores can be found on both sides of the street. All kinds of Asian groceries and food products are available from these stores.
Formerly known as Burswood Entertainment Complex, the Crown Perth is located on a landfill on the Swan River near to the city. When complex was first opened, the casino was run by Genting Berhad, Malaysia's casino operator. The name of the complex was changed to Crown Perth in 2011 by Crown Limited. The entertainment complex also has hotels, restaurants, bars, a convention centre and theatres.
University of Western Australia
Established in 1911, the University of Western Australia (UWA) is Western Australia's oldest university and amongst the country's most prestigious universities. The university was first located in the city centre on Irwin Street and in 1932 it relocated to its present-day location in Crawley, about 5km from the city. Many of the university's buildings are named after its founding chancellor, Sir John Winthrop Hackett. A major landmark of UWA is Winthrop Hall where examinations, graduation ceremonies and other major events are held.
On the other side of Hackett Drive opposite the university is the Matilda Bay Reserve which is a breeding santuary for migratory birds. Matilda Bay is a natural bay that is part of the Swan River.
Map of Perth City
The Perth Mint is in East Perth. It offers exhibitions, demonstrations and interesting activities. Visitors to the mint get to handle some heavy gold nuggets and watch molten gold being poured into a mould. A range of souvenirs, jewellery, gold nuggets and commemorative coins are available for sale at the Perth Mint Shop.
Yanchep is 45 minutes north of Perth. Hundreds of caves are found in the Yanchep National Park but only Crystal Cave is open to the public. This show cave have great formations for visitors to admire, and a bit of crawling and climbing is required to get to some areas for spectacular viewings. Other activities in Yanchep include horseriding, sailing, swimming, surfing, scuba diving and bushwalking.
The Aquarium of Western Australia
The aquarium was named Underwater World when it opened in 1988. It later changed its name to the Aquarium of Western Australia. At the walk-through aquarium, visitors can view hundreds of marine life in their natural-like environment. Snorkeling and diving activities in the aquarium are available for adventurous visitors who want to have closer encounters with the marine life.
Have you been to Perth or Western Australia?
Bibra Lake is a suburb less than 30 minutes from Perth. With a chain of lakes and Adventure World in the area, Bibra Lake is known as a recreational suburb. The bushlands and wetlands here are home to many species of flora and wildlife. Large flocks of the popular black swans and other waterfowls are some of the interesting creatures you will get to see here. There are picnic and BBQ areas located in the surrounding parks.
Opened in 1982, Adventure World is Western Australia's biggest fun park. It is located in the suburb of Bibra Lake. I loved this place when I was a child because it was the only amusement place we had at that time. Children still love this place. There are 30 different outdoor rides from slides, swings, tobaggans to races, boats and more. The cafes in the park serve a wide variety of food, or you can bring your own and have a picnic in the park with your baby or toddler. Be prepared to spend the whole day here with the kids.
The port town of Fremantle is one of Western Australia's most popular destinations, only 19km south west of the city. The Port of Fremantle is where the Swan River meets the Indian Ocean. Many of the colonial structures that were built in the nineteenth century are now popular landmarks in Fremantle.
Some of the things to do and see in Fremantle:
- The Round House is the oldest building that is still standing in WA. Built in 1830, it was used as a prison for colonial and indigenous prisoners until 1886.
- The Whalers Tunnel is under the Round House. It was built by the Fremantle Whaling Company in 1837 to provide access between Fremantle and Bathers Beach.
- Fremantle Prison was initially used for imprisoning convicts from Britain. By the late 1800s, it was used to house local white prisoners and some Aboriginal prisoners. The building is now a heritage landmark and local attraction for tourists.
- The Fremantle Arts Centre was convict built in 1860s and was used as a lunatic asylum hospital. Now it is used for concerts, exhibitions and other events
- The WA Maritime Museum has galleries and exhibits of WA's maritime history. It is temporarily closed for refurbishment.
- The Shipwreck Museum provides information on the state's historic shipwrecks.
- Take a stroll along the Broadwalk at the Fishing Boat Harbour that is lined with restaurants and cafes.
- Check out the Fremantle flea markets where there are many stalls selling handmade items, souvenirs, T-shirts, artworks, jewelry, antiques and collectable items.
One of the earliest settlements in Western Australia was in Rockingham, 47 km south of Perth. It was named after a ship called Rockingham that sank after carrying settlers to Western Australia. It was a port for the timber industry in the early years of settlement.The present day Rockingham is now a popular tourist destination because of its beautiful beaches and parks.
Just off the mainland of Rockingham is Penguin Island which is home to many local wildlife including Western Australia’s largest colony of the smallest species of penguins in the world. The beautiful beaches and clear waters make Penguin Island a popular destination for the locals. There is a sandbar between Rockingham and Penguin Island, making it possible for people to walk across the ocean to Penguin Island. However, the stretch of sand bar is very dangerous to access in rough seas and lives have been lost here. A ferry service operates between Rockingham and Penguin Island.
City of Perth
There are so many things to do in the coastal town of Margaret River, about 280km south of Perth. With over 130 wineries and thousands of hectares of vineyards in the area, this place is the Wine Region of WA. Free wine tastings are available at many of the cellar doors.
Natural cave formations are also in abundance, with hundreds of caves in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. Several of the caves are open to the public, the most famous being the Mammoth Cave. Other tourist show caves are Jewel Cave, Lake Cave, Ngilgi Cave, Calgardup Cave and Giants Cave.
The weekend markets in Margaret River are stocked with fresh farm produce and handicrafts. Visitors should also check out the local shops or relax at the cafes for great serves of coffee.
The Ngilgi Cave is located in Yallingup, north of Margaret River. Formerly called Yallingup Cave, this karst cave lies in the northeast of Yallingup. Fossils and remains of animals native Australian animals have been found in this cave.
Many visitors stop in the small remote town called Arthur River on Albany Highway for fuel. The Arthur Wool Shed, Mobil Arthur River Roadhouse and a general store are some of the historic buildings in Arthur River. The Wool Shed was established in 1910 as a community place for sheep shearers, is now a heritage site.
The coastal port city of Albany was where the early European settlers lived. Albany faces the southern ocean and has the largest wind farm in Australia. In the nineteenth century the primary industries here were agriculture, timber and whaling. The old Whaling Station is now a museum called Whale World.
An interesting large granite rock that resembles the head of a dog, called the Dog Rock can be seen near the town centre. One of the largest natural harbours, King George Sound is found here. Other historical structures in Albany are the Albany Convict Gaol, The Princess Royal Fortress and Patrick Taylor Cottage.
Which is your favorite spot in Western Australia?
While you are visiting the south west, check out the rural town called Denmark. When approaching this little undulating town, the views are amazing, with tall forest trees and rolling green hills looming in the distance. The main attraction here the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk and the William Bay National Park. Other interesting places to visit are the wineries, vineyards, restaurants, cafes, galleries, and handicraft shops.
Torndirrup National Park
The Torndirrup National Park south of Albany has many natural formations that are made up of rocks that are thousands of millions of years old. These local attractions include the Gap, Natural Bridge, blowholes, cliffs and gullies.
Also in the south-west region, Pemberton is most famous for the tall trees in the forests. The 61-metre Gloucester Tree in the Gloucester National Park is from the Karri family of trees which are the third tallest species of trees in the world. The Dave Evans Bicentennial Tree in the Warren National Park near to Pemberton is the tallest at 75 metres, and the 51-metre Diamond Tree is located between Manjimup and Pemberton. The climbing trees have been pegged with metal pegs for visitors to climb at their own risk (a big challenge for people like me with acrophobia!). There is a lookout at the top of the tall trees with spectacular views of the karri forests.
Travel to the small country town of Hyden, 350km east of Perth. The most amazing attraction in Hyden is the giant surf wave looking rock named Wave Rock which lies 4km east of Hyden.
Other natural rock formations in the vicinity of the Wave Rock are:
- Hippo's Yawn
- Humps and Breakers
- the eerie Mulka's Cave
The fishing town of Cervantes is about 200km north of Perth. The drive from Perth to Cervantes is along the coast with the Indian Ocean on the left. After the rural town of Lancelin, there are some huge white sand dunes in the distance that are quite spectacular. About 20km from Cervantes is the Nambung National Park where the famous Pinnacles Desert is a major attraction in the region. The desert covers an area of around 190 hectares.
Hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to this place every year to see the most mystical desert landscape with thousands of limestone pillar formations standing in the yellow sand. There is a lookout in the middle of the desert that gives a good view of the surrounding areas. A trip to the Pinnacles Desert is a truly memorable experience for all visitors to Western Australia.
In 1700, when Dutch explorers saw the Pinnacles, they thought they had stumbled across ruins of an ancient city!
The rugged outback town of Kalbarri is about 600km north of Perth. Located next to the Indian Ocean, Kalbarri has beautiful beaches for swimming and surfing. Dolphins and whales are frequently sighted near the coastal areas. The Kalbarri National Park has an amazing landscape lined with formations of river gorges and cliffs. A great place for hiking, kayaking, abseiling and other adventures.
Several hours north of Kalbarri is Monkey Mia which is famous for its wildlife encounters. Many visitors travel to Monkey Mia to have close encounters with the wild bottlenose dolphins that come ashore every day to greet the people.
Other activities in Monkey Mia includes swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and fishing. Cruises are available for visitors to experience more encounters with other wildlife in the area.
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