Perth: An Underrated Oasis in the Middle of the Outback
January 1, 1970
by Ottoline Spearman
Perth: An Underrated Oasis in the Middle of the Outback
“Australia!” people exclaim when I tell them where I’ve disappeared to for a year, “How wonderful. Where?” But their lit up faces quickly fall when I reply that Perth is where I have been residing for the past eight months. However, I hope to convince you in the next few paragraphs that Perth is just as good- if not better- than its east coast rivals.
Perth is one of the most isolated cities in the world: in fact, we are closer to Indonesia’s capital Jakarta than the Australian capital Canberra! But its isolation also means that few have taken the time to fully explore the West Australian Capital. People are far too quick to judge. “It’s so far from everything!” they say; “there’s nothing to do!” they complain.
But one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, as the cliché saying goes. Perth is a rapidly growing city of around two million, situated on the picturesque Swan River. And when I arrived last July, I hate to say that I fell in love. Relaxed and tranquil, with just the right amount going on, it’s hard to see why more people don’t flock here. The outdoor lifestyle and proximity to water are a real factor in its favour, and both Mathilda Bay, where the river widens just outside the CBD, and the nearby beaches provide a cooling respite during the summer months when the temperature can reach up to forty degrees Celsius. And Perth’s wonderful climate makes it a perfect destination to try out various new watersports, as even in winter the temperature rarely dips below eighteen degrees.
Perth is also host to some of the most beautiful beaches in Australia. The closest, Cottesloe, is a mere fifteen minutes from the CBD. There are surfboards and kayaks ready to hire for the more adventurous, and if you’re in need of something refreshing post workout, there’s a frozen yoghurt and ice cream shop just two minutes away. If, however, you’re feeling something a little stronger, the Ocean Beach Hotel serves a deliciously crisp, cold pint.
A little further up the coast is Mettam’s Pool, wonderful for a day away from the crowds. Just grab your mask, snorkel and towel and dive into the crystal clear waters to discover the world of brownspotted wrasses and parrotfish.
Even further north are Scarborough Beach and Trigg Beach, both fantastic for surfing. If you’ve been before, then you could try your luck at Scarborough’s rolling waves, but if you’re new to the surf, Trigg if the place for you. However, if white sandy beaches and wonderfully lukewarm waters aren’t to your liking, then there’s plenty more that Perth has to offer.
A Walk in the Park
Looking over Mathilda Bay is the majestic King’s Park, which is one of the largest inner city parks in the world. With its breathtaking view of the city skyline, King’s Park attracts visitors from all around the world. And whether you’re looking for a romantic twilight stroll or a picnic with the kids, King’s Park has everything you need. There’s a beautiful botanic garden, filled with two thousand different Australian fauna, and a boab tree imported from the Kimberley’s. Overlooking Perth Water and the city skyline is a war memorial, honouring those who fell in World War I, World War II, the Boer War, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. This is best to visit at night, as the lights of the skyline are truly spectacular. An equally magnificent view can be seen from the DNA tower, a fifteen-metre high tower in the shape of the double helix. And if you’re feeling like a dose of culture, there’s an Aboriginal art gallery that displays works of art of Aboriginal artists from both Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
Bars and Cafés
But for those who are more indoorsy and prefer to explore bars and cafés, Perth has more than enough to offer! With such a range of options, it’s hard to choose the best, but these few should get you started. Be sure to check out:
- Little Creature’s, Fremantle: featuring beers brewed on site, tours of the brewery and a fabulous waterfront location.
- Sneaky Tony’s, CBD: a password only bar down an alleyway in Chinatown, featuring more rum that even Captain Jack Sparrow could dream of!
- Mojo’s, Fremantle: doubling as both a bar and a live music venue, Mojo’s even hosts its own open mic night every Monday. Oh, and the décor is to die for.
- Whisk, Subiaco: if you’re looking for a heart attack in a jar, then this is the place to go! It features mouthwatering desserts such as gelato cakes, fragolino cones and caramel sandwiches (and yes, they’re as good as they sound).
On the Road
Many people claim that Perth is so out of the way that no other places are easily accessible, but I beg to differ. A mere three hours south of Perth is the beautiful south-west, which is a lush oasis of vineyards, sweeping green fields, eucalyptus trees and beaches that are second to none. Head down here if you fancy a weekend of wine, cheese, fudge, chocolate (I could go on!) tasting, and make sure to stop at Busselton, Margaret River, Dunsborough, Cape Leeuwin, Pemberton and Albany. It’s a treat that’s too good to miss.
But a few hours north of Perth marks a stark contrast to this blossoming green haven. Once you’re north of Joondalup, you find yourself in the Australian outback, where spinifex lines the unrelenting, straight red highways. Head slightly further north and you’ll reach national park heaven, where jaw-dropping red rocks rise up from beautiful gorges. And be sure to check out the Ningaloo Reef, which is meant to be just as good- if not better than- the Great Barrier Reef. (If you want to know more about Australia’s North-West check out my upcoming article)
So, there you have it. Perth in a nutshell. In fact, there are so many things to do in and around Perth that I haven’t even managed to scratch the surface here. And so I urge you to give Perth a chance, open up your laptop, and book the next flight here!