3 Secret Mini Breaks Near Perth

Can you keep a secret? Perth has a few! Just outside the city, you’ll find a wealth of spots to stay and play. Here are three of our favourites.

AN UNEXPECTED HIDEAWAY

If you’re headed to the Great Southern region, a stop in Katanning probably isn’t on the cards. People tend to be drawn to better-known towns nearby, like Albany and Denmark, but a detour to this little heritage town will throw up some big surprises.

The Premier Mill Hotel is your first stop – having opened in 2018 to little fanfare, this lovingly restored mill has quickly gained an underground following for its unexpectedly stunning renovation, which sees modern and period features blended together at the hand of renowned architect Michael Patroni.

Nearby, you can discover the region’s contemporary art project by following the larger-than-life Silo Trail, or uncover the story of Donald Campbell’s quest for the water speed record on Lake Dumbleyung. Back at home base, bunker down at the cellar wine bar, which serves an exclusively Great Southern wine list. Cheers!

Premier Mill, Katanning
Photo: Premier Mill, Katanning

ISLANDS, BEACHES AND SEAFOOD

Rockingham is only 45 minutes from Perth city but with its powdery white beaches and ruggedly beautiful coastline, it’s a squillion miles from care.

The ocean here is home to not one but two aptly named islands: take the five-minute ferry to Penguin Island to see wild fairy penguins in their natural environment or to hit the beach (BYO picnic; the entire island is a Class A nature reserve); or join a wildlife tour to Seal Island to get up close and personal with Australian sea lions. You can also swim with wild bottlenose dolphins here, on board an award-winning tour with Rockingham Wild Encounters.

Afterwards, set up camp 30 minutes down the road in a luxury apartment at Mandurah, a town famed for its blue swimmer crab (there’s even an annual Crab Fest here). Several seafood restaurants here serve the area’s bounty of herring, garfish, sand whiting and bream; if you’re planning to spend another day or two, consider an ocean charter to fish for your own.

Swimming with wild dolphins, Rockingham Wild Encounters.
Photo: Rockingham Wild Encounters

A WINE LOVER’S PARADISE

The Southern Forest region is often overshadowed by its better-known neighbours – the Great Southern and Margaret River regions – but don’t be fooled. This secret spot is a vino lover’s dream.

Base yourself at the forested town of Pemberton, where a vineyard stay like Silkwood makes a fitting base, and get set to explore the area’s growing number of rustic cellar doors. A short 3.5-hour road trip south of Perth, you’ll find a strong showing for chardonnay, as well as bordeaux reds like cabernet sauvignon, merlot and malbec, with expressions of pinot noir now also inspiring a keen following within sommelier circles.

If you’d like you can take a foodie tour of the area, or get lost in the right direction on this self-drive wine trail – it does a great job of demonstrating the region’s reputation for both wine and premium produce, with stops like Lost Lake, The Truffle & Wine Co and Hidden River Estate.

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