Photo Essay: Perth and Surrounds in 11 Must DoExperiences
Get into nature and experience raw natural beauty just 45 minutes’ drive from Perth’s urban cool.
The thing that surprises most about Australia’s sunniest capital city is the incredible variety of experiences you can enjoy under its clear blue skies. Here, where the cityscape and natural landscapes live side-by-side, it’s possible to swim with wild dolphins, taste the fruits of WA’s oldest vineyards and spend the evening hopping between the lively small bars of Perth’s laneways, all in a single day.
Just a short ferry ride from the city brings you to Rottnest, Perth’s car-free Class A island reserve, where you can snap the best selfie with Australia’s cutest and friendliest mini marsupial, the quokka. You may also spot the rare Australian sea lion, New Zealand fur seals, migrating whales, nesting ospreys and some of the 350+ species of fish that thrive here.
Take a 45-minute drive south from Perth city to the protected bays of Rockingham and Shoalwater Island Marine Park, zip on a wet suit and take a swim with some of the 260+ wild dolphins that have made these waters their home.
Your dining table can also serve up some of the finest views of Perth’s cityscape, vineyards and ocean sunsets, with world-class degustation, local delicacies and exciting fusion flavours. Plus, there’s a full calendar of live performances, sporting events, gourmet markets, arts festivals and one of the longest outdoor film seasons in Australia.
Here are some of our life and loves from Perth to add to your ‘must see and do’ list.
Being the main attraction with the friendly and curious locals at SealIsland.
Seal Island on Perth’s south coast is home to a colony of rare Australian sea lions which you can often spot fishing and swimming in nearby waters. Neighbouring Penguin Island also gives you the chance to meet some of the fairy penguins that make up the largest colony on Australia’s west coast.
When the balmy evening air is filled with street food aromas and live music at the Twilight Hawker'sMarket.
Perth’s foodies gather in the squares and thoroughfares of Perth city to indulge in the finest authentic street food from around the globe. The Friday night Twilight Hawkers Market is one of many alfresco dining events you can enjoy in the warmer months between October and April.
Counting the marine creatures you can spot in the clear, sheltered lagoons at RottnestIsland.
Perth’s island playground and Class A marine reserve gives you 63 stunning beaches and 20 beautiful bays to choose from, many with sheltered lagoons, coral reefs, seagrass meadows and snorkel trails that are great for young beginners.
The Rockingham dolphins happily sharing a moment with you in theirworld.
Wild dolphins and humans have been enjoying playful interactions in Rockingham’s waters since the 1960s. Today, the region is home to more than 260 bottle nose dolphins, making a guided swim tour one of the best places to tick a dolphin swim off your bucket list.
Finding the quirkiest little details in Fremantle's funky streetart.
Stretching 80 metres along the East West Design Building, the Trompe L’oeil mural adds colour and quirky photo opportunities to the walk down South Terrace. From here, you’re just a short stroll from Fremantle’s authentic and perfectly preserved 20th century port streetscape.
Paddle Boarding above the reefs at Perth’s most famous beach -Cottesloe.
Known locally as ‘The Cott’, the crystal clear waters, consistent swell and striking teahouse make this one of the top spots in Perth for a morning swim, surf, stand-up paddle board or snorkel. You’re also just a short stroll from some of the most scenic beachside tables for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner.
Lazing and grazing at the Swan Valley vineyards and cellar doors just 20 minutes from thecity.
The fruits of WA’s oldest vineyards and newest breweries are within easy reach from the centre of Perth. Many of the vineyards here are still owned by the descendants of early European settlers, who may share their story over a tasting at their cellar door.
Stopping half-way along on the suspension bridge to breathe the air and take in the city skyline at ElizabethQuay.
The riverside trail and promenade circuit of Elizabeth Quay is a top spot to soak up some of Perth’s abundant sunshine, relaxed alfresco dining, buzzing outdoor markets and lively festival scene against the striking backdrop of Perth’s cityscape and Swan River.
When Australia’s cutest mini marsupial hops over to say hi at RottnestIsland!
The quokkas of Rottnest are so friendly some have even been known to pose for a selfie with visitors. Choose a guided tour, bus or bicycle to get around this car-free Class A reserve and discover the unique flora and fauna that’s evolved in isolation here, just 18 kilometres from Perth city.
Starting the day with a walk in one of the largest inner-city parks in the world at KingsPark.
From dawn to dusk, jaw-dropping panoramas of Perth’s city skyline and the Swan River can be found in Kings Park. Plus 400 hectares of serene natural bushland and sculpted gardens filled with 1,700 native species – all just 15 minutes’ walk or a short ride on the free CAT bus from central Perth.
Pairing Perth’s rich history with finely crafted cocktails and excellent wine in theCity.
Stepping off bustling Hay Street into Perth’s laneways, you’ll uncover hidden secrets of Perth’s past and modern small bar scene, including one of the city’s first horse stables, dating back to 1894 – now sympathetically converted into a fine dining restaurant and bar with a cobblestone courtyard and city panorama.
There are three stops on the Australian leg of the WSL Championship Tour: the Gold Coast, Bells Beach, and Margaret River. From my perspective — an American surf journalist — it’s a bit of a Goldilocks and the Three Bears situation. But in Margaret River I found a place and a contest that were jusssst right!