Perth is the most isolated capital city in Australia all the way on the far western coast. Many travellers skip over it with the intent of focusing on the east coast between Cairns and Melbourne. However, it's a fantastic base to explore more of the untouched paradise that is Western Australia.
How to Get to Perth
I flew direct from Melbourne on TigerAir. Be warned - TigerAir is a budget airline and will try to get away with charging you an extra $46 if your hand luggage is even 1kg over the 7kg maximum. Pack carefully! The flight is approximately 4 hours.
From the airport, bus #380 will take you into town. You can buy a 2-hour 2-zone pass for $4.80 which will get you to your accommodations and then to the local grocery store and back!
Where to Stay in Perth
I spent my first three nights at the Shiralee Backpackers Hostel which, while good on the price with great wi-fi and free toast/tea/pasta, had tiny rooms, no personal lockers (or personal space for that matter) and there were dead bugs smooshed on the ceiling.
I spent my last three nights at Hostel G which, while new and clean with comfy beds, had no kitchen to speak of, a cold atmosphere and uninviting staff who took over an hour to check me in.
In summation, I wouldn't stay at either of these places. If I could try again, I'd probably look into Perth City YHA or another central hostel.
Things to Do in Perth
Elizabeth Quay, named for Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee, sits on the Perth Water in the middle of the business district. You can walk along the water and enjoy the small cafes along the boardwalk. It is pictured here from above photographed from King's Park.
Take the train down to Rockingham and buy a round-trip 5-minute ferry ticket to spend the day wandering the boardwalks of the largest and only island you can visit in Shoalwater Islands Marine Park. Up to thirty types of birds have been spotted on the island including the massive pelican and, if you're lucky, the adorable little penguin, the smallest variety of the penguin family. There's a 2km boardwalk loop that will take you all around the beautiful bird sanctuary. Check out my complete guide to Penguin Island here.
John Oldham Park
Nestled along the freeway in the middle of town is a secret oasis full of birds, greenery and even a tumbling waterfall. Stroll through here on your way from town to King's Park for a relief from the heat.
Kings Park and Botanic Garden
Kings Park and Botanic Garden is a 400-hectare garden with panoramic views over Perth. Detailed plaques line the walkways which cross ponds, high bridges and beautiful plant beds. Spend time wandering the gardens, visiting the discovery centre, exploring the galleries and enjoying the outdoors.
You can reach Kings Park from the city by climbing the Kokoda Track to the State War Memorial and the eastern end of the gardens. Honouring the Australian soliders who defended the nation on the then Australian territory of Papua (today Papua New Guinea), there are many smaller Kokoda Tracks around Australia in remembrance. The original Kokoda Track where the battles were fought can be hiked outside of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. In Perth, the steep steps up the Kokoda Track lead to the State War Memorial and panoramic views over Perth.
I spent a 32-degree sunny Saturday on the beaches in South Perth near Fremantle. I did start in Fremantle primarily to visit the markets... If you really love markets, then trekking all the way here may be worth it for the handful of vendors who actually stock handmade goods, but otherwise, for the 80% of booths selling infomercial-style products, I'd give this a miss.
Instead, hop off the train at Victoria Street and walk all the way along the stunning coastline with pure white sand and gorgeous blue water as far as the eye can see all the way up to North Cottesloe. Cottesloe Beach is the busiest and most popular thanks to the lack of seaweed on the shore, but head just a bit further north to enjoy some peace and quiet. Get back on the train at Grant Street to head back to Perth.
Sunset at the Island
Plopped in the middle of Elizabeth Quay is a cute little island, the perfect spot to perch and watch the sun go down over the harbour. I watched the Australia Day fireworks from here - they were magnificent.
And of course, the famous Rottnest Island, one of the big attractions of the area. If you're inclined to spend $100, catch the ferry from Fremantle and spend the day biking around stopping at pristine beaches and spotting the famous habitat of the island, the furry quokka. Read all about my day on Rottnest Island and if I thought it was worth the money here.