3 Days in Perth
DAY 1: GET TO KNOW PERTH
Take a free city bus known as CAT (Central Area Transit), jumping off at attractions such as the Perth Cultural Centre (to see Aboriginal art at the free Art Gallery of Western Australia, explore Urban Orchard and check out the edgy exhibitions at the free Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts), the Perth Mint (it exhibits Australia’s largest gold nugget collection) and The Swan Bell Tower (the largest musical instrument in the Southern Hemisphere). Explore the modern Elizabeth Quay with its waterpark, playground, and cafés and check out designer labels along King and Queen streets. Or, let history come to life with an Aboriginal guide. Tour the quay with a Nyungar guide who peels back the layers of this urban landscape to reveal its ancient history. Then, wander along St Georges Terrace to see the clever integration of Perth’s historic and contemporary buildings and have lunch at the multi-level Print Hall at Brookfield Place.
Head over to Kings Park one of the world’s largest inner city parks offering splendid views over the Swan River and city skyline. Marvel at the native wildflowers blooming in spring (September-November), stroll across the Federation Walkway, and check out the giant boab tree transplanted from the Kimberley. Afterwards, go for a swim or stroll along Perth’s famous Norfolk-pine framed Cottesloe Beach and enjoy a sunset drink at the Cottesloe Beach Hotel. Explore the trendy inner-city neighbourhood of Northbridge popping into bars and restaurants such as the rooftop Mechanics Institute, laneway Ezra Pound or Mexican La Cholita. Spoil yourself and stay at Australia’s hottest luxury hotel, Como the Treasury, set inside a heritage-listed building.
DAY 2: FREMANTLE FUN
Cruise down the Swan River to the charming port of Fremantle, its streets filled with stories of convicts, maritime heroes, murderous mutineers and pioneers. Taste the past on a tour of Fremantle Prison, the state's first jail and largest convict built structure, and check out Western Australian Maritime Museum, overlooking the Indian Ocean, which features the winning America's Cup yacht, Australia II, an Oberon class submarine and the 17th century Dutch Batavia shipwreck.
Have lunch at Bread in Common, an inspired bakery, restaurant and bar in a converted warehouse before checking out the rollicking Fremantle Markets (Friday to Sunday) where you can shop for Aboriginal artworks and local produce, then browse the bookshops and boutiques along nearby South Terrace where local artists and musicians create a carnival atmosphere on weekends. Go on a pub crawl to check out Fremantle’s craft brewers such as The Monk Brewery and Kitchen and the heritage-listed Sail & Anchor Hotel. Finish at the large and bustling Little Creatures Brewery on Fishing Boat Harbour. Dine on fish and chips at Kailis' Fish Market Café or watch the sunset over dinner at the Bathers Beach House. Catch a train and you will return to Perth in 25 minutes.
DAY 3: ISLAND LIFE
Take the ferry to Rottnest Island (or as the locals say, Rotto) just 18 kilometres (11 miles) off the coast where there are 63 beaches, 20 bays and no cars to spoil the tranquility. Rent a bicycle at Rottnest Island Peddle and Flipper, which also rents all sorts of boards, wetsuits and snorkelling gear, and ride four kilometres (2.5 miles) through the island’s centre to Oliver Hill, where huge guns and underground tunnels were installed last century. Take in the sweeping views and walk to the salt lakes. Spot diverse birdlife and quokkas, the island’s cute native marsupial, which has become something of an Instagram star. Cycle north 3.4 kilometres (2.1 miles) to Little Parakeet Bay for a swim in the clear, protected waters. Enjoy a relaxed seafood lunch at Geordie’s Café and Art Gallery. If you would rather go by bus, jump on and off the Islander Explorer Bus or take the 90-minute Discovery Tour, which circumnavigates the island and gives information about wildlife and the island's cultural and historical heritage.
If you’d like to explore underwater, follow a snorkel trail at Parker Point or over various shipwreck sites. Scuba dive in Fish Hook Bay, where coral reefs make the water a patchwork of different shades of blues. Surf at Strickland, Salmon and Stark Bays. Go birdwatching for wedge-tailed shearwaters, osprey, sacred kingfishers, singing honeyeaters and sandpipers and watch the sunset from Wadjemup Lighthouse or just beachcomb your way around the island. You can also take an Eco Express bus, boat or snorkel tour and there is also sea kayaking, scuba diving, snorkelling and walking tours. From September to November, whale watching trips along what's called "the humpback highway" (between Fremantle and Rottnest Island) are offered.
If you're keen to spend a bit more time on the island, book into Discovery Rottnest Island's eco-friendly glamping tents. They're ideally located just behind Pinky's Beach, giving you more time to explore the island and soak up the tranquility. Otherwise, take the ferry back to Perth to dine at vibrant Brika, with its Greek share plates served up in a rustic setting. Explore Perth’s laneway bar scene at places such as the Wolfe Lane Bar, Cheeky Sparrow, and Helvetica.
Consider extending your stay and drive three hours south of Perth to the beachy wine region of Margaret River or head north on the Indian Ocean Drive to swim with whale sharks, humpback whales, turtles and manta rays.
Animals and family fun
Breakfast with koalas, lunch with the monkeys and dinner in the Swan Valley.
This itinerary can be enjoyed all year round, however the best time to experience it is from September to November for the wildflower season and spring weather.
Day 1: Perth to Perth Zoo and Swan Valley
Take the seven-minute drive over Narrows Bridge to South Perth, or hop on a ferry from Barrack Street Jetty and walk along Mends Street to Perth Zoo.
Open every day of the year from 9am, the zoo brings you face-to-face with more than 1,200 animals from all corners of the globe, each with their own unique habitat.
You can pick up a map and find your own way around, join a free guided walking tour, or even pre-book close encounters for a unique animal experience. During the summer months there’s also a host of special events with fun activities for the whole family.
Grab a light lunch at the zoo’s cafes, or if you’ve brought a picnic or barbecue lunch, head for the free barbecues and picnic tables on the zoo’s lush main lawn.
Just 25-minutes east of the city you’ll find yourself surrounded by the rolling pastures, paddocks and vineyards of the Swan Valley – the ideal place to experience life on an Australian farm.
Take your pick from local farmstays and spend the afternoon meeting, feeding and petting goats, sheep, cows, chickens, rabbits and more.
You may also get to witness some seasonal farm activities and try your hand at shearing. In the late afternoon to dusk, watch out for wild kangaroos grazing the pastures.
For an evening feast of paddock-to-plate fresh local produce, check out the Good Food Guide for some of the best family-friendly Swan Valley eateries.
Day 2: Swan Valley to Caversham Wildlife Park
Enjoy a breakfast of freshly-laid eggs at the farm and give the animals one more pet and feed before heading out for more animal encounters in the Swan Valley.
For a morning that’s truly extraordinary, head for The Maze - Home of the Outback Splash Family Fun Park in Bullsbrook, just a 20-minute drive north on the Great Northern Highway, and have breakfast with a colony of koalas.
Or stay in the Swan Valley for more farmyard fun at the Cuddly Animal Farm, where you can meet the mini mule and horses, nurse a duckling, bottle-feed the lambs and piglets, and ride a pony, train and tractor.
There’s also the chance to encounter creatures of the non-fluffy variety at the West Australian Reptile Park. Head for the kid’s interaction zone to get hands-on and learn some fun facts about boas and pythons, lizards, crocodiles, frogs and turtles.
From the Swan Valley it’s just a short drive to Caversham Wildlife Park – one of Western Australia’s largest collections of native animals. Have lunch with the kangaroos, koalas, wombats, possums, emus, dingos, echidnas, quokkas, quolls and more.
Feed the friendly kangaroos, pet the koalas and wombats, watch the farm show or, if you’re visiting on a weekend, listen to the keeper talks.
Finish the afternoon with an ice cream or sweet treat in the Swan Valley before taking the 25-minute drive back to Perth via Guildford Road.
Wineries and wildflowers
One of Mother Nature’s biggest and most dazzling wildflower collections carpets Western Australia with the blooms of more than 12,000 species. When her show reaches Perth in August, take this leisurely two-day drive from the city to gaze on some of the region’s rarest and most breathtaking floral gems.
Highlights include spring wildflowers and Swan Valley wineries.
Day 1: Perth to Swan Valley and Gidgegannup
Your wildflower wander begins in the natural bushlands of Perth’s oldest wine region, the Swan Valley.
Take the 40 minute drive from Guildford Road to the Great Northern Highway and Cathedral Avenue, passing flower-filled pastures to Bells Rapids.
Here, beside the white water rapids of the Swan River, you can stroll among wandoo woodland, paperbarks and fucshia grevillea.
Spend the rest of the morning hopping from cellar doors to fresh produce stalls to gourmet stores to a café or restaurant, sampling and feasting on the region’s finest flavours.
Free maps of the Swan Valley Food and Wine Trail – a 32 kilometre loop taking in over 200 attractions – are available at most wineries, or the Swan Valley Visitor Centre in Guildford.
Head north-east on Toodyay Road, taking a detour on Reen Road to the flora and fauna hotspot of FR Berry Reserve.
Walking the 2.7-kilometre trail, you may encounter some wildflowers that occur nowhere else in Western Australia, or the world for that matter, not to mention the electric blue splendid fairy wren and the endangered Carnaby’s cockatoo.
From here, you’re just a 17-minute drive from Gidgegannup. There are a few options for dinner nearby, many only open on weekends.
For those who have an appetite for more encounters with the natural world, head out to Karakamia Wildlife Sanctuary for a torch-lit dusk walk.
The sanctuary is just 9.5 kilometres from Gidgegannup, and your guide will help you get a glimpse of some of Western Australia’s lesser-spotted and rare mammals, such as woylies, and quendas, Tammar wallabies and western ringtail possums.
Day 2: Gidgegannup and Swan Valley to Perth
Grab some fresh treats from the bakery and produce stores in Gidgegannup and head out to Noble Falls for a picnic breakfast among the yellow buttercups, jarrah, marri and blackbutt trees.
The 3.5 kilometre walk trail meanders beside Wooroloo Brook and passes the falls, which are stunning after good winter rains.
For lunch, follow Toodyay Road back to the Swan Valley and take your pick from more than 70 restaurants and cafes, many with sweeping views of the vineyards.
Save a little room for some of the region’s fine chocolates, nougats, ice creams and cream teas.
Spend the rest of your afternoon browsing the galleries of the Swan Valley, or the charming boutiques and antique stores of historic Guildford.
From Guildford, you’re just a 20-minute drive from Perth city.
Perth wildflower trail
Within a 55 kilometre radius of Perth, you can fill a four-day break with spring sunshine and more than 10 extraordinary flora hotspots. From the incredible Kings Park, Rottnest Island and the Swan Valley wine region, to Perth’s oldest conservation area, John Forrest National Park, you’ll see some of the world’s most extraordinary wildflower displays between August and October.
Day 1: Perth to Kings Park and Yanchep
Take a short drive, a free CAT bus ride, or a 15-minute walk from the Perth Central Business District to Kings Park and Botanic Garden. It’s one of the largest inner city parks in the world and home to the colourful spring wildflowers of more than 1,700 unique native plant species from across the State.
Join a free guided walk, or pick up a map from the Information Centre and explore the park’s 400 hectares at your own pace.
The most popular trail takes you into the treetops along the Lotterywest Federation Walkway, taking in some of the best views of Perth’s city skyline along the way.
For lunch, picnic in the grounds or visit one of the park’s cafes or restaurant.
Heading north from Perth via the Mitchell Freeway and Marmion Avenue, or Wanneroo Road, the drive to Yanchep takes less than an hour from Perth.
Take an afternoon walk on one of nine walk trails in Yanchep National Park to see the resident kangaroos, koala colony, birds and wildflowers of the woodlands and wetlands.
Among the Tuart trees, grass trees and Banksias, you may spot one-sided bottlebrush, yellow buttercups, blue-flowering Hardenbergia, parrotbush, honeymyrtles and the Yanchep rose between September and October.
Enjoy dinner with the kangaroos at the Yanchep Inn, or head back to the city and seek out Perth’s award-winning chefs. Check out the Australian Good Food Guide for restaurant options.
Day 2: Perth to Whiteman Park, Noble Falls and FR Berry Reserve
Just a 25- minute drive east from the city leads you to the rolling vineyards of the Swan Valley, Western Australia’s oldest wine region, and its 4,200-hectare natural bushland known as Whiteman Park.
Choose two feet or two wheels, and walk or cycle through the marri and jarrah trees, pricklybark, banksias, Hibbertia and grass trees.
Lunch at a local winery, or fill your picnic basket with gourmet goodies and fresh produce from the road-side stalls and stores.
If you have a designated driver for the day, sample the fine wines of the region at a cellar door or choose a bottle of wine to take with you.
Make the 25-minute drive along Toodyay Road to Noble Falls for a picnic lunch among the orchids, Hakeas, grevilleas, rose coneflowers, cone bushes, triggerplants and verticordias.
The 3.5-kilometre walk trail from the carpark meanders beside Wooroloo Brook and passes the falls, which are stunning after good winter rains.
On your way back towards Perth, take a detour off Toodyay Road to FR Berry Reserve on Reen Road.
Here you can walk the 2.7-kilometre trail through wandoo, marri, jarrah and paperbark tress, wattles, yellow buttercups, blue Leschenaultia, melaleuca, grevilleas, Darwinia, Hovea, kangaroo paws, orchids and Hibbertia.
Return to Perth, or stay overnight in Mundaring in the Perth Hills.
Day 3: Perth to John Forrest National Park and Perth Hills Return
Head east from Perth to the hills and bushlands of the Darling Ranges – home to Western Australia’s first conservation area, John Forrest National Park.
The Great Eastern Highway will get you there in approximately 45 minutes for a morning walk among the jarrah and marri, flooded gums and paperbark trees, to striking granite outcrops and waterfalls.
Look out for Banksia, wattles, Hakeas, grevilleas, Dryandra, pimelea, myrtles, triggerplants, kangaroo paws and blue Leschenaultia.
From here, you’re within easy reach of many more national parks and reserves in the picturesque Perth Hills area, where you can picnic or lunch at a café, tavern or restaurant.
Take your pick from Lake Leschenaultia, Mundaring Weir, Kalamunda National Park and Lesmurdie Falls National Park.
A little further to the south, near Martin, Ellis Brook Valley Reserve is home to more than 550 wildflower varieties and 116 bird species. Enjoy one of four walk trails, the Sixty Foot Falls and fantastic views of the city.
Or you can return to the city and watch the sunset from Wireless Hill Park in Applecross – 40 hectares of natural bushland filled with spring wildflowers, including kangaroo paws, catspaws, Leschenaultia and grass trees.
Day 4: Perth to Rottnest Island return
Take a short ferry ride to Perth’s idyllic island playground, Rottnest Island, and spend a full day exploring the unique flora and fauna that has evolved in isolation on this car-free Class A reserve.
From Fremantle, the ferry will get you there in just 25-30 minutes. Regular ferries also run from Perth’s Barrack Street Jetty and Hillarys Boat Harbour.
Around 140 indigenous plants thrive here, including the iconic Rottnest Island Pine, the Rottnest Island tea tree and the pretty blue Rottnest daisy.
The Bayseeker Bus will take you around most of the island, but hiring a bike or walking will give you a better opportunity to explore the heath, woodlands and salt lake habitats.
Before leaving Thomson Bay Settlement, pick up a map from the visitor centre, and stock up on water and picnic supplies at the island’s bakery, cafes or general store.
Take your pick from the island’s 63 white-sand beaches and 20 clear bays for a lazy picnic lunch. Little Parakeet Bay is a picturesque spot for a swim and snorkel.
Keep a lookout for Western Australia’s cutest marsupial, the quokka, seeking shade under the trees and shrubs.
Return to Thomson Bay and head for the cafes or bars for an afternoon drink, taking in the view of Perth’s city skyline from across the ocean.
Head back to the jetty to catch the afternoon ferry back to Perth, Fremantle or Hillarys.
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