West is best, is what Perthians will all tell you.
Sure, picture Australia, and many people will immediately think of Sydney and Melbourne. But for the real Australia, they’re right. West is undoubtedly best.
Perth is also known as the City of Light, after John Glenn orbited above it back in 1962 and said Perth was highly visible because everyone turned on all their lights. It is, as Glenn’s quip illustrates, one of the most isolated cities in the world. Many Australians call it the most isolated city, but this is not, in fact, the case. (The boast comes partly from forgetting about Honolulu, which actually holds the title at 2,387 miles from San Francisco – and, of course, partly from some classic Aussie over-bragging.)
Regardless though, it is unquestionably very isolated, with its closest city being Adelaide, a staggering 1,676 miles away. But perhaps this is why Perth offers so much. It knows that it has to, seeing as, well, there’s nothing else around.
First up on the itinerary, of course, are the beaches. Most people going down under will be putting beaches firmly at the top of their list of things to do. And like anywhere in Oz, Perth has its more well-known coastlines. Cottesloe Beach is considered Perth’s “poster girl” of beaches, but the truth is, you can take your pick – you’ll struggle to find a bad beach. Golden sands and crystal blue seas are enviably considered standard pretty much wherever you go. And there are so many! It’s not hard to find a beautiful beach, one that in the US would be more crowded than a can of corn, and have it all to yourself. That’s one of the benefits of having such a vast paradise with such a relatively small population – two million may sound a lot, but it really isn’t given the 2,478 square miles it occupies, with the Indian Ocean on one side and the Australian Outback on the other, surrounded by beautiful nature.
However, the nature of the Australian Outback is vast and not necessarily suitable for exploring unless you know what you’re doing, which few of us tourists do. So if you want to get up close and personal with Australian creatures in safety, then Caversham Wildlife Park should be a premier destination for anyone visiting Perth.
Caversham allows you dream access to all things cute and amazing. You can stroke koala bears, hang out with dozens and dozens of kangaroos, meet wallabies – super cute – hold a giant snake or pose for a picture with the incredible wombat. This park allows you to get closer to the animals than anywhere else, in a controlled and friendly environment, where you can see that the wildlife are extremely well looked after and happy.
A famous spot where you can see even wilder wildlife would be Rottnest Island. A short ferry ride will take you over to one of Perth’s most popular excursions. The island is beautiful, and feels as Australian as you could possibly imagine. The best way to travel around it is on bike, as there’s a lot of land to cover. But the landscape of gorgeous hills, beaches and rivers is truly breathtaking. And if that wasn’t enough, there are the special animals that you meet along the way. You haven’t been to Rottnest if you haven’t had a picture with a quokka. The furry marsupials are the face of Rottnest and resemble a cross between a small kangaroo and a big mouse. And say cheese, because the creatures are famous for looking like they are smiling at all times. That’s one reason getting a selfie with them has become such a craze; another is the fact that they’re completely comfortable around humans. Finding them hanging out in little clusters on your bike ride around the island is such a joyous treat, by the end of it your smile will be every bit as wide as theirs. And you’ll only find them on Rottnest, as they inhabit only this teeny island, making the meeting all the more special. Peacocks roam too, so the beauty is boundless here.
Perth also boasts Kings Park, which is the biggest city park in the world. Aussies love to brag about size, you know. But Kings Park is definitely worth setting a few hours aside for, as it gives the very best views of the Perth skyline. Picture opportunities are aplenty here, as are lots of nice lunch spots to enjoy the sunshine in.
Many tourists who go to Perth set aside at least a few days, if not more, to head south of the city and take in Margaret River. Maggie River, as it’s affectionately known, is a real gem. The area around it is known primarily as a wine region; only 9,000 people live there, but more than half a million visit each year. Home to 138 wineries, you won’t be short of vineyards to visit, with friendly staff giving you all the wine you want under the guise of “learning.” Varietals include cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, sémillon, shiraz, merlot, chenin blanc and verdelho. And no, Australians don’t tend to spit it out.
On Margaret River you can also book a Bushtucker expedition. Crocodile Dundee-esque guides will have you sailing up the famous river, which is stunning, in a kayak, spotting eagles, teaching you about the history, before taking you into the woods for a very special Bushtucker picnic, where you can try kangaroo and emu meat, lots of different herbs, local delicacies and vegetables. Guides are also happy to regale travellers with some amazing stories.
If you stay local for a night or two, you’ll feel like you’re really in the Outback. Plus, surfers flock here, as the waves are as sought after as the wine.
And that’s why west truly is best – and Perth regularly tops or comes close to topping lists of the world’s most liveable cities. Maybe that’s the only real concern. You don’t have to worry about snakes or giant spiders. The real danger is you might never want to leave.