Reconnect with the Swan River in Perth
Reconnect with the Swan River in Perth
With the opening of Elizabeth Quay in January, Perth’s city and Swan River have reconnected through new public spaces, bars and restaurants and a snaking, striking pedestrian bridge, complemented by a calendar of great events.
The Perth International Arts Festival was quick to make its home at the quay with the festival hub moving to the riverside locale for the event last February.
Fringe World, the 3rd largest festival of its kind in the world, also expanded into the new EQ precinct along with a range of other community and major sporting events. This riverside precinct is set to change how people interact with their city. In addition to the permanent riverside attractions, the water parks and public art, there has already been a range of pop-up events taking place from food trucks to night noodle markets, ensuring there is always something new to see.
Explore neighboring Kings Park, one of the largest inner-city parks at 400 hectares, and get a commanding view back along Elizabeth Quay. Then wander through the Botanic Gardens that has more than 3000 species of WA’s unique flora. Take a tour with an indigenous guide to learn more and make sure you don’t miss the 750-year-old boab tree that predates the establishment of the city by hundreds of years.
See the new home of the Anzac legend
In the port city of Albany in southern WA, the new National Anzac Centre – a state-of-the-art museum costing $10.6 million – seeks to personalise this important Australian story. The museum displays personal accounts of what it was like to fight in the great war with interactive multi-media displays charting the journeys of 32 Anzacs. You will follow these troops from recruitment and training right through to their harrowing time on the battlefield before the fate of each of the 32 is revealed.
The museum opened in 2014 to be ready for the 100th anniversary of the Anzac’s departure and since then more than 40,000 people have been through its doors. Albany is a great place to spend Anzac Day, too, as many locals gather on Mount Clarence for the dawn service.
While in Albany make sure you get to the beautiful Greens Pool in Denmark, keep an eye out for migrating humpback whales when they are in season and visit the Albany Farmer’s Market which takes place on a Saturday morning. Further away from the coast is the 600-metre long treetop walk or explore the huge karri trees in the Valley of the Giants. And if you find yourself at the National Anzac Centre in late March or early April make sure you sample the delight on offer at Taste Great Southern, the region’s premier food event.
Have a gourmet escape in Margaret River
In case some of Australia’s best produce, most amazing surfing, and some of the state’s best cooking is not enough to lure you to this south west corner of the state, every November Margaret River holds the Margaret River Gourmet Escape. One of the country’s premier food events, attracting international names like Heston Blumenthal and Marco Pierre White, this event serves to highlight just how special the area is.
While you are there, be sure to visit Vasse Felix winery the first winery to realise the potential of this now-famous region. In 1967 Dr Thomas Cullity was searching for a place to plant a vineyard, after reading a report that said Margaret River was strikingly similar to Bordeaux in France; after some research he selected the perfect site to start Vasse Felix winery. The first vintage was in 1971 and included riesling and cabernet sauvignon but now the star is chardonnay with the 2010 Heytesbury chardonnay becoming the most-awarded chardonnay in Australian history.
And the food at this storied, but very modern, winery is every bit as good as the wine with chef Aaron Carr taking out the 2015 Chef of the Year in The West Australian Good Food Guide. Carr, who is also a regular at the Margret River Gourmet Escape, matches his dishes to each unique vintage at Vasse Felix and grabbing a table with a view out onto the sprawling, art-laden gardens of Vasse Felix is a must do activity.
Make the trip across to “Rotto”
Rottnest Island is located just off the coast of Perth, a weekend playground for the city’s residents and a great spot for visitors to check out. Rotto, as it’s known to locals, is also famous as the home to one of Australia’s, if not the world’s, cutest animals – the quokka. The small marsupial appears to have a permanent smile and in the past couple of years it has been a social media phenomenon with #quokkaselfie trending and hundreds of travellers rushing to get a photo with this cute Aussie animal.
In February each year hundreds of swimmers take to the water for the Karma Resorts Rottnest Channel Swim that sees contestants tackle the 19.7-kilometre open-water swim from Cottesloe Beach to the island.
Rotto is one of the most relaxed places in Western Australia due in part to the fact it is a car-free zone, so grab a bike and explore the island. In the waters around Rottnest island is some excellent snorkeling and swimming, there are secluded white sand beaches and plenty of lookouts.
The island is also set to play host to the new Rottnest Lodge one of the first major building projects on the island in the past 30 years. Construction on the lodge is set to start this year and the resort complex will house a day spa, kids club and 80 new holiday units.
Rediscover the Northbridge area
There was a time that Northbridge was to be avoided rather than visited, but now this suburb is the poster child for the new Perth. Northbridge is one of the city’s most vibrant neighbourhoods. Make the boutique Alex Hotel your base, a 74-room hotel on James Street is right in the heart of Northbridge flanked by bars in the back lane and just a dumpling’s throw from a range of restaurants.
Try to time your visit to coincide with the Fringe World Festival (January-February) or the Perth International Arts Festival (February-March) as many events take place in the newly minted Northbridge public spaces.
You can sip freshly made limoncello while propping up the bar at No Exit, snack on some Indian street food at Sauma, or step into a southern American saloon at Alabama Song, where you can get craft beers, and even cocktails, on tap.
Wander the streets and stop in for some reimagined Indian street food at Sauma or overload on sugar with a peanut butter and chocolate waffle at Superstar Waffles.
Northbridge is also the home of the Perth Cultural Centre (PCC), a place where arts and culture can interact with the community and it has loads of public space that comes to life when an event is on.
Sample a local brew, or two
Boutique brewing is taking off Australia-wide but WA has some of the best spots to sample a drop.
Little Creatures is one of the country’s greatest brewing success stories. Started in Fremantle by a group of friends, their first beer – Little Creatures Pale Ale – is the brew that started our current obsession with this US style of beer. You can sample a tasting flight of all the Little Creatures beers at the Fremantle brewery or grab a pizza. There are special seasonal brews on tap and you can grab a six pack to take home.
Fremantle loves a good street party, too, so try to time your visit to coincide with events like the Fremantle Street Arts Festival (March), the Fremantle Festival (October-November) or the foodie fave, the IGA Fremantle Seafood Festival (February), celebrating the fresh produce of the area at Fishing Boat Harbour.
Further south, in Margaret River, Eagle Bay Brewing catches its own rainwater to ensure its brews are pure and fresh. Try their take on the pale ale or the Vienna, an amber ale with a nice clean finish. Eagle Bay also does a range of wines and you can eat in the restaurant with amazing views of the farm on which it is housed. Also down in Margaret River are Cheeky Monkey and Colonial Brewing Co. both passionate exponents of the craft. All these brews are on display at the Margaret River Gourmet Escape.
In Broome, visit Matso’s Broome Brewery where they will match your beer to some great local food that tries to reflect the Asian influence that you get in this part of the state. And try the alcoholic ginger beer, one of the best in the country.
Find out what makes the Kimberley tick
There is no better time to visit the Kimberley region that during the annual Ord Valley Muster, which takes place each May. This 10-day party celebrates the unique and quirky culture of this remote region, as well as the area’s indigenous culture and art.
The Muster’s major drawcard is the Kimberley Moon Experience, a one-night event that takes place at the Jim Hughes Amphitheatre on the banks of the Ord River. Attracting over 5000 guests – a far cry from the event’s humble beginnings as a knees-up at the local Hoochery distillery – this year’s musical lineup includes San Cisco, Troy Cassar-Daley and ex-Powderfinger lead singer Bernard Fanning, who is headlining the memorable night.
At its heart this is still a community celebration that combines the stunning landscapes, warm hospitality and breadth of talent this area has in spades. Watch the famous Muster Rodeo, get down to the local talent quest known as Muster Idol, or catch the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow that takes place at the Hoochery.
For an unforgettable indigenous experience, the Waringarri Corroboree Under the Stars is a powerful traditional performance.
Get to know WA’s indigenous stories
The western state is full of ways to connect with the original owners of this land with over 65 Aboriginal tourism experiences to explore.
The Kimberley region in the north-west has some of the most amazing examples of indigenous rock art anywhere in the country. Ngurranga Tours, operated out of Karratha by Clinton Walker will take you on half-day, full day trips or tagalong 4WD tours of the Pilbara region. This area is wonderfully wild with the Burrup Peninsula rock art in the Murujuga National Park one of the most prolific indigenous arts sites in the whole world with some of the rock art estimated to be over 20,000 years old.
In Wyndham, near Kununurra, Wundargoodie Aboriginal Safaris offers a range of tours including a women-only Kimberley Spiritual Experience where you can explore more rock art that pre-dates the ice age.
In the Margaret River region, Josh Whiteland from Koomal Dreaming will show you a very different side of this wine-making region, with bush tucker campfires and a didgeridoo performance in one of the area’s many caves.
Glamp your way around the state
Some of the most remote and diverse landscapes in Australia await you in the west, and for those who are not big on pitching tents there is a range of “glamping” options.
You can lay your head in a luxury safari tent with a comfortable bed and soft, fluffy pillows then step outside your accommodation and find some of the brightest stars that you have ever seen.
Two of the best-known glamping options are at El Questro Wilderness Park and Home Valley Station in the remote Kimberley. Here you can snag a famous barramundi, catch the Kimberley Aerial Highway or experience the vast expanse of the outback with just you and a candlelit dinner.
New to the glamping scene is Pemberton Discovery Tours that is offering a soft camping option in the Warren National Park in the south west. Warren National Park is home to soaring karri trees and is considered one of the best examples of virgin karri forest in the state. Working close with the Department of Parks and Wildlife, Pemberton Tours has created a complete campsite that is set up for you, with bedding, tents and cooking equipment. Get back to nature without the hassle.
With so much going on in WA, planning a trip can seem a little overwhelming. Luckily, we’ve made things easier by creating a personalised trip planner that uses your unique personality to determine the ideal time for you to visit.
Find the best time to visit at yourwawindow.com