Blessed with plenty of sunshine, the Western Australian capital is a city best experienced outdoors. The following five destinations are just a snapshot of what’s on offer: all are well within striking distance of the CBD and will have you back at your digs in time for that first pre-dinner aperitif.
One of the largest inner-city parks on the planet, Kings Park is a year-round destination for Perth locals and visitors alike. Once you’ve soaked up all those views of the city centre and Swan River down below, set off for one of the trails that crisscross the park. Enjoy a volunteer-led or self-guided tour of the Western Australian Botanic Garden, or take the Lotterywest Federation Walkway and learn about the area’s significance to the Aboriginal Nyungar population. Otherwise, outdoor cinemas in the summer and occasional concerts – often featuring the West Australian Symphony Orchestra – make excellent excuses to visit.
John Forrest National Park
The Perth Hills are alive with the sound of walkers, cyclists and wildlife enthusiasts admiring the region’s many plants and animals. John Forrest National Park was Western Australia’s first national park and has been drawing a crowd since being proclaimed in 1900. Jarrah and marri trees tower overhead, while wildflowers add springtime flashes of colour. The Hovea and National Park falls both jolt into life after the rains and feature in the park’s designated walking tracks. Elsewhere in the Perth Hills, the Lesmurdie Falls are another popular destination for nature lovers.
Packed a snorkel and fins in your suitcase? This northerly beach is the place to take them for a spin without venturing too far from the CBD. Less than two metres deep, this natural lagoon is a popular destination for getting up close with local marine plant and fish species. Locals also swim and fish here, in particular during the short abalone season over summer.
Located around half an hour from the city centre, the Swan Valley – long regarded as a happy place for eaters and drinkers – is an easy daytrip for visitors to Perth. While the region’s cellar doors, breweries and restaurants are many, the valley is also home to notable parks (Lilac Hill and Whiteman parks, say), outdoor galleries (that’d be Gomboc Gallery, an inspiring private sculpture park and gallery owned by internationally renowned WA artist, Ron Gomboc) and other attractions for nature enthusiasts. A hop-on, hop-off bus service is an ideal way to get around, although active travellers can make use of the region’s various cycling trails to take in the local sights.
Just a 40-minute drive from Perth lies a stretch of coast that could be mistaken for heaven on earth – particularly if you’re an animal lover. Dolphins are frequent visitors to these waters, and you can catch a glimpse of them from the viewing platform – or even swim with them, if the mood takes you. Penguin Island is also a short ferry ride away, and is home to the largest fairy penguin colony in Australia’s west – over 1,000 of the little critters.
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