Perth was founded on June 12th 1829 by Captain James Stirling as the center for the Swan River Colony. Perth is my favorite place in Australia. It’s clean, the people are friendly, it’s easy to get around, and it sits right on the ocean. To me, it embodies everything that Australia is about – rugged yet refined, modern but still rustic, relaxed but still on the go. Not many people make it out here as it’s far from the main attractions of the East Coast. However, a trip out here will show you some of the friendliest Aussies around, give you a gateway to empty beaches and great diving, and the outback. The city is now a hub of activity and growth thanks to all the mining in the surrounding region and off shore oil drilling and has gotten kind of expensive over the last few years.
- Hostel Prices: Hostel dorm rooms cost around $27 USD per night. This city is one of the more expensive cities in Australia due to the high cost of living from all the mining money in town. Good, central, and cheap accommodation is hard to find. The Witch’s Hat here is one of my favorite Australian hostels.
- Budget Hotel Prices: Budget hotel rooms begin at $100 USD per night for a double room.
- Average Cost of Food: Cooking your food is the best way to save money. A week’s worth of food is between $50 to 75 USD depending on what you buy. McDonalds is $8 USD, and sit down restaurant meals begin at $20 USD. A nice restaurant meal plus wine will cost around $40 USD. You can eat cheap sandwiches and meals for around $6 USD.
- Transportation: If you take a taxi, prepare for a minimum of $10 per ride. Bus fare is about $3 dollars per ride. The city is very spread out and not very walkable.
Read more on the costs of traveling around Australia.
Top Things to Do
- Take in the History - The Perth Royal Mint for a fascinating demonstration of pouring liquid gold and transforming them into solid gold bars. You’ll also get an insightful story of the notorious gold fields that Western Australia was built upon and the harshness of those early Gold Rush days.
- Hang out in Northbridge - Northbridge is the hub of nightlife here and is also home to amazing restaurants and clubs. It’s a great place to eat but an even better place to party at night.
- Visit Kings Park - After a day in the city, hop on the free Cat Bus up to Kings Park with its 400 hectares of landscaped gardens and bushland. You can get impressive views of the city and river, walk through the eucalyptus tree canopy, explore native habitats and plant life and take in the rich bird life. Kings Park is also host to many music and theater events so look out for for what’s going on.
- Visit the Perth’s Cultural Center - The center contains an art gallery, museum, the state library, and the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts. The museum has a very engaging exhibit on the history of the area (which isn’t that long).
- Head to the Famous Beaches - Perth has a number of good beaches: Cottesloe Beach (one of the most popular), Swanbourne Beach (nude beach), City Beach (also very popular), Scarborough Beach (great for surfing), Trigg Beach (also popular for surfing). These beaches are what makes this city one of the best reasons to visit Australia.
- Have a Sunday Session – The Aussie tradition of a “Sunday Session” (Sunday drinking) is best done in Perth. Perth’s Sunday Sessions are famous through out the whole country and are a very big deal. People get dressed up like they are going out on a Saturday night. Make sure you go to the Cottesloe Hotel for the best party in town.
- Take a Day Trip to Fremantle – Fremantle makes for a great day trip from Perth. It’s only an hour by train and the city has great restaurants, a beautiful water area, and nice parks. Moreover, it is the home to Little Creatures, one of the best micro-breweries in Australia.
- Climb the DNA Tower - From this tower, you can get panoramic views of the city skyline, Swan River, Darling Scarp and Indian Ocean. It is the highest point in Kings Park. You only have to walk up 101 steps for the view!
- The Aquarium of Western Australia – This is a good one for a cloudy or rainy couple of hours. They have a very extensive collection of fish from this area. You can see sharks, tropical fish, sea cucumbers, and more. If you are going to dive or go to the reefs, this is a good way to learn about the different species you will see. A week day is the best time to go if you want to avoid a mass of people and children.
- Bibbulmun Track – Stretching over 600 miles long, this trail is one of the world’s greatest. The trail will take you through karri and tingle forests, down misty valleys, along the coast—and you need never venture from the trail. Cabins are offered along the entire way and you can find hikes that last from one day to several weeks for the whole track.
- Mandurah Estuary and Peel Inlet – Just an hour south, this area is a perfect place for boating, fishing, dolphin watching, and crab catching. Be sure to check out the Mandurah Crab Festival in March.
- Learn about the Aboriginals – Take a tour of the outback with the indigenous people —there is a lot of interesting history to be learned from them about Australian culture, the land, animals, and more. Casual bushwalks are offered by many different companies, as well as, 4WD tours.
- Rottnest Island – This is one place that virtually everyone will tell you to visit. Just an hour from town, it is the perfect spot for a day trip. In addition to awesome beaches and the native Quokkas there is snorkeling, bike rentals, camping, restaurants overlooking the water, and lots of activities for children. Just make sure to avoid “schoolie’s week” when the island becomes a drinking festival for 18 year old Aussies who just graduated from school.
- Budget for a Sunday Session – On Sundays, Cottesloe fills with young adults engaging in one of the country’s most time honored traditions. The Aussies love to drink on Sundays and the Sunday Session at the Cottesloe Hotel is famous throughout the country. Save some money for this day.
- Watch for sales – Airfare to Perth is usually very expensive which is why so few people visit the city. Tiger Airways has great fares from the east coast and fares are cheapest mid-week.
- Take the ferry – If you are going to Fremantle, take the ferry, which while slower, is also cheaper than the train. It is also much more scenic.
- Clean for your room – Many hostels offer travelers the chance to work for their accommodation. In exchange for a few hours a day of cleaning, you get a bed. Commitments vary but most hostels ask you stay at least a week.
Other Destinations in Australia
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