8 Amazing things you need to do in Perth, Western Australia
"Perth is so boring." "There's nothing to do in Perth." Such sentiments might have been true a decade or so ago but much has changed to its landscape. Today, Australia's sunniest capital (Perth, that is) is flourishing with life, culture and colours. Last year, I spent a week in Western Australia and the itinerary blew me away—enough to leave me wanting more. So when an invite came for the annual Western Australia Gourmet Escape festival (you can read that experience here), I jumped at it because it meant a) lots of amazing food experiences and b) a chance to explore the other parts of Perth and beyond the CBD.
Once again, it did not disappoint. If you haven't visited Perth in a long while, I highly recommend it. The flight there is only a little over five hours and the following experiences are definitely worth travelling for.
WHAT TO DO
1. 'Eat, Drink, Walk' Perth Tour by Two Feet & a Heartbeat Walking Tours
Dinner and drinks on the go—literally. Call me a glutton (or don't) but this was one of my favourite tours from this trip. It starts in the evening and while the guide does offer you a background on Perth, we basically went bar-hopping. Three of the best no-nonsense eateries/bars across the city, each with its own USP, and each with a different landscape outside of its premises.
A dim sum joint slash brewery, Shy John in the heart of the new Yagan Square serves authentic Cantonese cuisine (dumplings!) and award-winning beers that have been made to pair with the food on their menu. Some even made with Chinese tea. Walk along quiet Murray Street, get lost in the wonder of the street art and find yourself at The Cheeky Sparrow where excellent cocktails and pizzas are made. Our final stop—when our stomachs were full but our tastebuds wanted more—was Varnish on King. Descend down the stairs to a bar that offers you a bacon and whisky pairing. Alternatively, they also pair it with apple juice. The best.
2. A 1.5-hour Kings Park (Karrgatup) Tour by Go Cultural Aboriginal Tours & Experiences
If doing an Aboriginal tour has never crossed your mind before, the lovely couple behind award-winning Go Cultural Aboriginal Tours & Experiences will easily change your perception of one. Follow Walter McGuire, a Nyungar man and descendant of several Aboriginal tribal clans of Western Australia, and his wife, Meg as they take you on a walking tour rich with imagery and knowledge on Perth that once was. Google can't give you what they can on this. You'll even do a bit of bush tucker tasting as they show you which plants can be eaten straight off. Saltbush was my favourite.
3. Visit Rottnest Island (and take that #quokkaselfie!)
You've seen a handful of celebrities like Chris Hemsworth do it so it well should be on your travel bucket list too... unless you don't like animals. (Gasp!) I, for one, love them and was determined to get that #quokkaselfie. Be prepared to get your hands and legs dirty though as you would need to lay on the floor next to it to get the right angle so they look like they're smiling in the picture. Tip: Offering it a leaf from the ground helps but don't worry if they hop away. There are tons of them on Rottnest—or Rotto, as the locals call it.
Quokkas aside, the island is surrounded by a gorgeous blue sea and white sandy beaches. Kick back, take a dip in the cool waters, relax. Paradise.
4. Visit Caversham Wildlife Park
You arrive in Perth and want to see koalas and kangaroos. Where do you go? Caversham Wildlife Park, of course! Perfect for all ages, you'll get to take photos with a koala (it is now illegal in most Australian states to hold a koala as koalas do get stressed from being hugged by people they're not used to), feed free-roaming kangaroos, watch how sheep are sheared, bottle feed baby goats and more.
WHERE TO EAT
5. Island Market, Trigg Beach
There are plenty of beautiful beaches in Australia, even within Perth itself but Island Market gives you a second good reason to visit Trigg Beach. Instagram-worthy on the inside with high beach house-like ceilings, shades of pink and hints of marble; stunning views of the ocean outside; and unforgettable dishes and cocktails. The black rice and cuttlefish is worth going back for seconds and thirds.
Island Market Trigg Beach, 364 West Coast Drive, Trigg
6. Santini Bar, QT Perth
Located right in the centre of Perth's main shopping street, Santini Bar is housed within swanky QT Perth. On the surface, it's full of its quirks, charm and art—all on a fancy scale. The dishes, however, speak of soulful, no-frills Italian food. From the delicate zucchini blossom to the simple insalata caprese salad with the freshest heirloom tomatoes to the flavourful rough cut crab tagliatelle. My only complain was the slow service, granted the restaurant was packed!
Santini Bar @ QT Perth, Level 1, 133 Murray Street, Perth
7. Wildflower Restaurant, State Buildings
Wildflower Perth @ Como The Treasury, 1 Cathedral Ave, Level 4, Perth
8. Core Cider House, Perth Hills
Just a 35-minute drive out of the city is Perth Hills, yet another area that warrants a day of exploring. Unfortunately, I was only there for lunch, a farm tour and cider tasting. It's the kind of quick escape anyone would appreciate, especially if you like cider—the traditional kind, the experimental kind, and the premium kind. They would also make great souvenirs. I highly recommend the ginger cider.
Core Cider House, 35 Merrivale Rd, Pickering Brook, Perth
WHERE TO STAY
Recently opened, The Adnate is one of the Art Series hotels and the chain is one of the most fascinating concepts I've heard. Every Art Series hotel works with an artist and is dedicated to him/her and his/her work—including the name of the hotel. The Adnate, in particular, is inspired by renowned Australian street artist Matt Adnate. From Murray Street itself, you'll be able to spot one of the largest "mega murals" that Matt has spray-painted on one side of the hotel's walls. It's the biggest he's ever done, spanning 25 storeys. Every floor, every room also houses some of the work he's done and it's extraordinary in the details and how life-like the portraitures are.
The Adnate Perth (Art Series - Accor), 900 Hay Street, Perth | Website
One of Perth's newest boutique hotels, Quay Perth offers a front-row view of Elizabeth Quay and its Swan River as it sits on the waterfront Esplanade. Rooms are adequately comfortable, interior rustic yet modern, and its breakfast menu a delight! Word of caution: As its restaurant caters to walk-ins and takeaway coffee orders, it can take a while for them to serve your hot breakfast dishes.
Quay Perth, 18 The Esplanade, Perth | Website
The Westin Perth
We can all agree that one can always trust The Westin for a luxurious stay that exceeds the needs of modern comforts. There are two things I loved most about the hotel—besides that very comfortable bed—the extensive breakfast buffet spread and its easy walking distance to the shopping arcades.
The Westin Perth, 480 Hay Street, Perth
No trip to Perth is complete without leaving it and entering the Margaret River region, where some of the best Western Australian wines are made; where the lush forest meets the river; and where many locals head to for an escape. We hear there's a world-famous surf spot there, a thriving food and drinks scene, and for the nature lovers, walking and cycling tracks as well as nature trails that lead to true hidden gems. If you do head over to Margaret River, these are some of the things I did during my trip that you'd enjoy too.
Do the: Cape to Cape track with Walk into Luxury
Up for treks and hikes but can't bear the rough life? Walk into Luxury offers a wide range of luxury tours where the extended ones include gourmet food and premium accommodation. The Cape to Cape track I did, however, was a fulfilling two-hour trek up and down rocky paths; rewarded by sweeping views of the coastline and wonderful dip in The Aquarium, a secret spot that was akin to a private pool for the locals once upon a time ago.
Explore the: Ngilgi Cave
This particular Cave of Wonders is no secret, nor does it store jewels and a magic lamp. It is, however, a nature gem. Discovered in 1899, the Ngilgi Cave has a jaw-dropping showcase of stalactite, stalagmite, helictite, and shawl formations. There is an Aboriginal legend that a good spirit (Ngilgi) fought an evil spirit (Wolgine) and restored peace. Hence, the name.
If you prefer a private tour, Tourism Western Australia recommends Koomal Dreaming.
Stay at: Pullman Bunker Bay Resort & Spa
As a popular travel destination, Margaret River has a long list of accommodations for you to pick but there's none quite like Pullman Bunker Bay Resort & Spa. A 5-star beachfront resort, you'll wake up to the forest outside your window, have breakfast with panoramic views of the ocean, and be in awe of the starry, starry night sky.
Pullman Bunker Bay Resort & Spa, Bunker Bay Road (off Cape Naturaliste Road)
Visit a wine estate: Vasse Felix
Vasse Felix is more than a popular Western Australian wine—its history denotes it to be Margaret River's founding wine estate. Its focus: Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, as well as Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blends. Drop by the Estate for its tasting room, wine lounge, art gallery, wine museum and of course, its highly-acclaimed restaurant.
Vasse Felix, Corner Caves Road and Tom Cullity Drive, Wilyabrup
Visit a wine estate: Cullen Wines
It's easy to appreciate wine. It's not easy to make wine, especially when you involve science and sustainability. Cullen Wines do it. Made from bio-dynamically grown grapes, the wines are complex, well-rounded and each with its own character. Come here for tastings or even lunch or coffee. You'll be glad to know that all the food prepared at their restaurant uses fresh, bio-dynamic and organic produce too!
Cullen Wines, 4323 Caves Road, Cowaramup
The list of things to do in Perth and outside of it is endless. I've been four times and still, there's more to see, do, and eat. I'll be back, Western Australia.
*All photos were taken with the Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max.
Malindo flies direct from Kuala Lumpur to Perth twice daily.