With its temperate climes, abundance of natural scenery and thriving culinary scene, it’s no wonder Perth is often top of mind for travellers from Southeast Asia.
We have scoped out the most unique things to see, do and try in and around Perth. Most visitors to the capital of Western Australia would make a beeline for Fremantle Markets or drive out to Margaret River, but there is plenty more to experience in The Wildflower State. Here are six to put on your travel wish list.
1. Bushwhack through Fitzgerald River National Park
While it might be easier to stick to tried-and-tested routes such as the Zamia Trail in Bold Park or the Coogee Maritime Trail, the pandemic has left many of us feeling inspired to venture into proper wilderness.
Fitzgerald River National Park, located about five hours from downtown Perth, offers solitude and serenity in spades. For some serious trekking, hit up the Mamang Trail, a 26.8km route from Point Ann that covers St. Mary Beach, Point Charles and Fitzgerald Inlet, where you’ll get unblocked views of the dramatic coastline. If you’re visiting during whale migration season (July to October), there is a high chance you’ll see the cetaceans resting in the sheltered bay. The area is also a great spot for birdwatchers, with a wide variety of species – including the Chestnut Teal, Grey Teal and Australian Shelduck – often sighted out on the water or lounging on the sand spits.
2. Go on an epicurious journey through Swan Valley
Often referred to as the food bowl of Western Australia, Swan Valley has a rich heritage of old and new world Australiana cuisine. This self-guided food trail takes you through the many farms, vineyards and distilleries dotting the area. Highlights of the tour include Maalinup Gallery & Bush Food Providore. This Aboriginal owned and operated centre offers visitors a look into Aboriginal culture and a chance to try unique bush tucker. Another must-visit is Edgecombe Bros, which specialises in comfort food enlivened with Australian bush herbs and spices. Also on the trail are Great Northern Distillery, where you’ll find rum made with Australian botanicals like wattleseed and lemon myrtle, and Old Young’s, an award-winning gin distillery.
3. Indulge your inner child at Gnomesville
What began as a single garden gnome cheekily placed in the middle of a roundabout quickly grew into a quirky collection of thousands of garden gnomes. Gnomesville is a whimsical tourist attraction nestled in the bucolic Ferguson Valley, a two-hour drive from Perth. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own gnome to add to the collection – you can also buy one from the nearby Ferguson Valley Visitor Centre.
After you’ve gotten the requisite snapshots for Instagram, continue your journey through Ferguson’s undulating hills and be sure to make pit-stops at the area’s many family-owned wineries, craft breweries and restaurants. Stay the night at the gorgeous adults-only Peppermint Lane Lodge, which overlooks the serene Ferguson River, or at Evedon Lakeside Retreat, which is surrounded by 320 hectares of natural bushland and is perfect for a spot of trekking or mountain biking.
4. Jump out of a plane over Rottnest Island
You can take a leaf from Chris Hemsworth’s playbook and grab a selfie with the island’s quokka population… or you can shake things up and skydive over the beautiful nature reserve instead. Skydive Geronimo’s tandem skydiving package includes a 20-minute flight over Rottnest Island, offering you stunning views of turquoise waters and white-sand beaches before you take the plunge at a hair-raising 200km/hour. Ride the adrenaline wave at local beachside restaurant, Thomson’s Rottnest, where you’ll be treated to a complimentary glass of beer or wine to celebrate your successful skydive.
5. Race like a speed demon with Rally Action Driver Training
Channel your inner Lewis Hamilton or Sebastien Vettel at Rally Action Driver Training. This rally driving experience is owned and operated by Perth rally drivers. This heart-pumping adventure gives you the rare opportunity to get behind the wheel of a turbo-charged Subaru WRX and rally drive sideways on forest tracks and dirt roads. Even if it’s your first time, don’t worry – every participant is accompanied by a professional rally driver, who’ll be in the co-driver seat, coaching you as you go.
6. Get up close with wildlife at the Academy of Taxidermy
If you’re time-strapped and only have a couple of days in the city, you can still enjoy a unique experience in the quiet suburb of Guildford on the Swan River. Part of the Museum of Natural History, the Academy of Taxidermy is housed within the historic Regent Theatre, which was built in the 1920s. With over 2,000 taxidermic creatures under its Art Deco roof, this is one of the largest collections in the country. Wander through preserved versions of kangaroos, emus, snakes, sharks and other native Australian fauna as well as life-size models of dinosaurs.
This article was originally published in December 2020.