I’ve been asked a few times by fellow bloggers recently about life “down under” in Perth, Western Australia. In between continuing my travel journals, I’d like to write a bit more about my family’s adopted home. I’ve reworked a guest post that I originally wrote for Nicole at Mein Leben In Graz to give you some insights to life in Perth and the South West part of Western Australia.
Perth, the state capital of Western Australia, is reputedly the “most isolated capital city on earth”. Situated on the western coast of the Australian continent, it is over 2000 km from the nearest capital city of Adelaide, South Australia. Western Australia, itself, covers a land area larger than that of Western Europe! Perth lies in the lower south west corner of the state and between here and the east of the continent lies a vast desert. Suffice to say if you want to go to the other Australian cities you need to fly! If you prefer you can take the slow route and do a road trip across the Nullabor Desert or take the Indian Pacific train (4 days, 3 nights on board!).
The city has built up around the beautiful Swan River, a wide and open expanse of water affording a natural harbour. The skyline is distinctive and dominated by office buildings mingled with a dwindling few of the old colonial ones.
From Barrack Street Jetty on the river front, you can take a cruise down to the port of Fremantle or up river to the Swan Valley to visit wineries and cafes. Talking of cafes, in recent years a vibrant cafe culture has grown up around Perth – with the sunny Mediterranean climate, eating al fresco is highly popular. Kings Park, a large area of natural bushland, lies just to the west of the city centre and you can enjoy wonderful views across the city from the Mount Eliza lookout. At present a new development called Elizabeth Quay is being built on the river front with plans for boardwalks and more cafes and restaurants to take advantage of the wonderful river views. On the south side of the river bank is another of our favourite haunts, the pretty riverside suburb of South Perth with the historical Windsor Hotel being a favourite place to seek refreshments after a trip to the nearby zoo.
With its Mediterranean-style climate and proximity to water, Perth is a paradise for water lovers or anyone just wanting to get out into the fresh air. Walking, cycling, swimming and any number of water sports including boating and surfing are enormously popular. Perth’s western suburbs stretch for miles along the coast by the Indian Ocean. Here you could be forgiven for thinking at times that you were in St Tropez!
The port city of Fremantle lies about 20 kms along the Swan river from the city centre. Obviously there are roads to get there not just boats! It’s interesting to know other people’s perceptions of Perth sometimes. We once met in the cathedral city of Wells in the West Country of UK, a young man who was a refugee from the Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine. He was amazed to discover that people actually lived in Western Australia and that there was even a city there – he thought it was just sand, desert and kangaroos! Fremantle has a old world charm that you won’t find in the Perth city centre. It is a working port city, so you can find large container ships and quaysides juxtaposed with boardwalks, pleasure boats and a myriad of restaurants, many of which specialise in fish. Fremantle has also given its name to the famous “Fremantle Doctor”, the cooling breeze that comes in from the Indian Ocean on many days in the summer months, taking the edge off the summer heat and making life far more bearable!
Eating fish and chips down by the harbour is highly recommended.
Fremantle still retains many of its original colonial buildings including the iconic Esplanade Hotel down near the sea front. There is also more than a small flavour of southern France about some of the buildings. The port city is rich in maritime history and over the years has become a hub for artists, musicians and theatre groups so there are plenty of museums and art galleries to visit too. The weekend markets are also well worth a browse followed up by coffee or lunch.
East of the metropolitan area and upstream along the Swan River you reach the Perth Hills, which have a relaxed and more rural feel than the city itself. We especially like the Hills area in the winter when you can enjoy warming meals at the local pubs or restaurants in front of a blazing log fire (yes Perth does have distinct seasons and the winters are much cooler and wetter). Out in small towns such as Pickering Brook in less than an hour you can escape the city for a relaxing day out.
Or just a bit further north you can explore the countryside in the Upper Swan Valley or stop at one of the many wineries or restaurants. The town of Guildford is one of the most historic in Western Australia (important both in the modern history of European settlement but also as a site of aboriginal settlement) and there are several heritage walks you can do in the area. Lunch at the Rose and Crown Hotel is a very pleasant way to while away the time before or afterwards.
Clearly the beautiful Mediterranean climate is a major attraction of life in Perth. Whilst we enjoy the many hours of sunshine, we also love the winters here when wild storms blow in off the ocean and we can rug up indoors – it makes a refreshing change from the summer heat. I couldn’t leave out the Margaret River wine region in my Perth article as it is such a wonderful part of the world! Our favourite season to go there is during the winter months. Blessed with a favourable climate for wine production, this area has become known world wide for its delicious wines. With dairy farms too it also produces many cheeses and tasty chocolate. In the south west Cape area you will find national parks, caves, cafes, restaurants, wineries and many art and craft galleries. About 2 and a half hours drive from Perth it is the perfect destination for a long weekend getaway!
I hope you have enjoyed learning a little bit more about my adoptive home town of Perth! Obviously there is so much more to Perth than the brief overview I have given you here. There really is something for everyone to see and do here whatever age or background you come from. Perth is a walkers’ paradise – there are walking trails along the coast, round the River Swan, a heritage walk round the lovely old town of Guildford and numerous spots in the port city of Fremantle along the boardwalk or down by the sea. Therefore I’ll link this post with 2 of my favourite blog get-togethers, Restless Jo’s Monday Walks and Allane and Ting over at Monday Escapes! I’ll leave you with a defining photo of Perth – our beautiful daily sunsets over the Indian Ocean!
Copyright © 2015 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved