Local's guide: Perth

Perth Skyline Perth Rottnest WA my nrma local guides
Perth Skyline Perth Rottnest WA my nrma local guides

No longer hiding in the shadows of its eastern state counterparts, the newly cosmopolitan Perth has become a buzzing destination for foodies and culture vultures.

  • Have a picnic in Kings Park
  • Board a floating boat tour at Elizabeth Quay
  • Eat at world class restaurants in Cathedral Square

With wide blue skies, expansive parks and glittering rivers, Perth has always been an unusually pretty place. Now, it’s lively, too. Gilded with the glut of the mining boom, the city thrums with cool small bars, street art filled laneways, and vibrant entertainment precincts. It’s no wonder The New York Times dubbed it ‘hipster heaven’.

It may be one of the world’s most isolated cities – more than 2000km away from the next nearest capital – but with so much to do, you’ll be in no hurry to look elsewhere.

Where to eat

Eat Perth has recently exploded with hole in the wall small bars and fine restaurants. But a visit to Cathedral Square, a collection of heritage buildings repurposed into a dazzling dining precinct, should top your list. Sip a top notch tipple from Petition Wine Bar & Merchant, discover devastatingly good Thai street food at David Thompson’s Long Chim, or dine at the refined Wildflower, with rooftop views of the city.

Starry eyed lovers should book in Lalla Rookh, a sultry Italian joint on St Georges Terrace with a cosy lounge area and a modern menu designed around seasonal WA produce. For authentic Asian fare, head to Chinatown in Northbridge – Uncle Billy’s is always a winner with the after dark crowd.

Plastered in street art, 140 Perth is like a high end food court with something for everyone. Kids will love Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian (chicken lollipops – enough said) and the milkshakes and pancakes from New York style diner, East Village. Grown ups will prefer the swanky cocktails at The Globe. And everyone will enjoy the artisanal doughnuts from Max & Sons.

As for drinks, you’ll find the best cocktails in town at Mechanics Institute, nestled in the Northbridge rooftops, just a skip from Perth train station. Order a Bloody Mary – it comes garnished with an entire cheeseburger from Flipside downstairs. Getting into small bar Sneaky Tony’s is no small feat – it’s hidden behind an unmarked door in chaotic Chinatown and you’ll need a password to gain entry (hint: you’ll find it on their Facebook page) – but inside is a dimly lit saloon promising rum fuelled good times that make the legwork worth it.

Where to play

Elizabeth Quay is a glittering 2.7ha playground that bridges the Swan River Foreshore and the city centre. You can hit the water park, shop, or jump on the merry go round – but best to board the Floating Pop Up Bar. Operating on Fridays in spring and summer, this free, fully licensed boat will give you a cruise of the river as you nurse your wine. If visiting in the warmer months, make sure to head to the top of the unassuming Roe Street multilevel car park. There, you’ll find a kitsch wonderland that offers outdoor movies and rooftop yoga sessions. No wonder the locals love it.

Of course, you need to visit Kings Park, the largest inner city park in the world (even counting Central Park in New York). Pack a picnic, meander through the beds of native wildflowers, and gaze up at the towering 750 year old boab tree, transplanted more than 3000km from the Kimberley in 2008.

High roll at the swanky Crown Perth, a 5km drive from the CBD, with a casino, glittering nightclubs, and live theatre shows. For something a little grittier, try a self guided street art tour. Download a map from Streets of Perth and discover the city’s coolest laneways, making sure to check out the vibrant murals from local favourites Kyle Hughes-Odgers, Stormie Mills and Anya Brock.

Where to shop

It was once a cliché that every Perth fashionista did their shopping in Melbourne. Now, the WA capital is becoming a style destination in its own right. King Street, with its cobble stoned roads and soaring European architecture, is the Avenue Montaigne of Perth, each shopfront more luxe than the last. After browsing the opulent offerings at Chanel, Prada, and Louis Vuitton, you should pay a visit to Zomp, a luxury local shoe retailer with a stunning layout. The King Street Collective is also worth a stop for its tightly curated selection of prints, plants and homewares.

Is your taste a bit more eclectic? With its cool boutiques and vintage finds, Northbridge’s quirky William Street will be right up your alley. The retro Ruck Rover offers an assortment of independently made clothes, homewares and stationery – and its owners, sisters Claire and Isabelle Trolio, can give you the inside scoop on what to do on your stay (they are two of the ladies behind website We Love Perth).

fi & co has the best vintage, and Merge never fails to deliver fashionable pieces you’ll struggle to find elsewhere.

Where to stay

At the Travelodge Hotel Perth, the rooms are spick and span, the service is friendly, and the rates are reasonable. Even better, you’re right in the thick of the action, so you can easily explore popular nearby shopping and entertainment spots.

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