Perth was nothing like what I expected. Located in Western Australia (WA) and being the most isolated city in the world, I expected it to be a very small condensed place with all the excitement residing in the city centre. In fact, the fun lies across the entire expanse of Perth throughout many suburbs which if not explored; means you haven’t fully seen Perth and everything it has to offer. And from my recent trip over there, taking a local Perth-dweller with you is the best way to have a guided tour of the place to help you find those hidden cafés and one-off stores.
Photograph via Historic Cities
It still blows my mind how huge Australia is. From Melbourne to Perth, Jetstar flights take about four hours and with a screaming baby behind me the whole way, I stumbled off the plane completely dazed and dived straight into my short trip… just about remembering to adjust my watch to the three hour time difference.
The city centre is very much like other small Australian cities, for example, Brisbane, with generic huge department stores and chain clothes stores littering the streets. The laneway, Wolfe Lane, provided a late night lounge for some classic cocktails but was a usual city-slicking bar with a DJ prowling the decks come sundown… the centre of Perth left me thinking, “What is so special about Perth??”
The answer: the suburbs.
This area is full of Asian restaurants, unique little bars, numerous vintage clothes stores and pop-up shops. So many little shops to check out, I had to impose a ban on myself on entering too many clothes shops since my budget was small and I couldn’t let it get eaten up by another vintage sundress or blouse.
Northbridge main street: Photograph via The Thirsty Nomad
What surprised me was the amount of pop-up shops in and around Perth, especially in Northbridge. Many market stall owners have been taking short-term leases on unleased spaces, enabling a forever rotating variety of retail that differs from the usual high street stores and offers exciting new things continuously. A fantastic approach to the economic slump as it keeps shops open with sellers having low-risk with their goods.
A great example of this is Miss Brown. This Australian vintage collection has been around for over 20 years, with permanent stores in Melbourne and Sydney. Their stunning collection has been re-modified or repaired to provide a stunning store on William Street, Northbridge.
Photograph via Miss Brown
Rummage is also host to a range of delectable clothing and unique pieces designed by Perth-born Costume Designer, Emily Gibson. “Delicious handbags’ and ‘opulent jewellery’ make it quite a treasure trove. Gibson’s designs are now stocked in boutiques Australia wide, New Zealand and even Dubai.
Perth’s liquor licensing is actually rather strict for pubs and bars with numerous different laws of you can’t be standing with a drink in this area or sitting having a cigarette in another area (so confusing!), and you have to buy food in order to drink in some places and no mixing of shots means no cocktails for some venues… also liquor shops are extremely few and far between! With many venues, bars etc closing at 10pm during the week and 1am being the weekend closing time, Perth doesn’t have a huge party scene, however Northbridge is host to some unique bars. 399 is a touch of class in a New York styled bar with excellent friendly service. Cocktails are created to your taste (punch of the month was Cider Punch – YUM.) and there’s an adorable little courtyard out the back with fairylights and pink walls. Was sad that it shut at 10pm on a Sunday night though!
Photograph via Good Perth Hunting
The Moon is an example of a place that requires food to be ordered to be able to drink. But the place was awesomely decked out like an old-school American diner with booths, comfy old armchairs and retro video games as tables. Out the back, there are loads of wooden benches to hang-out on in and much pizza as you watch a live band or poetry reading on the stage… or people-watch as The Moon attracts some well fashioned customers.
Fremantle, fondly referred to as ‘Freo’, was ultimately my favourite place to explore in Perth. Our visit to Freo began with a super healthy and freaking amazing banana smoothie at X-Wray.
It used to be on Wray street (hence the name) but now it has relocated to a bright alfresco venue next door to Pirates Backpackers. The open courtyard embraces the WA weather and serves up healthy and organic food with half the menu being veggie friendly. The little chandeliers and wall paintings set the scene for a place that you can while hours away.
Just a short walk away is the harbour… and a kitsch typically-tourist attraction: Freo’s Ferris Wheel. Hey! I am perfectly willing to embrace my inner geek and jump on with my camera strapped to my face! I’m so glad I did though as the views of the harbour and the stretch of glistening sea displayed a windsurfing competition.
Above three photographs by Sophie Saint
I got a great view of Freo, and the famous Little Creatures Brewery by the waterfront. Little Creatures is a famous brand of ale all across Australia with its brewery lying in Fremantle in gigantic fancy looking warehouse conversions. The warehouses used to be boatshed and crocodile farm but now looms magnificently with an interesting use of empty kegs to light pathways.
Photograph via Fotopedia
The modern and industrial eatery and bar is very popular and busy, but it’s a hell of a lot of glass and metal architecture with a brisk wind whipping straight off the sea… so we scurried back into the depths of Freo to my favourite hang-out: Clancy’s Fish Pub. It is a gem of a pub tucked away on Cantonment Street, and don’t let the name put you off. It’s not a terribly fishy place (apart from the menu). We sat out the front on the decking enjoying sunshine and good conversation while watching some small little skateboarders attempting tricks in the street. Perfect for day drinking, but gigs are also held inside the spacious venue when the sun goes down.
On the weekend, a must-see is the Freo Markets.
Above two photographs by Sophie Saint
Usually, I’m not keen on tourist markets, but the amount of crafts and items for sale from WA hand-crafted wood and other materials was astounding! And they’re excellent quality: $20 for a pair of long emu feather earrings? Sold!
Check out this blog for all things happening in Fremantle – a well loved suburb.
This area is known for being one of the wealthiest and picturesque, and with property being insanely expensive; the train from the city usually carries hoards of young beachgoers doing their pilgrimage to the sea. But once you see the beach, you can understand why it’s quite the desired patch of sand!
Expansive white sands with clean soft sand-dunes overlooking stunning turquoise sea is the perfect place to lounge and paddle under the strong Aussie sun. Lonely Planet didn’t name it the world’s 2nd best beach for families for nothing!
Above three photographs via Leon Scothern
I know I slightly slated the city centre earlier, but I must emphasise the most delicious and affordable Japanese restaurant which is located on Barrack Street: Taka. It also exists in two other locations in Perth, but this particular venue is huge with unlimited Japanese tea in giant vats. The service is impeccable and pretty smooth, with perfect sushi being churned out fresh from the kitchen to the many hungry waiting mouths. The Teriyaki Tofu dish (with miso soup) is to die for, and for a mere $7.30, it’s the perfect dish to end a day at the beach so forget about boring ole Fish and Chips.
Photograph via We Heart It
Exploring a new city can be pretty full-on but Perth has everything you need during a short stay… you just need to know where to find it! Perth: Sun, sea, the Moon, shopping, unique cafes…and bloody good sushi! Farewell Perth, you treated (and fed) me well!
Photograph via Trek Earth