This fine town on the western coast of Australia doesn’t get as much love as Melbourne and Sydney, and it’s a damn shame. Perth may be small but it’s a feisty little city with many hidden gems. Besides, you can find pretty much everything that the other cities have to offer too—small bars, thrift store shopping, quaint coffee shops, lively nightlife, wineries and more. It’s only a five-hour flight away from here (it even shares the same time zone), so if you wanna go on a much-needed break that’s out of Asia, Perth is where it’s at. Here are some tips to get you started.
Stay at a boutique heritage hotel
Sage West Perth
A room in Sage West Perth
Perth is small enough for you to complete walking (without stopping of course) around the main city area within a day, so why not live somewhere close-ish? We were hosted at Sage West Perth, a dainty hotel located in a quiet western suburb just 20 minutes from the city. This 101-room hotel uses a fair amount of metal, glass and wood for its interiors, and has decently-sized rooms (22-37 sq. meters) and generic looking but fully functional and modern bathrooms. They’ve really kept their guests in mind: besides supplying the entire with Wi-Fi, they also offer their own pocket hotspot WiFi devices so you can stay connected at all times. You can also rent their bicycles for free, in case you want to venture out to nearby spots like King’s Park (it’s one of the world’s largest inner city parks), which is rich in Aboriginal and European history and home to more than 3,000 species of Perth’s unique flora. Also important is the bus stop just outside of the hotel, where you can hop on and hop off in and out of the city for free (the bus comes every 10 minutes). Also, they’re currently having a special promotion for Singaporean travellers: it’s $215 per night for two people on a minimum two-night stay with complimentary breakfast and one-course dining.
Dine with the stars
Hand rolled potato gnocchi
But the centerpiece of the hotel isn’t the hotel itself, but the restaurant that’s attached to it. The 1902 heritage-listed black and white family residence houses the famous Julio’s restaurant that has hosted patrons like celebrities such as Beyonce, Bono and even Lady Gaga. When they built the hotel beside it (where the rare 1930s Grafton Flats once were), they kept the original exterior design of this 1902 Walsh Family home building and renovated the interior to restore some of their original iconic design features. Food-wise, they have a pretty decent selection of Italian sharing plates, pastas, sides and mains, with prices below AU$40. However, if you’re only planning to dine there once, you have to try the hand rolled potato gnocchi (AU$26) which comes with tiger prawns, zucchini and topped with gorgonzola cheese and chili, as well as the wild boar pappardelle (AU$26).
Go on a winery tour
You can either rent a car (though we highly advise against it since you’ll be drinking a lot) or sign up for tours that’ll bring you around instead (much safer and more fun). We went with D’Vine Wine Tours, where our host (and driver too) Breana Lawrie brought us around for a full day tour of WA’s oldest wine growing region, Swan Valley, which was only 25 minutes away from Perth. The hosts are well-equipped with knowledge of the area as well as wine, so if you’re a newbie, feel free to fire your questions. They can even run through the basics of wine tasting before heading off to the wineries if you’re unsure.
There’s also the nearby Sandalford Winery, one of WA’s oldest (opened in 1840) and largest privately owned wineries that’s seen huge musicians like Lionel Richie, Mariah Carey, Tom Jones and others perform on their lawn; Fig Tree Estate, a small but hospitable family-run business producing traditionally handcrafted Shiraz, Grenache, Cabernet, Melot, Chardonnay, Verdelho and Chenin (they have super adorable and friendly cats and dogs on the premises too); Ugly Duckling where you can stop by for lunch and pair it with your favorite white, red or sweet wine after their free tasting (must be less than six in a group); and ended the tour off at Elmar’s in the Valley, Perth’s largest German establishment that’s home to the biggest glass brewers in the southern hemisphere. Oh, we also stopped by the Margaret River Chocolate Company and got ourselves some free tastings of their to-die-for chocolate.
Go on a picturesque half-day trip to the nearby towns
Sunset at Cottesloe Beach
Sunsets in Australia are a thing to experience, especially on a clear day. And lucky for everyone, Perth’s weather usually holds up. Head over to the beachside town of Cottesloe and head into one of the few bars facing the Indian ocean to grab a drink while enjoying the view. If it’s too crowded (it rarely is), you can just head over to the breakwaters leading out there. Also, fun thing to note is that just north of Cottesloe Beach is North Swanbourne Beach, Western Australia’s famous nudist (or “clothing optional”) beach. So if you’ve never bared it all before, feel free to do so, as long as you follow some nudist etiquettes like not taking photographs or getting frisky.
Alternatively you could head over to Perth’s port city of Fremantle and hang around the main town to check out all it has to offer before going to the beach to catch the sunset. While you’re there, you can potter through Fremantle Market where you can find flowers, gifts, homewares, clothes and of course, a smorgasbord of Perth’s finest street food. You could also perhaps take a tour around the gruesome Fremantle Prison, which is recognized as on the World Heritage list. There’s also a boat that takes you through Perth’s legendary Swan River, something similar to our River Cruise.
Take a photo at that blue house
Crawley Edge Boatshed
You’ve not been to Perth unless you’ve manage to get a shot of or with this blue house. This innocent, frequently Instagrammed place in suburb southwest of Perth is actually the Crawley Edge Boatshed (like most online sensations, it even has its own Facebook page), which is thought to have been there since the 1930s. When you’re there, expect a queue for a turn to have your own photo shoot. Also, it’s quite a short bicycle ride from Sage Hotel Perth, so that’s another thing to add to your list if you’re staying there.
Enjoy Perth’s burgeoning small bar scene
If you thought that Perth’s nightlife is anything but exciting, that’s where you’re wrong. Although it took a while for the scene to grow (the small bar license was introduced in 2007), it’s proving to be growing on both locals and tourists, giving an option of a more intimate space rather than going into huge, loud nightclubs. You’ll want to go to Northbridge, which is pretty much the Clarke Quay of Perth, where you can find countless of quirky bars and establishments (though some good ones a sparsely scattered in the CBD).
If you love venues that take after America’s prohibition era, then you’ll love Ezra Pound. Situated along a small laneway, this seven-year-old bar can’t even be bothered to name their cocktails. For example, Number 1 is a concoction of gin, apple elderflower, lime, snap peas and bitters while Number 2 is a mix of rum blanco, coconut, crème de menthe, lime and absinthe. You can’t miss this place because there’s a fierce-looking, bearded bouncer standing outside (he’s actually mad friendly) on both ends (the other end is a public carpark).
The next you should head to is Mechanics’ Institute, also hidden along a laneway. Go up the stairs and you’ll be greeted with some pre-loved furniture and eccentric décor, which really adds charm to this four-year-old bar. Order some of the cocktails and various liquors on the board, or just speak to one of the bartenders for a bespoke drink. Also, they play 90s music (think Shaggy and Bryan Adams).
Joe’s Juice Joint
Next door, is the raucous Joe’s Juice Joint. This dive bar seemed to slip out of everyone’s mouths when we asked the locals where to go for a good night. With drink names like Jungle Juice and Dark & Tommy’s Slushee, paired with a no-nonsense rock n’ roll décor and spirit (music’s rock n’ roll too), we soon realized what we were in for. But if you prefer something a little calmer, head upstairs where they play classic country music for you old folk. This bar is one of the few in Perth that closes at 4am.
Scoot’s fleet of 787 Dreamliners fly to Perth everyday at 1.10pm and have quite a fair bit of leg space, even for the Economy section. Their new dimming windows are much larger than usual and give you control on how much light comes in. Return flights are from $141.
All Singaporeans will have to apply for tourist visas before flying. You really don’t want to be turned away at Australia’s immigration for obvious reasons. Besides, it’s a really quick and easy process. Just log on to Australian Visa Bureau’s website and set aside £20 (about $36) for registration. Most of the time, the application gets approved within the day itself.
1 AUD = $1.06