Perth, on the West Coast of Australia, is the world’s most isolated city. It is a thriving, cosmopolitan city that enjoys the highest number of sunshine hours in Australia, a dry climate and great coastline. Cafes and quokkas were two highlights of our trip tp Perth.
My husband and I took a couple of days to explore the area with our adult daughter. We had fun finding good food, great chocolate, and beautiful scenery. Perth is a vibrant city in a beautiful setting.
Picking up our rental car from the airport we had no trouble following Google Maps to our hotel. We wanted somewhere within walking distance of the city center. Four Points Sheraton was our choice of accommodation for the next two nights. There is parking next door to the hotel, which costs $AUD 17.00 a night, with validation from the hotel. The walk between the car park and the hotel is short but uncovered, so if it rains you will get wet, but not for too long.
We took the car when we drove north to the beach and south to Fremantle, but we walked when in the city. There is a pub at the hotel, with specials for hotel guests. We didn’t try anything, but it is convenient if you want to get something to eat. The hotel also offers breakfast, but we wanted to try some of Perth’s great cafés, so we skipped the buffet.
1st day: explore Perth
We walked to breakfast at Tiisch, a beautiful café with fresh juices and local produce; a good find. I would happily eat their whole menu.
We spent the middle of the day shopping and enjoying the city. I was happy to find that Perth has two Koko Black chocolate cafés, a favorite place I first visited in Melbourne. They have a sit-down menu with savory dishes, but it’s really all about the chocolate. You can get take-away desserts, drinks and chocolates, and plenty of gifts are available, too.
We drove north towards Sorrento for dinner on the beach. Normally, this takes 20 mins from the city center but the traffic was pretty heavy when we went. And then, we ended up eating inside because it was so cold and windy. But on clear weather days the beaches are beautiful.
2nd day: trip to Rottnest Island
Rottnest Island is a nature reserve 19km off the coast, home to the quokka. There are 3 places to catch ferries from the mainland:
- Fremantle, south of the city (25 minute ferry) – price guaranteed tickets for Express Ferry via our partner here
- Barrack Street Jetty in Perth (90 minute ferry) – price guaranteed tickets for Express Ferry via our partner here
- Hillarys Boat Harbor north of the city (45 minute ferry)
If you prefer public transport there is a train that will take you to the Fremantle stop. We chose to drive south to Fremantle (about 30 mins in normal traffic) to board the ferry. There is a big public car park near the ferry terminal for your vehicle where you pay by the hour or day. I accidentally paid for two days instead of one, so follow the directions on the machine more carefully than I did.
We used Rottnest Express ferry service. We bought our ferry tickets at the terminal, but would have saved money and time if we had purchased online. If you travel from Fremantle on a Tuesday, purchase Telethon Saver tickets from the Rottnest Express website to save money. The ferry tickets include both ferry passage and entry fee to Rottnest. If you need to change your return trip time later on (like we did), there is a phone in the information booth on the island to call the ferry company and make changes. There are other ferry operators as well; compare timetables and locations for your needs.
To bike or not to bike
If you want, you can rent bicycles when you buy your tickets, or you can rent them on the ferry, once you get to the island or online. There are multiple vendors. We didn’t choose this option, but there were a lot of cyclists having a great time. If you want to, you can bring your own bicycle on the ferry .
The ferry companies also offers boat tours of the island, whale watching in season and snorkeling equipment rental. We saw a couple of whales from the ferry, always exciting. The ride was a little choppy but not too bad.
On the island
Within easy walking distance of the ferry terminal, we had a breakfast of meat pies and lamingtons at the Rottnest Bakery.
We enjoyed seeing quokkas right away; they were everywhere, being friendly and cute.
Please don’t feed them; you can still get nice photos and the quokkas will be healthier.
After breakfast we used the hop-on hop-off bus to get around the island. Pick up a timetable and map from the information building after you get off the ferry. The bus makes a loop around the island and you can follow the map and decide where you want to walk or swim and then get back on the bus. We did a few short walks, saw nesting ospreys, humpback whales, fur seals, pelicans and quokkas, of course.
There is accommodation on the island if you would like to stay overnight, along with a small shop and a few places to eat. They are all located near the ferry terminal, so when you are out on the bus or bicycle there is nowhere to buy food.
Important tips for Rottnest:
- Apart from the shops near the ferry terminal there is nowhere to buy food. Take water and lunch and snacks or whatever you need.
- There are toilets at some bus stops; check your map.
- Check your ferry return time – make sure it aligns with the bus times.
We had to book a return time when we bought our ferry tickets and then – on the island – we found that the bus stopped running more than an hour before our return time; so we called the ferry company from the provided phone at the information building and changed our time. The return ferry was much more crowded, but we found seats and were happy to get back to Perth in time for dinner.
We had sunny skies, cool temperatures and quite a bit of wind, good for walking and photography. The wildlife and scenery were highlights for us. There were plenty of other tourists, but not high season, so crowds weren’t too big.
Back in Perth
We got back to the hotel and wanted dinner within walking distance. We found what turned out to be a new favorite place to get fish and chips. Anytime I’m in Perth, I will make time to eat at Grand Lane Fish House. The restaurant is located in a laneway and when Google Maps directed us into a dark alley we weren’t too sure we were in the right place until we saw the outdoor seating and welcoming lights.
They make some of the best chips I’ve had anywhere and the fish is delicious as well. The staff was friendly and the service fast. They offer seasonal fish along with a standard menu. The owner explained his fish and chips philosophy, tips on what to order and was welcoming and delightful in every way. A winner all the way around and a wonderful way to finish the night.
We only had time for breakfast and chocolate before heading back to the airport.
We walked towards the city center, on the lookout for a good breakfast spot and found Holmes & Co down another of Perth’s CBD laneways. Another winner, with good food and a welcoming atmosphere. There’s a little seating in the restaurant, but we were happy to sit outside in the laneway and enjoyed everything we ordered.
After breakfast we made one last stop at Koko Black for take-away hot chocolate and gift buying before heading back to the airport.
The way back to the airport was a little complicated and we got to our terminal later than anticipated. Turns out Terminals 1 and 2 are nowhere near Terminals 3 and 4. You need to know which terminal you are flying out of before you get on the freeway so you can take the correct exit. We ended up on a shuttle between the two terminals for nearly 30 minutes. Once you get into the airport and through security, there is very limited shopping by the departure gates, at least in Terminals 3 and 4, so get everything you want before you get to the airport.
We really enjoyed our 2 days in Perth. Perth is a great city for a short break and it’s even better when you have more time to explore.
Trip taken October 2018.