The intense blue of the Swan River matches the perfect cloudless sky above Perth, while the turquoise water of the Indian Ocean laps the city’s shores. You can enjoy this beautiful sight from the green, well maintained and flowery Kings Park, set upon a hill.
Perth is often considered as a few days stopover, before leaving for the wild North West. The city itself hasn’t got much to offer, if compared to Sydney or Melbourne, but it features beautiful nature, both in and around it. Also, Perth is a laid back town, big enough to offer all the modern services, but still ‘undeveloped’ to be spoiled. Beaches around Perth are stunning, great either for surf or kite surf, swimming and sunbathing. Nature lovers and eco-minded travelers won’t get bored, as any tour or activity in Australia, especially on the west coast, always comes with a high consideration for the environment.
Getting around in Perth
Perth is a city designed around people. It is possible to move easily, by using public buses, trains or the subway. Traffic is almost never chaotic, drivers are usually respectful of signals and speed limits, and the city is equipped with various cycling paths that let you discover the beautiful nature inside Perth. The path that runs along South Perth banks of the Swan River is a perfect and safe place for biking, relaxing and enjoy the beautiful sights over the river and the city skyline. You can spot different birds, hares and also pelicans.
Buses are most of the times so punctual that people are advised to be at the bus stop a couple of minute ahead of schedule, and so are trains. Using public transport is very easy and, if you stop for a week or so, the best option is to purchase a Smartrider card which, after an initial fee of 10$ for activation, lets you take trains and buses hassle free; in fact, you don’ have to buy tickets, but just need to top up the card and place it in front of the bus machine when you hop on. Besides, the cost for a ride with a Smartrider is cheaper than a normal ticket.
But the icing on the cake is the CAT (Central Area Transit), a free bus (powered by gas) service (three lines, yellow, red and blue) that runs everyday in the centre area, in order to encourage people not to take the car and help the environment. The 37 bus line is free of charge for passengers who use it to get to Kings Park from St. Georges Terrace and viceversa. For more information on Perth City transport, the Transperth website is very helpful and full of information (it features a well designed journey planner).
Wilderness and ecotours
Wilderness in Australia is associated with Kangaroos, Koalas, Emu and so on; getting over the concrete jungle is enough to spot them in the wild, but there is also an easy and safe way to make contact with them: the wilderness parks. Perth features two of them, Caversham and Cohunu, the first located in Whiteman Park, just outside Perth, while the latter is about 40 minutes away from town.
The sea is also rich of marine life and dolphins can be spotted from the beach, playing with waves or just jumping around. If you want to live the experience of a lifetime, your chance is just 40 minutes away from Perth, in the small town of Rockingham, where people are allowed to swim with dolphins in their environment. Penguin island, situated just off the coast of Rockingham (it is possible to walk the 1 Km sandbar on low tide, but always ask the locals first!), is a heaven for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts, as different birds and penguins are commonly spotted. Rockingham Wild Encounters is an ecotourism company that organizes dolphins encounters, eco-friendly cruises to Penguin Island and around it. Finally, a visit to Perth is not completed without a trip to the amazing Rottnest Island, a white sandy island about 19 Km off the coast of Fremantle. Here no car are allowed, so it is a great opportunity to discover the beauty of the island by bike, looking for quokkas, friendly marsupials, secluded beaches and much more. A real, great ecotourism experience! To get to Rotto (as they call it), Rottnestfastferries and Rottnestexpress organize transport and free pickup and dropoff to/from your accommodation.
Green accommodation in Perth
As said, in Australia almost everything is made with a special care for the environment. There is no need to look for an eco or green accommodation to find people committed to a good cause; it is very popular, also in cheap and basic hostels, to read signs about being conservative with water, using different bins for garbage collection, etc. Solar panels for electricity production are also common. But, for the strict ecotourist, a good option is The Painted Fish, a sustainable accommodation in a seaside garden. It is not in Perth City, but in one of its most beautiful suburbs, Freemantle, 25 minutes away by train.
Organic Food and Vegetarian Dining
Vegetarian eateries in Perth are quite popular: a couple of vegan options could be Annalakshmi Restaurant, located in Barrack Street Jetty (Perth CBD) and Lotus Vegetarian (James Street, Northbridge): both of them caters for people with a vego outlook, the first featuring a traditional Indian style, while the second is Chinese oriented. Country Road Caf? (Murray Street, Perth CBD) and Juicy Beetroot Caf? (Freemantle) are interesting alternatives, but they are not totally vegetarian or vegan. If you are looking for organic food, the SandCastle Organic Cafe (South Freemantle) offers a classy, relaxed atmosphere, serving also organic wine and beer.
Shopping in Perth
Perth City Centre is a big open-air mall, with Murray Street, Barrack Street, Hay Street and Williams Street as borders. This area is also the business core of Perth and is vibrant and full of people during the day, but after 6 pm everything shuts down, and within an hour it is empty and deserted. Nightlife moves to Northbridge, five minutes walking over the train station.
Perth, as the rest of Australia, is famous for Aboriginal art, which is displayed and sold in the galleries in King Street. Creative Native, in Forrest Chase, is a retailer of authentic and contemporary Aboriginal artworks, didgeridoos and souvenirs; Didges We Doo is an Aboriginal art gallery, showing and selling Dreamtime paintings, didgeridoos, artifacts and weapons.
Best buy for local food is the picturesque Freemantle Markets, open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, where it is also possible to taste a superb fresh seafood.