Let your wild thing roam free at Kings Park, a 4.06-square-kilometre park on the western edge of Perth’s CBD.
You could easily spend a whole day or even more in the park, there’s so much to see and do.
Fraser Avenue Precinct Venues
Enter the park via Fraser Avenue and pull over at the car park near the entrance to enjoy a short walk that takes visitors to the State War Memorial and Western Australian Botanic Garden entrance. You’ll also get stunning views of the Swan and Canning Rivers, the city skyline and the Darling Ranges.
Western Australian Botanic Garden The place to explore more than 3,000 species of native flora, most of which are found nowhere else on the planet.
Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park A place for children to connect with nature and to learn to appreciate the unique Western Australian environment.
Synergy Parkland Our favourite part of the park, Synergy Parkland is a recreation area for the entire family. The area features expansive lawns for picnics, dinosaur-era themed play equipment and the Zamia Cafe. We also saw plenty of ducks on the pond (including babies!). With public bathroom facilities and plenty of shade, this is a popular park for families to enjoy.
A port city that’s traditionally known for its maritime history, gorgeous Victorian architecture and remnants of the past, “Freo” is also the arts hub of Perth.
While Fremantle is our top choice of where to stay when visiting Perth, if you only have a day or two free to visit the area, you absolutely must make time to see these top four spots.
WA’s only UNESCO world heritage-listed building has to be top of the list. Spend a few hours reliving the past on a tour: choose between “Doing Time”, “Great Escapes”, “Tunnels Tour”. “Torchlight Tour” and the “Arts Tour”. Make sure to drop by the Visitors Centre for an up close look at what life in the prison was like – on display are artefacts of punishment and reform, actual footage of prison life and informational panels depicting the prison’s history, riots, punishment and reform programs. Have you ever wondered if you have a convict in your family tree? Now’s the chance to find out: search for your convict ancestors on the convict database.
Fremantle Prison, 1 The Terrace, Fremantle, 9am – 5pm, 7 days a week (Closed Good Friday & Xmas day)
The place to see and be seen in Perth, the strip (also called “South Terrace” if you’re looking for it on your car navigator) is home to many cafes, restaurants and pubs, famous for it’s Italian origins and the state’s best coffee. Shop the locally made designer clothing stores, pick up a gift and browse books in this atmospheric part of town.
If you have a little one who believes in magic, be sure to visit The Picked Fairy shop. We loved it so much we went back twice!
This busy indoor market dates back to 1897. It’s completely free to enter the markets to wander through the with stalls selling food, local produce, clothes and handicrafts. You’ll find a variety of food and good produced by locals – we found beautiful photography and artworks, fresh ripe fruit and delicious popcorn and chocolate. The atmosphere is lively thanks to the live music often playing inside.
Fremantle Markets, South Terrace & Henderson St, Fremantle Hours: The Yard Friday 8am-8pm, Saturday, Sunday and Monday public holidays 8am-6pm. The Hall Friday 9am-8pm, Saturday, Sunday and Monday public holidays 9am-6pm.
WA Shipwrecks Museum
Inside a restored 1850s-era commissariat building lives the foremost maritime archaeology museum in the southern hemisphere. The galleries contain hundreds of relics from ships wrecked along WA’s treacherous coastline, including the original timbers from the Batavia (wrecked in 1629) and countless artefacts from the Dutch shipwrecks Zuytdorp, Zeewijk and Vergulde Draeck.
WA Shipwrecks Museum, 45 Cliff St, Fremantle Hours: Open daily, 9:30am-5pm (except certain public holidays)
A brand new area on Perth’s waterfront, Elizabeth Quay is in the process of becoming a vibrant destination for tourists with activities for people of all ages. Take a ride on the gorgeous traditional, handcrafted Venetian carousel, walk across the Elizabeth Quay bridge to the new maritime inspired playground Island Playground, or cool down with a run through the BHP Billiton Water Park.
Before heading home, grab lunch at a nearby restaurant, try a delicious scoop of Gusto Gelato and pose beneath the 8-story-high “Spanda” sculpture.
The most iconic of Perth’s city beaches, Cottesloe is also one of it’s most popular. Located midway between the Perth central business district and the port of Fremantle in Perth’s western suburbs, it’s only a 15 minute drive from the city centre. Located directly on a train line and equiped with bathrooms, cafes and plenty of shady trees, Cottesloe is the perfect beach to while away the day on.
We loved the beach’s clean white sand and beautiful clear turquoise water, and particularly the grassed areas behind the beach with plenty of tall pine trees for shade. A short walk around the rock line gives a fantastic view of the striking art-deco Indiana Teahouse building that is a Cottesloe landmark featured on many post cards and tourist brochures.
Perth, capital of Western Australia, is a laid back city with plenty for the whole family to enjoy. From the gorgeous weather to the stunning beaches, natural beauty and cosmopolitan city centre, Perth is an easy place to visit, relax and just chill out with the family.
The most iconic of Perth’s city beaches, Cottesloe is also one of it’s most popular. Located midway between the Perth central business district and the port of Fremantle in Perth’s western suburbs, it’s only a 15 minute drive from the city centre. Located directly on a train line and equipped with bathrooms, cafes and plenty of shady trees, Cottesloe is the perfect beach to while away the day on.
We loved the beach’s clean white sand and beautiful clear turquoise water, and particularly the grassed areas behind the beach with plenty of tall pine trees for shade. A short walk around the rock line gives a fantastic view of the striking art-deco Indiana Teahouse building that is a Cottesloe land mark featured on many post cards and tourist brochures.
An absolute must when visiting Perth, Rottnest is an island off the coast of Western Australia, located 18 kilometres west of Fremantle. Take a day trip to “Rotto”, where you’ll come face-to-face with the world’s happiest animal, the quokka, swim on some of the world’s most gorgeous beaches and even spot a New Zealand fur seal or two. One day at Rottnest is never enough!
Brand new area on Perth’s waterfront, Elizabeth Quay is in the process of becoming a vibrant destination for tourists with activities for people of all ages. Take a ride on the gorgeous traditional, handcrafted Venetian carousel, walk across the Elizabeth Quay bridge to the new maritime inspired playground Island Playground, or cool down with a run through the BHP Billiton Water Park.
Before heading home, try a delicious scoop of Gusto Gelato and pose beneath the 8-story-high “Spanda” sculpture.
Fremantle A port city that’s traditionally known for its maritime history, gorgeous Victorian architecture and remnants of the past, “Freo” is also the arts hub of Perth.
Visit Fremantle Prison, WA’s only UNESCO world heritage-listed building, grab a coffee from one of the many cafes on the Cappuccino strip or take a stroll through Fremantle Markets for fresh produce, food to go and baked goods, local arts and crafts and live music.
If you have a little one who believes in magic, be sure to visit The Pickled Fairy shop.
Kings Park & Botanic Garden
Let your wild thing roam free at Kings Park, a 4.06-square-kilometre park on the western edge of Perth’s CBD. If you’re driving through the park, pull over at the car park near the entrance to enjoy stunning views of the Swan and Canning Rivers, the city skyline and the Darling Ranges. It’s easy to spend a full day in Kings Park enjoying bush walking, the Botanic Gardens and the many children’s discovery play areas.
The highlight of Kings Park for us was Synergy Parkland, a recreation area featuring dinosaur-era themed play equipment, water play, and multiple climbing structures. There is a cafe and bathroom facilities in the park plus plenty of shade.
Take future engineers and scientists to visit Scitech, an interactive science museum located in West Perth. Scitech’s programs are aimed at kids aged up to 12, with a goal “To increase awareness, interest, capability and participation by all Western Australians in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”
Art Gallery of Western Australia
Part of the Perth Cultural Centre, the Art Gallery of Western Australia has been educating and engaging the public since opening in 1895. The gallery runs monthly kids programming as well as school holiday activities and has a permanent interactive drawing space for families.
Words fail me when I try to describe why Rottnest Island is so special. “Majestic”, “breathtaking” and “spectacular” all sound like hyberbole, but they’re the best words words to describe this unique island that is an absolute must-see when visiting Western Australia. Whether you stay for one day or five, Rottnest will enchant, inspire and recharge the souls of your entire family – and leave you planning your next visit the moment the ferry departs.
The History of Rottnest
Rottnest is a small island off the coast of Western Australia, located 18 kilometres west of Fremantle. It is believed that Rottnest Island was separated from the mainland 7,000 years ago. There have been numerous artefacts found all over Rottnest that indicate it was home to Aboriginal people prior to the separation of the Island from the mainland.
The Aboriginal name for the island is Wadjemup, and it is a place of significance to Aboriginal communities. There are 17 sites on Rottnest Island listed under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972-1980.
Europeans discovered Rottnest Island in the 17th Century. Samuel Volkerson and his crew of the Dutch ship Waeckende Boey are believed to be the first Europeans who actually landed on the island in 1658, but it was William de Vlamingh, in 1696, who gave the Island its name after the abundance of quokkas he saw, mistaking them for rats. He named the Island ‘Rotte nest’ (meaning ‘rat’s nest’) and the name of the Island was eventually adapted to ‘Rottnest’.
From 1838 Rottnest was used as a penal establishment for Aboriginal people, with the prison officially closing in 1904, but with prisoners used to build roads and other works on the island until 1931. Ferries started bringing tourists to Rottnest in 1902, with the first public jetty being built in 1906 and further development for visitors following soon after.
Today, Rottnest is well known for its 63 beaches with sparkling white sand, superb snorkelling, happy quokkas and plenty of roads and history to explore.
Meet the quokkas
Taking a selfie with a quokka is often number one on the Rottnest Island bucket list for many visitors (including us!). The Aboriginal people living in the Augusta and King George Sound areas of the south-west of Western Australia gave the small marsupial it’s unique name. They are generally nocturnal, however they can be seen during the day hoping to steal food from tourists or resting in the shade under bushes.
While quokkas are incredibly cute, it’s important to remember that all plants and animals on Rottnest Island are protected by law. Wildlife should not be disturbed, rather observed from a reasonable distance. Please remember Rottnest Island is an A-Class Reserve and these beautiful creatures are wild and should not be touched, fed human food or provided an artificial water supply. More information available here.
That said, the quokkas are incredibly used to tourists and are very curious little critters. You will find them come up close to take a better look at what you’ve got in your bag (keep it zipped shut and any food sealed).
Swim at the beach Rottnest is home to 63 glistening beaches and 20 secluded bays, each one more spectacular than the next. If you’re spending just one day on the island, I suggest picking one beach to swim and snorkel at rather than rushing to see them all. The most popular beaches for families are Ricey Beach, The Basin, Little Parakeet Bay, Little Salmon Bay and Geordie Bay.
We chose The Basin to swim because of its shallow clear waters. It’s also well regarded for snorkelling – if you don’t have your own snorkels and masks, you can hire them on the island at Pedal & Flipper.
A short walk along the coastline takes you to Pinky Beach, one of the prettiest beaches on the island, with the distinctive Bathurst Lighthouse in the background. If you keep walking up the beach and to the lighthouse, you’ll be rewarded by a gorgeous view, and a short walk back to the main settlement and ferry departure point.
Spot a New Zealand Fur Seal
From the new viewing platform at Cathedral Rocks, the resident New Zealand Fur Seals colony can be seen flipping and playing in the bay and basking on the rocks. Cathedral Rocks can be accessed by bike or by jumping off the Island Explorer bus.
Tour a lighthouse
Of the two lighthouses on the island, only the Wadjemup Hill lighthouses is open to the public. Tours are conducted daily for a cash-only fee.
Take a segway tour, snorkel, play a round of golf or check out a movie at the cinema. There’s plenty to see and do.
Eating and Drinking
Bring large water bottles filled with ice cold water. While you can refill the bottles in the main settlement, the rest of the island is mostly free of drinkable water. If you are arriving for a day trip, bring plenty of snacks or picnic foods as the only areas to buy food are the main settlement and Geordie Bay. If you’re planning on biking around the island or doing the Island Express hop-on-and-off bus as soon as you arrive, both of these take hours and will leave you famished, so taking food is a must.
There are plenty of dining options on the island, from the General Store which has groceries and picnic supplies, to the bakery (our choice – they have fantastic pies, pasties and sausage rolls including vegetarian options) and more upmarket cafes and restaurants. You can’t leave without a scoop of Simmos Icecream.
Getting Around Rottnest Island
Rottnest is a small island, but it’s a long way if you’re planning to walk or bike it. With children on a day trip, I would advise catching the air conditioned Island Explorer Service bus, which is what we decided upon. The bus makes continuous circuits of the entire island, so you can jump off at each point if you like to take a quick look. The buses run every 30 minutes and cost $50 for a family of two adults and one child. Tickets can be booked online, from the Visitor Centre or Main Bus Stop vending machines.
If you’re staying on the island, you can make use of the free Accomodation Shuttle Bus that runs between the main accomodation areas on the island.
Exploring Rottnest by bike is also very popular, particularly when you’re staying a bit longer than just one day. If you have your own bike, you can bring it on the ferry across to Rottnest. If you need to hire one, you can do so from either of the ferry services before boarding or from Rottnest Island Pedal & Flipper.
By Foot The main settlement is very walkable and even has two playground areas for kids. We walked from the main settlement to The Basin back again via Pinky Beach and the lighthouse.
If you’re after a more challenging walk, try the Wadjemup Walk Trail, which is made up of five sections (50km in total).
Where to stay
While we took a day trip to Rottnest Island, there are lots of accomodation choices should you wish to stay longer.
There easiest way to get to Rottnest Island is the ferry. The ferries book up fast in popular seasons so be sure to book well in advance.
Rottnest Island ferry companies provide transfers to the island from Perth City, North Fremantle (Rous Head), Fremantle (Victoria Quay) and Hillarys Boat Harbour in Perth’s north. Rottnest ferries take approximately 25 minutes from Fremantle, 45 minutes from Hillarys Boat Harbour, or 90 minutes from Perth’s Barrack Street Jetty.