Mount Nameless - Tom Price

Top 5 Things about Western Australia

We had many discussions before deciding what our top 5 things about Western Australia would be. The fact of the matter is, it was really hard to pick just five things. Western Australia is huge and has so many fantastic aspects to it; there was a lot to think about.

 

A Geraldton sunset...

 

The history of WA is pretty interesting. Unlike most of the other states, the Swan colony started off as a free colony instead of a penal colony where convicts were sent. The capital was supposed to be Albany but ended up being Perth because of the fertile soils of the Swan River. We loved how big the state was – WA is the biggest state in Australia and if it was its own country, it would be the 10th largest in the world! It is ten times bigger than the UK and is bigger than Texas, California, Montana, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada all put together!

 

The sunsets were undoubtedly spectacular, and any beach along the west coast is an ideal viewing spot. There were lots of places along the way that we fell in love with – tropical Broome, funky Fremantle, the kooky Principality of Hutt River, the magical Stonehenge in Esperance, the massive meals at the Denmark Tavern and the burgers Alfred’s Kitchen. One thing we noticed when we stayed with friends in build up areas was that nearly everyone keeps egg laying chickens in their backyard. We don’t know whether it’s because eggs are expensive or whether they’re doing their bit against factory farming but we loved it!

 

 

So, without much ado, and in no particular order, here is our Top 5 for Western Australia:

 

National Parks

You can’t dispute that WA has some amazing national parks. Karijini National Park is probably the most well-known park with its beautiful gorges, waterfalls and swimming holes. We were really sad that we had to leave Karijini early due to heavy rains.

 

One of our favourites was Cape Le Grand National Park. We were originally going to skip it but a local insisted that we go. We are so thankful because it is one of the most beautiful places in Australia. We also loved the red soil and dynamic coastline of François Péron National Park.

 

Other national parks that are definitely worth a mention are Kalbarri National Park with Nature’s Window, Purnululu National Park and the Bungle Bungles, and Mitchell River National Park in the Kimberley.

 

 

Shark Bay

Shark Bay was added to the World Heritage list in 1991 because it displays biological diversity, ecological processes, geological history and natural beauty. We spent about a week in Shark Bay and were blown away by the scenery and wildlife.

 

On your way in, stop at Shell Beach and marvel at the turquoise waters lapping at the blinding white shores made completely out of little cockle shells. If you have a 4WD, head to Steep Point and stand on the westernmost point of Australia. Camping at Whalebone Bay was $10 for the night and is a magnificent place to watch the sunset before you head into Denham for a beer at the westernmost pub in Australia. Make sure you visit Ocean Park and learn about the surrounding marine wildlife from a safe but super-close distance.

 

 

Beaches

Western Australia has over 12,000km of coastline and most of it is made up of picturesque beaches. Hellfire Bay at Cape Le Grand National Park was by far the most beautiful, while Shell Beach in Shark Bay was also spectacular.

 

Cable Beach in Broome was great because not only were we allowed to take our clothes off in the nudist section, but we got to watch the camel rides during sunset. Greens Pool near Denmark and Coral Bay both had an abundance of colourful fish right near the shore and were great for snorkelling.

 

 

Fremantle Prison

We did all the tours at Fremantle Prison. For some reason, we were absolutely fascinated with the place – the history of how and why it was built, the stories of stupidity and escape – and we wanted to see every part of this remarkable prison.

 

 

Breweries

Western Australia has some fantastic breweries. Little Creatures in Fremantle is absolutely fantastic and offers the works – interesting tours, delicious food and awesome beer!

 

In Kalgoorlie-Boulder, we were lucky to find Beaten Track Brewery, and learnt a lot about the beer making process and what hops looks like. Cheeky Monkey in Margaret River and Duckstein in the Swan Valley were also great breweries to visit, for both the beer and the atmosphere. Matso’s Brewery in Broome really blew our socks off with their chilli beer and their Smokey Bishop dark lager. We enjoyed it so much, we went there twice in four days!

 

 

$100 Day

$100 Day : Perth

$100 Day

 

Perth is such a beautiful city and we were determined to experience as much as we could during our $100 Day.  The original plan involved catching the train in, but due to the Kwinana Freeway widening project, the entrance to the carpark for Bull Creek Station was closed and we were sent on a deceitful detour to NOWHERE.  After a few laps of the ‘burbs, we decided to drive in and figured that the money we would have spent on public transport can be contributed to petrol.

 

We drove into the city and started with Northbridge before heading into the concrete jungle…

 

1. Parking in Northbridge

$3.00

2. Walk around Northbridge and Perth Cultural Centre

Free

3. Visit the WA Museum

Free

4. Drive to Kings Park and explore the gardens

Free

5. Catch a CAT bus into the CBD

Free

6. Lunch at Mama Tran

$22.00

7. Window shopping at the Perth Malls

Free

8. Two lattes from Standing Room Only

$7.60

9. A bienenstich from Miss Maud’s Pastry Shop

$2.80

10. A pint of Swan Draught at the Grosvenor Hotel

$9.50

11. Two tickets to the Perth Mint tour

$30.00

12. Check out the Bell Tower

Free

13. Catch the CAT bus back to Troopy

Free

TOTAL SPEND

$74.90

 

As you can see, we spent less than $100 and had an awesome time exploring the city.  When we got to Northbridge, we found a limited parking spot and figured we could walk around within the allotted timeframe.  If we wanted to experience Northbridge properly, the best time to come back would be in the evening anyway.

 

The Red CAT bus service into the city from Ord Street was clean, air conditioned and punctual!  By the time we got into the CBD we were famished and Juz’s heart was set on pho.  We found Mama Tran but it didn’t meet her standards, even though it was tasty.  The assembly line style service didn’t appeal and Dave’s serving of pork with rice was very small and unsatisfying.  This would never happen at Pho Hung in Preston VIC.

 

 

We made our way over to the eastern end of the city via the Perth Malls and got a coffee from the highly recommended Standing Room Only.  It was another small shop that is designed to pump out take away coffees for busy city livers/workers.  Dave spoilt himself to a sweet treat at the pasty house in Miss Maud’s Swedish Hotel and a pint at the pub before we went on the Perth Mint Tour – the most expensive thing of the day.

 

For a full city profile on Perth, go here…

 

Kings Park

City Profile : Perth

We rolled into Perth stinky and weary after travelling up through Margaret River, Bunbury and Mandurah.  Our first stop was Dave’s cousin’s place located in the beautiful suburb of Palmyra.  This spot gave us the perfect opportunity to experience and explore Fremantle and the Sunset Coast.  After two weeks, we moved over to historic Guildford to spend some time with one of Dave’s old Melbourne mates, and this location put us a short drive away from Armadale, the Perth Hills and the Swan Valley.

 

The view of Perth from Kings Park

 

During our stay, we found it easy to navigate around town – the traffic wasn’t dense and the roads were well labelled and the Swan River is a great landmark to follow. The one thing we had to be wary about while driving around Perth were the other drivers – everybody seemed a bit lost and unsure about which street to turn down!

 

Fast Facts

  • Also known as the City of Lights, Perth is the capital city of Western Australia and the fourth most populous city in Australia.  It is also the most isolated capital city in the world!
  • It is the sunniest capital city in the world with an average of 8 hours of sunshine every day of the year and the ‘Fremantle Doctor’ is the most consistent wind in the world that blows in from the west between midday and 3pm almost every day of the year.
  • There are about 1.74 million people living in the Perth metropolitan area and around 1500 people move to Perth every week
  • Perth came 9th in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s August 2012 list of the world’s most liveable cities.

 

 

History

The area was first inhabited by the Noongar people for over 40,000 years and the first documented European sighting was made by Dutch Captain Willem de Vlamingh and his crew in December 1696.  While they didn’t stay long, de Vlamingh named the river after the black swans that swam in it.

 

Over 100 years later, Captain James Stirling established the Swan River Colony and once a camp was settled, convicts were sent over as cheap labour to help with the construction of infrastructure. In 1856, Queen Victoria declared Perth a city and its perpetual growth hasn’t stopped since.

 

 

Weather

We were in Perth for about 6 weeks and in that whole time, it only rained once, and it was a magnificent thunder storm.  The Mediterranean climate sat between 25 and 35 degrees with the occasional cloudy sky, but it was always safe to assume that the day was going to be bright and sunny.  It probably explains why Perth residents love outdoor activities.

 

Points of Interest

Kings Park

Over 300 native plants and 80 bird species within 4.06 square kilometres, Kings Park is the largest inner-city park in the world and is visited by 6 million people each year.  There are heaps of walking paths to explore the flora, or you can sit by the State War Memorial and soak in the spectacular view of the city and river below.

 

 

After a relaxing picnic, we followed the Lotterywest Federation Walkway over an elevated bridge that overlooked the old Swan Brewery before climbing the DNA Tower.  Afterwards, we went over to the Synergy Parkland for a coffee and to watch the kids play on the playground located on an island in the middle of the pond.

 

The botanic gardens are only a small portion of the park, with the majority being untouched bushland. It is a popular venue for art installations and live concerts, and we while we were there, they were setting up and doing sound checks for the Sarah Blasko concert with WASO by the Pioneer Women’s Memorial that night.

 

 

 

The Swan River

The city was built around this beautiful river and many activities are enjoyed in it, such as sailing, swimming and kayaking.  We hung about at Point Walter, a great family location with plenty of lawn for picnics under the Norfolk Pines.  The calm waters were perfect for snorkelling and Juz found heaps of hermit crabs as she swam between the black swans.

 

 

 

Perth Mint

Western Australia’s Heart of Gold, the Perth Mint is Australia’s oldest operating mint.

 

It all started in 1892 when two Victorians, Ford and Baily, found a 16kg nugget near Coolgardie.  Once the Gold Rush began, the population of the area doubled within a year, and doubled again the next year.  So much gold was discovered that they needed somewhere to process it, so construction of the Perth Mint began, using limestone from Cottesloe and Rottnest Island.  It was in possession of the British Empire until 1970 when it was handed over to the Government of Western Australia.

 

 

We did the Guided Tour so that we could see the Guinness World Book of Records’ largest coin made of 1 tonne of gold and the world’s largest gold bar exhibition, as well as Australia’s biggest nugget collection (LOL!).  The tour starts at the ‘Prospectors Campsite’, which is a re-creation of a campsite from the 1890s when thousands of people with gold fever walked the 600km from Perth to Coolgardie to find their fortune.

 

After a leisurely stroll through the exhibition, we found a seat in the original melting house and watched the traditional Gold Pour demonstration in the original melting house.  The gold pourers have to pile on the protective gear – layers of wool, aluminium and Kevlar with an apron and shoulder length gloves – as you do when you’re dealing with glowing hot molten gold that’s 1300 degrees Celsius!  We were fascinated to find out that the 6kg gold bar he was playing with was worth $300,000 and that same piece of gold has been melted and poured seven times a day for over the last 20 years!  Since the melting house began operation in 1899, gold dust has accumulated in the brick walls and ceilings over the years.

 

 

Western Australian Museum

Museums are one of the best places to go to when you’re in a capital city.  Entry to the ongoing exhibitions is usually free and is a great way to learn about natural and social history, geology, the story of the local aboriginals, meteorites, megafauna, dinosaurs, native plants and animals.

 

 

The museum building is heritage listed and actually used to be the old Perth Gaol until the museums establishment in 1891.

 

The Bell Tower

A design that blends the old with the new, the Bell Tower was a Millennium Project built to house the Swan Bells.  Twelve of the 18 bells come from St Martin-in-the-Fields Church in London and date back to the 14th century.  They were given to the State of Western Australia during the 1988 bicentenary celebrations, and since then, another six bells have been added to the collection, coming from London, Westminster and one commissioned by the WA government.  The tower is 82.5 metres high and since it’s opening in December 2000, over 1 million people have visited.

 

 

Engraved padlocks are attached to the chain barriers around the Bell Tower.  They’re known as Love Locks that are engraved with names, fixed to public structures and represent eternal love.  This custom started near the Great Wall of China and has spread throughout the world.

 

Northbridge

Appropriately located just north of the city, Northbridge is a hip and vibrant part of Perth with heaps of bars, clubs, and pubs – perfect for a pub crawl!  There are also lots of cafes and specialty shops, as well as a Vietnamese strip with a few restaurants.  Nearby are the WA School of Art, Design and Media, the State Library of Western Australia and the Museum.

 

 

We were lucky enough to be invited to a night out in Northbridge and went to the Brisbane Hotel on Beaufort Street.  The venue was pretty wanky and the drink prices were out of control but the atmosphere was electric so we had a great time anyway.

 

Out with mates in Northbridge

 

We also checked out Brass Monkey Hotel, one of the iconic pubs in Northbridge, before having a stroll around the block to check out the nightlife on James Street.

 

Leederville

With so many eateries and cafes packed into such a small area, the centre of Leederville bustles with energy, especially during lunchtime and when the sun goes down.

 

 

Juz went there for a quick work lunch and thought it was a really funky little space.  Zambrero was the food of choice – a Subway-style outlet that dishes out Mexican food with heaps of flavour.  As you move along the assembly line, you pick your ‘style’ which is either a burrito, taco, quesadilla or in Juz’s case – a bowl.  Then you pick you filling of slow cooked, tender meat, salsa and sauce and before you know it, you’re eating a tasty meal that is relatively fresh and healthy.

 

 

Afterwards, we went to a popular coffee shop called Greens & Co.  Bright, colourful and breezy, this cute little café is filled with colourful couches, laminated paper globes and artsy types who probably spend most of their time here reading the paper and playing board games.  There is a cabinet filled with enormous cakes and they know how to pump out the coffee, even though they’re a little confused about what a long macchiato is…

 

Information & Accommodation

Western Australian Visitor Centre – 55 William Street – 9483 1111

Fremantle Visitor Centre – Fremantle Town Hall, William Street – 08 431 7878

 

Perth City YHA300 Wellington Street, 08 9287 3333.  Check out our post on the Perth City YHA.

 

Getting Around

Transperth provides public transport to the Perth metropolitan area and includes buses, trains and ferries.  As with most public transport systems, you are going to need a ticket to ride, and a valid Transperth ticket can be used on all modes of transport.

 

The public transport is divided into 9 zones and your fare is calculated by how many zones you travel through. Also, depending on how many zones you travel through, your single ticket can be valid for two or three hours.  2-Section Tickets are also available for short trips of up to 3.2km but you can’t transfer between services with these tickets.

 

 

There are two types of ticketing systems in Perth:

  • SmartRider is the electronic ticketing system.  The SmartRider cards can be purchased for $10 from any Transperth InfoCentre or at various newsagencies around the city.  Once you have the card, you need to add a minimum of $10 before you can use it to travel.
  • Cash Tickets can be purchased from the driver of buses and ferries or at Ticket Vending Machines at train stations.  A DayRider ticket costs $11.

 

There is also a Free Transit Zone for CAT buses and a SmartRider Free Transit Zone for trains within the Perth city boundaries. We found the CAT busses to be extra useful for travelling into the city from the outskirts of town.

 

For more information, visit the Transperth website.

 

 

Perth City YHA

Perth City YHA

Located in an old heritage listed building that was built in 1939 and previously used to be used by St John’s Ambulance, the Perth City YHA is perfectly located in the heart of Perth with all the amenities at its fingertips.  Since its establishment in March 2006, the Perth City YHA has won the Gold Medal WA Tourism Award three years in a row, which has inducted them into the WA Tourism Hall of Fame!  It is also the only 4½ star hostel in Western Australia.

 

Perth City YHA

 

The old charm of the building is evident in the high ceilings, ornate cornices and the original lift, which is the oldest functional lift of its kind.  While the façade of the building is original, the rear of the building is a new purpose-built, 4 storey extension that increases the capacity of the hostel to accommodate for about 240 people.

 

We found the hostel to be breezy and welcoming.  Each level is colour-coded so you always know what floor you’re on, and all the facilities were clean and fully functional.  If you’re heading to Perth and are looking for some friendly accommodation at a great price, check out Perth City YHA.

 

 

FACILITIES

There are 70 rooms, including 25 private twin or double rooms, four kitchen cubicles, a library, swimming pool, laundry, internet café, and even an in-house gym with cardio and resistance training equipment.

 

The hostel is air conditioning to keep you nice and comfortable and the reception is open 24 hours, just in case your train or plane leaves in the wee hours of the morning.  At reception is a travel desk where you can book your next tour, and there is also a luggage storage system for pre- and post- checkout, just in case you want to leave your hefty bag behind while you escape the city for a few weeks.

 

Within the hostel building is the Packaz Backpacker Bar & Café, which is open early for breakfast and is licensed to offer evening drinks.

 

 

THINGS WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE

2 minutes

  • Yellow CAT Bus Stop – this will take you from one end of the city to the other and intersects with the Red and Blue CAT Buses at Perth Railway Station.

 

5 minutes

  • Perth Train Station – your gateway to the rest of the city, including Fremantle, Mandurah, Armadale, Joondalup and historic Guildford.
  • Forrest Chase Shopping Centre and a major supermarket
  • Perth Shopping District & Murray Street Mall

 

10 minutes

  • Northbridge and the Perth Cultural Centre – a great atmosphere with heaps of restaurants and an active nightlife.
  • Perth Mint – go on a tour of the Perth Mint and learn about Western Australia’s golden history.

 

 

Location: 300 Wellington Street, Perth 6000

Phone: 08 9287 3333

Email:  perthcity@yha.com.au

For more information on the Perth City YHA, click here

 
Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor
 

Perth 2013-04-08 007

Eating Out : Rosemount Hotel, North Perth WA

It was our last day in Perth and there was no way we were leaving without having a chicken parmigiana. Juz found out that the Rosemount Hotel was doing cheap lunch specials, so after a night of camping down near Dwellingup, we drove straight into the city to check it out.

 

The Rosemount Hotel prides itself in being a fantastic live music venue and has won a variety of hospitality and music venue awards.  It has a real alternative feel about it with heaps of gig posters stuck up around the place, and although we were there at lunchtime, we could definitely see this place rocking out after dark with awesome gigs.

 

 

After we ordered, we sat down on the couches and waited in anticipation.  The wait wasn’t long at all, and for $11.50, our parma looked very impressive!  The first thing we noticed that the chicken breast wasn’t put on top of the chips – HALLELUJAH!  We also noticed that the portion matched the price – a polite-sized breast with the perfect amount of chips and salad.

 

While the chicken breast wasn’t huge or thick, it was still delicious and topped with just the right amount of stuff.  The tomato sauce was a little young and acidic, but somehow it seemed to work.  The ham was cut up instead of left as one slice, probably because it’s the same ham they use for their pizzas, and the cheese was melted to perfection.

 

The chicken was great, but the chips were even better! Because they weren’t smothered by chicken titty, they maintained their outer crispiness and fluffy centre.  They were also wonderfully seasoned, which made eating them even more pleasurable.

 

For $11.50, we were really pleased with what we got and watched other meals come out like beef nachos and steak sandwiches.  The Rosemount Lunch Specials apply to all the mains on the menu and the price varies between $11.50 and $13.50 – BARGAIN!

 

http://www.rosemounthotel.com.au/

 

Rosemount Hotel on Urbanspoon

 

The Breakfast Plate

Eating Out : Louis Baxters, Subiaco WA

We had a morning appointment just north of Perth so we decided to stop into Subiaco for some coffee that was highly recommended via Twitter by the locals. Louis Baxters is a funky little café at Subiaco Station and was opened in 2011 by Eamon and Laki – mates who met on the set of Celebrity Masterchef.  Eamon was the contestant that eventually won the competition while Laki was a senior producer.  They both love great coffee and food and after a lot of planning, they opened up the café and named it after their pets, two French bulldogs called Louis Pierre Baker and Baxter Sullivan.

 

As soon as we arrived, we fell in love with the place.  A great, artistic atmosphere demonstrated by a great street art style mural on the wall, surrounded by warm wood and textured black and white walls.  Not sure what it is but you can always tell if a place makes good coffee – there’s something about the people behind the counter and the décor. We had a feeling that we were in for a treat.

 

 

We ordered our coffee and sat down with a menu.  Our intention was to just come in for coffee but the lure of food was too great.  Our coffee arrived shortly afterwards.  Dave’s macchiato came with a little glass bottle of heated milk, and it was satisfactorily strong with a great, robust flavour.  Juz’s soy latte was super silky and didn’t require any sugar.  The microfoam was smooth and creamy, while the coffee was full of nutty flavours like walnuts and hazelnuts.  Louis Baxters use Campos Coffee, an Australian specialty coffee roasting company from the eastern states.

 

We decided to share a breakfast plate and get an additional egg for protein’s sake.  It came out on a wooden chopping board with two thick pieces of toasted and buttered ciabatta bread, two hard boiled eggs halved, two slices of thick ham, a dollop of avocado feta mash and freshly sliced tomato.  We found this breakfast to be the perfect summertime feed because it was cool and refreshing while still being filling, and it wasn’t laden with fatty cheese or sauces.  Simplicity at its best.

 

 

After our breakfast, we got a cup of cold brew coffee – a coarse grind from Kenya that was cold stone filtered for 12 hours.  It smelt sweet, like coffee liqueur and had a full bodied flavour that strongly resembled raw cacao beans.  It was strong with a bitterness that moved up into the nose – like the bitterness of a very dark chocolate.  We loved it!

 

Louis Baxters is a great place to swing past for your morning coffee or to sit down for breakfast and the weekend paper.  It has a great combination of atmosphere, food, service and passion – something that is not found very often, and the coffee made here is on par with the standards in Melbourne.

 
Louis Baxters Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon