Things to Do in Western Australia
Swan River carves its way through the middle of the city of Perth before joining with the sea.
Fed by the Avon, Canning and Helena Rivers, the Swan River itself is only around 60km long. Over 130 species of fish inhabit the Swan River, including bull sharks, catfish, rays and bream. Bottlenose dolphins are also regularly seen in the estuary.
One of the easiest ways to appreciate the beauty of the Swan River is simply to take a walk along its banks. Cycling and walking paths line the foreshore, and parklands along the water’s edge keep things interesting. Circuiting the river by the Narrows Bridge and the Causeway is a casual 10km walk well worth undertaking.
Cruises along the Swan River are also popular, often lasting a few hours – or simply take the ferry across the harbour for a cheaper option. Jet boating and parasailing are activities less suited to appreciating the quiet beauty of the river, but guaranteed to get your heart pumping.
It’s easy to indulge in gourmet food, great wines and river scenery on a great day out from Perth by taking a trip to the Swan Valley. Right on Perth’s doorstep, the Swan Valley kick-started the state’s flourishing wine industry.
The best way to experience the Swan Valley’s wineries, food outlets and scenery is by car or tour coach, following the Swan Valley Food and Wine Trail.
Sample wines at award-winning vineyards, buy a beer at a boutique brewery, see heritage buildings and colonial history at Guildford, and experience life on the Swan River with a cruise.
A rare and intriguing insight into the remote Aboriginal communities of the north, Beagle Bay was a Catholic mission started by French monks in the late 1800s.
The mission was used as a home for Aboriginal children separated from their families and is now run by those children. It offers an insight into a troubled time in Australia's past but also a chance to learn about the Nyul Nyul people who have inhabited this beautiful and unforgiving landscape for thousands of years.
One of the highlights is the Sacred Heart Church which was built by hand by the monks and Aboriginal people and has an altar made out of local mother of pearl.
At over a mile in length, the Busselton Jetty is the longest of its kind found anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere. Because Busselton’s Geographe Bay is far too shallow for ships, the Jetty was constructed as a means of transporting cargo to deeper water. Though ships no longer dock here today, Busselton Jetty is now a draw for legions of coastal visitors, who stroll the jetty, take in the views, and swim in the waters of Geographe Bay whenever it’s warm enough in summer. Aside from the scenic stroll over water, a popular activity at Busselton Jetty is visiting the Underwater Observatory, where a spiral staircase leads 26 feet to the ocean floor below. With 11 portholes for viewing beneath water, the Observatory offers a look at marine life inhabiting the artificial reef, which includes a colorful collection of coral that’s rare for the southern latitude.
More Things to Do in Western Australia
Perth’s sprawling Kings Park crowns a hilltop of natural bushland on the city’s western border. Taking up 1,000 acres (400.5 hectares) of parklands, botanic gardens and bushland, the park was established in 1872.
Western Australia is known for its superb array of wildflowers and flowering trees, and Kings Park is one of the best places in the state to see them. Visit during September for the spring wildflower display, or year round to take the elevated Federation Walkway across the treetops. Take a free guided walk, or follow the signs to see the state’s iconic trees, including karri, jarrah, native Christmas trees and pines. The restaurants, cafes and kiosks in the park offer a range of meals and refreshments to recharge your batteries.
Often thought of as the main street of Perth, St George’s Terrace is the major arterial road through the heart of the city.
Named after St George’s Cathedral, the terrace was initially home to a number of the cathedral’s staff. These days, St George’s Terrace is a must-see attraction for visitors to the city – both in its own right, and for the number of other attractions that line it. Marked in the west by Barracks Arch, the terrace runs parallel to the Swan River. Historic buildings including the Old Treasury Buildings hint at the history of the streetscape. St George’s Square, London Court, His Majesty’s Theatre, Stirling Garden, Government House, St George’s Cathedral, and the Perth Concert Hall are just some of the key attractions that sit upon the terrace. At just under 2km long, St George’s Terrace is easily navigable on foot. The Eastern end of the terrace continues on to become Adelaide Terrace.
Eighteen bells held high above the Swan River, the Swan Bells are Perth’s most unusual – and most magical – attraction.
The bells are housed in a specially made copper and glass shard that stands 82.5 metres tall. 12 of the bells are from St Martin-in-the-Fields church in London’s Trafalgar Square, and their history can be traced back as far as the 14th Century. Re-cast more than twice over their lifetime, the St Martin-in-the-Fields bells are one of the few sets of royal bells in existence – and the only ones known to have left England. Six new bells have been added to the collection to commemorate both Australia’s bicentenary and the crossing over into the 21st century. The Swan Bells are named for the Swan River, on whose banks they sit. Tours behind the scenes of the bell tower are incredibly popular, as visitors are afforded the chance to ring the bells, and stunning views over Perth and the river.
Stationed along the north shore of Perth Water in the city’s central business district, the newly opened Elizabeth Quay is a 2.7-hectare inlet of entertainment, nightlife, restaurants and fun.
Travelers can venture to the Barrack Street Jetty and check out the Bell Tower or enjoy a fun-filled river cruise. Hire a bike and ride along the picturesque Swan River or stroll along the scenic promenade. Sample some of the city’s contemporary cuisine in one of the stylish alfresco restaurants along the water or relax and unwind with a leisurely picnic in the vast green space.
With a history dating back to 1897 and a far-reaching reputation, the Fremantle Markets are among the most famous of their kind in Western Australia, and the lively weekend markets are equally popular with locals and tourists. Housed in a striking Victorian market hall, restored in the 1970s, the legendary markets feature more than 150 stalls split between two sections – The Yard and The Hall. Visiting the Fremantle Markets is an experience in itself, with huge crowds turning out each weekend, and an array of street entertainers, artists and musicians providing entertainment. This is the place to buy fresh farmer’s produce, organic delicacies and artisan foods, or feast on tasty street food. It’s not just food on sale either – the eclectic stalls include clothing and accessories by local and upcoming designers; unique art and handicrafts; great value cosmetics and toiletries; and a myriad of souvenirs.
The Perth Mint holds a wealth of gold history in its vaults, with gold dust and many a miners’ yarns embedded in its 100-year-old walls. A guided tour of this grand heritage building reveals fascinating insights into the 19th and 20th century gold rushes that transformed Western Australia forever, and the immense booty of bullion that was mined. You’ll also see how gold is melted into bars, along with the mint’s rare collection of gold bars, nuggets and coins from around the world.
The Perth Cultural Centre is a hotbed of activities, events, collections, art and all things cultural.
Clustered under one roof are a handful of different exhibition spaces and Western Australia’s key cultural institutions. Explore history, nature and anthropology at the Western Australian Museum, from dinosaurs to butterflies and humans. Browse one of the best collections of Aboriginal and early European artworks at the Art Gallery of Western Australia. Watch cutting-edge video installations, sculpture and performance art at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art. Finally, browse books at the State Library of Western Australia.
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