WA’s beautiful capital city may seem a bit of an obvious start or finish destination when you’re visiting the great western state, but it was surprising how many people we spoke to who’d done little more than visit the airport and the motorhome depot!
Why not add a couple of days before or after your road trip to check out the city and surrounds?
On a recent motorhome holiday to southern WA, we had a few days in and around the city before the road trip. There are a few caravan parks nearer the city, however our favourite is Karrinyup Waters, just north of the city, both for the location and friendly staff. If you are looking for more details about the Perth depot locations, check out this blog as we have provided some useful information about where to pick up your motorhome and where you can go grocery shopping and some motels/hotels and campgrounds for your ease of reference.
As Perth is built right on the mighty Swan River, ferries are a popular way to get around and a ride upriver from Elizabeth Quay pier in the CBD gave us the chance to check out the city skyline, the yachts and the million-dollar mansions that line the shore. Parkland runs along much of the river – perfect for taking a stroll, like we did, or hiring a bike and making a day of it. We were super-impressed that all the public transport was free once we were in the city centre and took full advantage by jumping on a bus that took us up the big hill to Kings Park, home to the impressive sprawling botanical gardens that showcases all the individual regions of Western Australia, whilst enjoying panoramic views over the city, hills and the river. The kids loved the wishing well and the ‘whispering wall’ – part of the war memorial, where even the softest whisper made at one end can be heard at the other. Check out this blog for our Top 5 Highlights for Perth!
Perth is bordered by the ocean to the west and the Darling Ranges to the East. This low range, less than 30 minutes from the Perth CBD is affectionately known as the ‘Perth Hills’ by the locals who escape there on the weekends to enjoy the picturesque scenery, the little European style towns and the beautiful walks through the forested national parks. We didn’t have time for a big walk this time, but we did stop off at pretty Lesmurdie Falls and took the short track to the lookout to enjoy the sweeping views of Perth, the coastline and the ocean.
Fremantle is about 30 minutes to the south of Perth. Located at the mouth of the Swan River, this is the oldest settlement in WA and its tiny winding streets are lined in beautiful old buildings, ranging from the impressive town hall to the tiny stone cottages and more than its fair share of funky restaurants and bars. South Terrace, known as the Cappuccino Strip is where the town’s best cafes and restaurants are to be found. We tried out quite a few little places, most that featured alfresco dining and menus influenced by the town’s Italian heritage, and none failed to impress.
Parking up the motorhome, we decided to hire bikes to get around as the whole town runs along the coast and is connected by an excellent bike-path. It’s about a 10 minute pedal north of the town centre to South Beach, a lovely sandy swimming beach. There’s also a Saturday market here in the summer months.
The first place we visited was the Roundhouse, built in 1830 at the edge of town centre, beside Bathers Beach, and a really good place to start exploring. This former gaol is the first public building built in Western Australia (or the Swan River Colony, as it was then known). Apart from giving you great views over the town centre and out across the bay, the interesting information boards also give a good overview of the history of both Fremantle and Western Australia. There’s a cannon fired at 1pm each day and the kids loved it when volunteers brought history to life by popping them into some replica stocks and reading them their rights…our daughter got 3 years hard labour for stealing a pig (may God have mercy on her soul!). Directly below the roundhouse is an old Whalers’ Tunnel that was used to haul whales from the beach for processing.
There was plenty to keep us busy in Fremantle, especially as we were there on the weekend, when there’s a few more things on – like the touristy E Shed Markets held down at the town’s working wharfs (an interesting destination in its own right!) and the nearby a Maritime Museum which includes a full-sized military submarine that you can walk through. Braving the crowds, we explored the old Fremantle Markets which proved to be a great place to stock up on some little handmade gifts and sample some of the delicious food options – freshly cooked paella with local seafood hit the spot nicely! Later that afternoon, we took an interesting tour through Fremantle Prison for a more recent look at local criminal history, but probably our very favourite part of Fremantle was kicking back on deckchairs at one of the bars down on Bather’s Beach, enjoying a sundowner and some live music. The performer was even blowing bubbles for the kids to encourage some sunset dancing as they played on the beach!
Rottnest Island (or ‘Rotto’, as the locals call it!) lies about 20kms off the coast of Perth and is famous for its beautiful bays and beaches and its population of cute, furry quokkas! We headed off to check it out aboard the newest of the 3 ferry companies that run across, along with the bikes that we’d hired in Fremantle. There are no private vehicles allowed on the island, so the choice is either to jump on the shuttle bus or, the most popular choice, pedal power! First up, we stopped at the Visitor Centre beside the main pier and picked up a map of the island before pedalling off to start exploring the coastal paths, woodlands and jaw-droppingly beautiful beaches. It was a beautiful but hot day, so it didn’t take much riding before we were ready to enjoy a refreshing swim in the cold crystal-clear water of Pinky Beach, beside the Bathurst Lighthouse. The island was both more beautiful and more built up than we expected – there’s so much accommodation from camping to beach cottages…and we decided we would definitely consider that next time, it must be such a special place to stay! Despite being quite hilly, it was easy to get around – even for our 6-year-old. We were hoping to see at least one quokka and we weren’t disappointed! These cute little nocturnal marsupials have changed their sleeping habits in order to interact with visitors, and we spotted our very first (very friendly) quokka hanging out at Longreach Beach under the shady Norfolk pine trees. If, like us, you don’t get organised enough to bring a picnic, there’s plenty of cafes and food outlets to choose from – we thoroughly enjoyed our toasted sandwiches at the Gordie Bay General Store, where we met another few quokkas on the hunt for some lunchtime treats (we obeyed the signs and refrained from feeding them…but others didn’t) After lunch, we enjoyed a total change of scenery as we pedalled back via the road that runs through the middle of the island, beside the pretty inland salt lakes. It’s easy to see why Rottnest Island is so loved by Perth locals – we loved it too!
You can now see why it is worth adding a day or three before or after your motorhome road trip that starts or finishes in Perth!
If you are heading down this way then check out our Travel Routes as we have plenty of useful information to look at and these can help you plan your journey. If you are still looking at motorhome hire for Perth or any other part of Australia, then get in touch with us and we can make sure you get the best vehicle to suit your travel needs to tour this amazing country.