It’s the city that’s got the quokkas, the roller coasters and the museums. The only thing missing? Your little ones.
You’ve done the quokkas, now see the penguins (and just about everything else) at Penguin Island, located off the coast of Rockingham, 45 minutes south of Perth and a five-minute ferry ride into the rugged Shoalwater Islands Marine Park. Home to endless white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters and a healthy wildlife population, you can swim with wild dolphins, kayak with seals but you can’t miss a visit with the island rangers who present penguin feedings at 10.30am, 12.30pm and 2.30pm daily. The Penguin Island Ferry & Discovery Centre pass is $89 for two adults and two children. Add a visit to Pengo’s Cafe, on site, for cake or ice-cream for the perfect day out.
For the child who asks endless questions about the universe and everything within it (particularly during times when they should be sleeping), we present Scitech, a centre filled with playful science, technology, engineering and mathematics experiences. Located in the heart of Perth’s CBD, kids (and kidults) can unleash their inner scientists by engaging in over one hundred exhibits, but also enjoy science performances, puppet shows, a CSIRO lab and Australasia’s largest planetarium. Admission ($52 for two adults and children or one adult and three children) gives access to all Science Centre exhibition spaces, the Planetarium, Science Theatre and Puppet Theatre. Got a little time up your sleeve? Creative gelato flavours await at Whisk Creamery, five minutes’ drive down the road.
Getting up close and personal with Australia’s most personable marsupial is high on every traveller’s bucket list and the good news is, on Rottnest Island (a 30-minute ferry ride from Perth), you won’t have to try too hard to find them. The only mammal native to the island, there are more than 12,000 of the furry ones getting photo-ready at any one time. The best time to see a quokka is early morning or late evening but remember: there’s no need to approach one or give them food or water – they will come to you. Then all you need to do is crouch, grin and snap (without touching). The best place to compare your selfies? At Rottnest Bakery, where jam doughnuts rule supreme.
A day filled with all manner of heart-stopping roller coasters and water slides, plus smaller, gentler rides for the younger ones? You can hear the ‘yaaaaas’ echoing all the way down the entrance of Adventure World, a family fun park which serves up unlimited access to over 25 rides and attractions, including ABYSS, ‘Australia’s Best Roller Coaster’, and Kraken, the longest, tallest and steepest funnel slide on the planet. Top tip? Book a day cabana and purchase a Fast Pass (from $34.95) to skip the queues. A day ticket is priced from $165 for a family pass (two adults plus one child, or one adult plus two children). Open 10am to 5pm daily, the park is closed for the winter months.
Just uttering the words ‘fish and chips’ is enough to get the little ones excited, but chowing down at Cicerello’s, one of the longest-standing eateries on Fremantle Harbour, is far from where the action stops. The tropical aquariums inside the restaurant and bathrooms will keep the family entertained while they wait for their dinner, or they can enjoy checking out the restaurant’s unofficial archive of shark-torn surfboards and kayaks. Parents, meanwhile, will enjoy Cicerello’s panoramic views and menu, which covers everything from creamy natural oysters to a rich fish curry. Happily, a large range of desserts – including gelato – are also on offer at Cicerello’s Kiosk.
Every parent likes to let rip with a ‘when I was your age’ story every now and then, and what better setting to launch into one than Galaxy Drive-In, the city’s last remaining drive-in. Located in Kingsley (around 20 kilometres from Perth’s city centre), this is the place to load up on old-school Chiko Rolls and Maltesers, play a pre-movie game of UNO and party like it’s 1985. Open Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, gates open at around 6pm (get in early or you’ll miss out) and movies begin shortly after. Priced at $11 per adult, and $5.50 for kids four to 12, Tuesday nights are cheapest at $22 for a carload of passengers.
Kids asking for a new pet? Why not promise them a koala or wallaby sibling instead by visiting Caversham Wildlife Park and fostering one? Before you commit to a new family member, you’ll need to get to know the park’s native Australian residents (everything from Tasmanian devils and wombats to possums), so take some time to hand-feed the roos, or check out Molly’s Farm for an interactive farm experience. The kids can watch sheep shearing, milk a cow or bottle-feed a lamb. Open daily 9.30am to 4pm, admission is $30 for adults and $14 for kids three to 14.
Are the kids obsessed with sharks, turtles and stingrays? Provide the ultimate ‘meet and greet’ by booking in a session at the Aquarium of Western Australia. Located in Hillarys Boat Harbour, just 20 minutes from Perth’s CBD, this iconic attraction boasts more than 40 exhibitions, enabling visitors to explore over 12,000 kilometres of Western Australian coastline from behind the safety of reinforced glass. A $79 family entry fee (two adults and two children or one adult and three children) includes the top sights from the icy waters of the Southern Ocean to the tropical wonderland of coral reefs in the Far North. Open seven days a week, from 9am to 3pm weekdays and 9am to 4pm on weekends.
Take some of WA’s fastest water slides (including a six-storey water slide tower where the brave can hurtle at speeds of up to 75 kilometres per hour), add mini golf, mazes, a handful of Australian animal experiences, plus the odd child-friendly eatery and you have one of Perth’s most popular family attractions. Located on the doorstep of Swan Valley, just 30 minutes from the city, Outback Splash features four new water slides and water attractions (open September to April) but the park’s other attractions can be enjoyed year-round (Cost: Adult: $41.00; Child aged 4–13: $34.00). And it would be rude not to sneak in a cake, slice or ice-cream at one of the retailers on site.
Australia is home to well over 200 nationalities and more than 65,000 years of Indigenous stories. Introduce the kids to their mates and neighbours on a deeper level by visiting WA’s newest museum, the spectacular WA Museum Boola Bardip. Located in the Perth Cultural Centre, the museum reopened its doors in November 2020 after a $400 million overhaul, the spaces offering visitors a range of experiences with a focus on multicultural and Aboriginal stories. In spectacular suspended fashion, it also showcases the massive blue whale skeleton and WA icon dubbed Otto. Activities are offered for kids and the museum has ‘Quiet Hour’ afternoon sessions for those with specific sensory needs. Open from 9.30am to 5pm every day, entry is free.