From playgrounds inspired by the Noongar seasons to fascinating museums and beach-side gelatos, pack plenty of colour and educational fun into a few days in Perth with the family.
Drive or train to Perth City Farm, an urban farm beside Claisebrook Station filled with chooks, leafy greens and a roomy cafe with elevated sandpits and toy trucks beside al fresco tables. On Saturdays, the site hosts farmers’ markets (8am–12pm) and supervised kids are free to explore the whole property. A five-minute walk away, a phenomenal, $17.5-million intergenerational playground transformed Wellington Square, or Moort-ak Waadiny, in March 2021. Let kids loose on Koolangka Koolangka Waabiny’s towers shaped like banksias, steel tube slides, spurting fountains and a flying fox, as well as a skate park and parkour facilities.
Koolangka Koolangka Waabiny playground. (Jarrad Seng)
Stroll to convivial Royal Street for lunch and continue on foot along a duck-dotted waterway leading to Claisebrook Cove, where kids can run across the footbridge and explore pretty Victoria Gardens, which has a steep grassy hill perfect for rolling down. It’s another 10-minute walk to Matagarup, which arches artistically across the river to Perth’s new Optus Stadium. Little thrill-seekers can harness up for the bridge climb, which reaches a 72-metre-high, glass bottom Skyview Deck. It’s open to kids aged from eight who are at least 1.2 metres tall and have a ‘big person’ in tow. Sports nuts may prefer the stadium’s new Halo Rooftop Tour, 42 metres above the playing field.
Once the adrenaline has dissipated, walk along the river to Chevron Parkland, which encompasses six nature playgrounds facing the stadium. Don’t be confused by the smaller playground closest to the bridge – keep going to the far bigger one, which was created in partnership with the Whadjuk community and is inspired by the six seasons adhered to by WA’s Noongar people. Get the kids to nd hatching emu eggs, build stick cubbies, climb towers modelled on quandong trees and play the melodic drum. You can all run through the numbat burrows, yawning corridors woven from colourful rope. As natural shade is still developing, it’s best to go later in the day; there are free barbecue facilities if you fancy a BYO dinner.
A Chevron Parkland playground facing the Optus Stadium.
Many kids have a fascination with gold, be it in liquid or coin form. Blow their minds with a live demonstration of gold being poured at Perth Mint. They will also see the largest coin ever made, learn how gold is discovered and mined, handle gold bullion and see natural nuggets. Afterwards, it’s an easy six-minute walk westwards on Hay Street to a mini firefighter’s heaven. At the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) Education and Heritage Centre, kids can try on firefighting uniforms and climb up into a fire truck, playing out their dream occupation as loudly and enthusiastically as they like. The centre, housed in the original Perth Central Fire Station, also has a relics gallery and fireman’s pole.
Walk to St George’s Terrace, where every public bus transports commuters for free. Ask a driver if they’re stopping at Kings Park – you can get as far as the park’s entrance without needing a ticket. Wander along Fraiser, framed by the tall, white trunks of lemon-scented gums. You’ll be struck by captivating views of the inner city and Swan River. Pause at the Flame of Remembrance, which is flanked by a whisper wall; sit the kids at either end and get them to murmur messages to each other. Continue onwards to the 750-Year-Old Boab and The Canopy Bridge, then double back via the misting spray of the delightfully unpredictable fountain at the Pioneer Women’s Memorial, to the Naturescape Playground. It’s free and filled with bush burrows, waterholes, tunnels, steel creatures and climbing ropes to explore.
Drive to the family-friendly zone surrounding Trigg Beach, where the Surf Lifesaving Club, playground reserve and calm rockpools mean there are always loads of kids about. Grab dinner at Island Market or casual sister-venue, Canteen and catch a WA sunset over the ocean.
Blow off energy at the Elizabeth Quay playground on the Swan River – there’s a fort, sandpit and kids can walk the plank and ring a ship’s bell. Meander over the pedestrian bridge and ride the historic carousel ($6; open from 10am daily). Take a commuter ferry from Elizabeth Quay Ferry Terminal across the waterway to Mindeerup at the South Perth Foreshore. As you disembark, you’ll be wowed by a 9.7-metre-high frill-necked lizard and a 23.5-metre-long numbat, made from yellow coated perforated steel. Kids love finding the family of steel meerkats and emus beneath the canopy structures.
Mindeerup’s frill-necked lizard.
Walk up leafy Mends Street to Perth Zoo, where you can see all those creatures ‘in real life’. To enhance the visit, book well ahead for a behind-the-scenes ‘close encounter’, which might be shadowing an elephant keeper, wearing waders to reach the lemur island (for 12-year-olds and up) or feeding a giraffe from a tower. There’s also a packed schedule of free keeper talks and walks you can join. Lunch on the zoo lawn, ringed with food trucks, playgrounds and gazebos.
Book in advance for a close encounters visit at Perth Zoo.
Disco lights, pop tunes and wacky golfing greens greet you at Holey Moley in nearby Northbridge; it’s open to minors until 5pm and packed with families on weekends. Grab a mini iron and putt a coloured golf ball between giant Lego pieces, through a castle door, or past a shark’s jaws. Order an early dinner – the sliders are tasty – then head to James Street and take the City of Perth car park elevator up six floors to Rooftop Movies (October – March). Family flicks are shown on certain nights and there’s pizza by the slice.
Explore the Perth Cultural Centre, a spacious pedestrian zone in the heart of town. Direct children towards the wetland beside the Art Gallery of Western Australia. Hop between floating steps and reeds then look behind Polly Coffee Bar for the fenced, sensory play space. You’ll be in the shadow of the huge new WA Museum Boola Bardip, the hottest visit in town right now. Double back past the art gallery and the free-pick Urban Orchard to Perth Train Station and board the Fremantle Line.
The new WA Museum Boola Bardip. (Peter Bennetts)
Get off at Claremont Station and head for The Goods Shed where the revolving line-up of free exhibitions tends to be immersive, entertaining and thought provoking, such as a recent show by LEGO Masters 2020 winners using blocks and found relics, or an exhibit made entirely of reused plastics. Reboard the train for Cottesloe and its famous beach. Stroll along the coastal walking path to the Norfolk pine-shaded playground, the popular Gelato Bar and the many cafes or splash around in the water. For respite, hike up Warnham Road to Cottesloe Civic Centre, a tranquil secret garden with a little playground and big slide hidden within.
Gelato Bar Cottesloe: Pretty in pink by the ocean.
In the afternoon, return to Cottesloe station and travel to the end of the train line: Fremantle. Follow the historic port town’s weaving streets to the WA Maritime Museum, for its 1983 America’s Cup winning vessel, Australia II and suspended boats. There’s a Cold War-era submarine, the HMAS Ovens out the side; kids over six can join interior ticketed tours of the 89-metre-long vessel. Then follow the beach walking path to the WA Shipwrecks Museum (free), filled with ancient coins, wreck remnants and mini replicas. As evening approaches, ride Esplanade Park’s Ferris Wheel, climb the rope playground and tuck into fish and chips at the Fisherman’s Wharf. Walk off your indulgence along the wooden boardwalk beside bobbing boats.
Ride the Ferris wheel in Fremantle.
Leederville is a hip, inner-city suburb with a village vibe. There’s a fenced nature playground conveniently next door to Cranked Coffee, while Kailis Bros Fish Market is directly across the road; staff pick out yabbies and WA marron (freshwater crayfish) to show the kids. Grab eats at Bunn Mee or My House Dumpling and admire street art en route to Fry’d Ice Cream (you can’t miss the pink store) or Gusto Gelato.
Escape urban life with a 30-minute drive to the pretty Perth Hills. Kids love the brook leading to Lesmurdie Falls, and the two floating lookout platforms. Get up close to kangaroos near the Wildflower Tavern at John Forrest National Park. Do a tractor tour and lunch at CORE CIDER as the tin lids (that’s the kids) play beside the orchard.
Getting from A to B
While Perth is a spacious city, public transport can be well used to get around, depending on your children’s ages, abilities and energy levels. It is well serviced by trains, buses and ferries, including the excellent Fremantle train line. On Perth’s Central Area Transit system all public transport within its zone (loosely the CBD area) is free.