Nowhere shines like Perth in summer. Australia’s sunniest capital city is home to some of the best beaches and parklands in the country, perfect for enjoying the great outdoors when the days are warm and long. Here’s how the west has fun in the sun.
Take in the view
Ask any local for advice on what to do during Perth summer and expect Kings Park and Botanic Garden to top their recommendations. Set beside the Swan River in the heart of the city, this huge park – one of the largest inner-city parks in the world – is two-thirds natural bush and an ideal place to seek shade in the heat, have a picnic, wander among wildflowers, or simply find a comfy perch to take in the cityscape. The park is also home to a number of festivals and concerts, including Missy Higgins (1 February 2020) and Rick Astley (19 February 2020).
Unfurling from either side of the city is an 80-kilometre-long chain of ridiculously ’grammable beaches, with blinding white sand and turquoise seas (no filter needed). Head to one of Perth’s 19 city beaches for a swim, snorkel or surf; Cottesloe, Scarborough, Trigg and City Beach are our top four to check out. There’s no need to rush home at sundown either, with some of the best beachfront dining just steps from the water and one of the world’s greatest light shows free to watch as the sun sets into the Indian Ocean and paints the sky in technicolour.
If you only have time to visit one, make it Scarborough on a Thursday when the sunset markets turn the beach into a playground with pop-up stores, food vans, beach games, live music and a merited Scarborough sunset applause (yep, the sunsets are so good they get a standing ovation!).
Meet the locals
You can’t come to Perth without getting a photo with Western Australia’s beloved quokka, and getting the coveted pic is easier than you think. Take the 30-minute ferry to Rottnest Island, then jump on a bike – there are no cars allowed on the island – trying not to get distracted by the island’s 63 truly spectacular beaches and 20 bays while you cycle around in search of the world’s cutest animal. Fortunately, there are 12,000 quokkas on Rotto (only tourists call it Rottnest Island) so you won’t have to ride far before you find one, and they really are as friendly as they look. Word to the wise: don’t wear white. To get the perfect quokka selfie you’ll need to be at quokka level – belly down on the ground.
Quokkas aren’t the only wildlife happy to hang out with you. In Rockingham, an easy 40-minute drive south of Perth, you can swim with wild dolphins, while neighbouring Penguin Island (five minutes by ferry) is home to more than 1200 fairy penguins.
Wine and dine
Fun in the sun inevitably makes you hungry (and probably a tad thirsty too), so head to the waterfront precinct at Elizabeth Quay for a riverside dinner and drinks with knockout views, or over to one of the stylish new cocktail bars in nearby Northbridge – now an easy five-minute stroll from the CBD. Northbridge is also the place to go for live music and home to the Perth Cultural Centre (think big art galleries, theatres, and museums) and lots of big-ticket events during two of the biggest Perth summer parties: Fringe World Festival and Perth Festival.
For a change of pace, make your way to Fremantle (or Freo, as locals know it) for cool cafes, craft beer, buskers on tree-lined heritage streets and seafood straight off the boat. Or spend a day hopping from winery to distillery and back in the Swan Valley – WA’s oldest wine region is just a cork’s pop (half an hour) from the city centre and is packed with breweries, gourmet producers and local crafts and artisans. Wear your best stretchy pants.
Unwind in style
Beds are booming in Perth, thanks to the 38 new or made-over hotels that have opened in the last few years, including The Westin, COMO The Treasury, Crown Towers, Alex Hotel, Intercontinental, QT, Quay Perth, the Adnate Art Series Hotel, DoubleTree by Hilton, the Ritz-Carlton at Elizabeth Quay – the brand’s first Australian property in 10 years – and even a new glamping village on Rotto.
By 2022, it’s expected that a further 8 new hotels will open their doors.
This boost puts Perth at the firm front of the pack when it comes to hotel and short-stay accommodation in Australia, with great deals to be had, whatever your budget. There’s never been a better time to head west for some summer loving.
For more information about summer, the greatest show in Perth, head to westernaustralia.com/perth.