Forever living in the shadows of sister cities Melbourne and Sydney, Perth has never been one of Australia’s go-to destinations.
With almost 365 days of sun, it seems strange how it is only stepping into the light now. If you find yourself in this sunny city for only 48 hours we’ve got you covered with this to-do guide.
With the opening of the mixed-use waterfront development Elizabeth Quay (in 2016), and the new Yagan Square – a community hub and cultural centre with an amphitheatre, green spaces, and a market promoting local vendors – Perth has been kicked into a new league.
“It is a once-in-a-century opening; the kick-starter to get us on a level with the rest of Australia,” says my walking-tour guide, with unwavering glee. The country’s most isolated city is ready for her moment, please.
Where To Stay
Consistently ranked as one of Australia’s best hotels, COMO The Treasury is a 48-room hotel in downtown Perth. Occupying the historic 19th-century State Buildings, this contemporary hotel has soaring ceilings and minimalistic rooms with deep oval baths, and circular windows that allow that perennial Perth sun to flood in. The glass-fronted lap pool is the ideal place to luxuriate in after a long flight.
Probably the hippest hotel to come out of Perth, the Alex Hotel is located in the city’s centre of cool: Northbridge. There is a room for every budget, ranging from “small” to “extra-large”, and the shared “bunk”.
All are sweet and simple with colourful walls and industrial ceilings. Guests have access to a roof terrace, which is perched on the 6th floor and overlooks the city, as well as complementary bikes to explore the neighbourhood and beyond.
One of the newer additions to the city, the QT has easy access to downtown Perth. Inside, the modern rooms are all dark and moody with stone bathrooms, gleaming wooden floors and printed wallpaper with cockatoos and wild flowers. With two bars, a café and a Mediterranean-style restaurant, dining in certainly won’t be a drag.
Where to eat
Everything on the hyper-local menu at Wildflower has either been farmed or foraged (locally, of course). The shiny, glass-encased restaurant, which sits atop the COMO hotel, focuses around the indigenous six seasons. Here, diners will taste ingredients they did not know existed, like roasted-pineapple chiboust and rosella. Google it.
Spanning three floors of a historic flour mill, The Flour Factory is as much a bar as it is a restaurant. Inside the lofty, buzzy space, diners can sample local gins (they have an excellent selection), accompanied by flavourful food.
Don’t be mistaken by the global-sounding dishes (charcuterie, garlic potatoes, sirloin with mustard aïoli), the ingredients are all hyper-local.
From celeb chef David Thompson, this quintessentially Thai joint, located in the basement of the COMO building, serves carefully assembled dishes tasting like they have just been delivered fresh off the streets of Bangkok.
Aromatic bowls of pad thai, turmeric prawn curry and charred noodles will make your taste buds tingle in the best way possible.
Wondering where locals go for a flawless flat white and morning pastry? Mary Street Bakery is probably the most loved bakery in the city (there are four locations). You only need to try one of their lemon-maple-pecan or salted-caramel donuts to know why.
What to do
Kings Park is one of the world’s largest and most beautiful city parks. Positioned atop a hill, the park and garden overlook the entire city and Swan River. Stroll along the plant-lined pathways, sit on a shadowy bench and read a book, or view the city and all its shiny buildings from above.
A city woven together by narrow laneways, the best way to see Perth is on foot. Navigate with Google Maps or hire a guide from Two Feet & A Heartbeat, which specializes in walking tours. Guides take guests into Perth’s wonderful worlds of whisky, wildflowers and even cheese.
Spending time in front of a giant screen when in a new city seems like a silly waste of time.
But not if it is on beanbags, in the company of locals, and in an open-air cinema surrounded by the city’s twinkling lights. During summer, Rooftop Movies screens a selection of old and new films. Wine and food are available too.
Words by Mary Holland