A first-timer’s guide to Perth 


SAA’s inaugural direct flight from Johannesburg to Perth (or Boorloo, if you call it by its Aboriginal name) is on 28 April. Get ready to immerse yourself in history, culture, a mix of colonial era architecture and modern skyscrapers, and have fun on soft-sand beaches and leafy green belts.  

By: Leanne Feris

The thriving metropolis and surrounds are gems of Western Australia where you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to activities to do and places to see. 

Experience the Aboriginal culture: With Perth standing on the ancient country of the Whadjuk Noongar people, it’s a no-brainer to get to know more about the Aboriginal culture with one of the many First Nations tours operating in Perth. The Whadjuk Noongar people are one of 14 clans of the Noongar nation who have been the traditional owners of the south-west of Western Australia for 45 000 years.  

In King’s Park, go on a guided tour along the treetop walkway with Nyungar Tours and hear about how the park was once an important ceremonial and dreaming area for Aboriginal communities, as well as how the native plants are used for traditional bush food and medicine. There is also a self-guided walk, the Boodja Gnarning Walk, available. 

For a variety of walking tours in and around Perth, Go Cultural Aboriginal Tours and Experiences unveils Perth’s historic Aboriginal meeting and hunting grounds. On these walks, they tell the first story of Noongar people in culturally significant Perth locations. 

See a variety of Aboriginal art in the Art Gallery of Western Australia’s (AGWA) permanent Six Seasons wing. From two-metre-tall ceremonial poles and detailed aerial-view paintings of the land to intricate charcoal portraits and surrealist scenes.  

Yagan Square is one of Perth’s busiest pedestrian zones and centres around Noongar culture. The square is dominated by a huge warrior sculpture symbolising the cultural longevity of the Aboriginal people. Events, tied to the six-season Noongar calendar, are held here. 

Photo by Nathan Hurst on Unsplash

Be a beach bum 

You’ll have your pick of Perth metropolis’ 19 beaches, but we’ve narrowed it down to a few.  

Picture perfect Cottesloe Beach is just a 20-minute drive from the city and very popular. Known as Cott by the locals, you’ll be able to swim, snorkel and surf, and have a bite to eat at the many cafés and bars along Marine Parade. Go early before the wind picks up around 10.30am. 

Leighton Beach is just north of Fremantle and with its small waves, it is perfect for children or beginner swimmers. Set up for the day and take it easy.   

Mettam’s Pool is perfect for snorkelling. In this natural rock pool, you’ll be able to see leafy sea grasses, patterned fish, starfish and octopuses. Be sure to go on a calm day to avoid rough seas and riptides. 

At Bather’s Beach, the bay is protected by two rock walls and is perfect for swimming and paddling. The Bather’s Beach House restaurant offers sun lounges and on-sand service, including drinks. Don’t miss out on the Kidogo Arthouse (a 19th century limestone building) and the Bather’s Beach Art Precinct right on the beach. They are home to some of Western Australia’s most celebrated sculptors, painters, photographers, indigenous artists and designers.  

City Beach is just a 15-minute drive from Perth and is a popular fishing, swimming and surfing spot. The kids can choose between the playground or the lovely stretch of beach, and it also offers barbecues and picnic tables. It can get windy at the end of the day.   

A curious Quokka. Photo by Mark Stoop on Unsplash

Visit Rottnest Island  

Called Rotto by the locals, this protected nature reserve is just 19 kilometres off the coast of Perth and is home to the adorable quokka, a small macropod about the size of a cat. Quokkas are curious, friendly little creatures, and will probably pose for a selfie with you. 

In addition to the abundance of unique flora and fauna, the island has 63 beaches and 20 bays, perfect for swimming, snorkelling and kayaking in the crystal-clear water. Divers will be rewarded with diverse marine life, underwater caves and outstanding limestone reef. 

If you’re keen on whale watching, the humpback whales migrate along the coastline from September to November and spend time around Rottnest’s protected waters.  

Another way to explore the island’s beauty and history is on a Segway. 

Getting around 

Cycling is very popular, but the public transport system, which includes buses, trains and ferries, is efficient and affordable. Buy a Transperth SmartRider card at the airport or elsewhere. Taxis and various e-hailing services are also available.

Use the bus services for free in the Free Transit Zone; just tap on and off with your SmartRider card.

Hop on and off the Perth Explorer bus to see Perth’s attractions and get there easily.

Plan your trip 

Visit australia.com and westernaustralia.com to help you plan your trip, and book your direct flight to Perth on flysaa.com – the direct flight between Johannesburg and Perth is just 9h25 long! 

For more on things to do in this beautiful city check out the latest issue of Sawubona Magazine here.


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