For us Brits, Perth and Western Australia are often overlooked in favour of the East Coast and the famous delights of Sydney, the Gold Coast, and Byron Bay. Having spent some time now in Southern WA, we are keen to impart the delights this side of Australia has to offer.
Starting with the underrated cosmopolitan gem that is Perth itself. We loved every minute of our time there, and we have put together this guide so that you know the best things to do if you only have 24 hours in Perth. We stayed near the centre of everything, in the Mercure Hotel.
24 hours in Perth
If, like us, you wake up from a jet lagged riddled sleep at 3am, the morning starts early. After FaceTiming family back home who were just sitting down after finishing dinner, we hit the hotel gym at 6.00am, showered, then headed out to Elizabeth Quay.
This area of the city is undergoing a huge regeneration project, with luxury hotels and apartments popping up all along the riverside. We wandered through Stirling Gardens (next to the Supreme Court), where we got our first glimpse of the huge trees and brightly coloured birds we had only seen in pictures before. There are some cafes and bars by the Quay, but we walked along the footbridge and took in the views over to Fremantle and back towards Perth CBD (the city’s business district).
We walked back into the city and headed for Murray Street. This has an underground station so is a busier area full of shops, cafes and bars. The tourist information booth here gives out free maps of the city, including self-guided walking tour routes and bus timetables. Take as many free things as you can get – backpacker life and all that. Tourist maps often have local discount vouchers on, plus good ideas for things to do during your day out in Perth.
We had breakfast at a place called Holmes & Co. Located just off Murray Street, in a side alley called Murray Mews, it has a super chilled atmosphere and a great menu to choose from. Its industrial overtones are familiar enough to ease you into Australian social life without inducing a blind panic at realising how far away from home you really are. Which, after being awake for seven hours by this point without having had so much as a coffee, we were especially grateful for.
Kings Park is one of the best things to do in Perth. Being the type of people who walk EVERYWHERE, we chose to skip the free city-wide bus service. It took about 25 minutes to walk to up a pretty steep hill, so if you choose to hop on the bus instead we won’t judge.
Oh, and did we mention it’s free?
Kings Park is a 4.06-square-kilometre park located on the western edge of the central business district. It contains its own botanical park, as well as bushland and grassy parkland. It is apparently the most visited tourist attraction in Western Australia, and it wasn’t hard to see why. It’s also home to some of the biggest trees we have ever seen.
The park is well mapped, but there is so much to see that you are bound to miss some of it. Everyone seems to use the park, from tourists like us to office workers on a lunch break run, and it is SO clean. Parks at home are often synonymous with crap graffiti and broken vodka bottles, so it was refreshing to see a public space treated so respectfully.
It is home to a number of pleasant walks, including the Lotterywest Federation Walkway that takes you up into the treetops, and a beautiful yet sobering memorial to all those killed in the 2002 Bali Bombings. This claimed the lives of 202 individuals, 88 of whom were Australian citizens.
By this point, we decided we wanted to head back in the direction of our hotel. But we weren’t done exploring just yet. One of the walking maps we had picked up included Heirisson Island, where a herd of kangaroos reside permanently. Having not seen a kangaroo at this point, we set off along the riverfront.
A word of advice if you are interested in going here yourself to see the roos: don’t. Unknown to us (due to a lack of WiFi outdoors), the side of the island with the kangaroos on has been closed to the public for a little while after some prat decided that picking on the kangaroos would be a good idea.
We walked all the way there, found the gates were locked, and had to walk all the way back again. It’s a gorgeous route in itself though, so don’t be put off from exploring the riverfront for a bit during your own 24 hours in Perth.
By now, we were shattered and went back to our room for a nap. We had plans to meet some friends of ours for dinner and didn’t want to be grumpy. Plus, we had only slept intermittently for about ten hours across two days by this point.
For the more stoic individuals out there, make sure you check out happy hour in the city. Many bars offer heavily reduced drinks for an hour, usually between 5pm and 6pm.
We went to Side Door BBQ on Mary Street (off Beaufort Street) for dinner with our friends. It specialises in American style barbecue food, and the plate sizes are HUGE. We went for a meat platter, plus a side of cornbread after developing a taste for it from our trip to Georgia and South Carolina.
Parking is free in lots of the city after hours, but make sure you check before leaving your car. Plus, a general rule to you follow when parking on the street in Australia is to ALWAYS PARK FACING THE DIRECTION OF THE TRAFFIC.
Where to Stay in Perth
We adored Perth and want to go back before we carry on with further travels. Rottnest Island is a big tourist draw, as is Fremantle Prison and Cottesloe Beach. We met a French guy on a potato farm who had been on Cottesloe Beach one evening when a fisherman pulled a 2.8m tiger shark up onto the sand. Maybe we will stay out of the water…
Read our subsequent Perth and Fremantle blog posts here:
Have you been to Perth? Or the surrounding areas? What are some of your favourite things to do in Perth?