Recently, I had three days in Perth; my first visit. After some research I decided to split it up roughly into a day in Perth centre, a day on Rottnest and a day in Fremantle. It worked out well despite daily temperatures around 30C and a bit too warm for me. I thought I would share some pictures (many of them with thanks to Mrs D) and experiences that might be of value/interest to others.
First, some practical advice about travelling there by air. I arrived at the one of the domestic airport terminals and departed from the international one. These terminals are quite a distance apart so be sure which one you need. There is a free bus between terminals though. When we arrived on a Sunday, we tried to find the airport-city Shuttle, but found the next one was not due to leave for over an hour. We also looked for the local bus stop (number 37 or 40) but could not find it, and nobody in the terminal building had the faintest clue. Take a taxi, was their advice. Which we did. It turned out to be only 5$ more than the shuttle bus, but 30$ more than the local city bus, which only charges 4.20$ to the city centre. This is by far the best way to make the trip and was our transport when leaving.
Our hotel was in the indo-chinese quarter, just to the north of the railway station. And first impressions were not that good; litter, dirty pavements and graffiti. But we were only a 15 minute walk from the city centre and every major city has this type of area, and worse. The extensive river frontage and green areas by the River Swan, however, give Perth a more relaxed atmosphere than many other cities I have visited. We spent time in two very attractive parks:Queens Park a small park near the WACA cricket stadium
and Kings Park, much larger and more impressive.
In the city centre and its immediate surrounds there are 4 CAT bus services. These are frequent, generally about every 10 or 15 minutes and are free. They provide an excellent way to get around and take a quick view of some of the major city sights. The main shopping area in Perth contains a startling shopping street modelled, it seems, on an historic London street.
In my opinion, one of the ‘must do’s’ in Perth is to take the river ferry to Fremantle. The Captain Cook ferry provides a commentary pointing out major features. It leaves from a terminal near the “Bell Tower”, a major Perth landmark.
The ferry also provides rather indifferent. but free, coffee. The trip is quite expensive at 28$ for the 75 minute journey, but it is very easy to return to Perth by train for only 4.20$, and the trains are very frequent. The views from the ferry along the Swan River are magnificent and you get to pass a house that last changed hands for 60 million$; snapped up by a New Zealander apparently.
Fremantle also has two free CAT bus routes that are worth considering, although most of the sights are within easy walking distance. Fremantle has a lively atmosphere and there is plenty to look at. The town centre has interesting shops and period buildings slightly reminiscent of old movies of the wild west.
The fishing boat harbour is worth a visit and I can recommend Cicerellos for fish and chips. The Maritime Museum of WA is an impressive building that looks like it was designed to mimic the Sydney Opera House. It was not open when I was there but outside there is a display of stainless steel plaques listing 21,000 names of immigrants to Australia that passed through the port of Fremantle. There were also some snippets of harrowing tales of the hardships that many of these early immigrants faced.
The Round House, Look Out, and whalers tunnel are close together and well worth a visit. The Round House dates back to 1830 making it the oldest building still standing in WA. It was originally used as a prison in what was then the Swan River Colony. The houses and signal station around this location are full of character.
I took a day to visit Rottnest Island (Rotto to the natives); highly recommended. I used the Rottnest Express ferry and boarded at Fremantle, using the train to get me there from Perth. From Fremantle, using this ferry, the journey takes about 45 minutes and is very popular, judging by the number of passengers and the number of ferries that were fully booked. I had a wonderful sunny day with the temperature around 30C. Rottnest has beautiful beaches with clear emerald blue water.
It is really just a holiday island with no cars allowed, cycling being the most popular transport. However, there are police cars, hotel courtesy and other buses and utility vehicles, so I was surprised how often I had to leave the roads to let vehicles pass. There are several interesting historical aspects on the island, the old barracks for example
and the original harbour master cottage
I took a snorkelling tour with the Eco express, a high powered boat trip, to a reef where we had about an hour swimming with a wide variety of stunning fish and corals. After our swim we had a fast and very bumpy return ride to Thomson Bay.