Flights to Perth: Australia's west-coast capital
Life's a beach in Perth, where the Swan River and Indian Ocean collide to spectacular photogenic effect. The river becomes so wide it's really one big harbour, shared by families of black swans and weekend sailors. This youthful city on the edge of the Outback lives life outdoors. Join locals catching waves at Cottesloe Beach, cycling seaside trails from one long ocean beach to the next, and soaking up the colonial atmosphere of favourite yachtie port, Fremantle.
Cool off after your flight to Perth with a bracing morning dip at Scarborough's white-sand beach. Up the pace in the afternoon as kite-boarding swells are stirred by the famous breeze known as the Fremantle Doctor. Get nautical with Fremantle’s top racing sailors and learn the ropes on a cruise to Rottnest Island. Slip into the water, where striped moonlighter fish and gently flapping rays play hide-and-seek as you snorkel the coral reefs.
Back to nature
Cycle the city trails through Kings Park, where technicolour wildflowers bloom in a eucalypt wonderland. Or find your sea legs on the ferry to Perth's holiday island, Rottnest. Be polite and say 'g'day' to the cute residents; mini kangaroo-like marsupials called quokkas. Cuddle koalas to your heart’s content at Cohuna Wildlife Park and chill out – those circling sharks are safe behind glass at the Aquarium of Western Australia.
Eat and drink
The vibe’s ultra-relaxed in Perth's restaurant precinct, Northbridge, a multicultural wild card of eye-wateringly spicy Thai curries, grilled Greek calamari and zingy Vietnamese pho. Dive into a multi-course Mod Oz degustation, pairing crisp Margaret River chardonnay with seared abalone, tuna and other fruits de mer. Northbridge pubs cover the full spectrum; barbecued steak 'n' lobster to please the foodies, vodka slushies for the cocktail crowd and local craft beer for the discerning.
Where? On Australia’s west coast, isolated Perth is a whopping 4,400km from Sydney and 5,350km from Auckland.
Population: Perth is home to 1.7 million people, of which 34 per cent are migrants to this multi-cultural city.
Key dates: Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh landed here way back in 1696, but because of the isolation a city wasn't established until 1829.
Getting about: Getting around Perth won’t cost you a cent on the free CAT bus network. The Free Transit Zone also includes Northbridge and Fremantle; services run every 5 -10 minutes.
Our favourite Perth hotels make the most of their city-centre location and Swan River views. Guests in the know opt for top-floor suites at the Parmelia Hilton, while the InterContinental’s a sure bet for high rollers visiting Burswood Casino.
Queen Elizabeth II dined at Fraser's in Kings Park. And what's good enough for Her Majesty is good enough for you too. The view here is beaten only by the Rottnest scallops. At Jackson's, diners indulge in 'the Dego' seasonal degustation matched with wines.
Shopping in Perth
Indigenous Outback art shines on our shopping list as – quite literally – do Argyle pink diamonds. Like Perth itself, the artworks are young and contemporary at Turner Galleries. Summer designer fashion struts the Colonnade catwalk.
One: Cottesloe Beach. A sunset beer at Ocean Beach Hotel. Two: get into town. The Brass Monkey waits with tapas and wines. Three: you’re on your own. DJs, underground scenes and four-liquor cocktails disguised as ‘Llama Iced Tea’. Enough said?
Our Perth attractions take you on a wander through Kings Park bushland. Fire up your camera for Swan River views. Head indoors for the country's best Aboriginal art collection and discover your weight in gold at the Perth Mint.