When I’m up for a big night out… lately I’ll stick entirely to the State Buildings. There are so many cool venues in there, it’s the world’s easiest bar hop. I rate going out on Fridays – Perth people love to celebrate the end of the working week – and I usually start at Petition Beer Corner. It feels more New York warehouse than beer barn and their 18 craft beers on tap are always changing. I’ll then head downstairs for Asian-twist cocktails at Long Chim, chased by a spicy Thai dinner, finishing up on one of the velvet seats at Halford, a glam basement lounge bar with light-art filtering colour onto the walls.
When I have friends in town… we always start the day with a swim at Cottesloe Beach – there’s a reason it’s a must-do. Those pale sands and transparent waters never get old, but when the main beach gets too busy, I head to the far northern end, where locals and their dogs hang out. Then it’s coffee or lunch at Il Lido, and on to Fremantle for a wander through the historic port-town streets, usually ending up at either Little Creatures Brewery (try the Rogers) or bakery-restaurant, Bread In Common (don’t miss the lamb ribs).
People are always shocked when… they realise how dramatically Perth has changed over the past decade. Gone is the boom-and-bust mentality of the moneyed mining industry that dominated the city’s mind-set. There’s less conservatism, more can-do, and a thirst for zany creativity – Perth’s Fringe World is now the third largest globally and about 166 urban walls have been painted over a three year street-art push. There’s also a genuine passion for interesting eating experiences and a healthy love of farmers markets. It’s really fun to be in a place embracing an extreme makeover – especially one for the better.
Perth has a number of eclectic neighbourhoods... and my favourite is Leederville. Its cafe strip is vibrant, day and night, with loads of casual al fresco seating perfect for people watching. The couches at Foam are great, but for the best coffee, go to Sayers. There’s eclectic boutique shopping too – hit up Urban Records for affordable designer threads and a side of vinyl, or Black Plastic for seriously random gifts, such as Star Wars melamine plates and bags with unexpectedly funny (and often cheeky) artwork on them. Everything in there makes me laugh.
A great little secret is… Rottnest Island. All the locals know it, of course, but visitors might not realise that the blip on the horizon is only a 19km ferry ride from Perth. I love staying in Thompson Bay, where furry quokkas hop about, yachts bob and everyone rides bikes in the island uniform of flip-flops and bathers. There are no cars on the island and most accommodation is pretty basic, giving it an old-school, 1950s vibe that’s super relaxing.
I have two kids… and they’re big fans of Kings Park. It’s the largest inner-city park in the world (bigger than Central Park in New York City, so ner!) and has huge grassy areas, river lookouts, a tree canopy bridge and playgrounds dotted in between the stretches of native bush. It’s huge so pick the section you want to explore.
For cheap eats… I always hit up Chinatown in Northbridge. Viet Hoa is my favourite for Vietnamese pho, but if I’ve got a hankering for Peking duck, Good Fortune Duck House does the best in town. Expect to queue.
One thing I hate about Perth is… the standard of service in restaurants and shops is still a long way from being as attentive and professional as it should be. You’ll often get a warm welcome, but it might end there. That said it’s a whole lot better than when I moved here. It’s also a heck of a lot cheaper than when the mining boom was on, which is a relief.
When I want to get out of the city… I do like all Western Australians: I head to Margaret River. The wine region is hard to beat, with epic waves, whales migrating along the coastline (June to December), tall tree forests dotted with tiny wildflowers (September to November) and excellent vineyard dining. It’s only a three hour drive – for West Aussies, that’s nothing.
I know I’m a Perthite because… I will happily get up early, jump in the car and head straight to the beach. There’s no better way to start the day and Perth’s toasty weather often extends though to May, so I usually swim all through summer and well into autumn (fall).
Need more city travel inspiration? Check out The Cities Book, a celebration of 200 of the world’s great cities, beautifully photographed and packed with trip advice and recommendations.