City Guide: Perth, Australia

Sitting on the bank of the mighty Swan River is the most isolated capital city in the world, Perth. Slowly creeping onto the world stage for its laid-back vibe and for its easy proximity to the surf and the bush this is a perfect travel destination.

Perth is my city, my home and the one place in the world that I truly know inside and out, even after living overseas for many years. The city centre itself has undergone a makeover in recent years and is now bursting with life and colour. On Friday evenings the city stays open late and market stalls spring up celebrating the diversity of cultures that make up the city with an exotic hawkers food market that brings people from all over. As you wander around make sure to slip into one of the many alleyways that you might otherwise walk straight past. Small shops and cafes spill out onto the street interspersed with bright street art motifs and at night small bars open up seemingly out of the wall itself and overhead strung lights transport you to warm summer nights even in winter.

The swan river is an interwoven part of the city, and one of my favourite places to go. An easy walk takes you down to its banks where you can relax on the grass with a picnic, something you can literally do year round thanks to the seemingly eternal sunshine. Just a word of caution though, the black swans are known to try and join you for lunch regardless of wether you agree with this or not.
This has often led to scenes of picnickers fleeing with their blankets and baskets from cheeky swans and has happened to me more than once.

With the blessed weather Perth has a really strong café culture with the outside seats always the favourites. Grab a seat outside with a coffee and watch the locals walking their dogs on a Saturday morning. Or take advantage of the many restaurants with courtyards and sidewalk seating to enjoy the evening breeze with a glass of locally brewed beer or wine. The locals are also known for being sports mad so make sure you catch a game of Australian Rules Football or AFL as it is called but watch out if the two Perth teams as playing as there is a fierce (friendly) rivalry. If a game is not your thing then a word of caution, every bar will be playing the game so steer clear unless you want lots of cheering and beer spilling.

In summer the arts culture really fires up and there are months of festivals, concerts and shows. The ‘Perth Cultural Centre’ is the spot to be in summer if not to simply relax next to the wetlands and the urban orchard that sends a delicious fruit scent through the city. Roving performers and buskers are out and about and there is always one show or another setting up. For a sports mad state this is the one time of the year that anyone and everyone comes together to celebrate the arts.

The beauty about Perth is that the metropolitan stretches and hour north and an hour south down the stunning western Australian coastline. Locals are beach obsessed and with such hot summer days and stunning turquoise water it’s not hard to resist the lure. If the concrete jungle of the city centre makes you feel trapped, then only 45 minutes south is one of my favourite coastal destinations, Penguin Island. From the coast you can reach it by kayak or boat and on it lives one of the few fairy penguin colonies in the country. It is the island feel literally on my doorstep and I love jumping in a kayak and in half an hour I am on a spoilt untouched piece of wilderness complete with friendly local penguins and hidden limestone caves scattered around the islands western coastline. The island is uninhabited and for any budding Robinson Crusoe or Jack Sparrows out there you really do feel like you are exploring the island for the first time.

There are a million and one things to do in Perth and it is easy to get used to the relaxed and laid-back vibe of the city. I may often travel far away from it but it really is a wonderful, sunny city to spend many a day relaxing as the laid back atmosphere is infectious.

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