Ask any wanderlust traveller and peripatetic writer, there is always one destination that holds a special place in their heart. For me, that place is Perth.
An underrated Australian destination often glossed over for the glitzier Melbourne and Sydney, Perth sequestrated from the rest, is miles away (2697 km) away from the nearest city, Adelaide. It has the sunniest summers, the bluest spring skies, picturesque rustic autumns and the kindest winters.
My first trip to Perth left me hopelessly infatuated. However, the trip with my then 20-month-old toddler was especially memorable, because it was her first flight out. I was excited to show her this sleepy city I had a massive crush on.
There is a unique scent that greets you at the airport, and it compels you to leave the city’s troubles behind.Perth is laid back yet energetic, youthful yet mature, nostalgic yet trendy.
Kings Park and Botanic Garden
The most beautiful way to spend mornings is a breakfast picnic at a park, which Perth generously offers. My favourite is King’s Park and Botanic Garden, where you get pampered with a panoramic view of Perth CBD and the swan river.
Soaking up the morning sun, running your toes on the perfectly mown, crisp grass, a cheese platter on the side with a cappuccino in hand and watching children play. That is the best start to a day!
Bigger than the world’s famous Central Park in New York, Kings Park is a 400.6 hectares city park, home to the State War Memorial Cenotaph, 70 bird species and over 8000 varieties of floral and fauna.
Eva’s favourite past time was to run around without a care, and King’s Park was perfect for that. In Eva’s words, ” It is like the Garden of Eden”.
Caversham Wildlife Park
“Mummy, what is that sign?” Eva just started learning about road safety rules.
“That would be a Kangaroo Road sign, it means if we see one, we must stop for them to safely cross,” I replied. Eva was now craning her neck to look out for Roos on the loose. It was a timely lesson as we were headed to Caversham Wildlife Park, to meet with the Aussie national animal.
The surprise in-store for Eva was that she would get to feed them too as they freely roam in their enclosure. We were going to pet the Koalas bears, hug a pony, watch a sheep shearing, meet the wombats and wallabies, and feed the hungry penguins. We became the coolest parents that day!
Whistlers Chocolate Company and Swan Valley Lunch is a 13-minute drive from the Wildlife Park. Apart from the magnificent display of chocolates and free sampling, there is a restaurant area and kids play area that serves very well to burn off the sugar rush.
It was going to be another treat for the little one! Riding on the cool factor, we were eating at the Whistlers Chocolate factory. Tell that to any kid, and their eyes would gleam like a perfectly glazed cake.
Chocolate is best paired with wine! There are vast acres of vineyards in Swan Valley and you will be spoiled for choice.
For a family with a toddler in tow, bushes and bushes of grapevine seem like an excellent place to play hide-and-seek. It is hard to pick a favorite place with my favourite tipple, and if I have to, it will be Sandalford Wines!
Fremantle or “Freo”, as the locals call it, is Western Australia’s busiest cargo port and it is brimming with history, culture and eclecticism. Streets lined with well-preserved heritage buildings that complemented with street and contemporary art.
There is something for everyone from history enthusiast to shopaholics, from coffee lovers to Instagrammers, from the bibulous in-crowd to even tiny tots. I fit the bill for half the aforementioned groups.
An Australian holiday must start with a caffeine boost! There are plenty of coffee spots along Cappuccino Strip for that fix before taking a quick mandatory photo with the iconic Fremantle Ferris wheel.
Along Fremantle fishing Boat harbour, the freshest seafood dinner is found at Cicerello. The night winds down with a pint of ice-cold hoppy pale ale at Little Creatures, where there is a very considerate play space for children.
Farmer’s Market and Fremantle Market
As the weekends rolled around, it’s time to hit the Farmer’s markets! Market hopping is customary, also because the vendors, artisans, up and coming fashion designers and merchants gathered only from Fridays to Sundays.
Getting serenaded by a local band at Joondalup Farmer’s Market
Definitely the favourite item on our itinerary is to trawl the markets for fresh local produce and knick-knack. Farmer’s Market it also a great place to visit when you feel peckish. There is bound to be a stall that sells freshly brewed coffee and a few others serving up healthy snacks!
The most famous farmer’s market is a harmonious marriage of old and new-world charm and that is Fremantle Market, a landmark that dates back to 1897 and houses 150 stalls.
We have saved the best for last! It was Sunday which also marked the end of our holiday and our final chance of going to the market. We have conserved a considerable amount of luggage space for the spoils from Fremantle Market.
A tune greeted us as we walked through the arch entryway. A weekend shopper was tinkling on the now-famous kaleidoscopic piano that was recently played by a legendary hobbit, Elijah Woods.
Although I have been here numerous times, this was the first time I was experiencing it as a parent, and I realized it was a sensory overload for Eva. I whisked her up for a better vantage point and explained to her everything that piqued her fascination. It was not long before she wanted to meander the market on her own.
We wrapped up our trip with bags of my favourite beef jerky, biltong and the famous Fremantle famous honeycakes to bring home sweet memories of this holiday.
Perth is a hidden travel gem, one that you fall deeper in love with as you uncover more of its personality. Five days wouldn’t suffice; Eva was also too young to join in some of the activities.
There is still plenty left unchecked for me, like whale watching and taking Eva for a golf game at Oasis Supa Golf. There’s also frolicking on Perth’s renowned pristine beaches and meeting the quokkas, the darling native marsupials of Rottnest Island.
If I can move to Perth, I will do so in a heartbeat. Its sanguine disposition and seclusion is the city’s biggest charm. Perth is still evolving, its allure will continue to grow, and this city keeps beckoning me back.