A Western Australian Adventure
When we think of Australia, several famous landmarks come to mind. It can be the iconic Sydney Opera House, the spectacular Great Barrier Reef or even party city, Bondi Beach. But we hear little about Western Australia or its capital city, Perth.
This can come as no surprise seeing that Perth is the most isolated city in the world after Honolulu – the nearest capital city is more than 2000 kilometres away. For such an ulu country, WA is a multi-faceted wonderland that encompasses the cosmopolitan, the country and the real outback. So no, it’s not “just food and wine”.
Here are 10 places that’d prove anyone who’s ever said “Perth is boring” dead wrong.
1. Cliffdive off the 10-metre tall Blackwall Reach
Calling all thrill seekers – this is not for the faint-hearted. At some point in our lives, we’ve had a go at diving into our community swimming pool from the ledge. Now multiple that height by 10 metres and you have our cliffdive at Blackwall Reach. It was cool and drizzly when we visited which made the jump all the more scary.
Simply park along Blackwall Reach Parade and follow the beaten track to find ledges along the 500-metre Blackwall Reach where you can angle yourself for the high jump. Note that there will be signs cautioning you against jumping due to badly formed rocks, so jump at your own risk!
If you’re worried, look out for footprints in the sand that might give you a tell-tale sign that others before you have made the dive. Or if you’re kiasi like us, climb down the cliff to check if there are any dangerous elements in the water first.
Once that’s all checked-off the list, take in the views before you hit the water. This ain’t some dingy waterpark you’re diving from – it’s the real deal. Think of this as Sentosa Cove but better and bigger.
Once you’re ready, take the plunge and resurface a whole new person. It’s a life changing experience.
2. Glamp under the stars for incredible night views
We’ve all wished for that night under the night sky, taking in the shooting stars with a special someone. Alas, Singapore’s night skies simply aren’t fit for stargazing amidst the poll-ew-tion and constant sound of traffic. But in the outskirts of Perth at Margaret River, you can do exactly that, and in comfort.
Glamping, also known as ‘glamourous camping’ is camping for those too averse to deal with pesky mosquitoes and uncomfortable bedding. At Mile End Glamping, visitors stay in lavish, light-filled domes with their own private spa bath and kitchen.
Built in a private 144 acre estate in the heart of Margaret River, get an unparalleled view of the whole wine region plus a jaw-dropping view of the stars. No doubt, this will put our ECP camping horrors to shame.
Find out more here.
3. Set foot into a maze straight out of Tim Burton’s imagination
We’re all too familiar with Lewis Carroll’s popular novel of the young girl who fell down the rabbit hole, only to end up in a peculiar world of talking rabbits and an angry queen who plays croquet. At Amaze’n Margaret River, you’ll feel like you’ve entered the similar set of Alice in Wonderland.
This 40 acre plot of land consists of several hedge mazes of varying difficulty, a mini-golf course – if croquet isn’t your thing – and blooming gardens bursting with Native Australian flora.
Of course, the main attraction of the place is the Giant Hedge Maze, a 3 metre-high labyrinth that takes up a whopping 0.5 hectares. The key of the game is to find the lookout point in the middle for a splendid view of the sprawling compound.
This elusive landmark is right smack right in the middle of the maze, with a retro bicycle perched on its roof.
After you’ve located it, your next challenge is getting out the labyrinth without resorting to the emergency exits. Navigating our way through this human-sized puzzle left us dazed – we took more than an hour to find the lookout point!
If you’re weak-willed like us, find your escape via the emergency exits and if not, soldier on!
Once that’s done, stroll back down via the camellia gardens to have your own version of a Mad Hatters Tea Party. Be sure to have a bite of Amaze’n’s award winning scone paired with whipped cream and strawberry jam! Let the buttery-flaked biscuit be the prize at the end of an adventurous afternoon.
4. Find this secret spot to watch an awesome sunset at Sugar Loaf Rock
There are many places to view a decent sunset in WA. After all, this 3 kilometre-squared state covers a third of the whole continent and more than half of the land is pure country outback. Finding that 6.5/10 sunset on the road that’d still get the minimum number of insta-likes is easy.
However, if you’re down to see a spectacular, awe-inspiring retreating of light into the horizon, look no further than Sugar Loaf Rock. Located 3 hours away from Perth by car, a trip down to revel at its shoreline is worth the hike.
The coastal area near Sugar Loaf Rock is located on the aptly named street, Sugar Loaf Road, south of Cape Naturaliste. From there, we ditched the car and climbed to the top of the Southern Lookout for a panoramic view of the triangular cheese-shaped granite rock.
Named after its similarities to a literal granulated sugar mound, this beauty adds a magnificent edge to the ombre sunset.
For a picture of this granite marvel against the gorgeous sunset, hike all the way down like we did from the lookout to the concealed rock island just metres away from the huge structure. Just be careful and watch your step!
Be sure to wear comfortable running shoes – I obtained multiple scratches from using my worn out sandals…
That’s Sugar Loaf on the right!
As you perch on the surrounding rock islands like Little Mermaid 2.0, take in the scent of the salty ocean breeze and bask in your A+ sunset with a stunning view of the crashing waves.
5. Get a #QuokkaSelfie at Rottnest Island
We’ve all heard about Australia’s resident celebrity animals: koalas, kangaroos, emus. But I bet you’ve never heard of a quokka (pronounced kwo-ka), an adorable muppet-sized marsupial that’s also known as the happiest animal in the world. Literally. Their faces are etched with a perpetual smile.
The most viable population of quokkas in the world can be found on Rottnest Island, a 30-minute ferry ride from Fremantle, Perth. So of course, we just had to pay them a visit and obtain a #QuokkaSelfie.
To locate these elusive furry critters on the 19 kilometre-squared island, old-fashioned bikes are the way to go. Rottnest itself has many bicycle tracks for easy pedaling and amazing sightseeing.
The route we recommend is the Gabbi Karniny Bidi route, a 9.7km loop that gives you easy access to the glistening salt lakes and their surrounding wildlife. If you’re lucky, the lakes may turn a milky strawberry pink due to the fluctuating algae concentration.
To find our lil quokka friends, we consulted the help of local guides who pointed us in the direction of Garden Lake, which is full of secret nooks and crannies where countless quokka families live.
If you’re up for it like Sherlock Holmes, follow the multiple trails of Malteser-sized pellets of poop that will lead you to selfie jackpot.
Besides quokkas, the island offers several foodie establishments that’d whet your appetite fo sho. Think the freshest seafood of Western Australia and over 100 different flavours of locally produced ice cream at Simmo’s.
It really doesn’t get any better than that after a long day of cycling.
6. Clamber up to a 61-metre high treehouse
As kids, many of us longed for our own treehouses in a typical white picket fence backyard. But due to SG’s severe land constraints and the convenience of our HDB playgrounds, that wish has never been fulfilled. So when we embarked on a 4 hour journey to Pemberton to climb their 61-metre Gloucester Tree, we knew our childhood dreams would finally come true.
The Gloucester Tree has quickly become a local and tourist attraction for an incredible 360-degree view of the entire Karri Forest. But climbing to the top of the lookout cabin – an adult version of our childhood treehouse – is no easy feat for even the fittest of us.
About halfway to the top and it felt like we were at the shoulders of Mount Everest, grappling for the last peg to climb on.
A total of 153 wooden pegs are spiralled around the tree for climbing, with only a thin measly net to break potential falls.
When you finally emerge from the painful depths of serious cardio, expect to be spellbound with the highly rewarding view at the top. With the entire Karri Forest at your disposal, the lookout is likely to rival the lush Amazonian rainforest.
But Pemberton is known for more than its giant climbing trees – this picturesque paradise is also unofficially dubbed the ‘clean green jewel’ of the South West surrounded by Karri forests, waterfalls and vast vineyards.
While you’re in the region, explore Pemberton’s restaurants with blooming backyards that’d provide you with a non-mainstream version of Japan’s sakura season. When we were there, the November breeze cast a delicate ambiance to the whole experience and for a moment, everything was perfect.
7. Play with Australian wildlife at Caversham Wildlife Park
Say hi to Neil the chill wombat!
As tourists in the best wildlife region in Aussie, we just had to make a visit to Caversham Wildlife Park. The park houses 2000 animals from 200 species – all of them native to Western Australia.
Unlike conventional zoos, this park allows you to interact with the animals through direct physical contact! With so much to see, our guide from Explore Tours* brought us to pay a visit to the ‘Wombat and Friends’ enclosure where we could caress the wildlife.
*Check out Explore Tours Perth for other tours you can take while in the area!
If that’s not enough for you, sneak a peek at the park’s Farm Show that takes place 3 times a day. Watch a real farmer herd a flock of sheep via a feisty black dog and watch them get sheared. But perhaps the biggest perk of all is learning how to milk a cow with the proper technique.
This hands-on experience is something that few zoos or parks offer.
But if farm animals aren’t your thing, why not meet the furry creatures every Australian would have asked you about? Yes, you guessed it. Say hello to your Australian icons, the koala and kangaroo.
Since young, it’s always been a dream of mine to cuddle a koala. And I finally got to do it here. The lazy furball hugged the branch and shuffled in for a picture. I’d say I look overly happy but hey, who wouldn’t in its adorable presence?
Once the cuddling sesh is over, let’s be practical, animals need to eat too! So head over to the Kangaroo Feeding enclosure where kangas and their lil’ joeys prance around looking for food.
These creatures are incredibly docile and tame – simply move your hands forward and they’ll gratefully lap up the food pellets. Stick around for a kangaroo selfie too!
The regal native Australian eagle
8. Visit the foodie paradise that is Fremantle Market
We’d travel all the way to BKK just to get our hands on Chatuchak steals. But for an even more wholesome shopping experience sans dodgy looking meat skewers, you have to check out Fremantle Market in Perth City.
How Turkish Gozeleme is made…
The sweet, buttery layered Turkish baklavas
Name any type of food and you’ll likely find it in Fremantle Market (Freo Market). From Middle Eastern to Taiwanese, Freo’s got you covered. If you enter from the front entrance, be greeted with a rainbow of fresh local fruits and veggies for your pickings.
According to locals, the best donuts and pastries are found in Freo Market.
Of course, Aussie isn’t Aussie without cold brew coffee. Get the best beans at Freo Market – wholesale!
I came home with a pristine ukulele for only $50 AUD. Talk about a massive steal.
Once you’re done filling your tummy, check out local shops selling unique trinkets and native knick-knacks.
9. Explore a haunted maximum security prison
Fremantle Prison is no ordinary prison, no, no. This prison is the largest convict-built structure in WA and the first building in the region to be included on the World Heritage list. Yeap, Changi Prison probably won’t beat this.
We went on their exclusive Torchlight Tour of the huge prison and were equipped with our own torchlights. Be warned, many say that the compound is haunted and have observed floating light spectres around tour groups.
In between the guided walk, expect a slew of frights and surprises. But we won’t spoil them for you as you’ll have to see it for yourself.
Witness a “real” flogging with the prison’s signature whip, the cat o’ nine tails, a multi-tailed whip that wardens used to whip prisoners into shape before rubbing salt – yucks – into their wounds.
If you’re tired of tacky haunted houses in local carnivals, Fremantle Prison will be the real deal..
10. Meet dolphins on a glass-bottomed boat ride
We’ve all heard of these elusive marine stunners and we’re also aware of their low survival chances in the wild these days due to over-fishing. Dolphins are as beautiful as they are endangered, and you can feast your eyes on them at sea along the coast of WA, where they are in safe territory.
To take a peek at these cheerful buggers in their natural habitat, take an ocean cruise on Rockingham Wildlife Encounters which runs trips around the dolphin-safe area. They like to manage expectations and claim a 60% chance of catching dolphins frolicking amongst the waves.
Thankfully, we got a beautiful shot of these magnificent creatures. But be quick before they submerge back into the water again.
It’s also worth mentioning that we caught these sights on a glass bottomed boat. As the waters were pristine, we could see the billowy sea grass below, kept active by aquatic life living amongst it.
Bonus 1: Get your #OOTD at the iconic Blue Boathouse
If you’re in Perth City, it’s absolutely imperative that you get the iconic #OOTD at the Blue Boathouse along the Swan River. We’ve probably reblogged or FB-liked a picture of the pastel boathouse shrouded by the calm waters of Crawley and you’ll be surprised to find out where this insta-hit is actually located.
Yes, this beauty is right smack in the middle of Mounts Bay Rd Freeway. Beware the number of people lining up to have their pic! We came on a windy Wednesday afternoon so the breeze was especially strong. Perfect for that Pantene hair commercial shot?
Bonus 2: Eat the best tiramisu in the world
PSA: The best tiramisu in the world is found in Perth. We knew you were expecting Italy but nope, it’s definitely in Perth. Seek it out at the local Italian restaurant Ciao Italia, a haven for fresh pastas and authentic pizzas.
This holy grail of a tiramisu comes bathed in mascarpone cream and drizzled generously with dark chocolate. Slice into it and feast your eyes on layers upon layers of Italian coffee-drenched pastry sandwiched between coats of fresh cream.
If you don’t have a sweet tooth, indulge in Ciao Italia’s other offerings such as their signature creamy and garlicky Ciao Italia Fettucine and Truffle Ricotta Pizza. Note that portions are HUGE so you’ll need 3 people to one dish.
Getting to Perth with Scoot
We left for Perth with feelings of doubt and an uncertain heart – we’d heard all the horror stories about Western Australia being no-man’s-land and we were far from keen. But 6 days changed all of that. We were exposed to the natural beauty of the region in the form of sprawling vineyards, but not to mention the urban hipness of Wolf Lane too.
If you’re a wandering heart that can’t decide on any location in the world, go for Perth. Its surrounding beauties and multi-faceted identity make it a place you have to visit in your lifetime.
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