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  • Writer's pictureAlison Fenton

perks to visiting Perth

Updated: May 25, 2020

21-29 May 2018

I’ve wanted to go to Perth for as long as I can remember, but it seemed like a difficult city to visit. I was really looking forward to seeing if the real thing looked as good as the images televised from sporting matches. It didn't disappoint!

Perth has been home to many a fly-in, fly out miner and has reaped rewards associated with being a mining hub. We found big roads, excellent public transport and beautiful suburbs. It was easy to get around and we enjoyed a variety of experiences, despite a second and very difficult life event on our trip of a lifetime.

To my delight, I discovered that our caravan park was close to some great running tracks around Lake Gwelup and also to a local Parkrun.

We resumed our nightly card games of 500 with our road tripping friends who were also staying at Karrinyup Waters, and this time around I had some clue of what was actually happening.

Tip #1: I see a lot of facebook posts from people asking about good parks for children in Perth. You won't find any free camping close to the city, but this is a a spacious park that has multiple playground areas for children and wonderful swimming pools.

We loved Kings Park and the Botanic Gardens; what an amazing view of Perth and the Swan River. I wished I could bring the children back for a second visit, with books in hand to settle down for an afternoon of reading. However, we used up our quota of sunshine in the first couple of days and spent the remainder of our time dodging storms.

The remembrance tributes were beautiful. Anzac dawn services must be very moving here.

Tip #2: The botanic gardens, wartime tributes, playgrounds, eateries and a gallery can all be found here. Kings Park is well serviced by buses. It is not an area to rush.

We discovered the Rio Tinto Naturescape area, thanks to a suggestion from a random person on a bus. What an amazing nature play area which I cannot begin to describe!

Tip #3: I highly recommend that people with children visit this park, which is designed to foster a re-connection with nature. Even if you don't have children, it is worth walking through. It has to be seen to be believed!

We scoped out Elizabeth Quay which was work in progress and a little underwhelming, but it is probably more alive during summer holidays, so maybe try it then. London Court gave us a laugh – so London!

Drew made the emotional decision to leave us in Perth and fly to Broken Hill, due to family illness.

He gave Ollie and I crash courses in hitching the caravan, and packing and unpacking procedures. I had a quick refresher in reversing the caravan. I hadn't reversed a trailer for at least 12 years, since my old showjumping days. The caravan was bigger than a horse float, but I managed.

On the way to the airport, Drew gave us a verbal lesson on emptying the toilet cassette in the caravan. We'd run out of time for a demonstration! Ollie and I successfully negotiated the toilet thing and the dump point a couple of days later. I guess Drew doesn't have to do it on his own any more!

Tip #4: We met a number of people who had experienced some kind of emergency while on the road. We needed to several flights on this trip that we hadn't expected. It is a good idea to have some sort of contingency fund for these sorts of things. Not being able to cover some of the unexpected costs could make for some real stress.

The forecast for foul weather over the next few days didn’t disappoint. Our plan was to stay longer in Perth to wait out the weather, before packing up in the dry and moving on. I rediscovered the independent, capable woman I used to be before meeting my very handy husband, and just got on with things!

Somehow Ollie and I managed to get the car GPS working and navigated our way to the closest train station so that we could catch a train to the city. I found the fares a bit mysterious to start with, but the station staff were always very helpful and we soon learnt what we needed to buy.

Tip #5: You can easily navigate to and around the city using Perth's public transport system. It's also much quicker than driving during peak hours. Don't be afraid to ask the station staff for help.

We visited the Swan Bell Tower and the boys got to ring the bells. I was concerned that the bell tower experience tour was a bit pricey and wouldn't hold the boy's interest for long, however most adults would find it enjoyable. The tower is a bit iconic in Perth, so you should take the time and make a visit.

The viewing platform gave us some excellent photos and the lovely staff member keeping watch took our photos and showed genuine interest in the boys and our holiday.

Tip #6: Families with younger children should ask to do a cut-down version of the tour and just ring the bells. The staff were very accommodating, giving us the bell-ringing experience for a reduced price.

Afterwards, we dodged the pouring rain, ate sushi, drank hot chocolate and tracked down the Art Gallery of Western Australia which had free entry. For some reason, we found this difficult to find.

Once we arrived we saw an amazing exhibition of year 12 art and wandered through some of the other galleries. Ollie advised me that the abstract art looked like it was done by three year olds, so we left in search of something done by older artists!

Fruit and vegetable lovers will understand how excited we were to find the local Stirling Farmers’ Markets on Sunday. We hurriedly topped up our fresh food supplies between heavy showers. I sent the boys on shopping missions together to buy some of the food we needed.

Tip #7: Travelling families can get their kids involved with meal preparation and cooking on their trip. Give the kids a budget, then let them plan a menu, find and buy the food, and prepare it back at the campsite. So many skills here that you can't get in a classroom. Takeaway food doesn't count!

The rain and wind kept coming over the weekend and we'd been locked up together in the caravan for far too long. No good was going to come of it, so I took my aunty’s advice and headed for the hills.

We found ourselves in Darlington and the Helena Valley. We ate a terrific cafe opposite the oval and let off some steam for about 5km on one of the walking trails running through the valley. We had a number of mountain bikes whiz past us, which planted the seed for a biking day.

Before leaving Perth we managed to squeeze in a trip to the Perth Zoo. Although relatively small, it was well set up and we enjoyed our time here. Our favourite animals were the white cheeked gibbons. We spent a lot of time watching them play.

Zoos may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it was good to read about how much work the zoo was doing with endangered and critically low species.

Drew managed to make connecting flights back from Broken Hill via Adelaide, and he met us outside of the zoo gates, almost as we'd finished our visit. We were all very happy to see him again. The boys were a little disappointed that they'd missed out on finding the crocodiles, but I assured them we would see plenty of them soon enough.

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