The world’s most isolated major city continues to stand out in more ways than one, finds Alvin Thomas.
Where nature meets the urbane. Perth has long played the role of an underdog city in a country that boasts sights such as the Sydney Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef by the coast of Queensland, and the great Uluru of Central Australia – all satiating views in a country chock-full of wonders waiting to reveal themselves.
In many ways, Perth is the ‘land down under’ the country that’s already famously touted as the ‘Land Down Under’ – given its location near Western Australia’s southwest tip. That, however, doesn’t take away from the promise of a wondrous city. This state capital has much to offer – you just have to knock on the right doors. From the Swan River that meets the southwest coast, the myriad of beaches, parks, and gardens peppered around the city and, even, a pink lake and neon – coloured flora worthy of a place on Instagram, Perth presents a colourful and pulsating cultural image to its two million-odd residents and plethora of tourists who flock to the city – after they’re done with their mainstream Australian tour.
Perhaps that’s where the charms of Perth lay – in offering vacationers a taste of Australia that can’t be experienced elsewhere. Whether it’s something as simple as a stroll across the grand King’s Park, which is sizeable enough to envelop New York’s infamous Central Park; or a more enthusing trip to the Yellow Spires higher up in the Wheatbelt cordon of Perth, we found ourselves longing for more days to capture the true magnificence of a city that deserves to on your bucket list. Perhaps that’s why it was listed among the world’s most livable cities by ‘The Economist’ – and we couldn’t agree more.
My favourite place- The 1,000-acre King’s Park in Perth’s city-centre vies with New York’s Central Park… and wins by a long margin. Thronging with flora and fauna that put wildlife reserves across the globe to shame, this Aussie park boasts 12,000 species of plants alone. There’s also a baobab tree that’s over 750 years’ old – a sight to behold against the colourful patches of plants and trees in the vicinity. Those planning on a trip should try to head there in September when the park’s annual festival coincides with the blossom season – and you can train your lens on some truly stunning (and Instagram-ready) photos. If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, you can also try camping at designated areas in the park – or try soaking in the sunset vibes by the lake, whose calm waters reflect scenes from Perth’s bustling city skyline.
Highlights- Aboriginal Australian and street art, creative restaurants that serve up the best of Australia alongside Mediterranean and Asian cuisines, and soft-sand beaches galore, Perth has a lot going on if you’re looking to unwind for a bit. Just ask the 550,000 (plus) people who’ve extended their stays and now call Perth home. The city’s minimalistic approach towards life sets a pace that’s enviable to those from Sydney and Melbourne (though they’ll disagree), and outdoor activities make up much of residents’ weekends – take the Swan River for example, which is jam-packed with life on a hot summers’ day. While the mercury floats by the early 30-degree-Celsius mark in the summer months, winter can be rainy, making what’s left of the warm-weather days highly desirable. Mid-days are never as hot as here in Muscat, and the climate remains conducive to hikers, campers, and sailors. Those from the indoor generation can immerse themselves in knowledge at the Museum of Perth or the WA Maritime Museum – both of which are historic culture pots of the formerly colonial nation.
Lowlights- Aside from little critters such as mosquitoes and flies, the outskirts of Perth – which are a long way away from the city-centre – are home to larger spiders, wasps, and snakes. Maintain a safe distance and you’ll be fine.
Souvenirs- Memories aside, Perth is home to Aboriginal art originating from the Outback. These include sculptures, paintings, wood carvings, and artefacts – all hand-crafted by Australia’s indigenous residents.
Getting there- UAE-based airline, Emirates, has a codeshare alliance with Qantas airlines from Australia, and should facilitate hassle-free travel to Perth. However, Oman Air also operates flights to Perth – though, this may require you to switch operators via a stopover in Malaysia.
Where to stay- While those with deep pockets can make do with five- and four-star hotels in the city-centre, those on a budget can opt for lodges or inns. Airbnb is also a great option for those looking to interact with the local crowd.
1. Take a dip in the azure waters of the Indian Ocean at Cottesloe Beach.
2. Explore King’s Park and catch glimpses of seasonal blossoms.
3. Try to take selfies with the world’s cutest Setonix – the quokka.
4. Discover the city’s Aboriginal history with a local tour guide.
5. Take a trip to the fairy-floss-pink lakes of Perth.