Western Australia has certainly been busy while its borders were closed. The list of openings is long, from slick restaurants, swish bars and sleek hotels to a new state museum.
Perth’s latest blockbuster, the just-opened WA Museum Boola Bardip, shines the spotlight on Western Australia’s past and present – and is a great place to start your adventures. So, what do you showcase in a new museum in Australia’s sunniest capital these days?
You ask more than 50,000 people what they want to see and reflect their requests – that’s the behind-the-scenes philosophy of this exciting new attraction.
It’s all about a “people first” approach when it comes to exhibitions and programs in the $400-million project that is four times bigger than the former WA Museum.
The name Boola Bardip reflects the overall theme meaning “many stories” in Whadjuk Noongar; the country where the museum sits.
Impressive architecture and fascinating exhibits wow in renovated heritage buildings and a new building at the Perth Cultural Centre.
Many have rejoiced the return of the much-loved whopping blue whale skeleton, Otto, which is a star attraction suspended in a dynamic lunge-feeding pose in the heritage-listed Hackett Hall building. It is named in honour of the museum’s taxidermist, Otto Lipfert, who in 1897 had the foresight to collect and preserve the hefty skeleton for future generations.
The first special exhibition is Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters with paintings, sculptures, ceramics and multimedia from the National Museum of Australia.
The museum is open 9am to 5pm daily and admission is free for the next 18 months. museum.wa.gov.au
The art scene
Perth is home to eclectic street art that often stops you in your tracks. Many disused heritage buildings and laneways are the scene of bustling bars and street art that turns heads. More than 150 public walls across Perth and surrounding suburbs have become a canvas for local, interstate and international artists and both self-guided walks and tours are available.
Art lovers will enjoy the Art Gallery of WA’s new rooftop venue, Elevate, which opens early in January with an open-air sculpture walk, gallery and city-viewing area. Commanding centre attention will be the 34-metre contemporary art installation by Nyoongar-Minang artist Christopher Pease.
The food scene
It’s foodies’ heaven here with so many different restaurants, quirky cafes and slick eateries. A firm favourite is Wildflower restaurant at boutique hotel Como The Treasury. The menu revolves around the six Indigenous seasons.
David Thompson’s Long Chim is also in the State Building complex, along with a newly opened late-night jazz bar, Pooles Temple.
On Murray Street, new 1000-person brew-pub Pirate Life Perth will house three bars and two kitchens with brewing done on site.
Sitting on the banks of the Swan River, the historic Old Swan Brewery site near Kings Park hosts Cooee, where Michelin-starred veteran chef Alan Wise has created an eclectic menu starring fresh local produce.
Head out to The Raft – Perth’s first permanent, floating venue for fabulous city views and a taste of water life.
Elizabeth Quay is a firm favourite with locals and visitors alike with many eateries including The Island, a restaurant and brewery inside a heritage pavilion, and The Reveley bar and restaurant which has super water views.
In Northbridge, The Rechabite, once a vibrant dance hall, is now an entertainment and dining venue spanning three storeys. Double Rainbow, on the ground floor, serves crowd-pleasing Asian bites and share plates.
There’s a raft of new hotels with everything from urban, industrial-style cool to luxe boutique boltholes. By next year, another seven hotels are set to open.
Last year, the Ritz-Carlton opened in Elizabeth Quay with sweeping views of the Swan River. The lobby’s stunning chandelier echoes the cascading waters of the gorges of Karijini National Park in the Pilbara region. The onsite restaurant, Hearth, features fresh produce and a menu based on the classic Australian barbecue. The hotel bar, Songbird, is one of the city’s drinking hotspots with in-house mixologists creating cocktails with native Australian botanicals.
Vibe Hotel Subiaco is now open in the inner-city suburb and the new DoubleTree by Hilton Perth Waterfront, with great river and skyline vistas, is opening this month. The hotel’s restaurant, Reel Kitchen, will focus on fresh produce and its 18 Knots Rooftop Bar will serve cocktails to match the 360-degree views.
Fremantle’s iconic heritage-listed warder’s cottages next to the Fremantle Markets have been restored and are now the Warders Hotel. Guests have direct access to a small corner bar, Gimlet, and Emily Taylor, an Asian-inspired kitchen and bar in the courtyard.
See Perth from a different perspective with new zip-line, water-bike and kayak tours.
Thrill-seekers will soar on a 400-metre zip line travelling up to 100 kilometres per hour, on the Matagarup Zip+Climb, set to open early 2021.
It leaves from the Matagarup Bridge launch platform, across the Swan River, landing on the Burswood Park foreshore. The bridge climb includes a 314-step trek up the main arch, ascending about 70 metres to the Sky View platform.
Perth Waterbike Adventures, which depart from Matilda Bay, and Perth Waterbike Co, departing from South Perth, will see guests pedal and glide across the Swan River.
GoGo Active Tours has a new Cliffs and Caves kayaking tour that ventures along the riverbank from East Fremantle to Bicton Bay.
Love walking? The Hike Collective, an eco-tour company, highlights natural landscapes in all corners of the city, including Rottnest Island, Perth Hills and its metropolitan beaches.
Quirky and fun, Fremantle Tours has quirky tours such as the Street Art, Beers and Bikes and a Fremantle Street Art Walk.
Oh Hey WA and award-winning Two Feet & A Heartbeat have extended their tour offerings to feature: coffee and art; small bars and dining; history and culture; nature and wildlife.
Visitors to Kings Park will discover its intriguing past and spiritual significance to the Indigenous people on a tour with Go Cultural Tours or Nyungar Tours.
At Optus Stadium precinct, Warrang-Bridil is a new walking tour that aims to close the gap on the knowledge and understanding of the Nyoongar people’s heritage, while exploring the spectacular Derbarl Yerrigan (Swan River) and the stadium precinct.
Life’s a beach
Perth has 19 glorious pristine beaches, perfect for a swim, snorkel or surf. Scarborough Beach has a new $100-million foreshore development with a 50-metre beach pool, new eateries, skate park, children’s playground and picnic area.
At beautiful City Beach you can roll out your towel on lush lawns or white sand, then choose from a range of waterfront diners, including Odyssea, Hamptons and Clancy’s Fish Bar. Trigg Beach has a new restaurant with the opening of Island Market and Cottesloe has the new Canteen Pizza.
Park time out
Kings Park and Botanic Garden is one of the drawcards of Perth with a sprawling 400 hectares of undulating bushland and many walking trails. It is a fabulous place to spend a few hours or a whole day. It’s perfect for a picnic, bike ride or a jog with great city and water views.
Out of town
Rottnest Island is a quick two-hour ferry ride from Perth’s Barrack Street Jetty and has 63 spectacular beaches, beautiful bays and those adorable quokkas – an Instagrammer’s delight. It has its first boutique luxury accommodation, Samphire Rottnest on Thomson Bay, which has 80 rooms, lagoon pools and a beach club.
Northam, a tranquil town 1.5-hour’s drive north-east of Perth, has a new boutique property, the Farmers’ Home Hotel, in the heart of the picturesque Avon Valley region.
No trip to Perth is complete without heading to the Margaret River for its fabulous wineries, restaurants and beaches, so pack your swimmers and sunscreen.
Take me there
Fly: Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin fly to Perth from Sydney and Melbourne. One-way fares from Sydney start at $178 on Jetstar, and from Melbourne at $184 on Virgin.
Explore more: visitwesternaustralia.com