Perth, Western Australia’s capital, is a bustling city with a laid-back small town feel. The city’s many suburbs offer travellers a variety of activities and areas to explore. From its nearby port city of Freemantle with its hippy bohemian feel to Swan Valley’s growing wine industry to Ledderville’s cozy bars and cafes to Cosseltoe’s laid back beach vibe the city really is an adventure in itself. The people are some of the friendliest in Australia and while the city tries to maintain its small town feel, the city is growing upwards from large skyrises to beautiful new condos. I am sure the Perth you will see in 10 years will be dramatically different from the easy going town you see today. While it is definitely a long trek from the traditional East Coast Australia adventure, Perth is definitely worth a look and a great jumping off point for exploring Western and Northern Australia.
Getting there – Backpacking Perth
If arriving from the airport grab the Perth airport shuttle ($15 from domestic, $20 from international- if you are coming back to the airport buy a return and it will generally reduce your fare by about $5) which offers door to door service.
Inner city Transport - Backpacking Perth
All travel on Perth’s city transport ”Transperth” within the city area is FREE. This includes transport via the buses, trains and Central Area Transit (Cat) services. If you travel outside the city area the ticket price is determined by how far you travel. For instance, a ride into Freemantle (zone 2) will set you back about $3.40 (one way). Train and ferry tickets should be purchased prior to boarding at the ticket and vending machines while bus fares can be paid when you board. Alternatively, if you are planning on doing a lot of travel you can purchase a DayRider ticket for unlimited daily travel with Transperth.
Accommodation - Backpacking Perth
YHA (twin share/ dorms $85- 110/ $29-35)
Set in an old historic building, this massive 200+ bed hostel is clean, well situated in the centre of the city and offers a variety of extras (such as luggage storage, huge kitchen area, numerous computers, 24 hour reception and a travel booking centre). While the hostel itself is great- it is located beside a noisy train track where trains whiz by every few minutes (even throughout the night- blowing their horn) so make sure you ask for a room on the other side of the building.
300 Wellington Street
Phone: (+618) 9287 3333
Fax: (+618) 9287 3344
Email: [email protected]
Billabong Hostel (twin/dorm $82/$29)
Located in Northbridge (where the bars and most hostels in Perth are found) this party hostel is a great spot for the traveller looking to meet a ton of a people and party hard while doing it. While the place has fallen from grace in the recent years, its still a solid choice for a friendly, conveniently located and fun hostel. If you are hoping to cash in on the free airport shuttle- dont count your chickens- this service is rarely offered and appears more as a promotional tactic than anything else.
381 Beaufort St
Ph: +61 8 9328 7720 Fax +61 8 9328 7721
Ocean Beach Backpackers (twin/ dorm ($62- $21-27)
If you are looking to stay near the beach in Cosseltoe, this comfortable backpackers is a great option. Not only does every room have private en suite bathrooms, 4 bars and the hostel overlooks the Indian Ocean. While this is a great place to stay in the summertime- there isn’t much to do in the winter so make sure you check the season before you book.
2 Eric Street
cnr Marine Parade & Eric St
Tel: +61 (0)8 9384 5111
Fax: +61 (0)8 9384 5222
Email: [email protected]
Things to do – Backpacking Perth
Urban Indigenous Tours ($110 for discount holders or $125 for adults)
Run by a super passionate and enthusiastic tour guide this tour offers travellers the chance to look into the lives of Perth’s indigenous community. Activities include: aboriginal art class with a local aboriginal artist, tasting Aussie bush foods, a Didgeridoo lesson and interactive discussions with the indigenous community.
Mobile: 0403 529 473
International: +61 403 529 473
Swan Valley Wine Region
The Pink Bus company runs daily full and half day tours to the Swan Valley showcasing popular and award winning wineries in the Swan Valley Region. This fun filled day includes a sumptuous lunch accompanied with a glass of wine, wine tasting an extensive range of premium still, sparkling, liquor and organic wines, sampling premium and award winning beers and a peak at Guildford (one of Australia’s oldest cities). The Swan Valley itself is worth a look- set only 25 minutes outside of Perth , it makes for a fantastic and easy day trip. I particularly enjoyed the Pinellli wine estate ([email protected]) 2008 shiraz- give it a try
Pink bus Tel: 0422 844 117
If you want to experience Swan Valley at your own pace you can also rent a bike and ride the area’s newly constructed bike paths. To rent a bike, visit the Swan valley Visitor centre just 5 minutes outside the Guildford train station. You can either hire a bike for $10 per hour or $30 a day.
If the weather is nice, a trip out to this island should top any Perth’s traveller itinerary. Known as Perth’s island playground, the coastline of Rottenest Island offers a variety of activites including snorkel trails such as the Little Salmon Bay & Parker Point or The Shark (a shipwreck at the eastern end of the Porpoise Bay) relaxing on one if the island’s gorgeous beaches (in the morning head to Parker Point and Little Salmon Bay and by afternoon check out the bays in the north), diving one of the colourful reefs teeming with fish, cycling or fishing. A return ride out to the island from Perth costs $79.50 which includes the ferry ride and the $14.50 Rottnest Island admission fee whereas a concession ticket costs $74.50. If you wish to stay on the island for a few nights the adult fare goes up to $88 and concession $83. Alternatively, you can leave from Freemantle which makes the trip a bit cheaper- $59.50 for an adult or $54.50 for concession. For up-to-date ferry schedules check out the Rottnest Island website or contact 1 300 467 688
This expansive green space is Perth’s version of central park, offering beautiful views of the city and coastline and a great place to get away from the hubbub of cars and city life. There are many war memorials in the park and many of the trees are donated to individual fallen soldiers. If you happen to be in Perth on Anzac Day head up to the park for their World War services.
Freemantle (or as the locals would call it ‘Freo’)
Any traveller to Perth must spend an afternoon in the kitschy town of Freemantle. This small suburb, situated on the mouth of the Swan Valley is just a 30 minute metro ride from Perth’s CBD. In the 1800s convict labour was used to build many of the city’s original buildings and today much of that colonial architecture still remains which makes this historic city even more interesting. The buildings are dowsed in vibrant colours and the bars and cafes which they house only add to the charming feel of this town. It is possible to walk the town in 30 minutes but to really get a feel for Freo you should stay a few days and experience the local culture. From the city’s bustling weekend market and street performers to the quaint harbor front, Freemantle’s charm is alluring to any traveller.
- Freemantle Cat Bus
- The easiest way to get around Freemantle is the Cat Service which is FREE and takes travelers to all of Freemantle’s popular sights.
- Freemantle Prison
- Take a visual journey back in time to 1859 when this maximum security prison was first erected until 1991 when it was finally closed. The prison located steps away from the weekend market offers a variety of tours such as: the tunnel tour where visitors equipped with helmet hats descend a 20 meter ladder into the prison’s underground labyrinth where they trek by foot and then board replica punts to explore the prison’s submerged passageways by boat; the torchlight tour visitors looking for an eerie experience can explore the prison’s walls by torchlight; or the great escapes tour to experience the ways in which many dangerous escapes where attempted by prisoners.
- Little Creatures
- For some delicious food with great live music starting from around 12 o’clock head to this famous freo spot.
This day trip outside of Perth to see the unique geological formations is definitely worth a visit if you have the time. Located 254 km outside of Perth this 506 km return trip requires a full day. The pinnacles are best photographed at sunrise or sunset so try and plan your trip accordingly.
The internationally renowned wine region of Margret River is a good 275 km trek away from Perth making it a very difficult day trip. At the time of writing, no tour operators in Perth offered day trips to the region. If you are set on touring the area in a day, its best to rent a car and do it on your own. However, if you have the time, Margaret River is a beautiful place to unwind and relax on their postcard picture beaches, enjoy the region’s gorgeous vineyards and wine trails and indulge in award winning wines and delicious food. Margaret River is blessed with a Mediterranean climate and can be visited all year round. In the summer temperatures rarely rise above 32 and temperatures in winter hover above 18 degrees during the day and 11 degrees at night.
Nightlife - Backpacking Perth
Perth nightlife caters to its backpackers scene and many of the city’s pubs and clubs offer backpacker specials which usually include some free food and at least one free drink of your choice. Free passes are available either from your hostel or the club directly. Below is a list of the current backpacker nights:
- Monday- The Deen
- Tuesday- The Hip-e-club
- Wednesday- Black Bettys, Mustang Bar
- Thursday- The Hip-e-club, The Leederville Hotel
- Friday- The Hip-e-club, Black Bettys
- Sunday- The Hip-e-club
If the backpacker crowd is not really your scene and you want to experience the local nightlife, head to either Tiger Lils, a superclub in the CBD, offering asian inspired ingredients infused with pub flair playing top 40 or the Manor in Ledderville for a more laid back R&B old school feel.
437 Murray St, PERTH, WA
Tel: 08 9322 7377
Tel: 9272 9893
Eating - Backpacking Perth
I don’t know if it was me or them but I was highly disappointed with the food in Perth. I did find a few spots worth mentioning
This cozy cafe in Leederville was one of the best breakfasts I has while away. You walk into this cramped restaurant feeling as if you just walked into your friends apartment and the delicious smell of freshly brewed coffee only increases your hunger. But good luck getting a table- this place fills up fast. So either get here early or be prepared to wait. The resto’s other downside is that there is absolutely no service- you pay at the front and anything you need, you will have to get it yourself. But the fantastic food makes up for the lack of service. Make sure your breakfast includes their mushrooms with feta (breakfasts from $10- 22).
1/224 Carr Pl
Leederville WA 6007, Australia
(08) 9227 0429
This corner street pub in Northbridge serves up above average pub fare.
James St and William St
08 9227 9596
This always busy Italian restaurant serves up huge portions (guaranteeing extra for next days lunch) and is great value for the money (mains $14-20). Try the pizza bianco- its delicious.
293 Mill Point Road, Perth 6152, Australia
Tel: (08) 9368 5500
Extended Trips Outside Perth
Backpacking Perth and its Outer Areas
Perth is a fantastic starting off point for exploring much of Australia- below are a number of tour companies and trips that offer organized outback adventures.
Easy Rider Adventure Travel- guided adventure tours of Western Australia
This long running tour company offers travelers the choice of either a jump on jump off trip (which includes accommodation and valid for 6 months) or an organized tour.
Tel: 1300 308 477
- Western Way- Perth to Broome. This trip takes 11 days and departs every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday ($1,430 for VIP/YHA OR ISIC holders and $1,460 for everyone else) or the Sunset Coast- this trip from Broome to Perth offers the same itinerary / price but in the opposite direction (leaves Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday)
- Northern Highlights include: Namburg National Park, Pinnacles Desert, Hiking Kalbarri National Park, Shark Bay World Heritage Area, Hamelin Pool Stromatolites and Shell Beach, Shark Feeding Ocean Park, Monkey Mia dolphins, Eagle Bluff Boardwalk, Coral Bay, Exmouth and Ningaloo Reef, Hiking Karjini National Park, Camping at Karijini Eco Retreat, Exotic pearling town of Broome
- Reefs and Rocks- Perth to Karijin return Perth- 11 days and leaves Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday ($1,430 / 1,460 for everyone else).
- Reef cruiser- Perth to Coral bay- 6 nights ($720 / 750)
- This trip includes: Bunbury & Busselton Jetty, Geographe Bay, Dunsborough and Canal Rocks, Margaret River Wine Region and Surfers Point, Bush Shack or Bootleg Beer Brewery, chocolate, cheese and toffee factory, Augusta and Cape Leeuwin, Climbing the Gloucester Tree, Valley of the Giants and Pemberton Forest Stay, Williams Bay National Park, Green Pool and Elephant Rocks, Albany- the Gap Natural Bridge and Blowholes, King George Sounds and Middletown Beach
- Southern Circle- 7 day trip that takes you out to the Southern Curl, Esperance, Wave Rock Kalgoorlie and returns to Perth. This trip leaves every Wednesday and Saturday ($499/519)
- This trip includes: Esperance Bay of Isles, Great Ocean Drive, Twilight Cove & the Pink Lake, Cape le Grand National Park, Stirling Ranges, Hiking Frenchman’s Peak, Bluff Knoll & wave Rock, The Superpit Gold Mine Kalgoorlie, Kalgoorlie Brothel Tour and Underground Mining Tour and hall of Fame
- Southern Curl- takes 4 day to explore Dunsborough, Pemberton, Albany retuning to Perth, leaving Wednesday and Saturday (price)
Western Xposure offers many of the same tours as Easy rider and a few unique ones. They cater to all budgets and level of fitness. Some tours include:
- 4WD Pinnacles- 1 days tour -$165
- Albany and Margaret River- 3 day- $475
- Albany, Margaret River and Esperance- 5 day- $750
- Monkey Mia, Kalbarri and Pinnacles- 4 days- $595
- Perth to Exmouth- 5 days- $750
- Exmouth to Perth (via Karjini National Park)- 5 days- $895
- Exmouth to Perth (via the coast)- 5 days- $895
- Perth to Karjini and return- 10 days- $1545
- Karri Coast and Karjini- 14 days- $1979
- Perth to Broome- 10 days- $1545
- Kimberley 4WD safaris- 7 days ($1445) or 9 days ($1795)
- West Coast Explorer- 21 days- $3375
- Forest, beaches and dolphins Package- 11 days- $1368
- Wines, Waves and Wildlife Package- 8 days- $1077
Tel: 08 9414 8423
The Aussie Wanderer (Tel: 61 08 9438 2070) offers small group nature based tours, specializing in trips from Perth to Broome
For those southward bound Nullarbor Traveler (Tel: 61 8 8687 0455) offers coastal trips from Perth to Adelaide or Adelaide to Perth. Nullarbor Traveler’s motto is “Adventure to Wild Places” offering travelers a hodgepodge introduction to wildlife, spectacular coastline vistas, camping and adventure activities. Tours starting from Adelaide take 10 days and cost $1450 and those starting from Perth take 9 days and cost $1295.
Backpacking Perth is a great idea if you fancy a trip to Western Australia.