Shoalwater Island Marine Park

Fun things to do in Perth

Shoalwater Island Marine Park
Shoalwater Island Marine Park

By Paul White

You don’t need a lot of money to enjoy adventures, entertainment and natural attractions in Perth, but it doesn’t hurt if you share the capital city’s larrikin irreverence, a deep-rooted tradition that mocks authority, disregards norms of human behaviour and delights in light-hearted and no-worries humour. The city has an amazing climate, freewheeling vibe and colourful history, so it helps to take all these advantages with a bit of ironic attitude. Youthful enthusiasm, bold humour and physical challenges await tourists to Western Australia’s largest city.

Free Things to Do While Waiting for Action

You could wait around for action, but most tourists find fun things to do while getting ready for things to heat up. Spend a lazy afternoon outdoors, go snorkelling in Shoalwater Marine Park, swim with sea lions, penguins and dolphins and explore the cavernous reefs and ancient shipwrecks. If you prefer getting your adrenaline fix on land, pack a tent and head north to Lancelin for dune racing, sand-boarding, motorbiking and off-roading adventure.

Taking a hike along one of the world’s greatest walking trails in the Perth hills offers panoramic views, communing with nature and overnight camping at 48 shelters and campsites. If you prefer culture and history, a day trip to York features historic sites, picturesque sights, Victorian and Federation architecture, exciting festivals and Aussie charm at Western Australia’s oldest inland settlement. The Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts commands the high ground of the city’s heart, and you can visit the museum, art gallery and state library while waiting for something to do.

Nature Versus Nurture

Australians argue relentlessly over ice-cream vendors, cafes, surfing and currents, but visiting a local beach generates few arguments. Of course, you might never make it to the beach if you get caught in the urban net of exciting night-life, signature shops, music venues, coffee houses, bars and bistros. Cottesloe Beach, just 7km north of Fremantle, offers safe swimming at Perth’s most popular swimming hole. Crystal waters and consistent waves attract body boarders, surfing swimmers and swimming surfers. Once you know how to tell these mates apart, you’re well on your way to solving the big questions like whether Aussies develop their personalities from nature or nurture.

When Things Start Happening Down Under

Don’t get too bushwhacked while waiting for the main events to unfold in Perth. Sure, you get postcard-perfect weather, stunning scenery and incredible recreation by day, but that’s just the first course of Perth’s lifestyle banquet. At night, Perth streets come alive with music, parades of fashionistas, dance-club action, and hand-crafted local brews at rocking and pumping watering holes. Dine alfresco, and watch the street action at party central. Must-sees for visitors include two signature attractions:

1. Crown Perth: Capping Royal Pretensions

Crown Perth Casino is an enormous casino, hotel and entertainment complex that features bars, clubs, gambling, golf, restaurants and other necessities of life. Enjoy this city within a city, and experience eclectic entertainment of the highest calibre.

2. Perth Festival of the Arts

Enjoy dramatic productions, Shakespeare and varieties of music including opera, classical instrumental solos, rhythm and blues, lunchtime concerts and full-scale orchestras. Many events are free, so bring your phones and cameras to capture ‘wow’ moments and upload your inspired observations to Instagram’s Royal Caribbean Film Festival.

Perth’s irreverent attitude toward arbitrary authority resonates well with youthful travellers who find soul mates in natives who revel in stubborn larrikinism, attitudes that trace back to Aussie’s days as a British penal colony. Jokesters elicit laughter over brain farts and snobbish British propriety, and these challenges to authority make Perth residents natural allies with yanks, disgraced politicians, sentimental soldiers and murky marketers who nevertheless embrace and support the lucky country and all its many charms.

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