Perth - Western Australia.
In my early twenties, I was made redundant for the first time and no, not the last either. Being young, care-free and still living at home I decided to spend my small payoff on a 4-week backpacking trip to Perth, Australia.
This was to be my first ever solo adventure and my first time on a plane (that I can remember). My parents took me on a plane when I was a baby but I have no memory of the time we lived in Libya as I was only two when we returned to the UK. You can read a bit more about that adventure in my Alphabet Travels post A-E.
I cheated a little bit as I have family in Perth so saved on accommodation costs by staying with them but all the adventures shared below are perfect for backpackers and travellers alike.
Flying for the First Time
Now I am sure there are many of you that love flying. For me was a little nervous but had no idea that my body would be so against flying. The initial section of the flight was fine. I enjoyed the take-off, but why did no one warn me how awful landing is. Now I know some people ears pop but mine exploded I vomited almost passed out and to be honest would have liked to so at least I would not feel the pain.
The air stewards and lady I was sat next too were lovely about trying to help me and they promised to give me some extra strong travel sickness tablets when we re-boarded after our stopover in Abu Dhabi.
If I have not put you off flying, then 23+ hours on a plane is boring so make sure you have books to read, music to listen to or crafts you can do like crochet/knitting/drawing/colouring etc to help pass the time.
My first full day was fairly laid back while I adjusted to the timezone and amazing weather. I actually travelled at the beginning of November which is Springtime. The temperature when I arrived was 28C with forecasts of 30+ for much of my stay.
I took the train into Perth city centre to have a look round the shops. The public transport is so much better than the UK and much cheaper too. It was clean with no rubbish or graffiti.
One of the first things I did was go to the tourist information centre and picked up loads of leaflets of things to do. Remember this was in my 20s when the internet was still not a thing.
You can now do most of your research and planning online before you travel but I would still recommend a visit to tourist information and get some of the less tourist hidden gems information direct from the locals.
Leeuwin Estate - The Art of Fine Wine. Another beautiful day 24C and never again will I eat another grape without thinking about all the incredible hard work that goes into growing them. Some of the grapes are grown for eating and some are made into wine. There were rows and rows of vines all with different types of grapes growing. It was spectacular. Even if you are not a wine connoisseur I recommend you visit for an inexpensive and fun day out.
The tour includes seeing where the grapes arrive and are pressed to separate the juice from the skins and seeds. Next, you are taken to the huge room where 42 stainless steel vats are stored that hold the juices as they ferment and begin their ageing before moving on to the bottling room. As the name suggests where the wines are bottled and labelled. Finally, you get to see the storage cellar where the wines finish ageing before they are released onto the market. Also in the cellar are oak barrels where the red wines were stored for an extra ageing stage before bottling.
I found it educational and interesting with the added bonus of being able to take part in a bit of wine tasting. They do export to the UK if you are interested in checking out some of their gorgeous wines from the comfort of your own home.
Now known as The Aquarium of Western Australia (AQWA) with Australia's largest single aquarium and walk-through underwater tunnel. When I visited there was an amazing circular glass tunnel built under the ocean. You go round on a moving walkway enabling you to see all the different animals swimming about in their natural habitat. They are curious about these strange animals in a glass tube and come right up to have a look at us caged up (see what I did there).
We watched the dolphins being fed and the younger children, as well as adults on the tour, loved the touch pool where you were able to interact with animals such as starfish and crabs.
There are several art galleries and shops in and around Perth, displaying and selling genuine original works. My top-rated would have to be the Aboriginal Art and Craft Gallery in Kings Park, but I believe it has now closed which is a shame.
As I was staying with family they were the perfect tour guides to take me on a bushwalk in the local area around Perth but for extra touristy vibes we met up with a bushwalking group that meet every week so they knew all the best places to see. We hiked for about 8km through St Johns National Park. There were some breathtaking scenery and thoroughly enjoyable experience.
The weather was not too hot at a cool 19C. I saw some beautiful pink cockatoo and was advised that pythons are also common and not small ones either. A 2-meter one could often be seen in the local area warming itself in the morning sun. Early mornings are also the best time to see a family of Kangaroos when they come out to feed too.
Unless you have oodles of money and are into betting then this might not be for you but I have an enjoyable evening out and an experience in itself as I had never been to a casino before. I did not actually spend any money because I didn’t have enough to play the main tables and I was not ‘drawn’ to any of the slot machines.
However, it is good fun to watch others play. There were all kinds of people from little old ladies that I could only assume were enjoying fluttering their pension away to high rollers betting $100 chips without a blink.
I love Perth, I am lucky enough to have visited three times now in my life and my absolute second most favourite place on Earth ( will get to my top favourite later) is Fremantle. The port is Western Australia’s main shipping port and it is where the first boats landed over 200 years ago with the first migrant settlers. The day I visited the American Navy was in town. Lucky or what ;).
If you are interested in crocodiles and seriously who isn’t? Then you can visit the Crocodile Park. I got to meet Casper one of only four albino crocs in captivity.
I was lucky on my visit as there was a street party in the town, which is probably what helped to cement my love for the place. There were bands playing, street performers and camel rides of all things. It was a magical afternoon and evening and one I will remember fondly forever.
You absolutely have to visit Kings Park, if you do nothing else, although you better do lots of other amazing adventures too. Kings Park is a 990-acre park that overlooks the city of Perth and I can not begin to describe how beautiful the city looks. You need to go both during the day for the spectacular views but also make an effort to visit at night to see the city all lit up.
During the day you must visit the Botanic Gardens with over 3,000 species of the State’s unique flora and enjoy the Treetops Walk where you can admire panoramic views, learn about the diversity of Western Australian flora and discover our rich history along the Lotterywest Federation Walkway. Continue the journey on Law Walk and discover Beedawong – a special meeting place for the Indigenous people. See the mighty boab tree Gija Jumulu, a 750-year-old specimen that travelled 3,200 km from the Kimberley region of WA.
A large reservoir originally built in 1903 to supply water to Mundaring and the surrounding villages around Perth. A pipeline was also built at the same time to carry the water right the way up to a gold mining town outside of Perth called Kalgoorlie at a total length of 577km. A man named C. Y. O’Connor was in charge of the construction and when the job had been completed, the tap was turned on to pump the water, but nothing appeared to happen. No water arrived at Kalgoorlie so O’Connor committed suicide. However, the water did eventually arrive in the town. It had taken longer than originally calculated. Poor O’Connor died for nothing.
A little piece of Australian history for you. There is a museum at the Weir which was built around the pump that I just told you about. Take a walk up to the top of the dam where you will be rewarded with more stunning views across the reservoir that stretches for about 16km meandering through beautiful hills and forest of the countryside.
Lake Leschenaultia, Western Australia is a former railway dam that is now a recreational lake in Mundaring just north of the location of an important railway stopping place on the original Eastern Railway. The dam holds approximately 520 million litres of water. It is a fantastically free day out where you can enjoy white sandy beaches and safe swimming or some well earned lazy sunbathing. Sensibly of course as the day I went the temperature was a balmy 32C.
York Motor Museum
90km east of Perth is a little dusty outback of a town called York in the middle of nowhere. With one row of shops, a handful of houses and a tiny park. So why visit York? For the motor museum of course.
The collection of cars, motorbikes and bicycles is privately owned by motoring enthusiast, Peter Briggs. I particularly enjoyed seeing a formula one car that was once driven by Jackie Stewart which I thought was rather ace as we were in a one-horse town somewhere in the Australian outback.
My favourite place in the world (so far). Rottnest is a small island about 20km off the main coast of western Australia. You travel out on a ferry from Hillary’s boat harbour. There are only about 250 inhabitants living on the island and the only vehicles allowed are three buses and the rangers jeeps. Everybody travels by bicycle. I can recommend one of the bus tours that take you on a two-hour tour of the island.
You will get to meet the cutest animals you will ever see and nowhere else in the world will you find Quokkas. There are approximately 2000 of them living on the island and the name Rottnest actually came from the furry little friends.
In 1856 a Dutch explorer landed on the island and found these furry little creatures that he believed to be large rats. He was horrified by them, left in a hurry and named the place ‘RatsNest’. It has obviously since been found that Quokkas are not rats and the name was changed to Rottnest.
Another little piece of Australian history for you. Rottnest is stunningly beautiful and the residents have done and still do an outstanding job of co-existing with the nature of the island instead of taking over and destroying the natural habitat. Make sure you visit and enjoy.
The Ngilgi Caves in the Margret River region are a must-visit. I know one cave is much like another but these caves are steeped in history and have the most breathtaking limestone formations that are beautifully picked out lights. You can also learn about the aboriginal legends.
The man in the picture is believed to be Edward Dawson, the first person known to have entered the caves in 1899.
Whilst I was visiting the Margeret River there was also a surfing championship taking place so if you are into surfing this is also one to check out.
Coach trip from Perth to the Yanchep National Park 42km north of the city. I saw my first Koalas, but this was a bonus and not my original reason for the trip. Did you know that Koalas are not in fact native in the wild in Western Australia? No, I did not know either. They are kept in the national parks to help with breeding.
After a brief stop to cuddle the Koalas we moved onto the Pinnacles Desert and my favourite day of my backpacking trip. I can not begin to describe the amazing sight of thousands of limestone pillars up to four metres tall rising up out of the stark sandy landscape.
When you visit you absolutely must book yourself onto the 4 wheel drive down to the beach. The track takes you over the back of the sand dunes, across a limestone track that had been gradually etched out of the landscape of many years. It is not a proper road and was extremely bumpy so not for the faint of heart or those with bad backs. There were occasions when all 4 wheels left the ground. It was like a rollercoaster that lasted for an hour instead of a couple of minutes.
An incredible day out and a lifetime of memories.
One thing I noticed when I was in Australia was that everyone drank half pints and ‘stubbies’. I thought this was unusual but I was soon educated that a pint of beer/lager warms up quicker than you can drink it in the Australian heat and no one likes to drink warm beer. Logical when you think about it, which I, of course, had not.
Well, that is my backpacking guide to Australia. I hope you have enjoyed the trip with me and found some fun ideas for when you visit. If you managed to stay with me right to the end then I hope you have enjoyed reading this post as much as I have enjoyed writing it.
Over To You…
If you have visited any of the places that I have mentioned then I would love to hear your stories. You can comment below and find me on social media as @AdventureAcces and use the hashtag #AdventureWild.
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