You might have heard Perth is the most remote city in the world. That gives the people who live here a unique perspective and makes the city unlike any other place in Australia. And not only because the sun sets over the ocean here. But once you’ve strolled the streets and explored city areas like the Perth Cultural Centre, go further. Within an hour of the CBD, you’ll discover wildlife, nature, and plenty of activities to keep the whole family entertained.
Only 50 kilometres north of Perth – or about 40 minutes in your rental car – you’ll discover Yanchep National Park, a world of nature where there’s wonder at every turn. Your first stop should be the boardwalk of the koala viewing area. These icons of Australian wildlife aren’t native to Western Australia, but a colony was established here in 1938 and now you can wander beneath the trees spotting them sitting in the forks of branches.
There are lots of walks in the area, including the Wetlands Trail that follows the edge of the North Lake and reveals waterbirds and other wildlife. You might also want to join a guided tour of Yonderup Cave. Under the earth, you’ll discover stalagmites and other formations in the limestone cave and find out about its history and ecosystems that have developed within it.
If your kids are ready for some real thrills, take them to Treetops Adventure. Here, they can take on tree ropes courses, with more than 70 aerial obstacles to master, and ziplines. There are courses suitable for kids as young as three, but even teenagers will find something here to challenge them.
While Perth is set on the Swan River, it’s twin city, Fremantle – just 16 kilometres away – is right on the coast and boasts a parade of family-friendly fun. Take a tour around historical Fremantle Markets (open Friday to Sunday), where a labyrinth of stalls sells everything from fun gifts to vintage fashion. The kids might want to pick up a souvenir with their holiday money before you all head to the Yard, where street food vendors hawk flavours from around the world.
Make sure you put your swimmers, towels, and sunscreen in the rental car because you’ll probably want to go for a swim if the weather is warm. If you’re after convenience, Bathers Beach is right in the city, while South Beach has huge expanses of lawn, a playground, barbecues and tall Norfolk pines providing shade if you want to hang out together for a few hours.
There’s plenty more to check out, from the WA Shipwrecks Museum to the Round House, Western Australia’s oldest building. Kids will love the colour and activity at Fishing Boat Harbour. There’s a lot of public art here, as well as plenty of cafes and seafood restaurants where you can grab lunch. Head to Cicerello’s where you can see a huge display of marine life in aquariums while you wait for your fish and chips to cook.
It might be slightly more than 40 kilometres away from the Perth CBD, but Rockingham is still considered one of the city’s suburbs… A suburb with about 37 kilometres of pristine beaches to explore. But the big attraction here is the marine life beyond those beaches. Just offshore are a number of small islands, and the best way to see them is by sea kayak. A guided tour with Perth Wildlife Encounters will have you paddling on calm seas and seeking out dolphins and the very playful sea lions. They’re inquisitive creatures and will splash and dive around the kayaks, much to the delight of anyone on the water. During the warmer months, there’s also the chance to snorkel at Penguin Island.
The minimum age for the sea kayak tour is eight years old, but if you have younger kids, there’s also the chance to do a boat cruise, where you can watch for wild dolphins and sea lions from the deck, cruise past pelican rookeries and see the penguins feeding.
Regardless of your own ick level, kids seem to love snakes and lizards and it’s an excellent idea for them to be able to know what to do when they see one out in the wild. At Armadale Reptile & Wildlife Centre, about a 40-minute drive in your rental car from the centre of Perth, owner Klaas Gaikhorst, who was the reptile keeper at Perth Zoo before opening the centre, has dedicated his life to rescuing and rehabilitating sick and injured wildlife and educating people about reptiles.
When you visit, you and the kids will be able to see more than 70 different species on display, many of them in what is close to their natural habitat. This is the perfect opportunity to see how they behave and learn about their habits. There are even opportunities throughout the day to handle some of the more docile snakes and lizards.
Oh, and as well as lizards and snakes, you can see turtles, frogs, bats, kangaroos, dingoes, emus, and other native species that have come into Klaas’s care.
Ready to explore Perth and beyond? Hire a rental car before you go.