Perth, Western Australia

I am back in Australia! It’s quite possibly my favorite country to visit and besides Spain, the only other country that I would live in without a second thought. I am starting out in Perth, Western Australia which is the most isolated city on the planet and one of my favorite cities in Oz. In 2003, I spent some 6 months traveling all around Oz, New Zealand and Fiji and even made it out for a week in Perth and I am so happy to be back. Although much has changed, mainly economically in Western Australia, Perth is still a hidden gem of a city, even in its own country as most Aussies haven’t even been.

After a long journey of 30 hours flying and four stops, including a fun night in Singapore, I made it to Perth. Technically, this is my fourth time in Oz but the last two were one nighters to catch planes home in Cairns and Brisbane respectively. I stayed at the Brittania on William Backpackers in Perth. I hadn’t stayed at a backpackers, or hostel, in a while and the main reason I did besides a spectacular Northbridge location is the prices for regular hotel rooms in Perth are ridiculously high. I couldn’t find anything in a decent location for under A$250.
As I said, the biggest difference I noticed between Perth 8 years ago and Perth now is the costs. Western Australia is expensive because they are so isolated. However, coupled with the crippled US Dollar versus the Aussie Dollar, Perth is almost outrageously priced. You feel like you are hemorrhaging money left and right; even for small things.
For instance, a small bottle of water or a can of coke is about A$3.40 or about US$4.00. A pint of beer is anywhere from A$8-12 and regular sandwiches, like a ham and cheese, are often priced in the A$15-20 range. It is crazy, it makes New York look cheap! A private twin room in this hostel I stayed in was A$65 and trust me it wasn’t exactly nice and I got bit to hell by mozzies (Aussie for mosquitoes). Anyway, enough about the crazy costs and the pathetic US Dollar and onto the goods about Perth!
The hostel is perfectly located in Northbridge which is the café and nightlife area of the city. 8 years ago I stayed in Underground Backpackers which is a notorious traveler spot with a lively bar area (I did stop in to reminisce for a beer and send my buddy Jake s a picture). There wasn’t availability this time which led me to the very adequate Brittania. From there, you can walk everywhere you need to be for food and drinks and it is a very pleasant part of the city. However, you come out to Perth for the coast.
The two biggest attractions for tourists are Fremantle and Cottesloe Beach. I started out by taking the train out to Fremantle just as I did 8 years ago with Jake. I remembered it was cool to hang out in for a few hours and have some lunch and a look around the pleasant streets (below). The most famous part of Fremantle is the Fremantle prison (above) which I toured in 2003 but this time the tour prices were up to A$18.50 so I decided to pass and just walk around the town and spend more time at Cottesloe Beach.
Fremantle is a cool place, with old port buildings and cool little naval type museums and a very pleasant main area to walk around and sit for brunch or grab sushi rolls as I did. In Australia, unlike America for certain, they sell sushi as whole rolls that you eat like a candy bar or a sandwich. A fantastic idea if you ask me and one that I made sure to take advantage of because you can walk and eat sushi sans chopsticks…brilliant!
After Fremantle, I hopped the bus to Cottesloe Beach (above and below) which is the highlight of Perth in my opinion and the nicest area in town, albeit outside the city. Cottesloe has picturesque emerald water and a nice beach where everyone goes to hang out and lay in the sun. Not much has changed in Cottesloe for me in the past 8 years except the price of fish n chips has skyrocketed to some A$27 at the Cottesloe Beach Hotel. The hotel is across from the beach and home of the infamous Sunday Session beer garden where I hope to head to this coming Sunday with my last day in Perth after returning from Christmas and Cocos Islands.
Cottesloe Beach is cool because it isn’t that big nor is it that crowded. Plus it has layered off grassy areas (below) for families to play and for sunbathers who don’t want to be in the sand to lay out. The water at Cottesloe is chilly to say the least but that didn’t stop me from running in and going into hypothermia mode. The sun was beating down at some 85 degrees and it was the first beach time I’ve gotten in months so I was thrilled and didn’t mind the cold water; especially because it is so visually beautiful. It reminds me of Camps Bay in Cape Town because it’s so nice and the water is so cold-if you’ve been you know what I mean.
After Cottesloe Beach for the afternoon, I headed back to town to catch a much needed nap and get ready for the evening’s festivities which was a hostel outing to a local bar on the outskirts of town. They struck a deal with the hostel to transport everyone out and back in a party bus and have cheap drink specials. Normally, I wouldn’t do this as it’s mostly young Brits on gap year but I had nothing else to do, it seemed like fun and there were several other 30 somethings going.

It was at some random bar on the far side of town surrounded by all kinds of fancy car dealerships like Lamborghini, Lotus and Mercedes. It was a very odd location and there was this random inside/outside bar that was catering to backpackers and travelers. I must admit I kind of regretted the decision because I was ready to leave after an hour but had to stay until midnight because that’s when the bus came back or take a A$50 cab home…I waited and nearly fell asleep because of boredom, hatred of house music and massive jet lag!

There are plenty other cool things to do in Perth and I hope to get a chance to do some more Sunday including King George Park which I visited in 2003 and just a nice city walk. However, I imagine I will be back out at Cottesloe for Sunday Session!

I am currently on the bumpy plane to Christmas Island which I am really excited about. Check back with me soon for a report and pictures on this wonder of the natural world.

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  1. Great report on Perth Lee. It sounds awesome but very expensive. I am looking forward to hearing about Christmas Island, safe travels.

  2. Beautiful beach pictures. I was in Australia a few years ago and thought about Perth but it is so far from the east coast that we didn’t make the effort to get there. It is like flying NY-LA from Sydney!

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