Perth can seem like a big sleepy country town to the uninitiated. For tourists there are the big, well-known attractions like Perth Zoo, the Aquarium of WA and SciTech. But to really get to know this city like the locals do (and take advantage of the famously long sunny days), try these uniquely chilled and laid back activities that are popular with West Australian families. After all, Australia with kids doesn't have to be expensive. There are loads of outdoor activities to be done when travelling on a budget. Here are some suitcases&strollers travel guide ideas. (Just don’t forget your sunscreen.)
Rottnest is made for families. There are many gorgeous beaches for swimming or snorkelling, plus plenty of quokkas (cute, but slightly odd-looking marsupials) around, even in the daytime. (Beware, the quokkas might look placid and friendly, but they can bite so definitely no feeding.) With very few vehicles on the island, it is a great place for a day of cycling or walking with a sturdy stroller. If it’s too hot (or you are too lazy), there are also buses to catch. There are regular ferries from Fremantle and Hillarys, but for an added treat, catch the ferry from the city to take in the beautiful Swan River on the way.
Perth has kilometres of stunning white sandy beaches but South Beach at South Fremantle is one of the best spots for very littlies. Close by is a kid-friendly park and playground with plenty of space for a picnic. There are also a couple of cafes nearby (MISSYMOOS gourmet burger bar is just a short walk away on South Terrace). If you’re on public transport the free Blue CAT bus runs every 10 minutes in a loop from Fremantle train station all the way to South Beach and back.
If the small waves at South Beach are too tame for the bigger kids, the Funcats on the Swan River at South Perth are a great alternative. Conveniently located close to the city, these small catamarans are a relaxing outing on the water for young and old.
The island is a sanctuary and important nesting site for the little penguins. See them being fed at the Discovery Centre on the island before swimming or snorkeling at the beautiful beach, having a picnic in the shade or taking a trek around the island in search of penguins in the wild. The ferries for the island leave from Rockingham, which is around an hour drive from the centre of Perth. The island is closed to visitors in the winter.
Araluen Botanic Park in the Perth Hills has been a popular destination for Perth families for decades. The gardens are spectacular and extremely kid-friendly. There are always new events happening at Araluen, with well-priced child-focused activities regularly set up for the school holidays. Most parts of the park are accessible to prams and strollers. And there are free barbeque facilities as well as places to purchase food and drinks.
For budding astronomers, Perth has great conditions for star gazing and you don’t have to go too far to find some great observatories. Gingin Observatory caters to family groups with special presentations. For younger tots, some sessions start as early as 6.30pm. Perth Observatory in Bickley offers day tours of the facilities as well as star gazing nights.
To read more about things to do in Perth with kids, read the suitcases&strollers story here.
By Alison Richmond; Images: Rockingham Wild Encounters