We spent almost 7 weeks in Perth during March and April before making our way north. If I’m honest, we flew into Perth because it was the cheapest place to fly into and it was the shortest flight, rather than any big desire to see Perth. But, in hindsight, I’m glad we did, because we both really loved Perth and could have easily spent more time there had we managed to find suitable jobs (more on that in a bit).
When we started planning our trip last year, we decided that we wanted to leave a lot of our trip open ended, to allow us the flexibility to do things and change plans last minute if needed. I’m all for this way of travelling; however, it goes against Rich’s slightly more analytical mind, as he likes having a plan and knowing what to expect, so we weren’t too sure how it would go. To ease us into it, we planned most of our time in Africa, which had to be done really, as A. we were booking tours with set dates and needed to book flights and accommodation around that, and B. It’s Africa and we didn’t want to get caught out anywhere because we hadn’t planned ahead. Our time in Tanzania and Kenya was planned out fully, and we’d planned our flights, air b&b, and rental car for Cape Town, but we decided that we would book our accommodation for the garden route the day of, which worked great for us. Info on our trip as well as everywhere we went and stayed can be found here.
Our original idea was to fly into Perth, find jobs, and stay for a few months before heading north to start our farm work towards the end of June, which required us to find longer term accommodation in the city. We did a little bit of research prior to leaving, but quickly found out that Perth is pretty spread out, and that we could be stuck with upwards of a 90 minute commute depending on where we ended up getting jobs. Rather than try to sort something out only to have it be in the completely wrong location, we booked a week in an Air B&B for when we first arrived and figured we would spend that week sorting out jobs and a place to live. This was semi successful to say the least.
Gumtree is incredibly popular here, for everything from rooms to rent to job vacancies, and everyone seems to use it for everything. Whilst we were still in South Africa, we started sending messages about jobs and rooms to rent, hoping to set up some viewings and interviews before ever stepping foot in Australia (optimistic forsure). A word of advice about Perth – there is a lot of cheap, long term, no contract places available to rent; however, if you do not have an Australian phone number, you are not likely to get a response to anything, as we quickly found out. We arrived on a Friday evening, and therefore decided to spend the weekend sorting out things like phones, bank accounts, Medicare, and the basics we would need to live in Australia. Australia has funny trading hours, and a lot of places have short hours on Saturday and are closed on Sundays. To make matters worse, we arrived on a long weekend where Monday was the holiday, so Saturday morning was spent frantically trying to get everything done. We managed to both get phones sorted, which was for the best, as it enabled us to spend all day Sunday online replying to ads for rooms, which was much more successful with an oz number.
We looked at a number of different rooms across the city, all with varying degrees of cleanliness, before settling on one that was just outside the CBD and a 5 minute walk to the train. It was a little apartment that had 2 bedrooms with a shared bathroom, kitchen, and living room. It wasn’t huge, and we were sharing with another couple from the UK, but it did the job for the time we were there. We’d also sent off hundreds of applications for various jobs and gotten very little responses, and were getting a little worried about what we were going to do for money. Despite both of us having qualifications, no one seemed to want to hire either of us in our relevant fields because we have the working holiday visa, which means you can’t work for an employer for more than 6 months at a time. We also applied for literally every minimum wage jobs (retail, bar work, cafes), but most places required a minimum of 2-3 years experience in that field (so weird), which neither of us have because we’ve both been working in our industries since leaving university. We managed to both get a job with a company called Hello Fresh, who do food meal planning and food delivery, but it was door to door sales and it was soul destroying. It was commission based, and we managed to make enough between the two of us to pay rent, buy food for the week, and all put a bit into savings, but it wasn’t as much as we were hoping for. In the end, after about 6 weeks doing it, we decided to call it quits and head up north earlier then anticipated to get our farm work done. Hence where we are now, in Kununurra. We did manage to do quite a bit of siteseeing and exploring whilst in Perth which was really nice as well.
Fremantle is an area of Perth that most would call “hipster.” It has a great market, loads of independent pubs, shops, and restaurants, and huge grassy areas that people use all the time. We really enjoyed Fremantle and the feel of it, and I wish we’d spent more time there. We were able to explore the market, and some of the shops and areas around the market, but we never did get to any of the pubs or restaurants. If you’re in Perth, definetly plan to spend a few days in and around Fremantle, even if one of them is only to do a pub crawl to the various breweries.
All the beaches
We were able to get to a fair few of the beaches in Perth, and even did a bit of surfing and body boarding a few times. Scarborough beach, City beach, Trigg beach, Cottlesloe beach, Bathers Beach, and South beach were all explored, as well as various other little beaches along the coast. There’s something for everyone, and different weather between a lot of them as well.
Restaurant’s and street fairs
Perth has a lot of places to eat, and often has markets and street fairs going on as well, and we went to quite a few different ones. There’s a great indian restaurant on the river called Annalakshmi, which is completely veggie and you pay what you want. They set it up to help the homeless and low income families have a place to come and eat a decent meal, but it’s open to the public and all they ask is that you pay what you can and/or make a food donation. It was pretty good food, considering they make the menu each night based on what has been donated that day, and it’s a great concept completely run by volunteers. Definetly worth checking out! Another great place to try is Viet Hoa, which has some of the best Vietnamese food I’ve ever had. And if you’re there during any festivals or street fairs, grab some cash and spend an evening wandering around and trying out loads of the delicious foods on offer.
Day trips from Perth
We spent a couple weekends out of the city, and there are some pretty amazing places not too far away. About 90 minutes out of Perth is Serpentine Falls, a nice spot to go swimming and to relax, as well as to hang out with some Roos, which sounds great. We unfortunately, did not get in, as they close it every day after they have let a certain amount of people in, so we didn’t get to experience it. The park rangers did, however, direct us to a nice spot not too far away at North Dandalup Dam where there was a picnic area and swimming spot that only the locals really know about. Although we didn’t get to see any kangaroos, it was a pretty good alternative, but I would advise getting up pretty early to make your way to Serpintine falls to make sure you get in.
Another great day trip was to Honeymoon Pools and Black Diamond lake, although the weather was overcast a cooler that day, it as still beautiful. Honeymoon Pools is a campground as well, and although we only went for the afternoon, it was be worth it to spent the night. On the way, don’t forget to stop at Harvey Cheese for some amazing fresh cheese, camel ice cream, and nibbles. Black Diamond lake was a place we would have liked to gone back to on a warmer day and spent a bit more time there, but again, worth it even for the short amount of time we were there.
In the centre of Perth next to the river is Kings Park, which has a botanical park, play areas, walking trails, war memorials, and loads of great views. We spent one of our last afternoons in Perth exploring Kings Park, but you could easily spend the entire day there. The centre piece of the part is an armed forces memorial, which offers breathtaking views of Perth CBD.
So far, Perth has set a pretty high bar for Australia, and I’m not sure how the East coast cities will compare. We both felt that Perth was a good mixture of European and Canadian, and the city felt a lot like Calgary. Definetly a place we would consider if we ever wanted to move to Australia long term.