Published on theBeijinger December 9, 2018
Almost 8,000km south of Beijing, Perth, capital of Western Australia, might not seem like an obvious vacation spot. Yet with its 265 days of sunshine per year, pristine beaches, and easy access to one of the world’s greatest wine regions, it’s definitely worth the trip.
Getting There and Around
There are currently no direct flights between Beijing and Perth, but there are regular services via Hong Kong and Guangzhou starting from around RMB 2,500. Perth and Beijing are in the same time zone, so you won’t waste any of your precious vacation time recovering from jetlag. Stay somewhere close to the center, and rent a car because public transport is patchy.
What to do
Explore the city center
After years of apathetic civic planning, Perth now has a thriving shopping, dining, cocktail, and entertainment scene. Wander from Northbridge down to the new Elizabeth Quay on the banks of the Swan River, and enjoy a flat white or cappuccino on a waterfront terrace.
Go for a swim
Scarborough Beach gets decent surf breaks, while Cottesloe Beach can’t be missed for a family-friendly and picturesque dip. Just keep an eye out for sharks, who have been known to sniff around here.
Catch the ferry
Over to Rottnest Island for the day, and take a selfie with the island’s famous quokka, the so-called “world’s happiest animal.” This tiny car-free island is also blessed with breathtaking beaches and a cute town center.
Chill in Fremantle
Or ‘Freo’ as the locals call it, a hippie-dippie port city crammed with art galleries, restaurants, live music venues, and green spaces. For a fascinating insight into Western Australia’s colonial past, pay a visit to the old Fremantle Jail which was initially used to house convicts (who were also kind enough to build it), and was in continuous use right up until 1991.
What to eat and drink
Centuries of immigration has given the Western Australian culinary scene a very diverse character. The official cuisine is “fusion,” and the flavor and ingredient combinations can be startlingly varied, with Wagyu steaks, bok-choy, and kumera all happily occupying the same plate. Fresh produce reigns supreme, and so does fresh seafood. Sitting right on the coast, Perth is awash (ahem) with king prawns, oysters, fish, lobsters, crabs, and crayfish. There’s nothing better than eating hot fish ‘n’ chips wrapped up in newspaper while sitting on the beach.
For a cheap lunch to go, pop into any bakery and order a meat pie. Traditionally made with minced beef and gravy, and lots of tomato sauce (ketchup), these hand-held snacks come in a wide variety of fillings such as kangaroo (yes, you can eat them), steak and mushroom, curried chicken, and tofu. When it comes to dessert, don’t pass on the pavlova. A light and airy meringue base covered in whipped cream and slices of fresh strawberry and kiwi, it’s Australia’s favorite sweet, although New Zealand also lays claim to having invented it.
Just to the south of Perth, the Margaret River Region produces approximately 20 percent of Australia’s fine wine, so you’re perfectly positioned to enjoy it. Be warned: for the uninitiated, Aussie wines (Shiraz in particular) can really pack a punch.