It may be a longer flight than most Australian destinations, but don’t let that deter you from considering Perth and Western Australia for a family holiday.
I survived my flight with a 5 and 2-year-old on a flight with no entertainment – despite the woman seated in-front of me who was not very understanding and took to glaring, growling and shaking her fist at me over my restless Miss 2.
However, the advances made in just eight years means no child on a long flight will ever be entertainment-less again. So, I am here to tell you, charge up the IPAD, download the entertainment apps, grab the kids and make your way across to Perth.
Yes, there are heaps of things to do in Perth to keep your family entertained. Actually there is enough for a holiday within itself, but given its distance from the eastern states, I’d stay a few days, before you venture south to Margaret River and Geographe Bay.
Here is just a sample of things to do:
Hillarys Boat Harbour
Known locally as Hillarys, Hillarys Boat Harbour is north of Perth city. Its main attraction is the Aquarium of Western Australia (AQWA) but it is a destination in itself with a wide range of shops, cafes and restaurants.
Even if you have been to a capital city aquarium, don’t discount AQWA. What is unique about this Aquarium is that everything on display can be found in WA waters – from the icy waters of the Southern Ocean to the tropical waters of the north.
We visited Hillarys on a warm October day and found plenty of families with young children taking advantage of the sandy beach, still water and playground. Hillarys is the departure point for a ferry service to Rottnest Island as well as fishing and whale-watching charters (in season).
Perth has some stunning parklands and a jewel in the crown is Kings Park. Just 1.5km from Perth CBD, the park, which includes the Botanic Gardens, can be accessed by public transport or car.
This place is about discovering nature with plenty of opportunities for fun. There are a number of walks in the park, including the 2.5km loop Law Walk which incorporates the Lottery West Federation walkway with its elevated glass and steel bridge.
Other areas to check out include the Rio Tinto Naturescape and the DNA Tower Climb. Free guided walks are available or you might want to book an indigenous heritage tour to learn about the plants used for food and medicine (fee applies)
What is a visit to Perth without a trip to Fremantle? This place is not about just football! It is about history. And there is plenty for your family to see and do.
For those pirates and sailors in your family, this is nirvana, with both the Western Australian Maritime Museum and the Museum’s Shipwreck Galleries both located here (check for opening days and times).
Families with older children might include a visit to the heritage-listed Fremantle Prison. Built by convicts in the 1850s, the prison was decommissioned in 1991. Day tours are available, while braver families can also do a torchlight tour.
And when stomachs start rumbling, a visit to Fishing Boat Harbour is a must, with its stunning waterside location and choice of eateries.
See the Visit Fremantle website for more details on what to do as well as special events.
Another must visit for those holidaying in Perth is Rottnest Island. We did a day trip to ‘Rottie’ from Hillarys Harbour, but there is also a ferry service from Fremantle.
However, if you do have the time, why not stay a day or two? There is certainly plenty to do. But with Rottnest a popular getaway for locals and accommodation options limited, make sure you book early.
Children, of course, will love the locals – the quokkas. I was surprised how many were around. But no matter how cute they look, make sure your children don’t share any of their food with them!
There are also some great, short guided walking tours on Rottnest, many of them showcasing the island’s history, which included time as a pilot station, an Aboriginal prison and boys’ reformatory. You will also want to do an island tour. We opted for the jump-on, jump-off island discovery bus, but more active families can hire a bike and explore on two wheels.
Rottnest is home to some stunning beaches, so be sure to pack your bathers and towel in warm weather. There are also plenty of eating options in the main settlement.
See Rottnest Island Tourist Information for more details.
The Swan Valley is only half an hour from Perth, but offers a country get-away which is all about wineries and wildlife.
Caversham Wildlife Park is a must visit, especially for international visitors. It features Australian wildlife, with keeper talks, as well as an Aussie farm show.
A good bribe for your children to let you do some wine tasting is a chocolate tasting, with two options on hand, Whistler’s Chocolate Company (with an outdoor play area) and Margaret River Chocolate Company’s Swan Valley factory.
There is also fun park fun at Outback Splash at The Maze Family Fun Park.
However, for most parents, a wine region is about just that– so I got the low down for you direct from the Swan Valley Tourist Centre about family friendly wineries: They are:
- Black Swan Winery & Restaurant (large grass area)
- Carilley Estate Winery & Restaurant (play area and games)
- Edgecombe Brothers Winery/Café (children’s activities and grass area)
- Henley Park Winery & Café (playground)
- Mandoon Estate (large playground and grass area)
- Olive Farm Wines (large play area and sand pit)
- The Laughin’ Barrel (children’s playground and activities)
- Ugly Duckling Wines (outdoor grass area)
- Upper Reach Winery (large grass play area)
- Windy Creek Estate (large grass play area)
And if you are after some local beer, all the 6 breweries in the valley are child friendly, providing either playgrounds or play areas.
Readers of my blog will know history is a re-occurring theme, so I could not visit Perth without make a small detour to New Norcia, just under 130km north of Perth.
New Norcia is Australia’s only monastic town, founded in 1847 by Spanish Benedictine Monks. Over the years it was a mission, a monastery, a Catholic college and is now a spiritual retreat.
However, it is also open to tourists with a museum and art gallery. Town tours are available, but a better option for those with younger children might be the self-guided walk, which is what we opted to do. This includes entry into the Abbey Church.
If you can, plan to have a meal at New Norcia Hotel, built in 1927 as a hostel for the parents of the boarders at the New Norcia colleges.
Perth is renowned for its beautiful beaches, especially those north of the city, Scarborough and Cottesloe two of the better-known ones.
I discovered this great guide to Perth’s beaches, which is very informative and well worth a look if you want to learn more. I always recommend using Surf Lifesaving Australia’s Beach Safe website, which has real-time information on current conditions.
Also, not to ignore the white elephant in the room, or rather the white shark, it is well known that Perth and WA has had more shark attacks than other states. Surf Lifesaving WA has some great shark safety information for visitors on its website.
Other family friendly places to visit while in Perth include the Perth Mint, Sitech and Perth Zoo. Those tight on time might want to consider a river cruise, which operate to Fremantle and the Swan Valley.
Looking for somewhere to stay. Check out our family holiday accommodation in Perth.
Have you got any tips to share for a family holiday in Perth?
Plan to travel south? Check out what to do on a family holiday to Busselton, Margaret River and surrounds.