7.14.2016

Self Drive Holiday Perth Blog : A Week Long Adventure



Best. Holiday. Ever

The title would probably be reserved to places like skiing on the snowy Swiss Alps, relaxing on the beautiful sandy beaches of Maldives, a culture filled trip to Europe, or anywhere with Disneyland for the kids. To associate it with Perth would be far fetch in most eyes, especially since Perth was named as one of the 10 worst cities on the planet!

Perth was NOT our original holiday destination.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, it became our alternative to our original self drive tour in New Zealand that we planned months ahead. For Perth, I had only 2 weeks to prepare for the trip. Given that it was winter and most of the amusement parks in Perth were closed during this period, our expectation was set at a very low bar.

It was anything but boring during this one week self drive and hastily plan vacation. In fact , we are calling it our best holiday ever. Perth is perfect for families with young kids. Self drive is a painless experience and adds flexibility to our holiday agenda. Considering the short time spend in Perth , we had probably just scratched the surface.

Ride along with us as we take you on a week long adventure in Perth!

Warning : Super long post ahead! 

Day 1 : Checking in

We took the morning flight to Perth and reached Perth by 1pm. Flight time to Perth is a mere 4.5 hours. A short flight, but it took us from Sunny Singapore to Cool Perth. Someone just turn on the air-condition for us 24/7.
Perth Airport
The adventure started when we collected our car keys from Hertz. Our choice of car was an SUV, the Nissan Quashqai. Given the travelling time spend on the room, we reckoned an SUV would be more comfortable for the rides.

The bill from Hertz is about $100 more than what was indicated on our online booking. We were told that these were additional fees not included in the package. Till date we had yet to get a satisfactory reply to the additional cost. This was the first and probably our last time we book with Hertz.
Hertz Perth - Beware the hidden cost!
Nonetheless it will not take a bill $100 to ruin a holiday. So off we go.
It was a short ride into the City as we checked into our home for the week. Quest on James Street. It was a 2 bedroom apartment that comes with free parking ( a must in Perth City as parking rates can be pretty expensive!

Since it was a weekday, most shops closed at 5-6pm. With limited places to go, we decided to venture out of the apartment and found a playground steps away from Quest.

It may be a short day, but it marked the relaxing spirit of the trip. It was a good break from the hustle and bustle of busy Singapore.

Day 2 : Day trip to Swan Valley

Highlights: Breakfast at quirky Taylor art and coffee house, Caversham Wildlife Park, Margaret River Chocolate Factory, Winnery, Coles

Swan Valley was an easy 30 minutes drive to Perth City. Getting to your location is relatively easy. Either pop in the coordinates in your car GPS or your handphone GPS and you will be there in a jiffy. We used Google map and the car GPS and found no difference using either. If you want to save cost, we think you can ditch the car GPS and rely on the handphone. $100 may not go a long way , but it will pay for a meal for 4 in Perth.
Taylor's art and coffee house
Our day began with breakfast at Taylor's Art and Coffee House. It was quirky destination with a restaurant and a gallery in one location.
Inside Taylor's Art and Coffee House
Let's start with breakfast.

Now who could resist a full platter of eggs, mushrooms, beans, bacon and sausage?

It was a hearty ( but pricey) meal indeed.

As for the arts, you can view the impressive tree that was made up of waste from the sea.

There are plenty of artwork incorporated into the setting. You just need to look a little closer...

The space outside the restaurant is great for kids to roam about. There is even a sand pit for them to jump in and play.
Caversham Wildlife Park
Next up was a visit to Caversham Wildlife Park at Whiteman Park.

Seeing Koalas is a must thing to do in Australia and you could do it at Caversham.

The highlight of the park would probably the Kangaroo feeding sessions. There are plenty of Kangaroos in the park and they are accustomed to humans. Feeding them was an eay task with the feeds provided. Farm shows, which feature sheep shearing and dogs mustering sheeps, are held at certain intervals.

There are other museums ,playground and even a tram ride in Whiteman Park. You probably can spend a whole day at Whiteman. Since we have limited time, we decided to skip the rest of the attractions and continue to explore Margaret River.

After a 5 minutes drive, we reached The Margaret River Chocolate Company.

If you are a chocolate lover, this place would be heavenly,

Especially when you have 3 huge bowls of FREE chocolate for tastings.

There is a cafe there too and the white hot chocolate was simply divine.

For wine lovers, you will enjoy the wineries found in Swan Valley. Free tasting is available at most wineries too. There are plenty more things to do at Swan Valley such as Swan Valley Cuddly Farm, the Maze, reptile farm and more.

A repeated trip in the future is a must... at least for us.

Our last stop was at Coles. If you are living in an apartment, we recommend a trip to Coles to stock up on food and drinks. A trip to the restaurant can be an expensive affair. Our breakfast alone cost almost $90 for 4. A full 3 meals a day would easily set you back by $300 per day.

To mitigate the cost, we got a freshly cook chicken and pizzas for dinner back at the apartment. It cost us less than $30 , but it tasted great!

Day 3 : Exploring Fremantle

Highlights : The Blue Boat House , Fremantle Market, Fremantle Prison, Fremantle Seafood, King's Park

On route to Fremantle, we made a stop at The Blue Boat House (Crawley Edge Boatshed). If you are drivng, park at Perth Dinghy Sailing club and take a 5 minutes stroll .

This is probably the most photographed spot in Perth. The iconic Blue Boat House would be a good spot to take OOTD ( Outfit of the day)

After a 15 minute photo session, we headed off to Fremantle Market.
Fremantle market
On the way to Fremantle market, we spotted several buildings that would not seem out of place in London. The early colonial buildings are still standing tall and proud, giving Fremantle an old school European charm.

For someone who admires old historical buildings more than modern skyscrapers, Fremantle was a perfect getaway for a day trip.

Fremantle market itself is a charming place that has a combination of shops selling (mostly) Aussie made stuff, eateries and a fresh market. If you spot something you like from there, our advice is to get it as you would probably not find one anywhere as.
Fremantle Prison
Drivers take note, carparks can be found in the multi- storey carpark adjacent to Fremantle markets or around the compound of Fremantle Prison.

Fremantle Prison is an easy 5 minutes walk from Fremantle Market. This was the largest intact convict Prison in Australia. It had seen the last of the convicts in 1991. Today it is Western Australia only World Heritage Site.

There are different tours conducted around Fremantle Prison. From the relatively tame Doing time tour to eerie Torchlight tour on selected evening, there is bound to be tour to suit different group.

We took the relatively docile Doing Time tour. It did felt a little spooky in parts , especially when we visited the death row section. Kids should be fine during the day but the creepy night tour is not recommended for their age.

At least the boys got to view what life is like in a real prison. This would probably discourage them from chasing a life of crime when they grow up. Seeing the 2 by 1 meters room without TV or ipad in sight is a great deterrent. After one visit, The Wacky Duo agreed unanimously that they would walk the righteous path in the future.

I would bring them here again if they started to turn to the dark side.

If you have time, you could also head to one of the museums found around the vicinity. We had to skip that for this trip due to limited time.

In a nutshell, we needed more time for this trip. The next time we come, it will be for a minimum of 2 weeks.

We did however made a pitstop at the famed Kailis Waterfront Fremantle for a taste of their renowed fish and chips. There are other Seafood restaurants around, but Kailis would be one of the most popular one in Fremantle.

We took the seafood platter and it is big enough to fill the 4 of us.

Fremantle is a good 45 minutes away from Perth City. By the time we head back, we probably have less than 30 minutes of daylight left. That did not stop us from driving to King's Park to have a birdeye's view of the city of Perth.

King's Park is a charming place to have a picnic and watch the world goes by.

If time permits, do visit the synergy parkland that has dinosaur themed play equipment or the Lotterywest family area for kids under 6.

Sadly, we did not had the luxury of time (again). That did not stop the boys from enjoying the beautiful lawn in the park.

Day 4 : Pinnacle Day tour with Exploretours Perth

Highlights: Get close to Koalas at Yancep National Park, visit a lobster factory, savour yummy lobsters, explore the Pinnacles and slide down Lancelin Sand dunes

Ok I cheated.

It was supposed to be a self drive tour, but I decided to give myself a break and checked the family into a day trip with Explore Tours Perth

Truth be told, we could probably do this portion on our own. What stopped me was that I thought I need to drive through miles of dessert road to reach Pinnacles.

Hey it's the family first trip to Perth, so it was forgivable that I had such notions in my head.

It was an easy trip with a first stop at Yanchep National Park to see Koalas and Kangeroos. It was our second encounter with them in this trip and it was not our last either!

There was something new in the trip and that was a visit to the Lobster Shack. The Lobster Shack is open to public , so you can also make it on your own if you self drive.

The self tour around the Lobster factory was alright. You walk around a big room and see Lobsters in different sections.

That was about it.

The highlight of the trip is not the tour but the Lobster's itself. The lobsters are avaliable at different grades. The grades determine the size of the lobsters . We had the Grade A Lobsters. Grade A does not mean the lobsters are the most expensive. On the contrary, the grade means that is the smallest lobsters on the menu. It may be the smallest, but it was the freshest lobsters I had ever tasted!

Yummy!
Lobster meal at Lobster shack
After lunch , we headed down to the Pinnacles.

The Pinnacles is interesting with plenty of limestone rocks that is found around a desert patch. The initial fear of driving on the desert itself is a complete farce. The roads leading to the dessert is (ahem) paved. You get to drive round the desert but it was an easy ride with a path that guided you in a loop . You would find it almost impossible to get lost.

Fine.. next time I will drive.

Before the sun sets, we drove to Lancelin Sand Dunes for the last activity of the day.... sliding down the sand dunes. It may look daunting at first sight, but it was ton of fun.

Since it was Winter, the day ended pretty quickly. By the time we made our way back to Perth, it was already pitch dark. If you are driving , do take note of the time as the stretch of road leading to Perth has NO street lights for most parts.

Day 5 : Perth City

Highlights:Mends Street Breakfast, The Bell Tower, Scitech, Myers , Timezone

The day started a little gloomy with rain. Thankfully , the rain did not last long and we managed to head across Swan River for breakfast.

The next time we plan another Perth holiday, this is probably where we would love to stay. It felt alot more relaxed compared to living in the city itself.

Breakfast was at one of the restaurant along Mends Street. After a few days, we realised it will be a futile effort to search for Bee Hoon. So we had to make do with the standard eggs and bacon menu.

Next up was a trip to The Bell Tower. We had wanted to ring the Bell, but unfortunately we were there on the wrong day and bell ringing session was not opened to the public. Check The Bell Tower schedule first before a visit if you plan to ring the bells.

Not wanting to lock ourselves up in the Bell Tower, we decided to head to another location.

The rain came again and we headed towards Scitech Perth. Actually I gave the boys a choice. Immerse themselves in culture with a visit to Perth Museum or explore interactive exhibits at Scitech, Perth equivalent of the Science Center.

It was an easy decision for the boys. We ended up in Scitech for the rest of the day. It was not a bad choice as hours were spend exploring Scietech.

The day ended with a quick shopping trip at Myers. With kids around, we master the art of grab, pay and run. The shopping experience took less than an hour and we headed back to James Street. The plan was to have a quick dinner before our road trip to Margaret's River the next day.


The boys decided otherwise, when they spotted a Timezone outlet along the same street. Guess this was their day as we ended in the amusement center before heading back to our apartment.

Day 6 : Road Trip Margaret's River Day 1

Highlights :Adventurescape , Busselton Jetty, Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse

We probably saved the best part of the trip for the last. At first I was contemplating a day trip to Margaret's River and back to Perth. Thankfully senses got to me at the last moment and we decided to make it a 2 days trip instead of one. On hindsight, we should probably double the time spend here, as they are plenty of things to do for the kids

As the ride towards Margaret's River was a good 3 hours from Perth City, we decided to make several pit stops before we reach the hotel. First stop is Adventurescape, a brand new playground about an hour drive from Perth. This is a good stop for kids to stretch their legs and get themselves so tired that they will fall asleep for the next leg.


After all there is only so much ' Are we there yet?' that I can take while driving.
Busselton Jetty
After another hour plus. We reached Busselton Jetty

There is a Jetty there with a train ride to the end of the pier that brings you to an underwater observatory at the end of it. The  underwater observatory was closed when we were there.

Busselton Jetty is a place where budding photographer likes to hone their skills. So naturally the Little one decided that HE would be the photographer for the following shot.

Not too shabby , I reckon

(Disclaimer : Edited in Lightroom)


After a quick lunch, it was off to Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, a mere 20 minutes drive away.


We booked the above and below pass so we can tour the lighthouse

The pass includes entry to the nearby Ngilgi Caves , an easy 15 minutes drive away. If you have not been into a limestone cave, we guaranteed that you would be wow. Ngilgi Caves is the first cave that was opened to tourist since 1900!
Ngilgi Caves
Since then , other caves were discovered in Margaret's River. There are over 150 caves in the region and the famous ones are Ngilgi Caves, Lake Cave, Mammoth Cave and Jewel Cave.


After a long day of adventure, we finally made our way to Margaret's River town.

Our home for the night was the beautiful and modern Margaret River Forest located at the edge of town. It was a 2 story inter-terrace. We wished we had stayed there much longer.

Day 7 : Margaret's River Day Trip 2

Highlights :
Whale Watch , Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, Cheeky Monkey Brewery

Our last day at Margaret's River starts with a bang. We headed towards Augusta and took a whale tour with Whale watch Western Australia. Prior to this , we had been to another whale watching tour back in Gold Coast. It was a great experience then but it pales in comparison to what we witnessed on this tour.

Within minutes of departing from the pier, we were greeted with pods of whales from all directions. There were pods of 2 or 3 whale swimming next to us while at a distance away, we caught a glimpse of whale breaching. All in all we spotted over 20 whales.

To cap off the experience, one particular whale decided to entertain us with it's breaching. He did it over 8 times within 50 meters from our boat. This was exactly how he looked like below.
We were awestruck.

Best whale watch till date.

Whale Watch at Augusta is only for selected time of the year. We were there in June to catch the whales.

After the exhilarating experience , we took a 5 minutes drive to Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse.

Initially , I had planned for a lighthouse tour. However given the long trip back to Perth, the plans were shelved. We already made up our minds to be back in Margaret's River in the near future. There are a whole lot of things such as farmstays and caves that we had yet explored.


Locals will tell you that if you head to Margaret's River, you should not miss the wineries. We spotted over a dozen or more wineries along the journey and decided to make a stop at one of them for lunch.
Cheeky Monkey
The one we decided to head to is Cheeky Monkey. However it is not a Winery but a Brewery!

No wines , but beers on the tap.

No matter, the famous cheeky burger helps. Besides since I am driving, I can't drink anyways.

As for the kids, brewery or winery does not matter to them. Not when there is a playground on site for them to explore.

Soon , it was time for a 3 hour ride home. Compared to the initial trip, there was no pit stop as the boys and mommy felt asleep in the car. As for me, it was one of the most pleasant and peaceful ride I ever took. At least no one asked

'Are we there yet? '

If you are planning to do the same, we recommend a pitstop about 20 km before you reach Perth City. This stop has McDonald's and Red Rooster. You could pick up some dinner before you head back to your apartment / hotel in Perth. Trust me, you would need it as you would probably be too tired to head out after a 3 hours drive.

Day 8 : Goodbye Perth!
Perth Zoo
Saying goodbye to Perth is not easy, so we decided to head to the zoo after checking out of the hotel. Our flight was in the afternoon, so we have enough time to squeeze in one last tourist spot.

From the mini dinosaur looking chameleon to the T Rex, Perth Zoo has it all.
Ok the T Rex may not be real, but they moved and were life sized!

We did say our goodbyes to the Kolas before we left.

Perth had been a great city to visit for us. Compared to other cities, there are more natural attractions to explore vs manmade attractions. There are theme parks in Perth, but they were closed for Winter. Truth be told, we do not miss them at all. Perth had wowed us so much that we are even thinking of getting a small apartment there to make it our holiday home.

We will be back Perth!

In the meantime, check out our Holiday Highlights to see what else have we been up to in Perth.

Tips for Perth
It is pretty easy to live in Perth. Here are some tips to make your holidays a little more easier.
1) Get your SIM card at the airport.

There is Optus and Vodafone at the airport. We got Optus because they have a deal at $2 per day. Reception wise was pretty good throughout the trip. It is best you check the respective telco sites first prior to your trip for the best deal.

Do note the SIM cards does not allow tethering ( at least ours does not). If you really need a shared connection. Changi Recommends outbound wifi is a must based on our past experiences.

2) Rent a car
It is almost a must if you stay in Perth. Forget about the renting the GPS unit as Google Map works just as well. Do note the speed restrictions in the city. The traffic police are very ' on the ball' and you could be fine if you exceed 1 km of the speed limit.

Remember, it is the speed limit, not the speed target. Drive like a turtle, no one will honk at you.
Driving is on the same side as in Singapore, so there is no confusion while driving.

3) Get a pocket full of coins
You would need it for parking. Parking is by meter, so do get your coins ready. As parking is expensive , do prepare alot more coins.

4) Stay in an apartment with a carpark

Apartments will be a better deal than hotels. You get more spaces to roam about, more bedrooms so a family can share a unit and in some instances free parking. Getting an apartment with carparking is also important as you are not guaranteed a parking spot especially in popular places.

5) Shop for groceries early if you are getting an apartment
With a meal averaging $20-$30 with drinks EACH, it is best to prepare some meals on your own. If you are willing to splurge, no problem, go ahead. If not, getting some food from Coles is a good alternatives. Coles is also stock with freshly cooked chicken, shepherd pie and more, so you can also buy a meal from there. Staying in an apartment would be great as you probably have a proper dining table for your meals.

6) Learn to relax
Do very little or do alot. It does not really matter. The pace is Perth is much slower compared to Singapore. Just take a deep breath , relax and enjoy Perth!

#notsponsored


48 comments:

  1. Hi, may i know if optus sim card coverage is good at margaret river areas?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was ok for Margaret River but I did lost signal on the way to Pinnacles

      Delete
  2. Thank you for your post! really interesting we are going to Perth for 2 weeks in winter next year so some good places to visit x

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for the indepth post. I was planning for a trip to Perth for my family and lot's of idea was generated through your sharings.

    ReplyDelete
  4. may i know if you need to get the whale watching ticket and the above and below pass in advanced? thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I book them in advance for the trip. The above and below pass can be bought on the spot. The whale watching too... but we do advise to book in advance for the whale watching just in case it is full

      Delete
  5. Thanks for your post too! It is very helpful!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great info given. Thanks! Btw may i know how much u spend for petro in Perth? Also any tips or other services i shd look at for car rental?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Surprisingly the Nissan Quashi is an economic car. We only top up twice. Less than $100.
      If you have an European car, fuel economy might not be that good

      Delete
  7. hi thnks for sharing..its very interesting..as we are going in the next couple of weeks..it really helps and give us some pointers to note...thanks again..

    ReplyDelete
  8. hi thanks for sharing..its very interesting..as we are going in the next couple of weeks..it really helps and give us some pointers to note...thanks again..

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for sharing. Great info for my upcoming perth trip. Btw Will u recommend for additional insurance coverage instead of juz basic one? Thanks in advance

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you drive safely , basic one will be just fine. If you are heading out of town and it is your first time there, for a piece of mind, a comprehensive insurance deal might be better

      Delete
  10. Loved your write-up and details. I'm going there this weekend, so I find this really helpful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are welcome Maryanne. Enjoy your trip!

      Delete
  11. Just sharing. Whale watching is at busselton jetty instead of augusta from September to December period.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi there,

    Appreciate if you can share the location of the pitstop 20km before reaching perth. The one that has Macdonalds and Red Rooster which you mentioned. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It should be this one BP service centre , lot 191 , paparone road, baldivis wa 6171 . 45 mins away to Perth

      Delete
  13. I spotted the place when we exited Perth . It's one of the rest stop along the freeway. Can't recall the exit point but it was the first stop out of Perth city

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi, can I have all your accommodation list from day 1 to last day. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We only stayed at Quest in Perth and Margaret Forest in Maragret River

      Delete
  15. Excellent journal with pictures and details. Just in time for my coming Perth trip end next month

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi, if i follow your itinerary, can i take Caravan instead of car?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Are you staying in the caravan? You need to look for caravan parks if you do ( we spotted some along the trip)If you are staying in hotels, it should not be an issue ( except for indoor parking)

      Delete
  17. Hi, Thank you and what a wonderful article on Perth. I am going there in Nov with my family. Do you think it's feasible to drive all the way from Margaret River to the Perth Airport to catch a 2:15pm flight back to SG? Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It takes about 3-4 hours without break and jam to get from Margaret River to Perth. I would not recommend it especially if you need to be in the airport by 12pm. Personally, I would not do it as it is a very tight timeline

      It would be much better if you take a night flight or stayover in Perth for the night.

      Delete
  18. Hi! Thanks for sharing all the lovely photos and comprehensive itinerary - they're going to be so useful in planning our trip there in Dec! I'm just wondering, would you say the Ngilgi Caves are manageable for our 2.5 yr old tot to explore with us? I would love for him to experience being in a cave, but I'm not sure if it's safe for us to visit with him in tow. Thanks lots for taking the trouble to reply!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For 2.5 yr old , climbing up and down the caves might be a tad challenging by themselves . If you are willing to carry them , it should not be difficult as the Ngilgi is pretty easy to explore . Hope it helps :)

      Delete
    2. Alright, I see... Thanks for sharing your view on this!

      Delete
  19. Hi, may I know for the car rental, what were the hidden addition charges and did you book through hertz own website or through other websites like vroom vroom? I am going to perth in mid November and was thinking of using Hertz until I read your post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I booked through their website directly . Till now I still can't figure out why the difference in the price I book and the price they charge . Also they actually charge you before the night before trip from your cc. When I asked them for explaination at the counter , the staff was clueless . I send them an email and no reply too . That's my own experience . You might like to read reviews on TripAdvisor to decide on their services .

      Delete
    2. Sounds risky to book from hertz. I will try other renters. Thank you for your advise!:)

      Delete
  20. Hi TWD, can I ask where is the stop where theres Mcdonald's and red rooster? Is it near stock land or baldivia?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It should be this one BP service centre , lot 191 , paparone road, baldivis wa 6171 . 45 mins away to Perth

      Delete
  21. hayy, thank's for sharing the story and pictures, it's lovely. I have a question, i'm going to Perth on 25th November 2016 and plan to buy a sim card at airport, do you think they can activated the sim card on my phone? because i ever bought a sim card at coles from the last time i visit Australia, i went to Darwin and i tried activated it by myself but it didn't work and it was pretty confused me on that time.
    cheers

    ReplyDelete
  22. We got it install on the spot for SIM card at airport :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But iPhone has no Sim Card right?

      Delete
    2. We used the Iphone there. They have the Sim cards for iphone

      Delete
  23. Thanks for such a comprehensive articles and it is such a joy reading it. we are traveling as a couple. food sold at coles are cooked? how much does it cost for an apartment?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there.
      There are
      Cooked food available at coles . You can find BBQ chicken and lagsana there . It's like cold storage in Singapore . As for apartment , it ranges . Checking booking.com for prices :)

      Delete
  24. hayy . may i know can the optus reception help me to activate the sim card?

    ReplyDelete
  25. Great adventures with nice pictures, thanks for your posting

    ReplyDelete