Think you’ve ‘done’ Perth? Think again!
Western Australia’s capital has some wonderful, iconic attractions that draw visitors from around the world, from natural phenomena like The Pinnacles of Cervantes to the delightful playground of Rottnest Island. But once you tap into a little local knowledge, you can discover plenty of hidden treasures in Perth to bring you back time and again. Here are just 10 of the top Perth secrets.
Beyond the Swan Valley
1. Chittering & Bickley Valleys
You’ve heard all about one of Australia’s northernmost wine regions, the Swan Valley, a short drive out of the city. But have you explored Chittering Valley or Bickley Valley?
The Bickley Valley, only half an hour from Perth CBD, is home to a collection of boutique wineries, orchards and roadside fresh produce stalls. This little area has everything for a fabulous day out, including forest walking trails, waterfalls and creeks, and arts and crafts outlets. You can follow the Carmel Wine Route, and even explore the bush by camel!
Visit during the Bickley Harvest Festival on 5-6 May - a beautiful time of year to enjoy the colours of the vineyards, orchards and natural environment. Enjoy wine tastings, browse work by local artists and take home some local produce.
The Chittering Farm Flavour Trail is another hidden treasure near Perth. Look out for boutique farms and farm gates offering you the chance to see how they produce some of the most delicious fresh food you will taste so close to Perth. Visit farms that produce wonderful fresh produce such as mango, avocado, cheese, citrus fruits, asparagus, blueberries, honey, wines and all manner of tasty organic treats.
While you're there make sure you detour through the Chittering Valley Tourist Way (Route 359) for some of Perth’s most stunning scenery. You’ll see vineyards and citrus orchards, the Brockman Arts & Crafts Centre and the Bindoon Bakehaus on your drive. If you’re here in August and September, you can get amongst the festivities at the Chittering Spring Festival and even sample local produce during the annual ‘A Taste of Chittering’ event.
2. Avon Valley Rapids
Between Perth and Chittering is a pretty section of the Avon Valley, where the river gushes through rapids and winding creeks.
Bells Rapids in Brigadoon is a secret Perth locals have known about for years, now becoming more popular as visitors discover the area. There are parking areas, picnic spots along the bank and some very pretty walk trails where you have a good chance of spotting kangaroos at dawn or dusk. This is also a great spot to watch the Avon Valley Descent - WA’s famous white water paddling event.
Nearby Syd’s Rapids, in Walyunga National Park, is another lovely area to explore within the Avon Valley. The Aboriginal Heritage Trail is worth exploring for an insight into Perth’s cultural heritage, indigenous plants and animals, and more about white water.
Perth’s Backyard Bushland
Plunge further into the bush within easy reach of the city, and enjoy tranquil dining away from the crowds in one of these secret Perth gems.
3. Eagle View & Darlington Estate
Take the Zig Zag Scenic Drive into John Forrest National Park, and look for the Eagle View Walk Trail - a scenic walk with views across the Swan Coastal Plain to the city and ocean in the distance. You’ll pass by some refreshing waterfalls and discover amazing wildflowers in spring.
Finish your day with dinner at the stunning Darlington Estate Winery, just 10 minutes’ drive from the park.
4. Kitty’s Gorge, Jarrahdale
Another pretty walk is nestled in Serpentine National Park. Kitty’s Gorge Trail follows the Serpentine River and waterfalls of Gooralong Brook, and is easy to access from the little town of Jarrahdale in Perth Hills.
Stop at Millbrook Winery after your walk for delicious refreshments overlooking the river.
City Treasure Hunt
There are some hidden places in Perth itself that are among the city’s best kept secrets.
5. Reabold Hill
One of the highlights of a holiday in Perth is the quick and easy trip from city to beach. On the way to City Beach, stop at Reabold Hill Summit Boardwalk, Bold Park, in the western suburb of Floreat.
This is the highest point on the Swan Coastal Plain within the metro area, giving up fabulous ocean views. A 200 metre raised boardwalk is easy for children to follow, while enjoying the surroundings. Look out for interpretive signs, artwork, lizards and photo opportunities. There are numerous trails around Bold Park if you want to immerse yourselves in this hidden Perth bushland experience a few minutes from city and coast.
6. Marmion Marine Park
Most of Perth’s beaches are sandy - perfect for playing, swimming, surfing and sandcastle building. A hidden treasure in Perth that’s excellent for snorkelling and diving is Marmion Marine Park, between North Beach and Sorrento.
Here, lagoons and reefs teem with life, and divers can explore ledges and caves while snorkellers float with the fish above a beautiful underwater world. Mettams Pool at North Beach is at the southern end, and a lovely place for children to play with rock pools, nooks and crannies.
7. Perth Arcades & Laneways
Walking tour operator Two Feet and a Heartbeat began by taking visitors into secret places in Perth city alleyways in heritage buildings. Since then, many of the abandoned laneways have been revitalised, yet remain as hidden treasures for Perth visitors to hunt down.
The Perth Arcades & Laneways tour takes you into these areas - back alleys and laneways that are now thriving with bars, restaurants, shops and wall art. Some still remain relatively unknown, quietly tucked away and hiding architectural or artistic gems. This is a tour to join if you love delving into city spaces.
Perth’s Wild Side
8. The Southern Foreshore & Heirisson Island
The Swan River estuary is one of Perth’s most popular natural attractions, and has numerous playgrounds and parks along its banks. Fewer visitors really get to know the river as a natural habitat for wildlife in the less well-trodden sections of the foreshore.
The Swan Estuary Marine Park incorporates some beautiful secret places for Perth city views, relaxing over a picnic, fishing or paddling, and for spotting birds or dolphins. Alfred Cove, Pelican Point and Milyu are excellent vantage points for seeing birds in the air, water or on the mudflats, including migratory waders that come from as far away as Siberia.
On the northern side of the river, between East Perth and Burswood, is Heirisson Island. This is a significant place for WA’s Noongar people and secret Perth picnic spot with a kangaroo sanctuary. On the foreshore opposite Heirisson Island is The Point Bar & Grill - a great eatery with river views.
9. Trailing Away in Rottnest
The Gabbi Karniny Bidi Walk Trail takes you past the inland lakes, gives you the best views and increases your chance of seeing wildlife, while the Parker Point Snorkel Trail takes you to one of Perth’s best kept secrets - another world under the ocean. As you follow the snorkel trail along the southern coastline, you can read underwater plaques with facts about the marine life around you. What better way to get away from it all!
10. Garden Island
Just off the coast at Rockingham, less than an hour south of Perth, is the less famous Garden Island. This little haven can be reached by paddle or kayak from Point Peron. Isolated beaches and fabulous snorkelling make this a true hidden treasure on the Perth coast, housing nothing but a naval base.
Check the conditions before you leave, whether you’re paddling or boating, and the restrictions on the times and areas you are permitted to land. Disruptive activities such as jet skiing and sandboarding are prohibited, which only serves to enhance the tranquillity of this magical spot.