Author Nikky Lee now lives in Auckland, but she always keeps a close eye on what's hot in her hometown of Perth.
Aside from the fact it is Australia's sunniest state capital, averaging 8.8 hours of bright sunlight every day of the year, Perth is a playground for the active traveller. From golf courses to national parks, island getaways, beaches, rivers and more, there's more than one way to explore its gems. And if active isn't your style, there is a palette of culinary delights to tease your taste buds—along with a roaring coffee culture.
Fremantle is a great spot with heaps of things to see and do, including a lively cafe strip, local art shops, weekend markets, the World Heritage-listed Fremantle Prison (I highly recommend the tunnel tour), and the Maritime Museum. After a day of exploring, grab a cold drink at Little Creatures Brewery by the Fremantle Marina.
Perth has some exquisite white-sand beaches, including Cottesloe and Scarborough, and for wine lovers, Swan Valley is the place to go for wine tastings and foodie treats.
Visitors should also check out Rottnest (aka "Rotto" to the locals). It's an island about 18km off Perth's coast and around 30-45 minutes by ferry. The island has a strict no-car policy for visitors, so bring a sturdy pair of trainers, hire a bike to see the sights, or make use of the island's bus service. Rotto is home to the "world's happiest animal", the quokka, a super small species of wallaby about the size of a cat. There's also loads of other wildlife to see, along with surfing, fishing, diving, World War II armament tours and a fantastic bakery.
If you're looking for an ocean dip and a caffeine hit back on the mainland, there's a great little coffee cart down at Mosman Park Dog Beach called The Wooden Wagon. The fully-restored 1963 Baravan turned cafe-on-wheels is there every Thursday to Sunday (7am to 12.30pm) over summer, autumn and spring.
One of my best tips for visitors is to use public transport or a taxi/Uber if you're headed to the city, as parking is difficult to find and very expensive. Wear shoes you can walk in comfortably if arriving by train—the station is about 1km from the Perth waterfront.
When it comes to what's new, the Old Synagogue in Fremantle (built in 1901) has recently been done up and is now home to four new restaurants. I have it on good authority that Ginger and Tonic is amazing. FOMO in Freo's King's Square is another new spot, with Asian street-food eateries, ten-pin bowling, mini-golf and a cocktail arcade and game bar.
Nikky Lee is an award-winning author who grew up as a barefoot 90s kid in Whadjuk Noongar Country in Perth. She's just published a new novel, The Rarkyn's Familiar.