September 2017, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. I'm about to embark on the most memorable journey of my life. I'm thrilled, I'm scared, I'm impatient, I'm curious. I'm standing in this airport to catch a plane for a destination I know almost nothing about. A place that is all the more 15,000 kilometres away from my home. My return flight is one year from now. I have never travelled this far away and for this long. However, I know that I am beyond lucky for this experience and proud to live it on my own. I am convinced that I'm about to have the time of my life and make some unforgettable memories. Let's go to Australia!
Australia is, for many, one of those bucket-list destinations they want to experience at least once in their life. Indeed, it is a place many people dream of but also one that others fear. This country, so big and so remote, definitely holds an interesting element of mystery. The customs, traditions, history, the wildlife… When I myself used to imagine what Australia was like, I thought about surfers, koalas, and kangaroos. And spiders. Lots of terrifying, deadly spiders. Well, there’s a lot of that, but there’s also so much more. Australia is for sure inhabited by some of the most dangerous animal species on the planet but it also holds so many incredible natural gems. Will you be brave enough to venture into this wild, intriguing yet fascinating country? Well, you should! And maybe you will, after reading the story about my personal experience in this wonderful country.
Before going to Australia, you might have to think about the type of trip you’re going for. This will inevitably depend on what you want to see, experience, and the time you have. Going on a road trip is a very good way of travelling in Australia, chosen by many travellers. Having your own vehicle gives you undeniable freedom and flexibility, which is very valuable. You get to tailor your journey according to your desires and make as many stops as you want along the way. You probably won’t be able to explore all parts of the country (depending on the length of your stay), and you’ll have to make itinerary choices. Australia is so vast, and there is just an incredible amount of things to do and places to see.
Many tourist sites can be visited on the East Coast: Cairns and its Rainforest, the breathtaking Whitsunday Islands, Brisbane and Gold Coast, Sydney and its legendary Opera house, Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road… While the centre of the country is mostly desert and uninhabited, so many other treasures can be found on the West Coast. If you plan on exploring this area and want to drive along the coast, I would highly recommend stopping in Perth for a little while.
I didn’t have any particular or precise plan of my Australian journey before getting there. I would just go with the flow and live what I had to live in one place before moving to another one. Perth was actually the first city I arrived in after landing in Australia and I ended up staying in this beautiful city for three months. You may be slightly less familiar with this city than you are with its big sisters: Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane. In that case, a quick introduction must be made.
On the edge of the Indian Ocean, Perth is the capital city of Western Australia, one of the six states of Australia. Western Australia is actually the biggest state and occupies 33 percent of the country's land area! But let's get back to Perth.
Perth is a city of a thousand faces. Few cities in the world can boast about having a dynamic business district, sun all year long, and heavenly beaches. It's not for nothing that Perth is regularly ranked among the world's most liveable cities.
About 2 million people live in what is considered the most isolated big city. Perth, however, offers an incredible and unique mix of natural beauty, cultural richness, and outdoor activities. However, known as Australia's sunniest capital city, Perth is so much more than sunshine and beaches. It is a launching point for all of Western Australia's magnificent adventures. Its remote location, on the very West of the country, makes it a perfect launching point for travels to Asia as well! Bali, for instance, is a 3h45m flight from Perth! So many trip opportunities from this place await you…
In addition to the infinite possibilities of exciting adventures it offers, Perth itself is an incredible destination. It is definitely worth staying a little while to discover everything it has to offer: the history, the art, the scenic beauty, of course, but also the way of living, the unique atmosphere and mentality. Whether you're interested in outdoor activities, cultural experiences, or simply enjoying its scenic beauty, Perth has something to offer for every traveller.
Any visit to Perth would probably begin in the heart of the city: the business centre, also called CBD (Central Business District). Skyscrapers, blue skies, and river views. The atmosphere is vibrant and lively but also very chill at the same time. There is such a special laid-back vibe that makes this city so unique and easy to love.
On the waterfront, Elizabeth Quay features trendy cafes, restaurants, and entertainment options. You can enjoy the Swan River views or hop on a river cruise. If you want to enjoy a stunning skyline view, hop on a ferry to reach South Perth. On this occasion, you will discover a quiet and family neighbourhood (one of the most expensive suburbs of Perth) with a mix of modern houses and modern apartments with city views.
One thing that is very enjoyable in Perth is the miles and miles of bike lanes allowing you to ride, walk, or run along the river while admiring the city's scenic beauty.
If you’re looking for more nature, head toward Kings Park and its impressive Botanic Garden, which offers more stunning views of the city skyline.
Back in the city centre, stroll through Hay Street and Murray Street for a shopping session!
Perth hosts a range of cultural events and festivals throughout the year, celebrating art, music, film, and food. Australians love food. This is definitely one of the things I particularly enjoyed while I was in Australia: the variety of cuisine you can find almost everywhere. A mix of influences from Asia, Europe, and the Middle-East in addition to the local specialties, make it really hard not to find your happiness in this foodie paradise. Did I gain eight kilos after one year in Australia? Yes, definitely, yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely. So many tempting restaurants, bakeries, and cool rooftop bars to try!
You may have already seen this image of a cute little blue-painted boatshed that seems to be floating on the water with nothing else around. Well, you can go see it by yourself while you're in Perth. "The Blue Boat House" or Crawley Edge Boatshed is a famous and iconic landmark of the city located on the Swan River in Crawley, a suburb in the South of Perth. This boatshed, built in the 1930s, is recognizable and known for its vibrant blue colour and picturesque location. Its unique features made it a popular spot for photography and a social media sensation. Many people visit the site to take photos and share them on their social media. Prepare to make your best Instagram shots in this location!
The consequence of popularity is a little line-up to have your moment with the scenery. Fun fact about that. When I visited this iconic location of Perth, a cute Asian family was there to capture their visit to the site. When I say family, I say FA-MI-LY: parents, children, grandparents, aunts, and uncles were all enjoying themselves during an implicated and endless family photo shoot. I just had to wait for a moment (half an hour!) to enjoy the view alone. It was actually a blessing in disguise because it was the end of the day, and the scenery got even more beautiful with the sunset light! The wait was worth it, and I could capture as well this photogenic spot that creates such a unique atmosphere.
Located just South of Perth, Fremantle is a historic port city known for its well-preserved heritage buildings, bustling markets, and artsy vibe.
Fremantle is definitely one of my favourite places in the Perth area. The atmosphere that reins in this city is incredibly soothing and charming. The city is bursting with cute cafés, and lovely designer shops in a decor made of colourful buildings.
One of the most emblematic locations of the city is the Fremantle Markets. This place offers a unique atmosphere of over a hundred years of vibrant culture and heritage. There, you will find more than 150 stalls of fresh local produce, indigenous and local products, and food from all over the world.
Foodie alert! The food court was my favourite place to explore in the markets… I used to go every weekend to try a different cuisine, take a fresh squeezed juice, and try all of the delicious pastries!
You will find on the West coast of Australia some of the most beautiful beaches of the country. Hundreds of kilometres of immaculate white sand beaches await you for relaxing sunbaths (don’t forget your sunscreen, the sunrays are no joke in Australia!) or wild surfing sessions.
Cottesloe Beach is one of Perth's most iconic beaches. It's a great spot for swimming, snorkelling, and beachside picnics. This was my absolute favourite beach. The sand is insanely white and soft, and the water turquoise blue. Simply heaven.
With its family-friendly atmosphere, City Beach is ideal for sunbathing, swimming and volleyball. It also offers shaded picnic areas and barbecue facilities. I mean, let's talk about barbecue! It's an absolute institution for the Australian people. You can find barbecue facilities on the beaches, in the parks, almost in any public area really. Families and friends would reunite at the beach at the end of the day to spend some quality time together. Watching the sunset, drinking a few beers, laughing, and enjoying each other's company: isn't it what life is all about?
Scarborough Beach is another popular destination for both locals and tourists for its surf breaks, lively atmosphere, and various cafes and restaurants.
Coffee is a religion. I did not say it. Australian people did.
Perth is particularly famous for its appreciation of good coffee and is home to many coffee shops.
I certainly did not like coffee until I went to Australia. Now, I'm a good old coffee addict and dream of opening my own café to serve coffee and 'brekkie' (breakfast), trying to recreate the warm, friendly ambiance that I fell in love with over there.
If you really to immerse yourself in the Australian culture and experience the local lifestyle, I would recommend a few activities.
Australia is a passionate sports nation. It’s a real experience to attend a game of one of the most popular sports in the country: cricket, rugby or footy (still trying to understand the rules though).
Australia is also known for its unique craft brewery scene. It’s a mandatory stop to go to one of the many breweries and have a beer in a festive and friendly atmosphere.
Surroundings of Perth: Adventure is Just Around the Corner
After exploring Perth, you will eventually be eager to discover the city's surroundings. So many adventures and explorations await you from Perth.
Margaret River is a well-known surfing destination with some of the best waves in Australia. The region is also very popular for its many renowned wineries. More than 200 offer wine-tasting and vineyard tours, which make amazing opportunities to learn about the winemaking process and sample some of Australia's finest wines.
One of the first memories I have after arriving in Perth was actually a weekend getaway to Margaret River. Barely recovered from the inevitable massive jetlag, I was carried away on my first Australian adventure. One that I will not forget about anytime soon. Because of the horrible cold night spent in my tent. But also because I saw wild kangaroos for the first time ever. And it was quite amazing.
After a short night of sleep, why not make the most of this journey to watch the sunrise? There's nothing like an early hike in the bush to fight jetlag and fatigue! The Cape to Cape Track is a walking trail offering a stunning viewpoint over the ocean. Even tired, it's impossible not to appreciate the beauty of the landscape.
Located in the Serpentine National Park, about 60 kilometres from Perth, the Serpentine Falls is a beautiful natural waterfall and swimming whole surrounded by lush bushland and granite rock formations. This natural swimming pool is a stunning place to go to escape the heat during hot summer days! Bushwalking is another activity you can do in this national park that has several walking trails.
Rottnest Island is a picturesque island that is only a 30-minute ferry ride from Fremantle. It is known for its stunning natural beauty, clear turquoise waters, diverse marine life, and the lovable quokkas that inhabit the island. The scenic beauty of this place is just another level. I have rarely seen in my life such breathtaking views. The colours of the water, the wild nature, the pink lake, and the pelicans on the beach seemed to be too beautiful to be real.
One of the other main draws of Rottnest Island is its quokkas population, small marsupials native to the region. These friendly creatures have become a social media sensation due to their photogenic nature and habit of approaching humans. No trip to Rottnest is complete without a selfie with a quokka. Described as the happiest animals on Earth because of their adorable smiley faces, they will for sure be a highlight of your visit to this magical island.
For a little sightseeing or longer stays, here are my favorite neighbourhoods of Perth.
Dear Perth, Looking Forward to Seeing You Again
Discovering Perth and other parts of Australia afterward was one of the most beautiful, intense, and enriching experiences I have ever lived. During this incredible year of my life, I discovered some of the numerous marvels of this country that I knew nothing about. Marvels of nature obviously. The kind of places of unreal beauty that get printed in your mind for the rest of your life (hopefully, I'll remember them for the rest of my life. Otherwise, I'll have to go back and print some more memories.) And other kinds of marvelous memories made of the people I met and the culture I discovered.
The scenic beauty, the amazing weather, the people's kindness, the way of living, and the 'no worries' attitude are just as many reasons why I want to go back someday.
Australia will forever have a special place in my heart. I will always cherish the memories that I made during my stay in Australia: the places I’ve seen, the people I’ve met, the laughs I’ve had.
You know what they say: the journey is more important than the destination. What a journey it has been.