Perth Jacaranda Festival

Perth Jacaranda Festival in Applecross

Along with being the home to some of the most expensive mansions in Perth, Applecross is known for its beautiful jacaranda tree lined streets. This is one of my favourite trees in Australia (even though they’re not native) and I love seeing the streets awash with purple blooms in spring.

Jacaranda Trees in Flower in November

It’s fitting that Applecross is home to the Perth Jacaranda Festival which takes place each year in November. The main street in Applecross Village is blocked off and markets stalls take over the area.

November Festival in Applecross

Not surprisingly the most popular stalls are the food stalls. My favourite was the deep fried spiral potato which I’ve now seen in markets in 4 or 5 different countries.

Deep Fried Spiral Potato Thing

Fried Potato in Applecross

I also loved the Burning Tastebuds chilli salts while others couldn’t resist an icecream.

Burning Tastebuds Chilli Salt

Icecream at the Perth Jacaranda Festival

Small kids seemed quite happy torturing helpless animals or getting colourful paint everywhere.

Unsuspecting Fluffy Animals

Painting Games at the Market

There were plenty of other random ways to be parted with your cash.

Give Your Money Away to the Clowns

As you’ll find in all festivals in Perth, there was a band dressed in shiny pink bras playing to the crowd.

Band Wearing Pink Bras in Perth

Once you’ve had your fill of festival food and jacaranda trees, head down to the waterfront for a quieter afternoon.

Applecross Jetty on the Swan River Perth

Guide to Western Australia

Being a West Australian native, I figured it’s about time I write about my home. Even though I’ve travelled throughout most of the state, there are still a number of places I’ve yet to see (notably the Ningaloo Reef, Broome and further north) but I have a fairly good idea of the ‘must see’ destinations in Western Australia so in no particular order …

12 Must See Destinations in Western Australia

Cape Le Grand National Park

Esperance is a long, long drive from Perth (700kms) but it’s totally worth it to visit nearby Cape Le Grand National Park. You’ll find secluded beaches, turquoise water, white sand the texture of flour and kangaroos sleeping on the beach. One of my biggest travel regrets is running out of film at Lucky Bay (before the days of digital cameras) and not being able to take photos of us sitting next to kangaroos on the beach. If you love the beach and wild landscapes then this is a must see.

Lucky Bay Esperance

Image: Visit Esperance

Denmark

While most people head to Margaret River to visit the wineries and beaches, I much prefer to head further south to Denmark where you can get incredible food and wine, swim at pristine Green’s Pool, sample fantastic chocolate desserts and local cheese, and pat a koala.

Green's Pool Denmark

Monkey Mia

Back in the day (I’m old) anyone could swim at Monkey Mia and the dolphins would just come up to you and swim around you and you could touch them without any problems. Now though it’s strictly controlled (because we give them diseases) and you can’t swim with the dolphins. Instead there are a couple of feedings each morning where everyone lines up along the beach and the park rangers randomly call out people to get knee deep in the water to feed the dolphins. F and I were lucky enough to have that privilege when we went a couple of years ago and even though it is absolutely forbidden to touch the dolphins, F did and then got yelled out by the ranger. Yes, he’s naughty.

So Monkey Mia is a bit of a let down in terms of the dolphins but the great thing is that you can go out on a boat and see some of the rarest creatures on earth, the dugong and the green turtle. Dugongs are gorgeous animals and you’ll probably never see them anywhere else so I highly recommend visiting.

Dugong

Image: Joel Abroad

Shell Beach

Just down the road from Monkey Mia is Shell Beach. It’s a beach made of little shells. It’s stunning.

Shell Beach Shark Bay

Image: robertpaulyoung

The Pinnacles

The Pinnacles are quite eerie if you ask me. Right by the water you have these yellow sand dunes with limestone pillars poking up everywhere. I wouldn’t make a special trip to see them but if you’re passing through definitely stop by to have a look.

The Pinnacles Western Australia

Image: ekieraM

Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island is the little island you can see just off the coast of Perth and is perfect for a day or weekend trip. It’s ideal for quokka spotting and snorkelling. There was a fatal shark attack here a couple of months ago but that is a rare occurrence, I swear!

Quokka Rottnest Island

Image: Joffley

Kalbarri

Kalbarri is a great place to visit for the stunning scenery, in particular the gorges where you can go hiking or kayaking. It’s also a popular fishing destination.

Kalbarri National Park

Image: Eulinky

Albany

Former whaling town Albany is a great place for whale watching (although there are lots of places along the coast to go whale watching) but I love it for the spectacular Goode Beach (near Frenchman Bay). The sand and water is similar to that at Cape Le Grand’s beaches and it’s calm, secluded and perfect for swimming. The other side of the peninsula is completely wild and while I find the Blow Holes and Natural Bridge to be overrated, I did see a seal swimming and feeding by the shore last time I was there which was pretty cool. Don’t swim in this area unless you have a death wish. Albany is only 400km from Perth so it’s a great option if you don’t have time to go to Esperance.

Goode Beach Albany

Fremantle

The port city of Fremantle is the historic centre of Perth. Here you’ll find a lively cafe strip, Fremantle Markets, Fremantle Prison and the best fish and chips in Perth. If you like beer then be sure to head to Little Creatures for a boutique beer or three.

Kailis Fish and Chips

Perth Beaches

There’s a lot of debate about which is the best beach in Perth but I think it’s safe to say Cottesloe is the most popular. Eating fish and chips on the beach and enjoying a Sunday session at The Cott are must do’s when visiting Perth but personally I prefer the much, much quieter and seaweed/reef free Leighton Beach. If you like surfing head up to Trigg or Scarborough and if you don’t mind getting your gear off then Swanbourne might be the place for you. If you’re staying in Fremantle, South Beach is a great little beach slightly protected from the wind.

Tip #1: Perth is an incredibly windy city so you need to get to the beach before the sea breeze comes in (usually around lunch time) otherwise you risk getting covered in sand. The sea breeze often dies down in the evening.

Tip #2: Shark attacks are extremely rare but there have been a number of fatal attacks in recent years so don’t swim too far out from shore, in particular at dawn and dusk.

Tip #3: Don’t confuse dolphins with sharks.

Perth Beaches

King’s Park

Perth’s King’s Park is a great place for a picnic, to walk around the botanical gardens and to get a fantastic view Perth city’s skyline. For a even better closer view, head to the South Perth foreshore directly opposite the city.

Perth City Skyline

Ningaloo Reef

Unfortunately I have not been to Ningaloo Reef but everyone rave’s about it so it’s definitely on my must see list. At the Ningaloo Reef you can go swimming with whalesharks and manta rays, see rare turtles, humpback whales and tropical fish. It’s a wildlife lover’s paradise.

Ningaloo Reef

3 Of The Most Overrated Destinations

While I’m at it, I may as well mention the top ‘don’t bother seeing’ destinations which even though get mentions in guide books, aren’t really worth travelling long (or short) distances for, in my opinion.

Perth Bell Tower

Ok, I admit I haven’t been up the tower but c’mon, it’s a bell, in a tower.

Wave Rock

This is how a visit to Wave Rock goes. Drive four and a half hours to the small inland town of Hyden. Take your photo in front of a rock which looks like a wave. Drive four and a half hours back to Perth.

Kalgoorlie

I actually love Kalgoorlie. It’s the heart of the mining industry in Western Australia. A town where fortunes have been made and lost. Where migrants from around the world headed in the 1890s gold rush (including my Italian great grandfather). It’s home to the richest square mile of earth on the planet and to the massive Super Pit. If you’re interested in Australian history, it’s a great place to visit, if not then you’re going to drive 600kms to see a big hole in the ground in 45 degree heat.

Green’s Pool: Australia’s Hidden Gem

Denmark is often overlooked as a weekend getaway destination in Western Australia’s south west and unfairly so. Koalas, first class wineries, fantastic regional cuisine (including delicious chocolate treats and locally made cheese) and one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever been to.

Green’s Pool is hidden away in a remote spot on the southern coast, 18 kilometres from the centre of Denmark. Protected from the wild Southern Ocean by a rocky outcrop, the calm pool with crystal clear water and fine sandy beach is nothing short of perfect.

Green's Pool Denmark

Denmark Beaches

Denmark Western Australia

Remote Australian Beach

For another stunning beach destination in the region, try Albany’s Goode Beach.

Flip Flop Street Art in Manly

To avoid confusion and sniggers I’m going to stick to using the name flip flops when discussing the street art I came across in Manly but us Aussies know I’m really talking about thongs.

The Flip Flop Art Fence was created by Manly artist Angela van Boxtel using flip flops contributed by the local community.

The idea is for all people of all ages and from all backgrounds to be part of Public Artwork. Also, people visiting Manly will to be able to stick their flip flops on the fence and write a message (non offensive please…) on it. Or people can pick up lost Flip Flops from the beach and stick them on the Flip Flop Art Fence.

It’s important to be aware that Flip Flops are actually being constructed from polyurethane, which is yet another plastic derived from crude oil. This means they are going to be hanging around the environment for a very, very long time once discarded.

So it looks like I’m going to environmental hell for the stacks of eco unfriendly thongs flip flops I have piled up in my cupboard.

You can visit the Flop Flop Art Fence in Whistler Street, Manly in Sydney or read more at the Art Fence Facebook group.

Flip Flop Art Fence Angela van Boxtel

Street Art Manly

Flip Flop Art Fency Manly

Goode Beach Albany

Goode Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been to. I don’t know how I never knew this beach existed until now. I’ve visited Albany, in the south west of Western Australia, many times before. It’s one of my favourite West Australian towns because it’s got an interesting whaling history, beautiful rugged coastline, and the town is big enough to have some great places to eat. You can go whale watching here too but I’ve never been lucky enough to spot any whales.

Albany’s primary beach is Middleton beach. It’s nice enough but nothing special. There is also a tiny little beach at Emu Point which is popular with families. If you head to the other side of the city at Frenchman Bay you have the wild Southern Ocean coastline to the south of the bay. It’s wild and windy and there are signs stating that people have lost their lives in the area. Tourists go to see the blow holes, which are always a disappointment, and the Gap and Natural Bridge which are much more impressive. There are other beaches where you wouldn’t dare swim, one of which was the home to a very fast swimming seal when we were there.

On the bay side, the water is calm, the white sand is like powder, and the water turquoise. With a bit of luck you can have this amazing beach to yourself but watch out for the dog walkers who arrive in the evening after work. The weather wasn’t great when I was there but the beach was stunning nonetheless.

Goode Beach Albany

Albany Beaches

Goode Beach

There are other remote beaches not far from Albany which are definitely worth exploring too if you are in the region and have the time.