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Perth Travel Guide
Quick beach travel guide: Perth
Facts and trivia on the Western Australian capital city's coastline
© David Whitley
Mar 28, 2007
Visitors to the world's most isolated city should check out Cottesloe, Scarborough, Floreat, Leighton or City Beach and have a dip in the Indian Ocean.
It’s probably a good job that Perth is a fabulous city to visit. After all, if you don’t like it, it's a long way to the next town. Not a long way as in London-to-Newcastle, oh no - a long way as in the nearest capital city is not Canberra, it's Jakarta in Indonesia. It's closest urban Aussie neighbour is Adelaide, two days drive away.
In fact, Perth is the most isolated city on earth, a four and a half hour flight away from Sydney. To put that in perspective, if you flew for that length of time from Heathrow, you could land in Siberia, look down on Canada or find yourself in sub-Saharan Africa.
Anyway, you get the point; never mind Tipperary, it's a very long way to Perth. Which is perhaps why they have made it such a pleasant place to come to. The city itself looks like a little baby version of Melbourne; there are even skyscrapers, but only two.
Although not the biggest Aussie city, it is still a decent-sized metropolis, with a population of around one-and-a-half million, and is easily big enough to contain numerous good pubs, clubs and shops. Unlike the larger cities though, there is a real unhurried, devil-may-care, approach to life here. In fact, if it was anymore relaxed everyone would just lay on their backs all the time, Jodie Marsh style. Perhaps it is just too hot to give a damn most of the year.
And when that’s the case, then most people head to the beach, of which there are many lovely ones. Unlike the Eastern seaboard beaches, Perth’s aren’t particularly renowned for their surf. However, what they lack in waves that can batter you into the next life, they certainly make up for in postcard prettiness. The Indian Ocean is extraordinarily blue, and when it’s calm, it’s like swimming in a real life version of one of Hollywood’s mythical paradise lagoons.
Check out Cottesloe Beach, Scarborough Beach, City Beach, Leighton and Floreat Beaches, or Swanbourne nudey Beach, for a taste. Be warned, some of these have strong currents, designed specifically for pummelling pasty-skinned Poms, so check out where the locals are swimming before you jump in.
Apparently a Sunday Session in Cottesloe is a bit of a Perth institution. People come from miles around to crowd into what is essentially just a big pub in one of the West Coast's most affluent suburbs. Especially on the long weekend, when the whole area is heaving with workers, people on their big day out from the country, locals and bemused backpackers.
Despite how it looks on the map, Perth isn't actually on the seaside; instead it is perched very attractively on the banks of the broad, majestic Swan River. Lined with various restaurants and bars, some of them floating, this wonderfully wide waterway is the city's gateway to the Indian Ocean. It also provides a great centrepiece for a very modern-looking city, ripe for exploration.