Western Australia is big, almost the size of Western Europe, so on a visit it pays to concentrate on just a handful of places in this vast swathe of land. Cheerful Perth, the state capital, is a great place to start with 19 beautiful beaches and the Kings Park, which is even bigger than New York’s Central Park and is one of the largest inner-city parks in the world. The city is also blessed with an average of 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, so there’s hardly ever a grey sky. Elsewhere in Western Australia there are fabled wine routes, white beaches, a massive expanse of outback, UNESCO World Heritage reef formations and world-class surfing opportunities.
Keen to get to know Perth, I opt for a walking tour with the company Two Feet & A Heartbeat Walking Tours (www.twofeet.com.au) who specialise in plugging visitors into the emerging social scene of the city. It is early evening and the founder, Ryan, walks me through the local history, pointing out old theatres and inventive new restaurants like chef Matt Stone’s celebrated Greenhouse restaurant, which boasts an on-site worm farm (for recycling kitchen waste) and a quirky vertical garden. It is a brilliant introduction to the city and it is no wonder that this outfit is now one of the most awarded walking tours in Oz.
LUNCH AND SHOPPING
Afterwards, spa and retail therapy calls. To get myself ready for the famous beaches of Perth, I head to Bodhi J, an award-winning and natural organic day spa that uses products by fab Aussie brands such as Sodashi. I decide on the Sodashi Rejuvenation spa journey, which lasts a heavenly one-and- a-half hours. We begin with the popular Vanilla Body Bliss, a body exfoliation, which is refreshing and relaxing all at once, then a facial treatment follows, balancing my tired complexion.
For shopping, I take a cab over to Fremantle, affectionately known locally as ‘Freo’, where counter-culture, quirky fashions, Aboriginal art and accessory shops call home. I spend a happy hour or so browsing the bookstores and boutiques, before ending the afternoon in the foodie-centric area of Leederville, where I track down a zingy Thai curry at Kitsch, a fun restaurant best known for its cool design and authentic Asian street food.