My Favourite (Perth) Things

Whenever I’m back home on my old stomping ground, in between catching up with family and friends, I literally have a ritual of “Perth” things I have to do. Whether it’s a nod to old favourites or newly discovered ones, my trip simply wouldn’t be the same without them. So from Crepes in Freo to Honey in the Swan Valley, Retail Therapy in Claremont to a Picnic lunch in the Bush, here’s a run down of a “few” of my favourite things.

First Things First

Get togethers over takeaway Fish & Chips are still alive and well in my family and is typically the first meal I’ll have on the day I arrive to kick start my holiday. For me, there’s nothing quite like opening up that greased paper wrapper to reveal piping hot, beautifully battered, flaky white fish with crunchy chips soaked in salt & vinegar, and anticipating that first delightful bite of nostalgia. But if there’s one thing I love even more than Fish & Chips, it’s a Corn Jack – a crunchy deep fried roll filled with creamy, sweet corn kernels of deliciousness that I could eat for days. Yes, not the healthiest of meals to start with but hey, you have to live a little, so give it a go!

Another dish I’m mad for is Chilli Mussels. Back in the day, we used to flock to Uncle Vinnie’s in Northbridge for his famously fiery mussels. Sadly, the original Uncle Vinnie’s is no more, but there are now many other places to get your Chilli Mussels fix.

Little Creatures in Fremantle is a fab place to soak in views of the harbour while indulging in a steaming bowl of Mussels with a side serving of their famous Frites, washed down of course with a Pale Ale that is pumped fresh, straight from their on-site brewery. But if traditional pubs are more your thing, then head to Clancy’s Fish Pub – their spiciest Chilli Mussels really pack a punch, and if you’re there on a Tuesday, you can also try your luck in Freo’s longest running weekly Pub Quiz.

Fremantle (Freo)

Some may say that Freo has lost a bit of its luster, but I still adore it for its eclectic, free spirited vibe, filled with music, arts, artisan coffee, handcrafted beers, quirky shops and more. Home to one of my favourite boutiques, Eros (Market Street), and the much loved brew of Little Creatures, I can wander about the Harbour & Esplanade, people watch on the Cappuccino Strip, have a spot of lunch at the historical Sail & Anchor while catching glimpses of the street performers gathered in front of Freo Markets, or just walk the Georgian & Victorian architectural lined streets for hours.

And if it’s a bit more history you’re after, there’s some of that too. From the 12 sided Roundhouse, which is the oldest building still standing in WA, to the Fremantle Prison (where I shot a documentary while inmates were still there – kinda nerve-racking) and The Shipwreck Galleries, there’s plenty to keep you occupied.

Freo Markets

No matter how busy I am though, I always make time on the weekend to visit the Freo Markets. My Mum doesn’t quite understand my fascination with the markets and why I always delight in roaming the same stalls year after year, without ever actually buying anything.

Well the main purpose of my visit is to indulge in my favourite Chicken Parrisienne Crepe in White Mushroom Sauce from Michele’s Crepe Suzette. This food stall is a bit of an institution in the markets and has been around for as long as I can remember – a favourite spot of mine that has now been passed on to Poss and down to our boys who love it for all the sweet & savoury delectable menu options that are available. While I’m not sure if the original family still owns it, the yummy crepes haven’t changed much (maybe just a wee bit smaller) and it still packs a crowd during peak times, so get there earlier or later.

Beyond the crepes, there’s a whole treasure trove of things to fall in love with at the Markets. Like the iron on patches my boys spend ages deciding over, the stalls selling jewellery, fairy lights, fudge, coffee, tea, honey cake, gelato, homeware, aromatherapy, t-shirts, sheepskins, fresh produce … there’s bound to be something there that piques your interest. And if you’re really lucky, you may even bump into a koala. What else could you ask for.

Cottesloe Beach

My childhood summer days spent at Cottesloe Beach, gorging myself on ice cream and hot chips in between hours of swimming, are days I remember with much happiness. While I must confess that it has been quite a while since I’ve strapped on my bathers and gone for a swim, I still like going back to enjoy a beachside meal and reminisce of a time when I never even thought about sharks. Not that it deters me now, but Poss kinda has a shark phobia and won’t even get near the shoreline, let alone swim, regardless of how many times I tell him that I’m living proof that it’s safe (enough) to get in the water 😉

So instead, we just go for lazy lunches at Indiana Cafe and The Blue Duck to soak in the panoramic views of the Indian Ocean or catch the sunset over a coffee or lovely bottle of vino – always from a safe distance, of course.

Claremont Quarter

Now for some serious shopping. Whenever I’m in Perth, I try to support Australian designers or at least, shop at local boutiques. While Subiaco used to be my go to hub, those days are long gone and I now head to Claremont Quarter where you’ll find a good mix of Australian labels like Alice McCall, Camilla & Marc, Zimmermann & Tigerlily, to name a few. Even though some of my favourite designers have since moved, such as the dramatic & theatrical Perth label that is Empire Rose (Pearse Street, Fremantle) and the whimsical & romantic Alannah Hill (Wesley Quarter, Perth), plenty of stores still bring me back.

If you love modern aesthetics & tailored elegance, check out Scanlan & Theodore. I first came across their store in Melbourne during my Uni days when I could only afford a scarf, but my love for their crisp lines has endured – thankfully my wallet is also now a little more forgiving.

Sass & Bide is another brand I love for its bold and effortless edgy style. Their stand alone store in Claremont has the widest selection, but I also often shop their collection at Myers in the City.

Zomp Shoez – I’m a shoe person through & through and would even consider selling Poss for a pair if I really had to. Originating in Perth, Zomp has always been one of my favourite shoe stores and I still enjoy browsing their shelves in Claremont or King Street for a one of a kind find.

King Street

King Street, Perth’s premier fashion precinct was a little different in my days. In the late 80s & 90s, it was known for its independent and alternative boutiques such as Wheel & Dollsbaby, Ruth Tarvydas, Periscope (William Street) & Varga Girl (Leederville) as well as its trendy cafes set amidst the hub of the iconic, His Majesty’s Theatre.

While you’ll now find the luxury global elite of Louis Vuitton, Tiffany, Chanel and Prada housed in its restored 20th Century buildings, it’s great to see that its original spirit of individuality can still be found in the likes of Cult Status, Highs & Lows, Varnish on King & Uncle Joe’s Barber & Mess. So even if your dollar can’t stretch to a Petite Malle, take comfort in knowing that you can still enjoy this pretty little street and its hidden laneways with a little less dosh in your pocket.

London Court

As a child, I used to marvel at London Court with its mock Tudor facade and its rotating knights above its blue chiming clock. While I’ve often walked through its quaint open-air arcade that’s filled with souvenir shops, cafes, UGG boots and all kinds of curious things, I’ve always seen it as more a tourist attraction .. that is until recently. Because nestled among those ye old stores is The London Court Cobbler who has not only saved one, but two pairs of my Prada shoes from certain death. When Prada refused to step-up and replace my disintegrating soles, Steve stepped in and worked his magic – my shoes have never been happier.

And if you’re ever in need of a hair accessory like I was recently, pop into Zena Hair Fashion where the friendly owner will scour her stock to help find the perfect one to adorn your tresses.

The State Buildings

After standing empty for 19 years, the State Buildings underwent a massive 8 year repurpose and conservation project that restored the heritage buildings back to their majestic glory, and with it, rejuvenated the historical precinct into a vibrant destination all its own.

For fine dining with views across the Swan River and the City, try out Wildflower, located on the rooftop of the luxury COMO The Treasury Hotel. If casual is more your style, then head to Long Chim with its contemporary twist on Thai street food or check out Petition Kitchen that serves up sharing plates and also has its own separate craft Beer Corner & Wine Bar. Whether you’re there to dine or just want to explore the beautiful, storied halls that’s home to a trendy mix of retail offerings, there’s a great vibe to this inventive space that’s well worth a visit.

Swan Valley

If you’re wanting to get a feel of the wine country but don’t have time to get down to Margaret River, then take a drive to the Swan Valley, which is just under 30 mins from Perth. While the drive may not be as picturesque, it is WA’s oldest wine region and home to a host of wineries, breweries and art galleries. Just remember to grab a map from the Swan Valley Visitor Centre to help you navigate the area and get the most out of your visit.

We often stop for lunch at one of the fine dining restaurants or pub grub establishments. The food is good, the grog is great and the views are gorgeous. There are plenty to choose from, so we always try a new one each time, which also gives us the chance to try all the different cellar door wines. Any excuse I tell ya!

While the lunches are fab, the real reason I head to the Swan Valley is to get my Vanilla Honey stash from The House of Honey. They recently renovated their cosy store where you can taste test all their honey & mead variants for free, purchase all manner of honey related products from homeware to candles to beauty products and even see a live bee display. Be sure to also try their honey cake and ice cream – delish!

From Honey heaven, we head to Providore which is located next to its sister company, the Margaret River Chocolate Company, where my Mum stocks up on Rocky Road like it’s going out of style! Providore on the other hand is a lovely little gourmet & wine store with a tasting centre that sells a huge range of jams, sauces, spice mixes, olive oils and the like. It’s even been featured in My Kitchen Rules, but I go less for the reality TV tie-up and more for the Mustard, Passionfruit Curd & Truffle infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Ellis Brook Valley Reserve

Often when we’re in Perth, we try to squeeze in a bush picnic and walkabout with my Mum’s sister’s family. While I wouldn’t call myself outdoorsy by any stretch of the imagination, I do like being outdoors, especially when the weather is cool and you’re in one of the prettiest places for a bush walk.

Ellis Brook Valley Reserve boasts over 500 species of wildflowers and is known as the richest wildflower location within the Perth Metropolitan area. There are trails suitable for all, ranging from the wheelchair accessible Easy Walk Trail to the challenging Sixty Foot Falls, which is a short but steep trail that rewards you with fab views of the City and Valley along the way. I’ve never done this hike myself mind you, but it’s supposed to be quite spectacular, especially between August & October when the falls cascade from the top of the scarp after good winter rains and the wildflowers are in bloom.

Are We There Yet?

And there you have it! OK, so there were more than just a “few” favourites. Trust me, this is only the tip of the iceberg. There’s still much to explore, do and experience, especially once you head up North or down South, but we’ll leave that for another time. For now, I hope you’ll find my little list useful for when you drop in for a visit – may you too enjoy a few of the things I love about my Oz hometown ❤️

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Ex-expat Dubai Diva wife - still trying to take it all in her stride, one stiletto at a time!

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