By: Carolyn Beasley; Photos by Capricorn Seakayaking, Kym Illman, Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority
The Western Australian capital is an outdoorsy town that offers plenty of bonuses for those who are keen to get out and do. Here are some tips for adventurous families, with a special emphasis on Spring (September to November) so you can start planning a trip.
1) Learn to surf at Cottesloe Beach
Tourists and locals come to famous Cottesloe Beach to sip caffè lattes, jog the coastal path or indulge in sunset fish and chips. If you’re coming to Perth, you definitely need to visit Cottesloe, so you may as well carve up the waves with the kids while you’re at it! The surf is perfect for beginners, and the sandy or seaweedy floor makes for a soft wipe-out landing.
Spring bonus: Winter is blustery and cold, and in summer, sadly, the surf is officially flat. Spring’s the time to take the plunge!
Suitable ages for children: Any age, as long as they’re competent swimmers.
Cost: For a group surfing lesson of 1.5 hours, it’s A$50 per adult or child. Multi-class packages are available.
2) Go sand boarding in Lancelin
Ninety minutes north of Perth along the scenic Indian Ocean Drive you’ll find tiny Lancelin – and some massive sand dunes. Hire sand boards at the general store, then proceed to the slopes for a bit of adrenalin-pumping action for the whole family. Trudging back up the dune may be a slog, but the panoramic views and the thrilling ride down will be worth it. That night in the bath, you’ll find sand in unexpected places!
Tip: For those not keen on self-driving, consider a four-wheel drive tour, which also includes a stop at the eerie formations of the Pinnacles Desert and koala-viewing at a wildlife park.
Spring bonus: Every spring, this region hosts spectacular displays of wildflowers. Drive home via Moore River National Park to view the Western Australian Christmas tree in flower, and visit Gingin Cemetery to spot the iconic kangaroo paw.
Suitable ages for children: All ages – there’s a dune for everyone!
Cost: Self-drive car hire is from around $120 for a day.
Sand board rental: $10 (plus a deposit) for two hours. Tour with Adams Pinnacle Tour: Adult $215, child $120, family $550.
3) Kayak with sea lions and feed the penguins
Get the wind in your hair and spray on your face as you paddle double-kayaks to Penguin and Seal Islands in the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park. Wild sea lions may choose to somersault between the kayaks or simply pose on the beach. Proceed to Penguin Island to visit the world’s smallest penguins and snorkel on the rocky reefs. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins on the journey home.
Spring bonus: Penguin Island is closed during winter for penguin nesting season, and reopens on 15 September. Avoid the busy summer holidays (December and January). Kayak tours are available from 24 September this year.
Suitable ages for children: From eight years old. The under-eights will enjoy the glass-bottom boat, which visits the same islands.
Cost: Kayak: Adult $180, child $162
Glass-bottom boat cruise: Adult $38.50, child $29.50
4) Build a fortress at Kings Park
More than four square kilometres of manicured gardens, bushland, city vistas and play areas make up the magnificent Kings Park, and within it is the unique Rio Tinto Naturescape. Families can connect with nature here as bird song mixes with laughter and battle roars. Let the kids off the leash to climb rocks, splash through creeks, build cubby houses and get properly dirty.
Spring bonus: During September, Kings Park is bursting with the activities of the Kings Park Festival. Take in a free musical performance, the spectacular wildflower displays or any of the fun family events on offer.
Suitable ages for children: All ages.
Cost: Free. Naturescape is closed on Mondays.
5) Cycle Rottnest Island
Cute, fluffy quokkas, flawless beaches and zero cars make Rottnest Island a family cycling paradise. For the youngsters, tandem bikes or bikes with a baby seat or child trailer can be hired. Tootle around, inspecting historical lighthouses and stunning viewpoints. Don’t forget to stop for a lamb pie at the Rottnest Island Bakery for lunch.
Tip: Hire your bike from the ferry company to save time when you arrive at the island.
Spring bonus: From September to December, thousands of humpback whales breach, blow and tail-slap their way past Rottnest Island on their annual migration. (Some also slide by quietly.) The kids will love spotting whales from the ferry or from one of the many lookouts as you pedal the island.
Suitable ages for children: Toddlers from 12 months can ride in a child trailer. For babies younger than 12 months, take a ride on the Bay Explorer bus.
• Return ferry: Adult from $79, child from $42, family from $199
• Bike hire: Adult $30, child $15, child trailer $16
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