On arrival into Perth city, it doesn’t appear to be an unusually exciting place. It’s not known for the things us Melburnians often take for granted (everything!). When we walked out of the airport doors, there was an outdoor bar selling sub-bourbon & cokes, and a row of buses to transport hundreds of miners returning to their posts. It’s the mining industry that WA is known for, after all. I landed clutching a to-see list I’d compiled from friend’s suggestions, and despite first impressions, dared to wander freely to discover for myself what makes Perth a place I could love. I walked and I walked, for about 100km in a week, to find
myself the five things that I want to share with you.
01 | PRINT Hall / BOB’S BAR, Perth City
Print Hall Bar & Dining is the site where the printing presses for the West Australian Newspaper once operated. It’s a beautifully restored space that mixes original timber, with modern fixtures (we didn’t eat here, drinks beckoned). At the top of the newspaper lined staircase is a rooftop bar, which pays homage to Bob Hawke, Australia’s 23rd Prime Minister (1983-1991). Famous Hawke quotes luminate from neon signs adorning the walls.
02 | The Banker + Common Ground, Fremantle
We caught a ferry over to Fremantle. The amazing Fremantle Ports’ Administration Building stands like a lone time capsule (I wondered, are we actually in 1963 right now?), hinting at the extraordinary history of the place. Tucked away in High St is The Banker (rhymes with) Café, serving good, strong coffee, and the kind of chocolate caramel slice you remember from childhood. A light, breezy prelude to Common Ground, a retail space that fulfills any urges you may have to support local fashion designers.
Although Fremantle boasts some very famous attractions, we preferred the quiet back streets and deserted spaces, far from the mediocre market and maddening crowds in Freo’s pride – “the cappuccino strip”.
03 | ROTTNEST ISLAND
We did a day trip to Rottnest Island, but there’s plenty of accommodation and activity to keep you there much longer. We caught the Rottnest Express from Perth city. It takes about 25 mins. Hint: don’t go when you’re hungover (#chunderexpress), or it will feel like hours on violently choppy seas. Pre-book your bike hire, and enjoy all the fresh air, sunshine, freedom, beauty, quokkas (native to WA), and reconnection-to-nature that you desire. At the end of your ride awaits a friendly pie (that you have earned).
04 | MARGARET RIVER CHOCOLATE COMPANY + Providore, PERTH CITY
While we didn’t make it to the actual place, the Margaret River Chocolate Company and Providore shop in Perth city is full of goodness. As my friend told me, you try so many dukkahs, vinaigrettes, olive oils and bread, that lunch is pretty much taken care of. I think he might be psychic. The chocolate is also heavenly, and I will endlessly rave about their balsamic and wild onion vinaigrette (of life), and I am not a foodie, by any means.
05 | Ricarda, Subiaco
They stock coveted women’s brands like (fans face with hand to avoid hyperventilation): Isabel Marant, Mary Katrantzou, Alexander Wang, MM6, Bernhard Willhelm, T By Alexander Wang, IRO, Sacai Luck, Etoile Isabel Marant, Rag & Bone, Comme Comme, Silent by Damir Doma, Nom*D, Jac + Jack, Bassike and more, plus menswear, accessories, inspirational objects for the home (which is on the east coast, I remind myself. Phew) and fragrance.
It was at Ricarda that I first discovered (& fell obsessed with) Monocle’s Scent Three: Sugi , but decided against buying, only to return home to discover that it isn’t available here. Quick! Scratch a record! I swiftly corrected this and had the friendly people at Ricarda express post me a bottle. Clearly they understand the call when they get it.
Also worth visiting: Kings Park, Perth Zoo, Prince Lane, Pigeonhole located within Forrest Chase, Fi & Co vintage plus lots of yummy Asian places to eat in Northbridge (walking distance from the Art Gallery of Western Australia & Perth city train station).