Cottesloe Beach, Perth, Western Australia
If Formula One racing driver Daniel Ricciardo had 48 hours to show a friend around his hometown of Perth, where would he take them?
“First thing that comes to mind is the beach. Have breakfast and a coffee and go for a surf. So, on one of the days, I’d see Cottesloe beach, go into the city – see Kings Park and the river and depending on the night stay in the city. The second day I’d head out to Rottnest. There is plenty to do [on Rottnest] — do some snorkelling and enjoy the beautiful crystal-clear water.”
No stranger to being the ‘Aussie’ in the room, Ricciardo is overseas for much of his professional career so when he gets the chance to touch down on the sandy shores of Western Australia, he embraces the city for all it’s worth. From surfing at Cottesloe beach and soaking up the nightlife to a leisurely day spent on Rottnest Island, this is 48 hours in Perth with Daniel Ricciardo.
Cottesloe Beach, or ‘Cott’ as the locals call it, is one of Perth's most popular beaches. Famous for its white sand, the floating bell just offshore and the Indiana tea house overlooking the Indian Ocean, Cottesloe has seen generations of West Australians through the dry summer heat.
The Blue Duck, Barchetta or the famous Art Deco Indiana restaurant offer sweeping views of the Indian Ocean and are the perfect place for a post or pre-swim breakfast. The Cottesloe Beach Hotel's The Beach Club is another local hotspot for a relaxed drink, a long lunch or an evening under the fairy lights. For something more casual, there are large grass steps leading down to the sand where of an evening, you’ll find people relaxing to watch the sun set over ocean while enjoying a cold beer and some local fish and chips.
The main beach is great for swimming and Peters Pool at North Cottesloe Beach is a great snorkelling spot (keep an eye out for the endangered leafy sea dragon). There's no beach at South Cottesloe; just rocky reefs and cliffs. This is where the surfers head and is great for watching wind and kitesurfers. If you’re keen to surf but aren’t ready to jump straight in the water, take a lesson with Surfing Lessons Cottesloe. They offer a Safe Surfing Program for people of all ages and abilities.
Kings Park, Elizabeth Quay and Perth City
The best place to start your tour of Perth city is in Kings Park. One of the biggest city parks in the world – bigger than Central Park in New York City – it sits in the heart of Perth and offers sweeping views of the Swan and Canning rivers. Tall, white-trunked trees line the entrance road to the park, which has a treetop bridge, bushland trails, manicured gardens and cafés. You can view some of the very best of Western Australia’s wildflowers every September when Kings Park Botanical Garden bursts into bloom.
Also check out Elizabeth Quay – a new development on the Perth foreshore. Centred around the landmark Swan Bells and named in honour of Queen Elizabeth II, Elizabeth Quay plays host to a calendar of events and activities, vibrant new restaurants and café’s and will soon be home to multi-storey hotels, apartments and office spaces.
When it’s time for dinner and drinks, make the short walk into the heart of the city where you’ll find a bevvy of small bars and restaurants. Sample wine and tapas at laneway gem Andaluz, join the cool crowd at The Aviary or go for a vintage feel at Hula Bula, with its tiki décor and retro cocktails. Also in the City Centre are Helvetica and 399 Bar. In hip Northbridge, find Ezra Pound Bar and The Bird Wine Bar.
Start your day early – you’ll want all the time you can get on Rottnest Island. Take the 25-minute ferry ride from Fremantle, hop off at the other end and get ready for a day of sun, sand and quokkas.
The best way to get around the island is by bike (the island is car-free). You can hire bikes on the island at Pedal and Flipper, or you can jump aboard the Island Explorer bus. Before you head off to adventure the island, stop in at Rottnest Bakery (they’re famous for their jam and cream doughnuts). Where you head next is up to you. With over 63 secluded beaches and 20 bays, Rottnest is a perfect destination for any water sports from swimming to diving, fishing and surfing. Some of the most famous beaches include The Basin, Little Parakeet Bay, Little Salmon Bay and Geordie Bay. The Basin, with its shallow clear waters, is only 10 minutes from the main settlement and an underwater snorkelling playground. If you venture out into the reserve you can spend entire days exploring the endless unique bays and all that they have to offer.
Rottnest Island is a perfect location to see humpback and southern right whales as they make their annual migration along Western Australia's coastline. Best times: April, late August to November. One of the best places to view the whales is from the newly constructed West End Boardwalk, which is accessible by bike or the Island Explorer bus.
Don’t forget about the quokkas. Apart from a small colony on the mainland, they are found nowhere else on Earth. These tiny animals, related to wallabies, are found in abundance on the island, and have no fear of humans so will often come right up to visitors.
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