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    Posted by Samuel Cox February 3, 2014 - 909 views - 0 comments - 1 like - ##rottnest  ##quokkas  ##freo  ##prison  ##beers  ##kangaroos&koalas  ##crownperth 


    As a continuation of last week’s post about how to enjoy 48 hours in Perth, here is how I recommend spending the rest of your week if you have a little more time in P-Town.


    Day 3 should see you head to Rottnest Island (or Rotto as the locals know it), an A-Class Nature Reserve. You can start as early, or as leisurely, as you like. Leaving from Perth, Hillarys Boat Harbour and Fremantle (be mindful that this is a fifty-minute drive from Perth), frequently departing ferries will shuttle you across the narrow (and usually peaceful) channel to the pedestrianised island in approximately 45 minutes. It is only 18 kilometres off the coast, and every February many brave souls swim the distance in the world’s largest open water event: the Rottnest Channel Swim.


    I used to recommend that my mates from overseas spent a few days on Rotto chillaxing (a refreshing combination of chilling & relaxing): fishing, diving, surfing and bike riding. However, as Perth has become an increasingly popular tourist destination, the price of accommodation on Rottnest has dramatically increased from reasonably expensive, to prohibitively high. Disappointment aside, this means that there is plenty to do in one day. The beaches are clean and beautiful, but I just love hiring a bike and going for a nice long ride out to West End (approx 2hrs return), the furthest point on the island from Thompson Bay (where the ferries arrive and depart). Cruising past scrub, sand dunes and salt lakes in the sun and sea breeze is a delight. However, this can be enjoyed regardless of the distance you ride, and you have to the option to go as far from, or stay as close to, the settlement as you desire. There is also a regular shuttle bus that operates between the main accommodation areas and some of the most beautiful beaches and bays on the island. End the day by returning to the settlement to watch the sunset over a few drinks at the recently refurbished Rottnest Hotel (which is right by the beach!).


    Rottnest is incredibly family friendly; indeed, it gets very busy during the school holidays. However, be warned that it is positively unwelcoming in the first week of July, when university students begin their mid year break, and at the end of the school year in mid November. Students flock to the island to blow off steam in a bacchanalian bender of epic proportions. Every scrap of accommodation is fully booked months in advance, and the locals tend to lock themselves indoors to escape the debauchery. The young adults have been known to run amok in an attempt to add to the island’s (occasional) reputation as ‘the Ibiza of the Southern Hemisphere’. Kids and their alcohol nowadays…


    Finally, keep an eye out for the island’s native, cute little bundles of fur. Quokkas are herbivorous marsupials and the happiest looking animals alive. They have become extremely accustomed to humans, and these curious critters will scamper amongst your feet fearlessly. Please note though, they are not to be feed or patted.


    Any activity specific gear (like bikes, fishing rods etc) can be hired from the island or carried over on the ferry. The last ferry departs at approximately 6PM.


    For Day 4, it is time to venture into laid back Fremantle (mostly called Freo – we shorten everything here, I’m not too sure why). This coastal city and bustling working port is home to Hipsters and Greens, Vegan cafes, bare feet, dreadlocks, buskers and backpackers roaming the streets with a lost look in their eye. It has an entirely different vibe to Perth and can feel like another world.


    Fremantle’s original architecture has been restored to nurture its old world atmosphere, and the harbour houses iconic vessels from WA’s maritime history (for example: Australia II, the yacht that won the America’s Cup). The famous Fremantle Markets, established in 1897, have over 150 stalls that sell fresh local produce, jewellery, quirky gifts, and sheepskin ugg boots (a must buy)! The alfresco dining of the ‘Cappuccino Strip’ (composed of South Terrace Road and Market Street) is a social hub and is never dull.


    For the street art connoisseurs, there is an abandoned power station (deep in South Fremantle so prepare to trek) that, although technically closed to the public, puts on an art show to rival any ‘high-end’ gallery. More on that in future posts though.


    In the early evening, take a trip to prison, the Fremantle Prison, for its spooky Torchlight Tour. WA’s only heritage listed building is a must see, and this is the most enjoyable way to do it. Decommissioned as a maximum-security gaol as recently as 1991, it is a reminder of our past as a Penal Colony where the dregs of Britain where sent to shape this nation. Taking an hour and a half, you explore the Main Cell Block, solitary confinement, whipping post, the gallows and the morgue. These tours are not for the faint hearted and there are a few surprises in the mix.


    Remembering that the legal drinking age in Australia is 18 years, round out the day with a tipple at the famous Little Creatures Brewery (I recommend the Bright Ale, but the Pale Ale is its bestseller). For dinner, head to the nearby Cicerello’s to take advantage of WA’s abundance of cheap and delicious world-class seafood. Think oysters, crabs, mussels, and lobster! I recommend grabbing an alfresco spot overlooking the Boat Harbour and tucking into the seafood platter for two.


    It would be a travesty for you to leave the apple of my eye without jaunting out to Caversham Wildlife Park to pat some animals cuter than Kimye’s baby North West. You can have animal encounters with Australian wildlife, feeding kangaroos and cradling koalas (our most adorable animal in my opinion). There are also Tasmanian devils, wombats, possums, dingos, quolls, flying foxes, reptiles and native birds, including cassowaries, owls and emus (which fly about as well as peacocks and penguins do). You can also experience a range of farm activities such as sheep sheering, cow milking, lamb feeding, mustering, whip cracking and billy tea tossing (I’m still not actually sure what that is).


    Perth receives around 3000 hours of sunshine a year, so we tend to spend a lot of time outdoors. If by this point you still have not participated in some sort of water-based activity, now is the time. Between the Indian Ocean and the Swan River, there is boating, surfing, snorkelling, scuba diving, kayaking, and wind surfing to be done. Discover our rich underwater environments, populated by schooling fish and sponge gardens, or shred on jet skis. You can even sail aboard the Leeuwin II, choosing to relax and enjoy, or participate in the sailing gonzo style.


    To rap up your Perth experience, venture five minutes from the CBD to Crown Perth for dinner and drinks. Previously known as the Burswood Hotel, the complex is first and foremost an expensive place to sleep. It has undergone a classy revamp and now hosts celebrity chef Neil Perry’s Rockpool Bar & Grill, the internationally renowned Japanese restaurant Nobu, French restaurant Bistro Guillaume, The Merrywell (a gastro-pub) and a 24-hour casino, among others. The venue, with its view of the Swan River and city skyline, is always buzzing with people. I have personally never been to Eve, the complex’s nightclub, but it has a dangerous reputation and I do not encourage anyone to attend.