It’s boom time in Western Australia and the serendipitous fallout ensures that wining, dining and cultural pursuits in its capital city are also booming. An explosion of small bars, ravishing restaurants and groovy galleries ensures plenty of pleasure in Perth.
Whether travelling to Perth for work, play (or the rugby) you won’t be disappointed. Thanks to the state’s career-best economy, the West Australian capital is hosting more visitors than ever each year, from high-flying CEOs to fly-in-fly-out workers eager to get their slice of the resources pie. Fuelled by the mining boom, Perth 2.0 is a city that knows how to mix business with pleasure. Here’s how to make the most of that brief encounter.
Exercise is a sure-fire way to combat jetlag, but body clock issues aside, a run or stroll (or taxi) to Kings Park (bgpa.wa.gov.au/kings-park) is a fine start to any morning. If the steady incline of Kings Park Road doesn’t take your breath away, the view of first light illuminating the city below should do the trick. For the particularly fitness-minded, the 242 steps of Jacob’s Ladder should prove a worthy cardiovascular adversary.
Perched next to one of the city’s busiest bus stops, Greenhouse, at 100 St Georges Terrace (greenhouseperth.com) is a popular breakfast spot for city workers. The constantly changing breakfast menu moves with the seasons, but wholesome meals for one may include healthy pizzas and Asian staples such as congee and char siu bao (barbecue pork buns), cooked with environmentally sensitive smarts. Not even something as simple as toast and jam can escape the Greenhouse treatment: the kitchen mills its own flour in-house.
The Art Gallery of Western Australia (artgallery.wa.gov.au) has staged some impressive exhibitions over the years, but its current coup is one for the ages. Until the end of March 2015, AGWA is hosting the MOMA Series, six exhibitions featuring pieces from New York’s esteemed Museum of Modern Art. This month sees the opening of Van Gogh, Dalí And Beyond: The World Reimagined, an examination of modern art’s take on traditional genres such as portrait, still life and landscape. In addition to the MOMA pieces, make some time to browse the other exhibitions as well as the attractions in the Perth Cultural Centre including the Western Australian Museum (museum.wa.gov.au).
One of the many benefits of the state’s buoyant economy is a spring in the step of the local dining scene. While new eating and drinking hot spots are popping up right around the inner city, Brookfield Place (brookfieldplaceperth.com) is undoubtedly its best. Disorientated
travellers need only look for its distinctive metallic blue facade and start making their way towards it. The pick of Brookfield Place is Print Hall (printhall.com.au). Within its four storeys of eats and drinks, bon vivants will find everything from degustations in the fresh-faced Dining Room to fancy hot dogs at rooftop Bob’s Bar named after former PM (and Uni of WA graduate) Bob Hawke.
There was a time when it seemed only nonnas and the Asian community crossed the Horseshoe Bridge to visit Northbridge. Now everyone is crowding into the cosmopolitan enclave. The bottom of William Street near the train station is rich in retro and antique treasures, while hip vendors such as William Topp (williamtopp.com) and The Butcher Shop (thebutchershop.com.au) do a roaring trade in arty knick-knacks. While Friday and Saturday nights still belong to the area’s pulsing clubs and pubs, a new wave of small bars is championing a more civilised drinking culture. Many of the area’s best trade from early afternoon, making it dangerously easy for holidaymakers
to grab an afternoon pick-me-up. Try Ezra Pound (epbar.com.au), 399 Bar (399bar.com) and Mechanics Institute (mechanicsinstitutebar.com.au).
While the Sunday session is a West Australian tradition, the state’s perpetual sunshine makes any afternoon a good one to blow the head off a few frothies. When it comes to somewhere to enjoy beer, it’s hard to think of a better (West) Australian destination than Fremantle, a 30-minute train ride from Perth. Start the beer discovery at local breweries such as Little Creatures (littlecreatures.com.au) and The Monk (themonk.com.au) before continuing the learning at beer-minded pubs The Norfolk (norfolkhotel.com.au) and Sail & Anchor (http://sailandanchor.com.au). In addition to marvelling at the latter’s staggering 40-plus beer taps, inquire about “the Judge”, a hopinator device that infuses beer with spicy and aromatic characteristics.
Western Australia boasts many vantage points from which to watch the sun set, but Cottesloe Beach is one of its best. For the traveller’s convenience, it’s just a short train or taxi ride from Freo. Traditionally, couples have enjoyed nature’s nightly sky show with a picnic on the grassy knoll, but a perch on the balcony of the century-old Cottesloe Beach Hotel (cottesloebeachhotel.com.au) also has its merits. Once the sun goes down, head to The Beach Club out back. A notoriously rowdy beer garden in a previous life, the beach-themed space is now better known for its fine wine, craft beers and wood-fired pizzas.
Dust off those sandy feet and put on something stylish: a night out at Crown Perth (crownperth.com.au) is worth getting dressed up for. Being a casino, there are, naturally, gaming tables, but the bars and restaurants are your best bet. Biggest and best is Rockpool Bar & Grill (rockpool.com), a masterclass in special-occasion dining. Come for the spectacular house-aged beef and swoon-worthy desserts: stay for the powerhouse cellar and switched-on service from one of WA’s best-drilled floor teams. Bookings are strongly advised to
avoid disappointment, as is having the numbers for Nobu (+61 8 9362 7551, noburestaurants.com/perth) and Bistro Guillaume (+61 8 9362 7551, bistroguillaumeperth.com.au) at hand should a plan B be needed. Otherwise, ritzy new Champagne lounge La Vie makes a splendid setting for an aperitif or nightcap.
Give the nightclub queues a miss and head to The Ellington Jazz Club (ellingtonjazz.com.au), preferably to a pre-booked table guaranteeing front-row seats to the evening’s performance, attentive table service and a drinks list proffering well-chosen wines and classically skewed cocktails. The cabaret area is very much about the music, so head upstairs if in the mood for late-night conversations fuelled by Margaret River cabernet and wood-fired pizza. Grown-up and quietly sophisticated, yet not without a sense of fun – it’s a compliment payable to both this intimate inner-city bolthole and to the city of Perth itself.
Tim Winton (Penguin)
Set in postwar Perth, Winton’s feted novel chronicles the highs and lows of two working-class families.
Hide & Seek Perth
This compact guidebook lifts the lid on everything from hidden jazz clubs to suburban dining secrets.
A collection of recipes by WA chefs, Forage offers a snapshot of the state’s food scene while raising funds for Nepalese agricultural projects.
Robert Drewe & Jeff Bell
A coffee-table book that is as much about the pictures as it is the words of its two celebrated authors.
Source Qantas The Australian Way June 2013