Explore Kings Park
There’s more to this botanic garden than native plants. Within the wildflowers of Kings Park, around two kilometres from the Perth CBD, are bundles of kid-focused areas and experiences, including the incredible Rio Tinto Naturescape, which features a 40-metre elevated walkway that snakes through the treetops and is aptly named The Python, and Paperback Waterhole, a knee-deep pool filled with smooth pebbles. Elsewhere in the park is the 101-step DNA Tower Climb that offers views all the way to the Indian Ocean and several specialised playgrounds.
Spend a few hours in Yagan Square
Conveniently located next to Perth Train Station, Yagan Square is a new, one-hectare public space dotted with eateries that are always abuzz with engaging activities. The schedule of kid-friendly events changes regularly (during the recent school holidays there were free pasta and chocolate making classes) but there’s also a permanent play area, Indigenous art displays and the ever-tempting water play area which spurts until 6pm every day bar Wednesday.
Pretend to be a pirate at WA Shipwrecks Museum
The Western Australian coast is home to the some of the country’s most fascinating maritime events and disasters – all of which are recognised within the walls of this museum. Though the finer details of the Batavia mutiny may be lost on young children, they’ll be fascinated by the full-scale wreckage of the ship and have the chance to examine cannons, maps and relics lifted from other sunken Dutch vessels.
Drive around Pitstop Playground
Are your kids obsessed with watching Cars over and over again? Encourage them to get away from screens and make like Lightning McQueen by trying out their own skills on the road – a safe, purpose-built one for bikes, scooters and go-carts. The Pitstop Playground in Banksia Grove, a suburb in Perth’s north, features tracks with imitation road signs (including one reminding mini drivers to watch for kangaroos) as well as a slide, swings and climbing mounds.
Splash about at BHP Water Park
Anyone with small children knows if they spot a fountain, there’s close to 100 per cent chance they’re going to run through it. Thankfully, kids don’t have to resist the temptation to charge through the choreographed and coloured water jets at Elizabeth Quay – it’s designed especially for splashing about in. Just be sure to pack a change of clothes.
Climb a volcano
Not a real one, obviously, but a rather impressive imitation at Belmont’s Faulkner Park, complete with a smoking top. The perfect outing for kids bored with the usual swing-and-see-saw set-up, the Volcano Playground features spiral footpaths and slides on the manufactured rock, plus a flying fox, sand pit and a gaggle of 3D creatures such as crocodiles, turtles and even Easter Island heads.
Traverse Sorrento Quay Boardwalk
A family day out is always made happier when there are activities to please every member, no matter their age. Sorrento Quay Boardwalk is ostensibly a shopping and food destination by the water at Hillarys Boat Harbour but every Sunday, Boardwalk Betty – that’s the technicolour train – ferries kids around its expanse at no cost between 10.30am and 3pm.
Soak up the sun at Cottesloe Beach
Western Australia has some pretty incredible beaches – not to mention some pretty incredible overwater sunsets – but Cottesloe still manages to distinguish itself from the sandy pack. The white powder stretches for more than a kilometre along the coast and the relatively calm waters at North Cottesloe make it ideal for swimming and snorkelling. Windier South Cottesloe is where the surfers head but when the waves are still, you might be able to spot a leafy sea dragon bobbing below the surface.
Ascend the Lancelin Sand Dunes
Though not in Perth proper, the chance to stand atop one of these towering white dunes and gaze out to sea is not to be missed. Entry is free, as is whizzing down their sides if you have your own sandboard (if not, they can be rented from $12). Make the 90-minute drive from Perth in the morning so you arrive before the breeze gets too strong and then zoom down the slopes with your fingers trailing behind you.
Tour the Fremantle markets
For more than a century, artisans have proffered their wares at the Fremantle Markets – fresh fruit and vegetables, leather goods, jewellery, art, clothing, coffee and snacks. Though purchasing a few goodies will mean you need to open your wallet, wandering throughout the 150 stalls and soaking up the bustling atmosphere doesn’t cost a cent. If you do decide to treat yourself, a brightly coloured scoop from Ling Ling Ice Cream House will please everyone.