Perth is a brilliant destination for families – it’s full of activities and the warm Mediterranean climate means there’s none of that east-coast humidity. And it makes an excellent stopover en route to Asia to break up a long flight with little ones. The city is just under five-and-a-half hours’ flight from Singapore. Here are some of our favourite spots around Perth to entertain and exhaust the kids. By Lana Nowakowski.
If you do nothing else in Perth, see Kings Park. At 400 hectares, this extraordinary park is one of the world’s largest city parks and surely one of the most beautiful. Stretch out on wide open lawns and absorb sweeping river and skyline views. Enjoy a picnic, barbecue or lunch at the park’s café and ponder the options for burning it off: climb the 101-step tower for stunning views as far as Rottnest Island; walk, run or ride a few kilometres of picturesque paths; hike in 250 hectares of protected bushland; stroll through the treetops on an elevated 52-metre glass-and-steel bridge, or take a guided or self-guided tour according to your interests, from war memorials to native wildflowers.
The Nostalgia Box
The Nostalgia Box is a truly thrilling videogame museum and experience. Its founder set out to capture some of those fond childhood gaming memories and let visitors re-live them. If you’re a child of the 1970s, ’80s or ’90s, this place will really take you back. The museum is overflowing with old-school consoles and retro games and provides an entertaining crash-course in gaming history and development. Did you know that a missing piece of pizza inspired the Pacman game? Even if you haven’t touched them in decades, it can feel oddly familiar to get your hands on some classic consoles and games. (Re)try your hand at Super Mario Bros, Pong, Crash Bandicoot, Pacman, Sonic the Hedgehog and Space Invaders – and have fun watching kids discover (and master, terrifyingly quickly) your old favourites.
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Penguin Island is one of Western Australia’s most accessible places for wildlife spotting. It’s less than an hour’s drive south of Perth followed by a quick ferry ride. The island is frequented by creatures including the world’s smallest penguins, wild dolphins, rare Australian sea lions and nesting seabirds. Explore this idyllic marine sanctuary aboard glass-bottomed boat, kayak, on stand-up paddleboards or by kiteboard. Although more than 1200 penguins live on Penguin Island, they tend to spend their days hunting at sea. For a guaranteed penguin-spotting, attend a feeding session run by park rangers at the Discovery Centre – a safe-house for injured or orphaned penguins.
Perth Zoo might be small but it sure packs a punch. It’s home to a dazzling array of animals, including sun bears, lions, red pandas, elephants, tigers, giraffes, zebras, rhinos, orangutans, baboons, owls, quokkas, lemurs, otters, crocodiles and snakes (from the worm-like pygmy pythons to the giant nightmare-inducing kind). On selected school-holiday dates, you can send your own little animals (aged 8-13) on a Zoo Crew day during which they get to meet animals and help the zookeepers. The Perth Zoo team is super-committed; the zoo has been open 365 days a year since it opened in 1898.
Aquarium of Western Australia
Marvel at underwater worlds – from Australia’s cold southern oceans through to the sunny northern coral reefs – at the world-class Aquarium of Western Australia. Grab a free “Spotto” activity sheet on your way into the aquarium’s Shipwreck Coast walk-through tunnel and have fun spotting sharks, stingrays, turtles and hundreds of different types of fish. There are underwater viewers and goggles at the Discovery Pool where curious kids can hold starfish and even touch a shark. Littler kids will love perching on a rainbow bubble for story-time at 11:45am daily. There are also some great outdoor areas for kids to run around or relax – a grassy picnic area, harbour beach and a playground – before re-entering the watery wonderland.
The Sweet Remedy café
Perk up, pooped parents: you can thwart your little escape artist and drink your coffee while it’s hot at The Sweet Remedy in Leederville. This delightful little suburban café offers a fully fenced outdoor play area for kids and excellent small-batch coffee for adults. The delicious, decorate-your-own cupcakes work for everyone.
Kids and adults will go ga-ga for this immersive, hands-on science centre with a range of fun exhibits. Scitech is home to 3D printers, a giant marble run, a Lego wall and an aquarium, and offers a rotating roster of exhibits, workshops, puppet shows and science demonstrations. The centre even has a planetarium with a 180-degree dome, laser projection and surround sound. Don’t miss the enthralling We Are Aliens show about the hunt for alien life forms, narrated by Harry Potter’s Ron Weasley (actor Rupert Grint).
Woodbridge Riverside Play Space
This massive playground on the banks of the Swan River is fenced, pram- and wheelchair-friendly, and host to a mind-boggling array of play equipment. We’re talking a kid heaven with flying fox, sandpit with diggers, water play area, rope swing, merry-go-round, pirate ship and raft, cubbies, tunnels and climbing areas. Many activities are also wheelchair-friendly, such as the Liberty Swing and rocker. The inclusive amenities extend to extra-wide parking bays.
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Aquarium image credit: Bunn (CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0)