Big City Tales

The Sights and Wonders of South and Western Australia | May 1, 2018

In a land where the Gold Coast and Great Barrier Reef attract travelers in droves to its north and eastern shores, the sights and wonders of south and western Australia are sometimes sadly overlooked. This blog shines the spotlight in the direction of lesser known cities such as Adelaide and Perth that rival the likes of Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, and are major urban centres in their own right where beaches, parks and other top-notch amenities are just waiting to delight intrepid Down Under explorers.

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Adelaide

Surrounded by lush vineyards and beautiful coastal beaches, Adelaide is also known for its Mad March festival season, wildlife parks and reserves such as Kangaroo Island, and a vibrant culinary scene featuring a diverse array of international cuisines. Another main attraction is the Adelaide Oval, a world-renowned cricket venue that is heralded as much for its landscaped grounds and pedestrian-friendly plaza as it is for its immaculately maintained stadium turf and seating capacity of 50,000.

Wine Country

With more than 60 wineries in the Adelaide Hills region alone, it’s easy to understand why Adelaide is referred to as one of the great wine capitals of the world. The cool climate in this area offers ideal growing conditions for grapes that produce Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc wines, and opportunities for tastings and food pairings are plenty. Local favourites include Mt. Lofty Ranges Vineyard, Pike & Joyce, The Lane Vineyard, Shaw + Smith, and Ashton Hills.

Beach Scene

Whether heading north or south along Adelaide’s long coastline, most beaches are within 30 minutes to an hour of the city centre. Glenelg is a popular family-friendly destination that is also known for its trendy boutiques and cafes located on Jetty Road. Henley and Brighton beaches also offer a variety of shops and eateries along with ample space to park a towel and grab some rays. Semaphore Foreshore is lauded for its long and wide beach that is bordered by sand dunes and provides an ideal location for the annual Adelaide Kite Festival. The Semaphore Jetty is a popular landmark that extends 585 metres into the Gulf of St. Vincent. Other local attractions include a vintage 1920s carousel and an old-fashioned steam locomotive that runs along the scenic Semaphore to Fort Glanville Tourist Railway.

Festival Line-Up

Be it theatre, dance, music, visual arts or comedy, Adelaide is the place to check out a plethora of annual festivals and events. During the month of March the city is a veritable festival frenzy with a line-up that includes the Adelaide Festival, Adelaide Fringe Festival, Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Adelaide Film Festival, Adelaide Festival of Ideas, Adelaide Writers’ Week and WOMADelaide, the latter a multicultural celebration of music, arts and dance held at the Adelaide Botanic Garden.

Perth

Boasting an average of 8.8 hours of daily sunshine, Perth is the sunniest capital city in Australia that also prides itself on offering a unique blend of urban living in the heart of a natural setting. Skyscrapers in the Central Business District make for an impressive skyline that is minutes away from trendy hipster communities, the shores of the Indian Ocean, as well as one of the world’s largest inner city parks. Perth has also gained recent Instagram fame due to a camera-friendly marsupial called the quokka that is only found in Western Australia, and seems to take great pleasure in posing for selfies.

Urban Appeal

Cafes, clothiers and cultural establishments abound in Perth neighborhoods such as Northbridge, Leederville, Mount Lawley and Subiaco.  The Elizabeth Quay district features apartments, office buildings and retail outlets along the waterfront. Barrack Square is home to the Swan Bell Tower, a set of 18 bells contained in a copper and glass tower that stands 82.5 metres high. Other public art in the area includes the Spanda and First Contact sculptures, the latter is a five-metre bird with its wings stretched on a boat. First Contact was created by a local Indigenous artist and depicts how the Noonjar people viewed the arrival of British colonists on their sailing boats.

Cottesloe Beach

Similar to Adelaide, the beaches in Perth stretch for miles along a gorgeous coastline but they are have the added attraction of crystal clear turquoise water that pops against the light coloured sand. Cottesloe Beach is known for its cafe scene, Norfolk pine trees, and an annual art exhibition called Sculpture by the Sea that takes place in March. The outdoor gallery begins at the sea wall and works are found along the sand, in the water and continue north toward a grassed sculpture park.

Kings Park and Botanic Garden

Bushland meets the inner city at Kings Park and Botanic Garden, a sprawling 400 hectare natural oasis in the heart of Perth. While admiring the city skyline, waterfronts of the Swan and Canning Rivers, and peaks of the Darling Ranges, visitors can wander native bushland walking trails, gardens and parklands. Kings Parks also celebrates aspects of Aboriginal and European history, as well as contemporary culture. The Botanic Garden contains 3,000 species of flora unique to Western Australia, and is lauded for its horticultural and conservation efforts.

Rottnest Island

Located 19 kilometres south of Perth, Rottnest Island is a quick and quiet natural get-away destination offering a car-free environment, six distinct habitats, 60 beaches, coral reefs, salt lakes, historical buildings, and the aforementioned quokka, referred to as the “happiest animal in the world” because of its penchant for smiling and grinning for pictures. Rottnest Island is a wildlife protected A-Class Reserve that promotes the simple pleasures of life and encourages sustainability from water recycling and renewable energy initiatives.

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