Welcome to My Place . . . Perth

Gabrielle Campion recommends the best beaches, restaurants and sights to visit in Western Australia

Gabrielle Campion in the sunken gardens at the University of Western Australia in Perth.

Gabrielle Campion travelled to Perth in 2011 to visit her sister Lena for three months, and stayed for six and a half years. She works in communications at the McCusker Centre for Citizenship at the University of Western Australia. The centre encourages the students to be engaged in their community through programmes like internships and events with community leaders.

"Perth has opened so many doors for me. I’ll always be grateful for the opportunities I’ve had.”

Where is the first place you always bring people to when they visit Perth?

Kings Park. It’s one of the world’s largest inner-city parks and gives you a feel for the flora of the state and an insight into local Aboriginal history. There’s a tree-top walk and easily the best view of the city from a number of look-out points over the Swan and Canning Rivers for visitors who want to send an impressive photo home. Catching the free bus from the city makes it easy to find without a local guide.

Gabrielle Campion (second left) keeping cool in Perth with her sister, niece and nephew.

The top three things to do there, that don’t cost money, are ...

A stroll around the city: The CBD, which was a bit boring when I arrived seven years ago, is now bustling. Elizabeth Quay is a great tourist spot and is right next to the Bell Tower, which lights up at night and has a great view of the Swan River. The old Treasury building close by is also beautiful and hosts a variety of new restaurants and bars.

A dip in the ocean: You can't come to Perth without visiting one of WA's stunning beaches. Cottesloe is iconic, with its tea rooms and calm current, but you haven't lived until you've been dunked by the tremendous waves of Scarborough beach. Whichever beach you choose, there'll be an ice cream shop or fish and chips nearby to feed your hunger after a day in the sun (read: shade).

Elizabeth Quay, Perth, just before sunrise, as seen from the new Elizabeth Quay bridge. File photograph: Getty Images

Visit the University of Western Australia: the UWA campus is breathtaking. It's one of the oldest universities in Australia and has a rich history and strong Irish links. It was founded by Irish-born Sir John Winthrop Hackett, and President Michael D Higgins recently received an honorary doctorate of laws there. Peacocks roam the grounds and pose for photos.

Where do you recommend for a great meal that gives a flavour of Perth?

Perth is such a multicultural city, it’s hard to pinpoint its exact flavour. My advice is to take a culinary adventure. Northbridge has the best variety of restaurants and showcases the people and cultures of Perth. Old Lane Street Eats serves casual Asian-fusion food, while somewhere like the Northbridge Brewing Company boasts typical Australian pub grub and their own beer.

Sunset at Cottesloe Beach in Perth, Western Australia. File photograph: Getty Images

Where is the best place to get a sense of Perth’s place in history?

Fremantle. The first Europeans arrived in WA in 1616 and the maritime museum in Fremantle showcases it all.  Fremantle Jail has daily tours that tell stories of some of its first inmates, including lots of Irish. The markets, old workers’ cottages, roundhouse and Cappuccino Strip make it a great spot for a cultural day trip.

What should visitors save room in their suitcase for after a visit to Perth?

Wine. Margaret River is just three hours away and the Swan Valley is just 30 minutes from Perth CBD. A wine tour is a great way to taste some wine before you buy it straight from the cellar door.

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