Jan 22nd
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Perth, Australia with Marjie

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City Beat
Exploring Perth, Australia    

    Perth, the capital of Western Australia and one of the largest cities in “Oz,” is a beautiful, child-friendly city with a healthy outdoor lifestyle and plenty to see and do.
    My husband Andrew and I started our cross-Pacific journey at 11:00 P.M. on United’s 14-hour flight from San Francisco to Sydney--it was the perfect time to leave.  Duncan, age one, and Morgan, age four, keeled over into seven hours of sleep!   
    We had four days to acclimate and enjoy Sydney, then we made the five-hour flight to Perth on Qantas.  The flight attendants were wonderful--staggering meals for us and the children.  Note: Qantas has fairly rigid rules about taking carseats on board; let them know 24 hours in advance if you intend to do so.
    In Perth we rented two beach “chalets” (townhomes) in the seaside suburb of Cottesloe, just a 10-minute drive from my brother’s house, and a two-minute walk from the beach (Cottesloe Beach Chalets, 6 John St.; 9383-5000; approx. US$100 per night for a two-bedroom chalet).  Our chalet came with TV, VCR, stereo, fully equip-ped kitchen, parking garage, and a patio with table, chairs and barbecue. A crib, high chair, child’s safety rail, and even beach toys were provided at no extra cost.  The chalet was child-friendly and safe even for the ever-curious 1-year-old Duncan.  Our only complaint was inadequate air conditioning.
    Many of the beaches along the Perth coastline (including Cottesloe) are not safe bathing for smaller children; always keep an eye on those “dumper” waves.  Once you get out past the dumpers, however, the water is smooth enough to swim laps and the snorkeling is pretty good.
    Cottesloe beach was a bit crowded, especially on the weekends, but it was conveniently close.  But a 15-minute drive up the coast to City Beach rewarded us with a large, uncrowded clean beach with free gas barbecue facilities, picnic areas, and floodlights for nighttime barbecues.
     Plan beach treks early morning or late afternoon rather than midday--the Aussie sun is fierce--even in the Fall.  Morgan and Duncan were wearing SPF 30 and still came home looking like little berries.
    One of Australia’s greatest attractions, apart from its magnificent beaches, is its unusual wildlife.  Perth Zoo (20 Labouchere Rd.; 9367-7988), where we celebrated Morgan’s 4th birthday, features the “Australian Walkabout” exhibit--we saw kangaroos, koalas, and emus as well as echidna and quokka.  We saw an absolutely enormous crocodile, a stunning reptile exhibit with its frill-necked lizard (which gave Morgan a big frill for his birthday), the duck-billed platypus, and the “Zoorassic Park” exhibit, featuring animatronic dinosaurs in a jungle setting... heaven for little boys!  
    The zoo grounds are shaded and we found iced-water vending machines everywhere, so we didn’t feel the heat too badly.
    At Cohunu Koala Park, (Lot 287A, Mills Rd., Kelmscott 9390-6090) we had a family photograph taken with a koala (US$18 for two 5X7 photographs; other packages are available).  We also visited the kangaroo enclosure, where we fed turnips and carrots to the animals, and were lucky enough to see a joey drinking from its mother, and another climbing in and out of its mother’s pouch.   The park also has dingos, quokkas, echidna, emus, wombats, lots of giant dinosaur statues, and a quaint revolving restaurant with a great view of the park.
    For sea life, Underwater World (9100 South Dr., Hillarys; 9447-7500) features an outside dolphin pool, an indoor walk-through tunnel where you can watch sharks being fed by a diver, and a superb touchpool with tame sharks, rays, starfish and more.
     Perth offers dozens of parks and playgrounds, the biggest of which is the central King’s Park (Fraser Ave.), which has two restaurants, an excellent gift shop, and stunning views of downtown Perth and the Swan River.
    When the weather was dull, we found a number of options: Andrew took the boys to the SciTech Discovery Centre (1st Floor City West, Cnr Sutherland St. and Railway Pde; 9481-6295), which features 160 interactive exhibits, including a walk-in lung that 4-year-old Morgan found a little too life-like!  
    With our local science museum membership, entrance to SciTech was free for us; the boys loved the place so much, we went twice.  
    I loved the Art Gallery of Western Australia (Perth Cultural Ctr., James Street Mall; 9492-6600), with its impressive exhibit of Aboriginal art, and some exceptional work by local students. I also spent a Saturday afternoon at the indoor markets in Fremantle (Crn. Henderson St. & South Terrace, Fremantle, south of Perth; 9335-2515) with three generations of my family, and was bowled over by the wide choice of locally-made arts and crafts, Aboriginal art, clothing (I had a T-shirt hand-painted for Andrew) and food.  It has something for everyone.
    The one place we definitely won’t miss on our next trip is Rottnest Island (9432-9300), which lies 12 miles west of  Fremantle. It’s a short ferry ride from “Freo” or a longer, more expensive ferry ride from Perth.
    No private cars are allowed on the island, and visitors can rent bicycles to get around to the lighthouse or the various beaches, some of which are famous for their snorkeling.

More Information:

Perth Convention Bureau
GPO Box J 732
Perth, Western Australia 6001
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

--By Marjorie Thorne


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