Yankee needs help planning trip to Perth

Mar 22nd, 2005, 10:07 PM
  #1  
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Yankee needs help planning trip to Perth

Hubby and I are planning a trip to Perth in July. Yeah, I know it's winter, but July it is.

The plan is to arrive late in the evening, stay at an airport hotel, then collect a rental car the following day for a week long stay.

From there, well, I'm at a loss.

We're not really city people - we prefer quiet surroundings, nice scenery, and wide open spaces. I'm trying to decide if we should stay in Freemantle instead of Perth, or perhaps both.

We're definitely interested in visiting some vineyards (just read about the Swan River Wine Cruise - does it operate in July?) and the Little Creatures Brewery sounds interesting as well.

Not clear on whether it's best to get to Rottnest (sp?) from Perth or Freemantle or does it really matter? Is Rottnest a day trip or will it require an overnight stay?

Would appreciate any comments on "must sees" and "must dos" as well as lodging suggestions.

Melnq8 is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2005, 06:22 PM
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My husband and I had 10 days in that area last March and had a great time. We stayed in Fremantle and much preferred it to Perth. Perth has that 'big city' feel, even though it's not that big as cities go, but it's a bit generic. Freo, on the other hand, had a lovely historic atmosphere, all fairly low-rise, lots of good museums, markets, a nice cafe/restaurant strip, the waterfront, etc. We had 3 nights there and did the cruise up the Swan River to Perth and caught the train back which took about 20 mins I think. There are a few different cruises to choose from, some have lunch and some offer wine tasting. What sort of accommodation are you looking for? Perth has the big hotels like Hilton and Sheraton whereas Freo has smaller places like B&Bs and an old historic pub which has gone a bit upmarket. We stayed at the Port Mill B&B and loved it, very central.
You could drive down to Busselton, we had a couple of nights there. It has a gorgeous beach and a 2km long jetty you can walk on or catch the little tourist train to the underwater observatory at the end. This was booked out when we were there.
From Busselton you could drive to Margaret River, there is lots to do in this area, wineries, a cheese making place, the Wicked Ale Brewery was good, also a chocolate making place with free samples. The beaches all round this area are great.
We also stayed at Scarborough which is one of the beach suburbs on Perth, Cottlesloe is another very popular one. They both have accommodation and are quite close to Perth.
I would recommend visiting New Norcia because it was so different and interesting. It's about a 2 hr drive north of Perth and is an 1880's Spanish Benedictine monastery set in the middle of the Australian bush, with grand European style buildings and lots of history. If you decide to go, make sure you time it to go on one of the tours as some buildings are only open to the tours. Times are on the New Norcia website.
We had a night on Rottnest Island but you could just do a day visit, especially in July when you won't be swimming! It is worth a visit, you can go walking and see the little Quokkas, like a small wallaby. It's a bit quicker to go to Rottnest from Freo, the trip from there was only half an hour.
Hope this helps a bit. We fitted all this easily into 10 days. We booked a hire car when we arrived with Bayswater Car Rental who were the cheapest and had no problems with them at all. Driving was easy, not a lot of traffic and generally well sign-posted.
Kay
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Mar 23rd, 2005, 07:07 PM
  #3  
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Chocolate? Free samples? Now we're talking!

Thanks so much for the info Kay. Fremantle sounds more up our alley than Perth. We're not into the big chain hotels - much prefer smaller more personable places. I'll take a look at the B&B you mentioned.

Sounds like there's plenty to keep us busy for a week.

Many thanks!
Melnq8 is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2005, 09:46 PM
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You should take a look at www.westernaustralia.com.

Fremantle is a great location to stay in and I highly recommend a trip down south to Busselton/Margaret River. Dunsborough is a good central location between the two towns. Can recommend staying at the Dunsborough Beach Cottages.The wineries are wonderful and most have restaurants. Can recommend Driftwood, Amberley, Voyager Estate and Vasse Felix (that's just a few). Suggest you spend 3 days down south.

July will be cold but with some luck you might get cold dry days rather than storms and lots of rain. You never can tell. Jeans and jacket will be appropriate.

I live in Perth and if it was up to me, I'd rather visit Margaret River for a few days than go to Rottnest. My opinion only.

Enjoy yourself, Perth is a beautiful city.

Mac123
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Mar 24th, 2005, 01:08 AM
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Thanks Mac123 - appreciate your comments.
Melnq8 is offline  
May 25th, 2005, 08:24 PM
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July is rapidly approaching and I still haven't worked out the details of this trip, so a few more questions for you helpful Fodorites:

Any recommendations on which Swan River cruise to choose or does it really matter? Is it necessary to book in advance?

We have 8 nights to work with - the first and last will be spent in a hotel near the Perth Airport (any suggestions?) as we arrive late in the evening from Singapore and our return flight leaves early in the morning.

We're considering spending three nights in Freo, then driving to Busselton or Margaret River for three nights. Which would be better - Margaret River, Busselton or maybe Dunsborough?

We'd love to see some of the National Parks but I don't think we can fit it in. Which National Park is closest to these areas and is a side trip feasible? Any good walks?

We're not that interested in beaches, which is a good thing as we'll be there in July, but we love to walk year round.
Melnq8 is offline  
May 26th, 2005, 02:24 AM
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There are a few different Swan River cruises, some offer lunch, some a wine tasting, others visit places along the way. Some are about an hour and others run for the day, so I suggest grabbing some tourist brochures when you arrive (the airport should have a "What's on in Perth" type book) and check them out and see what appeals to you. When we were there, we booked the day before but could have just turned up on the day. It might be a good idea to check out the weather forecast before you book, wouldn't be much fun in the rain.

Out of the 3 places you mention, I would choose Busselton but it depends on the type of places you like to stay. Margaret River has some nice places out of town, we found the whole area very spread out. Dunsborough is very small but has some B&Bs etc. We stayed in a self-contained cabin in a caravan park in Busselton, the beautiful beach was at one end of the park and the highway into town at the other. The park also had a heated indoor pool which was great.

If you like walking you will finding Fremantle a very walkable town, though there is a free hop-on hop-off bus in case it rains or you want to rest your feet. We went on a tour of a submarine which my husband particularly liked and we both enjoyed the Shipwreck Museum. The 'cappuccino strip' was good for coffee, a meal and people-watching. Freo has some lovely historic buildings and a good indoor market.

Perth airport is quite close to the city so I wouldn't worry too much about staying somewhere close to the airport. I think it took us about 20 mins to get to Perth and 30 mins to Freo from the airport. The airport has shuttle buses you can pre-book and they'll drop you at your accommodation.
Kay
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May 26th, 2005, 04:10 PM
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Thanks again Kay. I mentioned Margaret River, Busselton and Dunsborough because they've been suggested here and on other threads as possibilities. I was a little worried about driving distances, but if we head towards Margaret River first, staying in Freo last, we won't have to stay that last night near the Perth Airport.

Looking forward to some good wine...
Melnq8 is offline  
May 26th, 2005, 05:35 PM
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Hi Melnq8,
a good site for driving distances and times is www.travelmate.com.au - look at the Map Maker section. I would tend to add on a little time to their calculations, especially if you want to have a look around and not just go from A to B.
Hope you have a great trip.
Kay
KayF is offline  
May 30th, 2005, 10:28 PM
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Hi Melnq8
My suggestion is still to stay in Dunsborough. Somewhere like the Dunsborough Beach Cottages will set you back about $145A a night but it is a fully self contained cottage - everything you need is supplied except food and alcohol.

From Perth it will take you about 3 31/2 hours to get to Dunsborough. The best route if you are staying in Perth is the Mitchell Freeway all the way until it finishes, then follow the signs to Mandurah and then the signs to Bunbury, then to Busselton and onto Dunsborough. Bunbury is a good point to stop and have a coffee and stretch the legs. The bakery in Dunsborough is wonderful especially for Aussie favourites like lamingtons (sponge cut into squares, dipped in chocolate and rolled in coconut); vanilla slices; chocolate eclairs and various meat pies. Very delicious.

When you are down south you will be driving through several regional and national parks. When you are in Perth be sure to visit Kings Park - a very large park overlooking the city. It's a good idea to visit during the day as well as the evening - totally different perspectives.

I don't think you will need to book too far in advance for a river cruise. Though it might be quite cold on the water.

And yes, the airport is not far away from the city. I would not recommend staying out at any of the airport hotels.

Hope this helps.

Mac123
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May 31st, 2005, 12:08 AM
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just came back from Perth and the south: Margaret River, pemberton,busselton, freemantle, bunbury, mandurah.

My advice is to stay at MR. It has everything: forest, river, lake, caves, gorgeous beaches n sunsets,delicious restaurants n vineyards.

my top choice for accomodation are Cape Lodge, Basildene Manor and Quay West Bunker Bay. there r no chain hotels in MR except a Best Western.

Visit "margaretriver.com" for great info.
wein is offline  
May 31st, 2005, 03:18 PM
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Thanks again Mac 123 and Wein. Your comments are much appreciated. I'll let you know what we finally decide.
Melnq8 is offline  
Jul 1st, 2005, 12:17 PM
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Thank you all for this information. My hubby and I are also planning a trip to Perth, Cairns, Melbourne and Sydney in Nov 2005 for a month...for him it is a Perth homecoming after 4 years in Florida..for me, my first trip to Oz. We had planned to go to Margaret river and am thrilled with the hotel suggestions here. Are there any nice restaurants that anyone can suggest for Perth and MR? Also, once we have stayed with family and friends in Perth, we are thinking of using my Hilton points. Any thoughts on the Perth Hilton or should I save my points for the one in Sydney? Any hotels suggestions for Perth. Thanks again all.
seasthaday is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2005, 02:22 AM
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Hi Seastheday,
Sydney's Hilton is re-opening v.shortly after a major 2 - 3 year re-fit so it might be fun to save your points for that. It'll be more expensive in Syd than Perth, too. If you do stay at Hilton Sydney, have a look at the "Marble Bar". Fully re-located from its position in the original hotel "Adams" on that site.

Endorse everyone else's comments about staying in Freo. Check out some of the hotels - great verandah dining. Also, the New Edition bookshop.

Happy travelling - watch out for the 'roos!
Bokhara is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2005, 11:36 PM
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Seasthaday (love the name by the way) -

If you don't mind waiting until the last minute (two weeks prior to when you travel) you might consider www.wotif.com. We used this site extensively when booking our hotels and B&Bs in Tasmania last year, and I'm planning to use them again later this month for our trip to Perth/Fremantle/Margaret River.
Melnq8 is offline  
Jul 4th, 2005, 01:31 AM
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Definitely check out the Marble Bar. I'm old enough to remember it when it was a street-level saloon bar in the old Adams Hotel and real people drank there for a penny a beer more than the public bar price. Now it's a poncey hangout for cashed-up yuppies, but the original decor and fittings remain as a reminder of what used to be.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Jul 4th, 2005, 02:34 AM
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If you are going south from Perth don't miss the caves. Wonderful They are between Margaret River and Augusta (nearly said Port Augusta, but that's a different place altogether!).

Also if you have time and are into trees, check out the area around Pemberton. There are monsters there (trees that is) and I seem to remember a treetop walkway too.

Have lots of fun.
fuzzylogic is offline  
Jul 4th, 2005, 03:14 AM
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Hi Neil,
We used to stay at Adams when I was at school (and that wasn't yesterday) LOL
I was pleased when they incorporated the Marble Bar into the original Hilton as it was a nice link with "the old days".
And, lent a quality touch to what I thought was a pretty tacky "joint" . Actually, I've still got a Menu from the Adams Dining Room. (Early "foodie" leanings ?!)

Speaking of the old Hilton - do you remember Julianas? We used to admire those generous & affectionate Uncles who took their Nieces dancing there in the 80's

The old Hilton did do a great steak tartare in the old San Francisco Grill, though !

Bokhara is offline  
Jul 4th, 2005, 02:15 PM
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Hello All, thanks for the additional suggestions. I have had a look into the Hilton in Sydney and it looks wonderful so will definately use our points there. Will check out the bar for sure! It seems we will only be in Sydney for 4 days, so I will have enough points to use in Perth as well. (travelling each week for work and gaining my Hilton Platinum status is finally paying off!) Any thoughts on restaurants or must do's in Cairns? Melnq8- glad you love the name! Growing up in Nova Scotia it is what I named my first little Sunfish sailboat. Changed the spelling a bit (added an 'a' since 'e' seemed to be used) when creating an email in the early 90's and it has always stuck! Thanks again.
seasthaday is offline  
Jul 5th, 2005, 12:20 AM
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Bokhara, my introduction to the Adams, and to many other old Sydney pubs, was at the age of 17 when this fresh-faced, innocent working-class lad from bucolic Windsor started work in the Big Smoke, only to be corrupted by a bunch of new friends who could charitably be described as bohemian by inclination, some of them members of the infamous "Push", much addicted to ruinous pub crawls. As a result "tacky" could have been my middle name in the far-off early sixties.

If you doubt that, to me the Marble Bar looked dead flash on the few occasions when I wasn't looking at it through blurred vision.

I wonder if anyone has written a book about the great old pubs of Sydney? All the watering holes that have been replaced by anodyne could-be-anywhere "taverns" staffed by trendy dopes who can't pour a beer properly and put ice in your Scotch?

Like the one at the north end of Bligh Street, I think, that the cockies ("farmers" for overseas readers) used to inhabit while the Easter Show was on? Can't remember the name, any more than I can remember the name of that little cinema that used to be in Bligh Street and would be called by the American term "art house" these days, where I first saw "Black Orpheus" and "Rocco and His Brothers"? (Years later I decided to see them sober.)

Didn't try the steak tartare in the SF Grill, but I have fond memories of an enormous and perfectly-cooked prime rib which I felt demanded a suitably fine red to wash it down. The subsequent unpleasantness with my boss over the Diners Club bill was worth it.

OK, enough nostalgia.
Neil_Oz is offline  

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