Ten reasons why Perth trumps the East Coast of Australia
Research released this week by Tourism WA revealed that some people from Melbourne and Sydney were reluctant to visit Perth because it's perceived as 'ordinary' and doesn't offer anything that eastern staters can't get at home.
Which got me thinking: what does Perth have that Melbourne and Sydney don't? When I sat down to think about it, I realised there are heaps of unique attractions we might take for granted living in Perth.
Here's 10 things that make Perth unique:
1. Sunsets over the ocean
Perth has some of the best beaches in Australia, and many of them within a 30-minute drive from the city. At last count, Perth had 19 metropolitan beaches, and our coastline is what we're known for; white sand, clear ocean, no rubbish and best of all, the beach is accessible to pretty much anyone. With Cottesloe's Sculptures by the Sea and Scarborough's Sets on the Beach, there's also plenty to keep us entertained at the beach.
But what really makes our beaches unique is that we are treated to epic sunsets over the ocean. Unlike having to get up at sparrow's in the eastern states, trudge through the darkness and endure the chilly morning air to take in a sunrise over the ocean, we can amble down to the beach after work and catch an awesome sunset. And we can enjoy it while having a picnic or with a glass of Margaret River Sem Sav in hand.
2. The Swan Valley
The Valley offers samples of just about anything you can think of including coffee, ice cream, Aboriginal bushtucker, chocolate, asparagus (in season), cheese, honey, and of course, wine. And if you decide you've had a few too many, you can always find accommodation at the Vines country club for the night.
There's also a long list of activities including patting reptiles, hitting a golf ball, perusing an Aboriginal art gallery, attending a special event or concert, having a go at winemaking, cruising up the river or taking a speed grazing tour.
Perth is the only city in Australia to have an A-class nature reserve just 30 minutes off its coast. It's Perth's favourite summer playground, and with visitor numbers to Rottnest island growing every year, it's easy to see why.
Stunning beaches, a laid back vibe, no cars, wildlife encounters and awesome diving are just some of the things Rotto has to offer. You can bike around it, bus around it, dive near it, swim to it and skydive over it.
Oh, and Rotto is the only place in the whole world where you can take a selfie with a quokka!
4. Kings Park
It's one of the largest inner city parks in the world, the biggest in the southern hemisphere, and is on the must-do list for just about everyone who visits Perth. King's Park also has some of the best views of the city, day or night, and is visited by about 6 million people a year.
Apart from taking in the views, the park offers tons of things to do including open air concerts, plays, movies, a nature park and even an Aboriginal tour of the park which tells the story and history of the area from the first people's perspective.
Kings Park is also where Perth gathers together, whether it's to watch the fireworks on Australia Day, or honour the sacrifice of our war heroes on ANZAC Day.
5. The Perth Mint
It's Australia's only precious metals refinery and it has the world's greatest collection of investment gold bars. Perth Mint is also the world's oldest gold mint still operating from its original premises. The Perth Mint refines the majority of gold mined in Australia as well as gold sourced from Asia, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and the Solomon islands.
On a visit to the mint, you can see gold being poured and watch as 200oz of liquid gold is transformed into a solid gold bar in the original melthouse. You can also step onto a set of scales to discover your weight in gold (priceless!).
6. More hours of sunshine
This means that we can revel in our outdoor life styles; playing sports, going on picnics, eating and drinking in beer gardens and rooftop bars, going to the beach and pretty much anything else you can think of to do under the clear, blue, sunny sky.
7. Swimming with dolphins
Head 45 minutes south of the city and you're in Rockingham, where you can slip into your wetsuit, hop on a boat and be interacting with wild dolphins within the hour. There's more than 180 local bottlenose dolphins to hang out and play with, and you can jump in the water as many times as you like during the tours.
8. A historical Port city
Fremantle was named by Lonely Planet as one of the world's top ten cities to visit in its Best in Travel guide 2016. While many of us head there for its craft beers and awesome coffee, Freo also boasts the best preserved example of a 19th century port streetscape in the world, with its world famous heritage buildings and a fascinating maritime and convict history.
9. The Bell Tower
It might have caused some controversy before it was built, but the Swan Bells have become a Perth icon. The 12 bells make up one of the largest musical instruments on earth. The historic St Martin-in-the-field bells are believed to have existed before the 14th century and were recast a couple of times before finding their home in Perth.
If you've ever fancied yourself as a bell ringer, you can have a go at ringing the bells, and you even get a certificate to mark the occasion. And with the opening of Elizabeth Quay, the Bell Tower has cemented its place as one of the city's main attractions.
10. The gateway to dozens of unique experiences in WA
A visit to Perth means you're just a couple of hours drive or flight from dozens of amazing and unique experiences. Whether it's swimming with whale sharks off the Ningaloo reef, exploring the Kimberley's horizontal falls or marvelling at killer whales in the Bremer Canyon, WA has a never-ending list of once in a lifetime experiences. And if our friends in Melbourne and Sydney think that's 'ordinary', then they don't know what they're missing.