Succumbing to the charms of Perth and Fremantle


The Tan family in front of the chapel at historic Guildford town.

One intrepid reader and his family were enticed to visit Western Australia, and returned with wonderful memories.

LAST year, a friend invited my family to go with him on a trip to Perth as he could provide free accommodation.

I never thought of visiting Perth before, but was enticed with the offer and so booked our flights for August.

Later, the offer of accommodation was withdrawn. I was also relying on my friend’s relatives to help us get around Perth. Now I could empathise with the worries of the early Chinese migrants travelling to Perth without knowing the geography, culture, and language; they had to rely on their fellow countrymen who had settled there.

However, through the Internet, I was able to get a feel of Perth and figure out details like accommodation, transportation and sightseeing. At first, we had planned to stay in two hotels around Perth city and use public transportation. Later, my daughter suggested homestays instead of hotels. So we booked two homestays via Airbnb: One in Fremantle and another one nearer to Perth. We booked a car which allowed us the freedom to be flexible in our itinerary.

We arrived at Perth airport where we rented an almost new Nissan Pulsar and drove straight to Fremantle to catch the weekend market before it closed at 6pm. My daughter served as the navigator with the help of the Waze GPS navigation system. We checked into our centrally located homestay nestled within a multi-storey apartment complex with a convenient parking area. Then off we went, on foot, to the weekend market.

Dinner consisted of ramen accompanied by dishes cooked with the groceries we had bought. After our meal, we hurried towards the waterfront, hoping to catch the sunset over the Indian Ocean. It was harder than I had anticipated to reach an unobstructed section of the seafront. When we finally reached the seaside, the sun had already set, with only the afterglow visible on the horizon.

Adelyn Tan Jia Yin, Tan’s daughter, doubled as navigator and chief photographer.

It was cold in Fremantle, but we enjoyed our two-night stay.

The next day, we went on an 8km walking tour. We started at the weekend market where we ate German sausages and Spanish paella. Along the walking tour, we came across a giant chess set, shopping areas and a sailing ship. At the Maritime Museum, we came across a decommissioned submarine displayed outdoors.

We also visited the historic Round House and the Shipwreck Museum before driving a short distance to Cottesloe Beach. We were in time to catch the spectacular sunset and the afterglow that lasted 20 minutes.

We then drove back to Fremantle where we had a lavish seafood platter for dinner by the waterfront.

The next morning, we visited a retail seafood outlet and bought some prawns, fish and scallops to cook later. Our time in Fremantle ended with a lunch of fish and chips.

The next homestay was located beside the lovely Swan River in Perth. After checking in, we visited the beautiful Kings Park and enjoyed watching the cityscape from a vantage point as evening fell.

During our three-night stay, my wife cooked several excellent meals from the groceries we had bought in Fremantle.

We visited South Perth to see the old mill with its pretty windmill, and Perth Zoo which has many exotic creatures such as black swans and orangutans in their bright orange coats.

After a stroll along the scenic riverside, we rested on the grassy bank before going for dinner at a pizzeria. The tiramisu and thin crust pizza were simply delicious.

Then we headed back to Perth, where stopped by the interesting Museum of Natural History and shopped in Chinatown before going for a walkabout in the city centre. In the evening, we went back to Chinatown to have dinner at a Malaysian restaurant – Hawker’s Cuisine, where their signature tofu dish was excellent.

The final day, we visited historic Guildford town where we enjoyed checking out the picturesque chapel. Then it was off to Swan Valley. We stopped at a chocolate and nougat factory before visiting the 175-year-old Houghton winery. We enjoyed a hearty cheese platter at the scenic outdoor restaurant, along with the rest of the food we had prepared beforehand for a picnic.

Our vacation in Fremantle and Perth was memorable. The streets are clean, infrastructure and public amenities such as toilets and parks are excellent, and the people are generally friendly.

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