Whales, wombats and wanderlust: Time to visit Perth

The first non-stop flight from Europe to Australia will arrive in Perth in March 2018 – here's what the city has got to offer

Cottesloe Beach, Perth
A "permanent sunset" is displayed on Cottesloe Beach, Perth 
(Image credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Isolated on Australia's west coast, Perth doesn't get half as much attention as its eastern counterparts Sydney and Melbourne, but all that is about to change.

The first-ever non-stop flight from Europe to Australia will depart for Perth on 26 March next year.

The old mining city has long been ignored on the tourist trail – Sydney is over 2,000 miles away – yet it has acquired something of a cosmopolitan buzz over the past few years. Here are some recommendations of what to do and see.

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What to do

Rottnest Island

This tiny island – it's only seven miles long – is half an hour by boat from Perth and makes for an excellent day trip, not least because it is home to the quokka. These fluffy creatures are about the size of cats: in the 17th century, when a Dutch sailor spotted them running about, he thought they were giant rats and dubbed the island "Rotte nest" – deriving from the Dutch for "rat nest". But don't let that put you off – quokkas are known as the world's happiest animals and are only found in four or five places on earth. Rottnest is an unspoilt natural paradise, with more than 60 beaches and gentle cycling trails. Advance ferry booking and payment is essential.

Whale watching

Another excuse for a boat trip: every year from September to November thousands of humpback whales leave Antarctica and make their way along Western Australia's coastline. It's an unmissable sight, and various tour operators offer cruises lasting upwards of two hours so you can catch the magnificent beasts in all their glory. Advance booking is advised.

Perth Mint

The last traces of Australia's gold rush are visible at the Perth Mint. Founded in 1899 amid gold hysteria, the Mint coined over 106 million gold sovereigns for the British Empire. It's still working today and open for exhibitions, including the spectacle of pure gold being poured into bars in the Mint's original 19th-century melting house. The star attraction is the Australian Kangaroo One Tonne Gold Coin, which is made of pure (well, 99.99 per cent) gold, worth more than AUD50 million (£28 million) and the largest coin of its kind.

The Nostalgia Box

Perfect for a rainy day (or indeed for hiding from the heat on sunny ones), this video game console museum has a cult following. Part museum, part arcade, it has more than 100 different consoles dating back to the '70s and stacks of games to play, including classics like Space Invaders and Pong. There's also a gift shop.

Caversham Wildlife Park

There's more to Australian wildlife than kangaroos. At Caversham, visitors can mingle with some 200 species, including wombats and penguins, as well as the famed marsupials. There is also a farm animals area with sheepdogs, lambs and horses. Open all year except for Christmas Day.

Where to stay

Catch a bit of Perth's rich – and controversial – history at COMO The Treasury hotel. Situated along the Swan River and opened by Prince Charles on a state visit in 2015, this relative newcomer does an excellent job of respecting its old roots, writes The Independent. It's housed in the disused Treasury, Lands and Titles offices and the former General Post Office, the Daily Telegraph notes, all of which have been refitted with a clean, stripped-back aesthetic. The location is in the central business district, but the artsy neighbourhood of Northbridge is a mere 10-15 minute walk away.

Where to eat

Nestled in Perth's heart is the Petition Kitchen. Named for the city's petitioners, who would march where this restaurant stands in order to lobby for various causes, it's a sun-drenched space serving top local produce. Try the charred cauliflower or the melt-in-the-mouth roasted pork knuckle. Just next door there's also a wine bar and a beer hall from the same group.

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