Fremantle Is So Special

Fremantle is located at the mouth of the Swan River. This bustling port city is a rich cultural destination only 30 minutes away from Perth. Although geographically close, the two cities are different in many ways. "Freo", as called by Australians, is a fishing port that appeals to casual artists, hippies and other eccentric characters. You could almost compare it to the suburb of Venice Beach in Los Angeles. Fremantle has one of Western Australia's richest cultural and historical heritage, which has not prevented its many cafes, bars and restaurants to attract a young and dynamic crowd. Recently we have discovered what appears to be the best Indian restaurant in Australia. On weekends, the streets, parks and terraces located on the quays are crowded. Whether for sunbathing or enjoying a local beer and a seafood plate, tourists and locals love to spend time in its relaxed atmosphere. During your stay, do not forget to add a visit to the Fremantle Prison to your schedule!

Perth Walking Tours

Visiting the centre of the largest cities accompanied by guide is quite a common tourist activity in Australia. In Melbourne, we experienced a bike tour. In Perth, as was the case in Hobart, we experienced a guided walking tour. We joined a guide from Two Feet & a Heartbeat. Thanks to the quality of their services on offer the company is now Australia's most awarded walking tour company. Your guide strives to present the rich cultural and historical heritage of the city in a dynamic way. It is very informative and it also allows you to find your way in your new environment. Moreover, you learn much more than you would flipping through any tourist guide book. The atmosphere is relaxed and the tour ends in a local pub in Northbridge. And the icing on the cake, they shout your first drink! This activity should be placed at the top of your to-do list when you arrive in Perth! Several tours and schedules are available. Two Feet & a Heartbeat now also offers its services in Sydney.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Two Feet & a Heartbeat.

Shopping In Perth

If you are looking for entertainment, head to the Perth centre. This is where you will find some of the cultural institutions of Western Australia's capital. Part of the district - Murray Street Mall and Hay Street Mall - are pedestrian only streets. Very popular on weekends and nice sunny days! In this area there are a multitude of shops and several malls open seven days of the week. On King Street, choose between Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci or other international brand designers in this charming neighbourhood that is strongly reminiscent of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and SoHo in New York City. If you are looking for more popular brands at factory prices, you need to go to Harbour Town. In short, everything is situated within walking distance and there is something for everyone. If you are afraid of getting lost, check for the blue and green shirts of the city volunteers that will happily point you in the right direction.

Boutique Hotel In Perth Central Business District

When we discovered Sydney in winter in May, Destination NSW arranged our stay at the Kirketon Hotel, member of the 8Hotels family. We were delighted by this charming 4-star boutique hotel nestled amongst the hype of the vibrant Darlinghurst neighbourhood. In Perth, we stayed at another hotel in the family: Pensione Hotel. This newly refurbished and stylish property is a real gem. It is conveniently located on the doorstep of Perth central business district, the train station, shops and restaurants. Both modern design and attention to detail offer a sense of intimacy which is truly enjoyable. As in Sydney, the beds are of high quality and exceptional comfort! The service is impeccable from the moment you enter the hotel until the moment you check out. A note signed by the General Manager of the hotel, in the room upon your arrival, expresses this personalized service perfectly. 8Hotels also offers a selection of hotels, villas, apartments and restaurants in Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Hepburn Springs (a few kilometers away from Hanging Rock), Thredbo (at the foot of Mt Kosciuszko), Bali and Paris. Having already stayed in two of their hotels, we can already highly recommend 8Hotels accommodations.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of 8Hotels.

Getting Around Perth

A four-lane freeway separated by a railway line for high-speed commuter trains, what a great public transport service found in the Perth metropolitan region. It is practical and very clever from an environmental point of view. A high frequency train services allows you not to worry to much about schedules. That is not the only thing. You can travel for free on any bus or train in the Free Transit Zone (FTZ) within the Perth city boundaries. Perth is not the only one to offer this kind of service which is also available in Melbourne and Adelaide. You will find more information about the Free Transperth Services on this page.

Ghostly Tour In Fremantle

A rather special bus drives through Fremantle's streets every day: Fremantle Tram Tours. This replica-tram offers guided tours of the city. So far nothing too unusual. However, every Friday night, you can join The Ghostly Tour which is a torchlight tour of Fremantle's oldest buildings. As often is the case, the driver is a human encyclopedia who entertains you through his stories and tales of some of Fremantle's earliest residents. Along the way the tram stops at Cicerello's, considered to be the best Fish & Chips in Perth and Western Australia (supper and a soft drink included). But the highlight of the evening is undoubtedly the Torchlight Tour at the Fremantle Prison. Accompanied by a guide, over one and a half hours you explore the darker side of this historic building (featuring the Main Cell Block, solitary confinement, whipping post, the gallows and even the morgue!). Expect some surprises along the way. This great activity lasts for four hours in total. It is an unusual experience, ideal if you are a small group. Bookings for this tour are essential.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Fremantle Tram Tours.

And There Was Light!

A light tube (known as a skylight in Australia) is a brilliant concept patented by an Australian company in the 80s. Rain or shine, this system distributes light uniformly throughout the day without any use of energy and without any heat transfer. It is very common in Australian houses and mainly used to increase the amount of natural light into an otherwise darkened room. Actually Australians are usually extremely environmentally savvy. When the time comes to leave a room and "turn off the light", the uninitiated can easily spend a few minutes looking for a switch ... that does not exist (tested and approved by iPhoneography Oz)! To give you an idea, this photo was taken in the late afternoon in the toilet room of a house. No filter has been applied on the photo. Simple and clever concept, in total harmony with the environment, we love it!

Experience The Sound Of Perth

There are plenty of attractions in Perth and surrounds. Many, such as Kings Park and Rockingham Wild Encounters, revolve around nature. Some others are more unusual. This is the case with The Bell Tower, which is simply one of the world's largest musical instruments. Steeped in history (the bells, more than 600 years old, are from St Martin-in-the-Fields, one of London's most famous churches) and offering a unique and distinctive design, this tower has become a Perth and Western Australia icon. It is located in the heart of Barrack Square, where cruises on the Swan River depart. On Level 6, an open air observation deck offers a 360-degree view of the river and the central business district. The Bell Tower is also one of the world's only bell towers that allows close-up viewing of the bell ringers practising. Plan your visit according to the bell ringing times to make sure not to miss the show!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of The Bell Tower.

The Best Indian Restaurant In Australia?

Perth, like all Australian capital cities, is a foodies destination. The multiculturalism of its inhabitants is reflected in the diversity of its restaurants. Fremantle, the port city located 30 minutes away from Perth central business district, is famous for its cafés, pubs and its dynamic atmosphere. In amongst it all we have found an unusual indian restaurant: Maya Indian Restaurant. Forget the clichés about Indian restaurants! Here, no Taj Mahal or traditional Indian music. The atmosphere is much more inspired by the Fremantle lifestyle. It is for good reason that the restaurant's slogan is Food - Fun - Fashion. It is located in a historic building in the heart of Fremantle. The dishes on the menu, adapted to Western taste buds (hence being less spicy than in India) are delicious. According to the recommendations on Trip Advisor, Maya Indian Restaurant is one of the best restaurants in the city and one of the best Indian restaurants in Australia. We understand why! Remember to book as it is often full, especially on weekends.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Maya Indian Restaurant.

Kings Park, The Jewel Of Perth

Kings Park, located in downtown Perth, is one of the largest inner city parks in the world. It is located on a hill overlooking the city offering stunning views of the central business district and the Swan River waters. Tourist or local, everyone loves to laze on its lawns or run and ride their bicycle on its trails. In spring time, the park is home to the Kings Park Wildflower Festival, an internationally renowned event celebrating the beauty of Western Australia native wildflowers. Kings Park is also a sacred place for Aborigines. Various tours are offered to visitors.

A River Runs Through It

Perth central business district is located on the banks of the Swan River, which gave its name to the Swan Valley, famous for its wines and fresh local produce. It really divides the city in two. Its inhabitants are defined as living "south of the river" or "north of the river". The fact is that the waters of the Swan provide a unique opportunity to escape from the city either by kayak or sailboat. The river is surrounded by many parks, ideal for a picnic or a nap with an amazing view of Perth skyline. Many cruise options are available departing from Barrack Square. In need of an adrenaline rush? Water sports such as jet skiing, windsurfing and parasailing are also available. Stunning urban backdrop included free of charge!

The Beautiful Swan Valley

Perth is known to be one of the most remote cities on earth. Its nearest neighbor is Adelaide, more than 2000 kilometers away. Heading out from the central business district, you quickly reach the countryside. Thus, the drive along the Swan River is a journey through Western Australia's oldest vineyards. The area is home to no less than 150 places where you can taste wines and fresh local produce. One of the best ways not to miss anything is to start from the charming Guildford and by car or by bike follow the 32 km Food and Wine Trail of the Swan Valley. We did not do any tasting this time, but apparently the Verdelho and Shiraz are not to be missed!

Northbridge, Cultural Hub Of Perth

Northbridge is the cultural hub of Perth. It is only five minutes walk from the city centre. Whether you are a foodie, an art lover, a shopaholic or a clubber, you can not go wrong here! This is where we can find two of the most important museums of the city, Art Gallery of Western Australia and Western Australian Museum. Northbridge is also famous for hosting an amazing amount of restaurants offering Chinese, Italian, Indian, Japanese, Greek, Thai, Vietnamese and even... Egyptian cuisine. After sunset, the streets are full and the area comes to life. We love this atmosphere!

Caution Snakes Have Been Sighted

Australia is a country where one will find the largest number of venomous animals, among the most venomous species in the world. This is not the first time we have touched on this subject, as we have already mentioned a previous encounter we had with a snake on iPhoneography Oz! The novelty for us is that apparently these charming creatures do not live in the bush only. After Sydney and its invasion of deadly funnel-web spiders, it seems that snakes have established their home in the bushes around some of Perth's beaches, close to bike paths and kids playgrounds. We have not seen any yet, but be careful, you have been warned!

Perth, That's Gold!

The Perth Mint is a historic building in central Perth. Founded at the end of the nineteenth century to produce the money under the authority of the Royal Mint, it is the oldest institution of its kind in Australia. During the twentieth century, it produced much of the Australian currency. The Perth Mint, now open to the public, mainly produces coins for collectors and gold bullion today. A permanent exhibition allows you to get closer to the precious metal. It includes medals of the 2000 Sydney Olympics (produced by the The Perth Mint), the second largest gold nugget in the world (25.5 kg), the world's largest coin (1 tonne of pure gold) as well as the world's largest collection of gold bars (more than 900 gold bars, including 130 on display). The tour includes an amazing gold pouring performance in which pure gold is heated, melted and turned into a solid gold bar. You have certainly never been so close to so many millions of dollars!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of The Perth Mint.

Meeting Bottlenose Dolphins In Mandurah

Mandurah, the second largest city in Western Australia, is only an hour south of Perth. The seaside town has grown in recent years into the Venice of Australia, famous for its canals overlooked by luxury villas. In order to give this beautiful postcard some more sparkles, some Bottlenose Dolphins choose to show off in the waterways. This is of course the main attraction of the city. Boarding a ship from Mandurah Cruises is an excellent opportunity to admire all of that. The cruise lasts an hour and stops for a Fish & Chips (if opting for a lunchtime departure). It seems that the dolphins are most active at high tide, be sure to check with the company before boarding.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Mandurah Cruises.

Photo: Mandurah Cruises

Waking Up Among Margaret River's Vines

The Margaret River region offers a variety of vineyards, from the most impressive in the style of Leeuwin Estate to the family estates as it is the case of Adinfern Estate. Conveniently located just minutes away from Margaret River, Adinfern Estate is an old farm which produced fine wool and prime lamb before starting to produce quality wine nearly 20 years ago. But as you can see from this photo, the sheep are never too far away. They are used to "clean" and fertilize the vines. That is green! Besides the traditional wine tasting, it is possible to stay in the heart of the vineyards in one of the two cottages on the property. We love waking up, literally, in the vineyards! A very nice destination to consider when traveling in the region.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Adinfern Estate.

Leeuwin Estate In The Stunning Margaret River

Margaret River is a popular destination in Western Australia. Internationally recognized for its majestic scenery and exceptional waves for surfers, the area is also famous for its local products including its white wines. It hosts many great wineries, some of which are also known for their restaurants. This is the case with Leeuwin Estate. This huge property produces excellent Chardonnay. The best wines of each vintage are grouped under the label "Art Series". The bottles are identified by paintings commissioned from contemporary Australian artists. Leeuwin Estate is also known for its restaurant located in a picturesque setting. Tempted by the "Wine and Food Flights", a fine selection of four appetizers associated with prestigious wines, is to celebrate the art of living well in true Leeuwin Estate style. Honoring the art in various forms, Leeuwin Estate hosts a series of annual concerts headlined by some of planet's biggest names such as Ray Charles and Diana Ross. Thousands of people flock from far and wide to attend the exclusive events. Tours and tastings are also offered to the public all year long.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Leeuwin Estate.

The Little House On The Western Australian Prairie

The Great Southern is one of nine regions of Western Australia located west of Esperance. It is a major centre for the production of wool and sheep in Australia. Fishing plays an important role in the local economy too, notably in Albany. The scenery is breathtaking whether on the coast or inland. A great way to enjoy the area is probably to opt for a stopover in one of the Sunshine Farmstay cottages. Ideally located between Albany and Denmark, they are only a few minutes from the coast and West Cape Howe National Park. Jajelup Cottage, where we stayed, is a stone house recently renovated and refurbished in the middle of an idyllic setting away from prying eyes ... but not sheep! Warm, this little house on the prairie can comfortably accommodate four people.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of A Sunshine Farmstay.

Lucky Bay: Australia's Whitest Beach

Esperance is the main coastal town before or after crossing the Nullarbor Plain depending on which direction you are going. This little gem located on the coast of the Southern Ocean is an ideal destination for holidays. Tourists enjoy its temperate climate, its beaches and national parks nearby. Cape Le Grand National Park, the most famous of them, and perhaps Western Australia's most spectacular, is only forty kilometers east of town. It offers beautiful wild coastal scenery, majestic granite peaks and crystal clear turquoise waters that easily compare to some tropical paradises. Lucky Bay, Australia's whitest beach, is simply breathtaking. You might even be lucky enough to see local kangaroos sunbaking on the beach!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Department of Environment and Conservation (Western Australia).

Crossing Into Western Australia, A Quarantine Story

Even in the middle of nowhere on the Nullarbor Plain, the border entry into Western Australia is a checkpoint. Here it is not the passports or stowaways that are checked but the presence of ... fruits and vegetables (and a whole list of prohibited items available here) which must be disposed of at the border. Officially, it is a measure to protect the agricultural industry of the state by preventing the transportation of some insects, weeds and diseases present elsewhere in Australia. It is understandable not to import fruits and vegetables just in case they are contaminated. Yes, but a question remains. What about the insects? Don't they ever cross the border on their own? We had already experienced this kind of quarantine arriving in Tasmania. In this case though it made more sense as it is an island.

What To Do When Breaking Down On The Nullarbor?

Before crossing the Nullarbor Plain, you inevitably ask yourself the following questions:
  • Will we have enough fuel?
  • Will we have enough water?
  • Will we have enough food?
  • Is there any places to stay along the way?
  • And what if we break down?

Just as we thought we had made it across unscathed, we were faced the last question. Explanations? More than 200 kilometers before reaching Norseman, the town at the western end of the plain, we got a flat. Never doing things by half, within minutes of putting the spare on... Bam... another flat. Luckily we were close to a roadhouse. What is this? They are your best friends when crossing the Nullarbor Plain, the magical answer to all the questions above. They are petrol stations which often offer catering services. So neither you or your vehicle will run out of fuel. Some of them provide accommodation to spend the night with comfort that varies from very poor to very good. However, as unlikely as it may seem, there is not necessarily a garage. If you break down and it is serious, often towing and repair costs are more expensive than abandoning your vehicle on the side of the road and buying a used one in Perth or Adelaide. If your problem is minor, you have access to, thanks to the previous category, one of the world's largest free auto parts self-service. And if you do not find what you are looking for, there is always the solution to get help from road trains which will drop at the roadhouse what you need and that you have previously purchased by phone in the "closest" town. This is what we have tested. Expect random delivery delays.

Crossing The Nullarbor

Crossing the Nullarbor Plain: the long awaited moment, if not feared, has arrived. The Nullarbor is a whole lot of

In other words, nothing. Rien. Nada. Niente. A long journey of over 700 km in a setting more deserted than the desert itself. Not a single tree in sight, hence its name (if you have some knowledge of Latin, you would have already guessed). This plain occupies a total area of 200,000 sq km almost as big as Victoria. Aside from nothing, there is still the presence of Australia's longest straight road (145.6 km) and that of the world's longest golf course. The Nullarbor Links, a unique 18 holes - par 72 for the purists - extends over 1,365 kilometres from Ceduna to Kalgoorlie. Crossing the Nullarbor Plain linking South Australia to Western Australia is an adventure to experience once in a lifetime!

One Of The Best Places In The World To See Migrating Whales

The Great Australian Bight is the huge mass of ocean along the south coast of Australia. For international authorities, this sea is part of the Indian Ocean while for Australians it is the Southern Ocean. Either way, it doesn't change its beauty. The coast, which stretches over 1,000 kilometers, is believed to be the longest line of sea cliffs in the world. At Head of Bight, before starting the long haul of the Nullarbor Plain, 200 kilometers west of Penong, the highway passes close by to the cliffs. But beyond admiring them, the place is famous for "hosting" the Southern Right Whales that migrate to these warmer waters each year - between May and October - to birth their calves. When we were there, not less than forty of them were playing only a few feet below. Access is not free, but what a spectacular sight! This is certainly one of the best places in the world to watch migrating whales. A definite addition to any to-do list during a trip to Australia! This time the picture is somewhat more convincing than the one of the Coffin Bay dolphins.

On The Road To Cactus Beach

Heading west from Ceduna, it is getting close to the end of South Australia and we are approaching the drive through the desert - Nullarbor Plain - which will be discussed in coming days. At Penong, a dirt road of about twenty kilometres heads south to the legendary Cactus Beach. Surfers from around the world come to test their skills on the waves considered among the best in Australia. On the way, the track passes through magnificent scenery, white sand dunes which are reflected in the waters of a salt lake. In good weather, the water color alternates between blue and pink. This is a remote place where you do not cross paths with too many people in winter, but a must see!

Holding A Baby Wombat

Ceduna is the last "town" to drive through in South Australia when crossing into Western Australia. This small port city located on the Eyre Peninsula is, like Port Lincoln, an oceanfront delight of seafood lovers. The region is also famous for its history and Aboriginal culture. But in Ceduna, it is an unusual house situated in a residential area that attracted our attention. The Ceduna Wombat and Fauna Rescue is run by a local Mum who is the passionate carer of the animals. She has created a haven in her backyard for injured and orphaned animals. It is a unique opportunity to hold and hug a baby wombat!

Photo Opportunities On The Eyre Peninsula

The Eyre Peninsula offers wonderful opportunities for photographers. It is difficult to choose the best, but the rock formations of Murphys Haystacks could win the prize! They are located on the west coast, about forty kilometres before Streaky Bay traveling from Port Lincoln. These pink granite boulders polished by time are older than 1500 million years. They remind us of Remarkable Rocks on Kangaroo Island. Must see!

Swimming With The Tuna

The Eyre Peninsula is inevitably, with some 2,000 kilometres of coastline, dedicated to the ocean. Port Lincoln area also thrives mainly from the commercial fishing industry. For several years, ocean farms, especially tuna, are also becoming increasingly important. For the average traveler this doesn't sound like much of a tourist attraction. However, when the tuna farmers put on their tourist guide hats, they create the exclusive Swim With The Tuna experience! Contrary to diving among Great White Sharks, here when in the water, the tuna are always in the enclosure! Thrills are guaranteed when you brush against these swift swimmers moving at a speed of around 80km/h. The activity takes place on a pontoon located off Port Lincoln and lasts about three hours, including a round trip cruise of the bay. Who knew swimming amid a school of tuna would be that exciting!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Swim With The Tuna.

Unforgettable Dolphin Encounter

Landscapes of the Eyre Peninsula are rather wild, untouched and rugged. The region is rich in natural treasures. Among them is the Coffin Bay National Park which is located about forty kilometres west of Port Lincoln. This park hosts the best that the peninsula to offer: abundant wildlife, breathtaking coastal scenery, spectacular cliffs, endless white sand dunes, waves for surfers and paradise beaches in sheltered bays. To top all of this off we were blessed by the most incredible moment when a pod of thirty or more dolphins came to play in the waves breaking really close to the shoreline. An unforgettable sight! In hindsight, we regret not diving into the water to swim with them but the cold temperature of the water got the better of us. One of our less courageous moments! Having created a blog with the theme of photographs taken from an iPhone unfortunately does not do this photo justice but if you squint your eyes and look really closely, you can just see a few fins in the waves!

Diving Among Great White Sharks

Port Lincoln is a booming tourist destination in South Australia. Its star attraction: cage diving among Great White Sharks! So it was a given that during our stay on the Eyre Peninsula, we could not resist this incredible live experience. Before boarding Calypso Charters boat, we knew the shark sighting was not guaranteed. After all, Mother Nature decides. Calypso Charters maintains a detailed shark sighting calendar to help you choose the day of your dive. Unfortunately, on the day of our choice there were no sharks in sight, which is unusual for this time of year. Being as there are only three places in the world where you can experience this exciting activity, we recommend it without hesitation! In the event that a Great White is not seen throughout the entire day, Calypso Charters will offer you a 'Half Price Gift Voucher'. Visit the company website to access the photo or video galleries.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Calypso Charters.

Photo: Calypso Charters

Gourmet Food And Luxury Accommodation In Port Lincoln

Port Lincoln is located at the bottom end of the Eyre Peninsula, the western region of South Australia. As its name suggests, it is a coastal town whose economy is based mainly on the fishing industry. It is also considered to be the capital of Australian seafood. With its tourism industry going through a recent boom it is an up and coming travel destination oozing with appeal. We were lucky enough to stay in an exclusive B&B not yet open to the public. Jordan on Boston is primarily a luxury villa in the hills of Port Lincoln surrounded by a sumptuous garden. Inside it is a veritable palace elegantly decorated with antiques and a wonderful collection of eclectic artworks. Among the many rooms on the ground floor you can expect to find an indoor pool, sauna and a piano bar! Visitors will have the opportunity to stay in one of the three suites each offering breathtaking views of Boston Bay, one of the world's largest protected natural harbours. But the true gem at Jordan on Boston is its owner and accomplished chef Suzi McKay. In the coming months all guests will have the privilege of tasting Suzi's culinary delights. She is nothing short of amazing in the kitchen. So be prepared for an indulgent experience that you will never forget! The best restaurant in Port Lincoln might not necessarily be at the top of the list on Trip Advisor!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Jordan on Boston.