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Perth and the Margaret River Region family holidays

Perth skylinePerth skyline© Tourism Australia
Perth harbourPerth harbour© Tourism Australia
Flying Time 18hrs
Timezone GMT +8
Currency Australian Dollar

Today

Overview

Despite its remoteness, the dynamic and cutting-edge city of Perth on the very edge of Western Australia is one of the most cosmopolitan and interesting cities in the country. Its sister-town, Fremantle, is a little more low-key and bohemian, while the Margaret River region as a whole offers up top surfing plus great wineries and gourmet food.

Unexpectedly sophisticated given its location, Perth is an old gold-rush city and people there still have money – the café and restaurant culture is flourishing and the shopping rivals any the rest of Australia has to offer. Visually, it’s an interesting mix of well-preserved old buildings adorned with ornate wrought-ironwork and giant skyscrapers, surrounded by vast acres of bungalowed suburbs, while there are plenty of beaches that make it a great spot for family holidays.

Things to do with kids in Perth and the Margaret River Region

Head for the beaches – there are 19 near Perth. Cottosloe Beach 15mins from the centre is a favourite summer spot, with bustling cafés and playgrounds that draw young crowds and families for bodyboarding, surfing and snorkelling. Port Beach is slightly more remote but safe for families, with a lovely stretch of sand. Woodman Point about 20km south of the centre is a good spot to swim, snorkel, scuba-dive, sail and fish. Get the kids surfing lessons at one of these or many other local beaches.

Visit family-friendly Fremantle just 20km from Perth (their suburbs have pretty much merged) – still a working harbour, it retains a character and charm of its own. Perth’s slightly artier sister has a wonderful renovated dock area and cafés and galleries lining its streets. Come for the character, the heritage buildings, the maritime museum, the festivals and the watersports. Take older kids on a haunting visit to Fremantle Prison: built by convicts in the 1850s and closed in 1991, it offers several tours, including a spooky night-time candlelight tour. Those with a spirit of adventure who don’t mind ladders and boats can don a hardhat and harness for a trip through the 1km labyrinth of tunnels built 20m beneath the prison more than a century ago.

Sail out to Rottnest Island just off the coast near Perth, renowned for its superb snorkelling, diving, surfing, fishing, boating and swimming in crystal bays, as well as the resident quokkas, an extremely cute marsupial. Take a picnic and some suncream for a perfect day out.

Talk to the fish at the Aquarium of Western Australia at Hillarys north of Perth. Snorkellers or qualified divers can pay extra for a face-to-face shark experience.

Discover Whiteman Park in the Swan Valley 25 minutes outside Perth, a huge recreation park with acres of natural bush and farmland, shops, restaurants and museums, kids' rides, train rides, a wildlife park and Swan Valley Oasis, an 18-hole golf course modified for kids. Afterwards, drive through the vineyards of the Upper Swan Valley to enjoy the scenery, slightly cooler weather and the farms that cover this lovely area (make sure to buy a couple of bottles of the local plonk).

Spend at least a couple of days in the beautiful Margaret River region, famed for its wineries and surf. Explore the almost deserted beaches and gorgeous countryside, making sure to venture to Tall Timber Country to the southeast, with towns set amidst the remnants of giant karri trees. 

Eat

Eating out is very easy in and around Perth, whether it’s fish and chips in a beach shack, a pizza on the harbour in Fremantle, or a Chinese in the centre of Perth. Seafood is a speciality, best enjoyed with wine from the Swan Valley and the Margaret River.

Except for the very grandest, restaurants are all delighted to have children, making for stress-free eating out on family holidays. We recommend the cappuccino strip in Fremantle and the Fremantle markets for particularly laid-back and enjoyable eating experiences.

When to go to Perth and the Margaret River Region

South Western Australia has a Mediterranean climate – hot, dry summers (Dec–Feb) and mild rainy winters (June–Aug). Take into account temperatures as high as 32°C in January and as low as 10°C in winter when planning family holidays in Perth and the Margaret River region.

Cost

It’ll cost you a lot to get there, but Perth and Western Australia as a whole have plenty of affordable family accommodation and free natural attractions that make it very attractive to those on a tight budget.

By Georgina Allen

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