The city of Perth is a city made for walking.
It has more hours of sunshine than any other Australian city, and a great location on the banks of the Swan River with nearby natural bushland and parks.
Because of this, the Perth city lifestyle is based around the great outdoors.
Add to that the fact that Perth is generally a flat city with wide streets and footpaths, it’s noticeably clean, and it has a laidback pace of life much slower than that of Sydney and Melbourne, and you have a destination begging to be explored on foot.
I always love to start a visit to a new destination with a walk. It’s a great way to soak up the local culture, and get a real feel for the atmosphere of a place. You can experience more things just by wandering around a city.
And I also love getting insider travel tips from a knowledgable local who can pass on information that you may not learn about elsewhere.
Combining both together, guided walking tours can be a very rewarding experience. I recently discovered this on three occasions on my first visit to Perth…
1. Perth Urban Adventure
Lead by our local tour guide Ryan from two feet and a heartbeat, we strolled through the city streets and lane ways of the CBD learning about the history, culture, heritage, and colourful past of the city.
We experienced attractions on and off the tourist trail, and what I personally liked about the tour is we learnt through conversations and story telling, not just facts and figures.
Also, the pace of the tour was comfortable allowing for plenty of time to take photographs and soak in the experience.
Interesting highlights were learning about the meaning behind Perth’s name “City of Lights” from John Glenn’s orbit in 1962, a visit to Perth’s oldest building, and learning of all the new and exciting developments going on in the city including changes to the small bar scene and the waterfront redevelopment.
Another welcoming aspect was a pit stop half way through the tour at Ryan’s favourite watering hole, a local bar named Helvetica, which allowed for a cold drink whilst experiencing the cool vibe of a local hangout.
On completion of this tour I had a greater understanding of the layout of the city, and the history and characters upon which it was built.
Tour Duration: 2 hours
2. Kings Park Indigenous Heritage Tour
The “Jewel of the City” – that’s how it is billed.
Kings Park, covering more than 400 hectares, is the largest inner city park in the southern hemisphere, and a major drawcard for locals and visitors.
It has a stunning location overlooking the Swan River and the nearby Perth city skyline. And the only way to discover it is by foot.
Our indigenous walking tour, led by local Greg Nannup, was a great way to learn about the significance of the area and Australia’s fascinating history.
To the aboriginal people, Kings Park is revered as a sacred place, and through Greg’s storytelling we learnt about the plants of the park and how his people used them for food, shelter, and medicine.
We walked amongst the tree tops on the elevated bridge called Federation Walk, and wandered the pathways and open grassy areas enjoying the sunshine and admiring the awesome views over the river to the city centre.
Interesting facts were learning about the rituals of the aboriginal people and their celebrations, stories of Grandfather Billie, how Boab trees live and function, cooking tips for Kangaroo and the health benefits, and how and why the land needs to burn to sustain itself.
Discovering Kings Park through the eyes of an indigenous guide was an enlightening and memorable experience.
Tour Duration: 90 minutes
3. Fremantle Urban Adventure
Fremantle, or “Freo” as the locals call it, is located just 30 minutes from Perth’s CBD.
It’s a character filled town dotted with cafes, bars, seafood restaurants, vibrant markets, and is known as the ‘world’s best preserved example of a 19th century port streetscape’.
It also has Western Australia’s largest collection of heritage buildings and a fascinating convict history.
Our Fremantle walking tour was lead by the other Ryan from two feet and a heartbeat, who shared his stories and tales with us about the history of the buildings and it’s people who shaped Fremantle.
Our tour started off at a cool arty cafe, the Moore and Moore cafe, and from there we headed off and learnt about the focal points of Fremantle.
We discovered the modern heart of Freo is it’s cappacino strip, and it’s historical past was in the trade union movement.
Other notable focal points were a visit to the colorful and vibrant markets, the Fremantle Jail (a UNESCO World Heritage site), and learning about the free settlers and role of the convicts in shaping the city.
Along the way Ryan told us humorous stories of some of the greatest jailbreaks in history, and heartbreaking stories of the shameful expulsion of aboriginals to Rottnest Island.
Our walking tour was filled with not only learning the interesting historical facts and stories, but also the cool fun stuff we may never have heard without the input of a passionate local.
Duration: 2 hours
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Disclaimer: My trip to Perth was as a guest of Tourism Western Australia, but all opinions are my own.