Published on December 12th, 2016 | by john.weir0
Non stop from the UK to Perth – at last!
Qantas, Australia’s national carrier, has confirmed it will operate the first non-stop flights from London to Perth in Western Australia using the 787-9 Dreamliner. The 14,498 kilometre service will be the first regular passenger service to directly link Australia with Europe. Seats on the Perth-London flights will go on sale in April 2017 for the first services in March 2018.
It comes at a time when Western Australia’s state capital has never looked so appealing with new billion-dollar public spaces, stadiums, hotels and experiences popping up in all corners of the city. Paired with this growing sophistication are stunning natural experiences from 19 city beaches to the biodiversity of Rottnest Island and Kings Park which makes it the ideal starting point for an adventure Down Under.
Here’s why Perth in Western Australia should be in your 2017 travel plans:
Nature city – Brand new billion-dollar developments such as Elizabeth Quay and the Perth City Link are making it easier for visitors and locals to combine the centre’s bars, restaurants and tourist attractions with Northbridge, a cultural and creative hub, and one of its best natural assets, the sparkling Swan River, famous for its black swans and wild dolphins. By creating a new waterfront and sinking the railway line, both projects have created new stunning public spaces with new bars, restaurants and hotels in the heart of Australia’s sunniest city.
The new Elizabeth Quay will come alive in February and March 2017 as it hosts a major part of the Perth International Arts Festival – the Chevron Festival Gardens (10th February -5th March 2017). See acts such as US hip hop act Blackalicious, Cuban jazz sensation Omar Sosa Quarteto AfroCubano and Australian singer and storyteller Archie Roach in a garden setting on the waterfront.
Elizabeth Quay is also the site for a new aboriginal walking tour. GoCultural Tours explores Perth’s history with dreamtime stories, indigenous artefacts and heirlooms. http://gocultural.com.au/
A major milestone of the Perth Link opens in July 2017 with the opening of Yagan Square. Named after the Noongar leader Yagan, who led a campaign of resistance during the early years of the Swan River Colony, the square aims to be a window into Perth’s past as well as new community space. A Digital Tower will symbolise the reeds once found here and represent the varied Noongar language groups, while a series of tracks across the site acknowledge the area’s history as a place of hunting and gathering. Yagan Square will also return permanent food markets to the CBD as well as additional green spaces, cafes, native gardens and public art. At night, the square will come alive with a spectacular lighting installation on the underside of the shade canopies and the iconic digital tower. http://www.mra.wa.gov.au/projects-and-places/perth-city-link/places-attractions/yagan-square
Perth will see 2,000 new hotels rooms added by 2018, from Pinky’s Eco Retreat, a beachside glamping resort on Rottnest Island (due to open Dec 2017) to 5 star luxury at Crown Towers (opened this month, each room cost $1 million) and Starwood’s first WA property, the five-star Westin Hotel which blends renovated heritage buildings with a rooftop pool and new spa (late 2017)
Wining and dining boom! Perth is brimming with new dining options and restaurateurs have focused on opening establishments that are low-key, accessible and, critically, affordable such as Long Chim, David Thompson’s first restaurant in his home country in more than 20 years. His beautiful, simple dishes, inspired by Thai street food won’t break the bank but do attract a huge following. Sample WA fresh produce and wines at one of the many new small bars, cafes, and restaurants such as The Standard, Lot 20, Varnish on King, Sneaky Tony’s, and Mary Street to name a few. Visitors can see the city with a local by joining an organised walking tour that showcases the wining and dining scene – operators include Two Feet & a Heartbeat and FoodLoose Tours. Or enjoy a progressive dinner in Leederville by rickshaw with Leederville Food Safari ($95 pp leedervillefoodsafari.com.au)
Pretty as a picture. Buildings, laneways and other public spaces around Perth and Northbridge have become works of art, as local, interstate and international artists were commissioned by local arts organisation FORM to paint 80 walls with works of art. See the best on a new walking tour from the guys at Oh Hey WA ($30 pp www.ohheywa.com.au). Also don’t miss the Art Gallery of WA with its incredible indigenous art collection.
A new side to historic Fremantle. Nearly $1 billion of private and public investment will see bar, dining, retail and hotels emerging alongside the heritage buildings Fremantle is famous for. Learn about the city’s maritime and convict history on a walking tour or new Segway tour (segwaytourswa.com.au $89pp), browse the weekend markets or explore old warehouse spaces newly reinvented into creative hubs for local artisans like the Common Collective or Many 6160 (many6160.com). New dining options range from the Bathers Beach Lounge, which offers local seafood and wine served on a protected curve of white sand (www.bathersbeachhouse.com.au) to gourmet hotdog haunt Wassup Dog and health-focussed Acai Brothers Superfood Bar.
Five unmissable experiences in Perth
Explore Kings Park & Botanic Garden. One of the largest inner city parks in the world – at 400 hectares it is larger than New York’s Central Park. A short walk or free bus ride from the city centre, check out the impressive views of the Swan River and city skyline, hire bikes to explore the bushland or wander through manicured gardens of wildflowers. An open air cinema operates in the park from December to 2 April 2017. $17 per adult www.moonlight.com.au
Drink in an Indian Ocean sunset. Home to 19 pristine metropolitan beaches, it’s easy to find your own slice of white sand to relax and enjoy one WA’s famous sunsets. Surfers head to Scarborough and Trigg, while swimmers and stand-up paddle boarders cool off at Cottesloe or Mettam’s Pool between Sorrento Beach and Trigg. The Scarborough foreshore is undergoing revitalisation with a beachside swimming pool due to open in 2017, new decked walkways and beach lookouts cafes, restaurants, kiosks and public art. Cottesloe Beach continues to attract the crowds, with its Norfolk Pine trees, long stretches of white sand, and plenty of restaurants and cafes to enjoy the view from. Go in March when the sand becomes an outdoor art gallery for Sculpture by the Sea. sculpturebythesea.com/cottesloe
Visit an island paradise. Home to 63 beaches and bays, Rottnest Island is a nature reserve just a short ferry ride from Perth. There are no cars on the island so pedal power is king. Meet the island’s famous quokkas, a mini marsupial, swim, snorkel or dive, or take an eco-cruise to spot whales and seals. Rottnest Express has ferry and bike hire packages from $99 pp www.rottnestexpress.com.au
Take your taste buds on an adventure. WA’s oldest wine region, the Swan Valley is an easy 25-minute drive from Perth city. Here you can meet the maker at some of the small family wineries or enjoy tastings at the cheese, chocolate and coffee producers. There are also microbreweries and galleries amongst the 150 attractions along the 32 km Swan Valley Food and Wine Trail. www.swanvalley.com.au
Swim with the dolphins. From the shores of the spectacular Shoalwater Islands Marine Park, Rockingham Wild Encounters runs small group tours swimming with dolphins, sea kayak tours of Penguin Island, and boat cruises to get up close and personal with the local dolphins, sea lions and little penguins. From $205 pp rockinghamwildencounters.com.au
More extraordinary experiences within 3 hours of Perth
Get a taste of Margaret River. A favourite escape for nature-lovers and gourmands alike, Margaret River produces some of the best wine in Australia with over 200 wineries as well as stunning beaches, tall-timber forests, caves and world-class surf breaks. Just a three hours’ drive from Perth, this region celebrates its 50th year of making world-beating chardonnays and cabernet sauvignons in 2017 with new walking, wine and helicopter tours.
Swim with giants at Ningaloo Reef. The world’s longest fringing reef has long been regarded as one of the best places in the world to swim with whale sharks (March to July) and now the West Australian government has granted licenses for a select number of operators to trial humpback whale swimming experiences too (August to October). 2017 also sees the reopening of the Navy Pier in Exmouth – rated one of the best shore dives in the world. This World Heritage listed wonder is only a 2 hour flight from Perth and also on the Qantas Walkabout pass when you buy your international airfare to get cheaper fares.
Discover Australia’s last great wilderness, the Kimberley. Broome, where the Outback meets the Indian Ocean, is only a 2.5 hour flight from Perth and also on the Qantas Walkabout pass. Take a camel ride along the 22 km white sands of Cable Beach, explore the mangroves with an aboriginal guide or visit the world’s oldest outdoor cinema here. This former pearling town is also a jump off point for the Kimberley, an untouched savannah landscape with stunning waterfalls, ancient gorges and rock art. Plans to seal the Cape Leveque Road will make it easier to visit the world’s only Horizontal Waterfalls, aboriginal communities and pearl farms as a day trip or extended adventure.
Fast Facts – London to Perth in one leap
The 14,498km flight will take approximately 17 hours (slightly more or less depending on winds).
When it launches, it will be the longest Boeing Dreamliner flight in the world and is expected to be the third-longest passenger flight in the world.
The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners used on the route will carry 236 passengers across Business, Premium Economy and Economy cabins.
Western Australia Premier and Tourism Minister Colin Barnett said the game-changing deal had the potential to inject more than $36 million a year into the local economy.