We took our five-year-old twins to Perth in Western Australia recently. Many people tend to pass over it as a vacation destination, preferring the bigger and hipper Australian cities of Sydney and Melbourne. Yet, Perth, with its wide open spaces and laid-back vibe is a great holiday choice if traveling with kids aged five and under. Let me share with you why, and also how to make the most of a trip there.
1. Making the Right Travel Choices
Perth’s moderate Mediterranean weather means you can visit all year round. We visited last October during Spring (September to November); a really lovely time as the average daily temperatures range from 12 to 16OC. Autumn (March to May) is another good season to go too. Imagine having natural “air-conditioning” around you, everywhere. Cooler temperatures hopefully mean cooler temperaments!
Many families usually opt for budget airlines, but the awkward timings would mean leaving and arriving at odd hours of the day. This will usually lead to time wasted taking naps to rest and recover. We often use Skyscanner to make comparisons with full-service airlines. You’d be surprised, sometimes the price difference is not as hefty as you think but timings are a lot more child-friendly. In the end, we went with Malaysian Airlines.
Hotels are great, but service apartments with a kitchen and washing machine are usually more family-friendly and cost-effective. This is especially advantageous if you have active kids who are early risers or fussy eaters. We chose to stay at the Mounts Bay Waters Service Apartments. It was centrally located, on the free Perth City CAT bus route and close to the scenic Swan River. For a change of scenery, we also travelled down to Dunsborough, south of Perth about 3 hours away. There, we stayed at the gorgeous Whalers’ Cove. We polled friends and family, searched Trip Advisor, and then booked all our accommodation on Hotels.com. The site offers free nights stay for every ten nights booked through them.
Perth and its surroundings are relatively easy to navigate by car. We chose Aries Car Rental as they offer affordable family-friendly options and excellent service. It has many safe, reliable and almost brand new (purchased new and replaced within 24 months) SUVs and MPVs in their fleet. Selected vehicles can be fitted with child seats to cater to young families of up to 12 people.
2. Keeping Kids Busy at the Airport and Mid-Flight
Perth is only 5 hours away by flight. Still, some planning is needed. This was where we found our new Trunkis very useful. In these fun cases, my twins managed to fit in their favourite markers and crayons, doodle pads, travel games (Snap and magnetic Tic-Tac-Toe), Kumon workbooks and volume-limiting headphones. We also managed to fit in a “Busy Box” filled with cool little science activities that Atom and the Dot kindly passed to us to test. Between these things, watching animated movies and munching on airline meals, the kids were kept busy throughout the flight.
The Trunkis stowed away easily under the front seats during take-off and landing and were great for the kids to rest their otherwise dangling feet on. We believe that children become good travellers through a mix of nature and nurture. We plan for things they innately enjoy but also try to help them grow more independent (walk more!) and adaptable (whine less!). We’ve been training our little ones to travel stroller-free for the past year, so the Trunkis were useful distractions especially at the airport (helping us avoid the ultimate nightmare of carrying everything and everyone!). They kept our twins happy as we pulled them along to the boarding gates. In long immigration queues, they served as seats to rest tired little feet. Even this mummy could straddle on the sturdy case while toting a sleeping (and heavy!) five-year-old.
3. An Open Space to Play Once a Day Keeps the Cranky Away
When building an itinerary for kids aged five and under, leave plenty of time for them to unleash their energy and unwind in between places. Work in an open space for them to play in each day. Perth has so many great parks, playgrounds as well as breathtaking beaches and bays that you’ll be spoilt for choice.
We loved watching our children chase birds or just run around at the many playgrounds and parks in local neighbourhoods like College Park, as well as those close to nice restaurants that we lunched at like JoJo’s and Bayside Kitchen in Mathilda Bay. We visited the fantastic Rio Tinto Naturescape and the Lottery West Family Area in King’s Park.
In tourist hotspot Fremantle, we rode a ferris wheel and then watched my son climb to the top of a rope pyramid. We caught a stunning sunset with my cousins and their dogs on Perth’s iconic Cottesloe Beach. Another highlight was feeding kangaroos which were roaming freely at Caversham Wildlife Park.
Down south, we climbed to the top of the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, then tasted craft beers over lunch at the Eagle Bay Brewing Co. while our kids played in a large outdoor sandpit set against gorgeous vistas. The kids had ice cream, played mini golf and rolled down the little hillocks at Simmos Ice Creamery. We went whale watching (ten whale sightings in one morning!) off the Indian Ocean with Jet Adventures. We also built many sand castles on the quiet beach off Whalers’ Cove.
4. Work in Treats for the Big People
Remember to work in some treats for yourselves too to keep up your own holiday enthusiasm that can quickly descend into exhaustion if you do not refuel. We enjoy walking tours and were thankful our twins kept up with us when we took one with Two Feet and a Heartbeat. Our guide Tim made my cheese-toastie-loving husband’s day when he led us to Toastface Grillah for lunch. I was thrilled we caught Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly series at the Art Gallery of Western Australia. Perth also has many fabulous restaurants like those at the refurbished State Buildings for a child-free date night. Our cousins took us to The Hummus Club in the Northbridge bar and restaurant strip, where we also found some lovely Australian picture book souvenirs for the children at the cool Planet Books.
5. Have a Daily Itinerary but Prepare to Let It Go Where Needed
With kids, it is essential to have a plan but to pace yourselves. Don’t overload each day with insane amounts of activity. Packing in one big thing each day is plenty; consider anything extra you manage to do a bonus. We planned for but missed many recommended sights. Hopefully, we can save these for our next trip to Perth in the near future!
If you are interested in our full itinerary, email me at [email protected].
All photos are from Li-Hsian’s personal collection.
Trunki’s master distributor in Malaysia, Bloom and Grow Asia would like to gift two jet setting Makchic readers with Trunkis, one featuring the limited edition Flossi the Flamingo design, as pictured. Just post a snapshot of your favourite holiday moment with your family on your Instagram account and tell us the reason that made it memorable. Remember to put your post on public, tag us @makchic and use the hashtag #makchicxtrunkigiveaway. All posts must be done before 5 pm on 11 February 2019 to be eligible for selection.