2 Days, 2 Nights | Enjoying Beer in Perth, Western Australia
You’ve done it, you’ve traveled as far as you can possibly get from the continental United States, to the world’s loneliest city – Perth, Western Australia. Perth is 1,300 mi by land to the closest similarly-sized city – Adelaide (if you want to be nit-picky, Auckland and Honolulu are more remote, but they’re islands, so I’m not counting them). Now that you’ve accomplished this geographic feat, my first advice is to leave. Get out. You didn’t come all this way to marvel at the city center with skyscrapers that remind you of Denver or Seattle or Brussels or any other Western city. Grab a quick 45 minute Uber to the coastal town of Fremantle and begin your Western Australia adventure.
Day 1: Fremantle
Fremantle is Perth’s port town, perched on the outlet of Swan River, which you could follow upstream to find Perth in a 30 min ferry ride. The 30 min ride from Perth keeps this funky town both separate from the hustle and bustle, and also constantly full of a rotating crowd of city dwellers, tourists, and lively locals.
Freo, as the Aussies call it, is chock full of culture and history. When the British settled here in 1829 they used Fremantle as a base for claiming ownership over all of Western Australia, and set their convicts to work building a new civilization. Evidence of the original settlement is well preserved, including Australia’s oldest remaining building – the gaol used to house the convicts. As you wander the streets, look up to see the dates etched into the ancient limestone buildings along with other ornate detailing. The pub, 7-11, or hotel you stop in is likely borrowing space inside 200-year old antique walls.
Your first mission is to get out and begin seeing some of this remarkable city. At the risk of sending you to the best place first, I recommend starting at The Monk Brew Cafe. Here you can sit on a massive deck in the center of town with a quality brew and take in the city center while an entire pig roasts behind you. If I didn’t send you here, the smells of the pig roast would have. To compliment the BBQ, I recommend the seasonal summer ale.
A short walk through the charming city center would take you closer to the beach and to what might possibly be Australia’s most popular craft brewery – Little Creatures. Little Creatures monopolizes tap lines from coast to coast and has an infectious culture to go with it. Perched between shipping lanes in this small coastal town, Little Creatures has come from humble beginnings to take over three full former shipping warehouses which now house a massive brewing operation along with a restaurant and a few waterfront decks. Come for a brewery tour any hour on the hour throughout the day, stay for an awesome food menu, fun atmosphere, and front seats WA’s nightly show – the most vibrant, unleashed sunset of them all.
Wander your way back through Fremantle before ending your evening. You’re sure to stumble across more than a few street musicians, ranging from enchanting & impressive to homeless men with a bucket. If that’s not your scene, almost every bar hosts nightly live music, and they open their doors and windows and terraces to the passing crowd, creating a vibe that resonates strongly with the New Orleans chord in my heart.
Rest up in an airbnb or a real-life bnb. Airbnb offers many affordable, convenient apartments near town. Fremantle also has a number of simply adorable small hotels and bed’n’breakfasts if you’re in to that.
Day 2: Rottnest Island
I should have mentioned this before you tasted all of the Monk & Little Creatures, but today is the day to rise and shine a little on the early side. Grab yourself a ferry to Rottnest island and get there before the hoards of tourists arrive to have this tiny kingdom to yourself. 30 minutes of gentle rocking and you’ll find yourself surrounded by 7 square miles of choose-your-own-adventure. Rent a bike for maximized mobility (no cars in this little paradise), and set off in search of some quokkas to coerce into smiling for a selfie, or a beach cave for picnicing, or a reef or sunken ship to stick your snorkel-covered nose in. As long as your supplies of water and sunscreen hold, the sky (or more practically the beach) is your limit.
Once you’re jello-legged from the unexpected hills and crispy from the salt water and sun, Rottnest has several oases for you to rest your sunburned self before the ferry takes you back to the mainland. The Hotel Rottnest offers a day club vibe, perched beachside with a DJ spinning tunes at all times of the day and fellow out-snorkeled tourists sipping ciders. As with any typical Aussie bar, your choice is macro beer, James Squire’s One Fifty Lashes, or cider. You’re here for hydration and good views, so any of the above will do, but One Fifty Lashes will also appease your beer-loving palate. It’s an easy drinking, well balanced pale ale. An all-around good beer and a friendly face among macro taps.
For a more laid-back scene, check out the Rottnest Lodge which offers a hidden pool sanctuary complete with tropical cocktails and live music in the evenings.
But you won’t be around for the evening, because you’ll be jetting your way back to Fremantle to prepare for a night in the city.
Clean yourself up and grab a train or ferry into the city. Stop on Heirisson island before the sun sets to check out the seven kangaroos that call this 70 acre bit of land home. Then mosey along the river and into the city to The Stables Bar for a typical Australian meal – it’s posh and homey at the same time, it offers a variety of beers and even better cocktails if you’re too sunburned and exhausted and hungry to choose what you want, you can just try everything. We love this “feed me” option down under. Will the US please catch up? After your banquet, wander into Northbridge to find a laid-back pub before catching the train back home to Freo.
This concludes your two days in Perth, but let’s be real, you traveled over 24 hours to get here, you’re staying a bit longer. Grab a car and head south to Margaret River for some wine country and rain forests. Head north for coastal towns, beautiful beaches, and outback-style scenery. The kangaroos are plentiful, the people are sparse, and the dirt is red. You’ll love it. Just whatever you do, don’t head east. When you turn away from the most remote place in the world, you really aren’t turning towards anything at all. Australia is like that. Majestic, awe-inspiring, and terrifyingly empty.
Gee such a shame to come all this way and apparently only scratch the surface of what Perth and surrounds are offering in the beer scene. As we find our beer identity there is truly so much quality beer representation in our area that is not encapsulated within this article.
I hope you return with more time up your sleeve to delve a little deeper into Fremantle, Perth, Northbridge, Swan Valley and the Margaret River/Yallingup region to mention just a few.