Great Idea #1 SURFING
There’s a handful of surfing schools in Perth and more down south. Boards are supplied, and most people manage to stand and catch a wave by the end of the day. Anyone can do it, including kids aged five and older, and lessons range from a few hours to a week-long safari.
TOP THREE: BEGINNERS’ SURF BREAKS
Mark Lane, CEO of Surfing Western Australia, shares his pick of Perth’s best breaks for surfing newbies.
1. Trigg and Scarborough Beaches would be your best bet at this time of year, but conditions vary. Low-swell months are ideal for beginners, but if the swells do come it can be really dangerous, with big waves breaking onto shallow sand.
2. Leighton and Cottesloe would be your next pick, but both are swell- ependent. If you push yourself a little further south you’ll find yourself at Secret Harbour, which is also ideal.
3. Heading north, Mullaloo can be a great beginner’s location, but can be a little small at this time of year, or you could take a chance at Mindarie. If you push a little further north you’ll find yourself at Lancelin Backbeach which is another great beginner’s location.
Keen to take a lesson before braving the waves?
- Big Wave Surfing School Secret Harbour 9758 8315
- Gone Surfin Secret Harbour 9537 3709
- Josh Palmateer’s Surf Academy Margaret River 9757 3850
- Margaret River Surf School Gnarabup 9757 1111
- One Surf School Mullaloo 0403 206 651
- Perth Go Surf Scarborough 9245 1684
- Scarborough Beach Surf School Scarborough 9447 5637
- School of Surfing WA Trigg, Mullaloo, Leighton and Rottnest Island 9448 0004
Great Idea #2 SKYDIVING
If you’ve been waiting for the right push (ahem) to try out skydiving, you’re in luck – here’s a list of local operators who will guide you through the basics before you make the leap.
Southern Skydivers fi nish their jumps on Busselton Beach, so this is your best chance for a soft landing. Even better, to help you find your feet once you’re back on flat earth, they’ll shout you a drink at beachside cafe The Goose. Hangar 6, Airport Drive, Busselton.
SKYDIVE THE BEACH AND BEYOND
Australia’s largest skydiving centre offers jumps from Perth, Rockingham, and York (the York base was formerly known as Skydive Express). Winter’s the best time for a York jump – the views of the lush Avon Valley are incredible. Various locations.
WA Skydiving Academy
Feeling charitable? You can jump here for free by registering your fundraising campaign, and raising a minimum of $500. Up the stakes with a 450m jump – the highest drop in WA. Hangar 1, 2 Mustang Road, Jandakot.
Great Idea #3 PADDLING
Paddle alongside dolphins in Rockingham, drop a line off the back of your canoe in the Swan, or brave the rapids down the Avon River. Whether you’re a keen paddler or you’ve never picked up an oar in your life, there are abundant resources to help you make the most of the local waterways.
With its sandy beaches, shaded lawns, barbecue shelters, playgrounds and cycle paths, Lake Leschenaultia is especially popular with families. The Shire of
Mundaring has nineteen canoes available for hire on weekends, public holidays
and school holidays between 10am and 3pm, for $20 an hour. There are also
great campsites, so you can easily make a weekend of it!
Sea kayaking is one way to take in Penguin and Seal islands, not far from Shoalwater Bay and Rockingham. Aside from sea lions and colonies of pelicans, if you’re lucky you might catch sight of a dolphin. The Penguin Island Sea Kayak Tour, which costs $169 per person, includes snorkelling equipment, a picnic lunch and double kayaks.
Lane Pool Reserve
Less than 90 minutes’ drive from the city, Lane Pool Reserve in Dwellingup offers an opportunity to hit the Murray River and take in the beautiful forest (lucky travellers might even spot a quokka). Dwellingup Adventures hires out canoes and kayaks for self-guided paddles, but full and halfday tours are also on offer.
The waterways near the city are a popular choice for daytime kayaking experiences, courtesy of the Swan River, which can take you all the way down to the south of WA. Kayaks can be hired from About Bike Hire at Point Fraser Reserve on the foreshore.
Hire equipment from Canoe & Kayak Mandurah for a day of fun. Dolphins regularly pop up here, and a kayak provides a great chance to get nice and close. Paddling by the waterside mansions and through the canals is also plenty of fun, the waters guaranteed to be calm. TIP The houses use owl statues to keep the seagulls away – challenge the kids to see how many they can count!
Keen to join a club or get extra training? Head to wa.canoe.org.au for details.
• Water Wanderers (East Perth, the Swan Valley or Ascot Waters) waterwanderers.com.au, 0412 101 949.
• Penguin Island Sea Kayak Tour penguinisland.com.au, 9591 1333.
• Rivergods Seal and Penguin islands (and further afield Monkey Mia, Ningaloo Reef, Broke Inlet) rivergods.com.au, 9259 0749.
WHERE TO HIRE
• Canoe and Kayak Mandurah canoeandkayak.net.au, 0419 885 710.
• About Bike Hire (Point Fraser Reserve) aboutbikehire.com.au, 9221 2665.
• Rivergods (Willetton) rivergods.com.au, 9259 0749.
• Funcats Watersports (Coode Street Jetty, South Perth) funcats.com.au,
0408 926 003.
Great Idea #4 SCUBA DIVING & SNORKELLING
There’s a huge array of underwater attractions – including plane wrecks and colourful reefs – from Perth to Rockingham, and further out at beloved Rottnest. There’s plenty for snorkellers, but if you’re keen to grab your dive ticket, head to padi.com to find a dive centre nearby.
Islands and archipelagos have a special place in Western Australia – their weather and water quality combined with their remoteness have resulted in astounding diversity above and especially below the water. Rottnest has 63 bays and beaches, squeaky white sands and deep blue waters. Expect world class diving in the warm tropical sea, which is home to brilliantly coloured corals, countless species of fi sh, rock lobster, and dozens of wrecks. Less than an hour’s drive south of Perth are the Shoalwater Islands, made up of Bird Island, Seal Island and the picture-perfect Penguin Island. A colourful coral reef, shipwrecks beneath the waves, and the opportunity to snorkel and dive with dolphins provide drawcards for adventurous water enthusiasts.
Rockingham is home to its very own wreck trail, with six submerged wrecks including boats, planes and a tyre reef. Unreliable water clarity and conditions make it a bit hit and miss, but it’s generally fun for a scuba dive and you’re likely to stumble across some cool creatures. If you’re eager to explore but aren’t a scuba diver, you can snorkel many of the ruins at Rottnest – each has its own plaque describing the wreck and its history, and there are onshore markers indicating locations. The swell can be a bit temperamental, but there are a number of easy-to-reach sites (okay for snorkellers), including the hopper barge Shark at Henrietta Rocks, the Uribes at Thomson Bay, and the Kiryo Maru I near Cathedral Rocks (50m offshore and a little more challenging to reach).
Rottnest is the obvious attraction for a reef snorkel or dive (try the Basin, Parker Point and Little Salmon Bay). Boy in a Boat Reef (near Hillarys Boat Harbour) is a fantastic dive that’s close to Perth, with an impressive array of underwater life. Mettams Pool just north of Trigg Beach is a protected rock pool that’s ideal for young kids – there’s plenty of fi sh to spot in the shallows, and a ramp running down to the water that’s handy for wheelchairs or anyone with mobility issues. If you’re a keen snorkeller you can head further out – there’s lots to see around the reef.
WA is home to one of the best pier dives in the state – the Navy Pier dive in Exmouth – but there are a few jetty dives closer to Perth where you’ll get a taste of the action. Ammunition Jetty at Woodmans Point is a good choice for novice divers, and if you’re very lucky you might spot a dolphin or sea lion. Bulk Jetty in Kwinana is another option where you might come across huge sea stars, and there are loads of crabs from late spring through to autumn.
Need to know
If you’re planning on getting your dive certifi cate, it’s best to book through a dive centre. They meet very strict guidelines on equipment used, training materials offered, air quality and medical supplies (such as oxygen and first aid kits) to be able to offer these dive courses. These centres also have different levels of rating, from dive centres right through to career development centres.
Great Idea #5 ROCK CLIMBING & ABSEILING
Why suffer through the summertime heat when you can rock climb in the air-conditioned indoors?
– The Hangout Indoor Climbing Centre Perth’s largest indoor rock-climbing
centre offers climbers of all skill levels and ages the chance to scale its walls. For newbies, it provides a full safety induction and there’s free entry and harness hire for belayers (those holding the rope while you climb).
12 White Street, Bayswater, 9371 9939.
– Rockface Indoor Rock Climbing Centre Urban dwellers can learn the ropes with a range of climbs, from top roping to the more advance lead climbing. They even have two indoor bouldering caves.
63b John Street, Northbridge, 9328 5998.
– City Summit Spare the nerves – new climbers are offered a free introductory course before they head to the walls. They also offer skill and technique courses, as well as group ClimbFIT classes with intense training for those seriously addicted to the sport.
2/26 Harris Road, Malaga, 9248 7035.
Avoid relying entirely on the hands and arms – learn to trust your feet!
Great Idea #6 HORSE-RIDING
There are ample equestrian opportunities for beginner, intermediate and professional riders at WA’s nine accredited riding centres. Check out horse-riding groups on Facebook to fi nd like-minded riders in your area.
Foxwood Farm Equestrian
Centre 56 Brook Road, Wattle Grove, Perth Hills 0438 100 362.
Centre 1 Graylands Road, Claremont 9383 4800.
Excelsior Equestrian Riding School and Training Establishment
99 Eleventh Road, Wungong 0400 059 032.
Zia Park Equestrian Centre
8410 Stoneville Road, Gidgegannup 9574 6010.
Avonlea Farm Riding
425 Victor Road, Darlington 9299 7552.
1300 Trail Rides
Lot 504 Telephone Road, Neergabby 1800 872 457.
MULTI-USE HORSE RIDING TRAILS
Railway Reserves Heritage Trail
41km, Perth Hills.
The Kep Track
75km, Mundaring to Northam
If you’ve decided to take your own horse on a trek, remember that it’s almost inevitable you’ll come across elements the animal may not be used to. If the sudden appearance of strangers or the sound of trail bikes is particularly upsetting to your horse, do some research first to ensure you’ve chosen the most suitable route.
Great Idea #7 WINDSURFING
As one of the top fi ve windiest places in the world, Perth is a windsurfer’s paradise. Windsurfi ng WA president, Tim Brazier, shares the best local spots and classes for those keen to take up the sport.
LUCKY BAY, ARDROSS
With flat water sailing out to a sand bank and then more flat water sailing out beyond it, Lucky Bay offers the perfect conditions for learners. It also has a thriving group of windsurfers of all skills levels who are always keen to help a new sailor develop their skills. Check out 2nd Wind Sailboards, which offers regular beginner classes at Lucky Bay. 2ndwind.com.au.
PELICAN POINT, NEDLANDS
This is a slightly windier spot than Lucky Bay. Pelican Point also has great flatwater conditions out along the point. The shallow water closer in is great for those new to the sport as well. Windforce rents windsurfi ng gear off the beach, and also offers lessons. Pelican Point is home to Windforce Wednesday Night Slalom for those who want to see some fast racing action. windforce.com.au.
Great Idea #8 SUP-ING
Need a bit more balance in your life? Give stand-up paddleboarding a whirl. One of the world’s fastestgrowing watersports, SUP provides an overall workout focused on strength, endurance and balance. What’s more, out on the ocean there’s no gym membership required, nor a sweaty towel or treadmill in sight!
“SUP is defi nitely one of those sports that have taken off, as it’s just so accessible,” explains Elemental SUP instructor Caroline Bradley. “It’s a great workout for most people and it’s extremely benefi cial because it targets all the muscles in the body. In fact, it uses muscles most people have never used before, and while it’s not really a cardio workout, you are working all your muscles, especially in your core. It’s very therapeutic.”
Caroline says, for beginners, getting the stroke paddles right is the fi rst priority, along with body posture and balance. She even recommends those experienced in yoga to try out a yoga workout on the sea, atop a soft, buoyant SUP board. “We paddle out somewhere glassy and calm and practise some yoga moves out there,” she says. “It defi nitely takes yoga to a whole new level, and as you can’t hear anything out there, it can feel quite surreal.”
SoulKite Try this casual setup if you’re not sure about SUP-ing – hire a board for one or two hours, or a whole day, and paddle around in your own time. At $20 for an hour, it’s the cheapest in Perth. Point Walter, Bicton.
Action Sports WA Perfect for beginners or people wanting a little more guidance, Action Sports will teach you basic SUP-ing techniques and make sure your equipment is suited to your height and weight. You’ll walk away with great technique, and an understanding of the physical benefi ts of SUP-ing. Bardon Place, Maylands.
Stand Up Paddle Sports For something different, try one of the classes from SUP Sports – think ladies-only social paddles, private lessons and fi tness-focused classes. Class prices are discounted if you bring your own board.
JH Abrahams Reserve, Crawley.
Elemental SUP If you already feel comfortable on a SUP, try one of Elemental’s specialised classes. Catch waves with SUP surfing, or try something different with SUP yoga – yep, that’s a downward dog on a SUP. Point Walter, Bicton.
North Freo Stand Up Surf Shop Perth’s only specialist SUP shop also offers classes so you can put your new craft to the test. Lessons with a qualifi ed instructor run every weekend, or if you prefer something more personal, you can also make an appointment for a private lesson. Freshwater Bay, Peppermint Grove.
Your first instinct atop the board may be to focus on your arms. Resist – it’s all about the core. As the water constantly changes, keep your midsection muscles engaged for better balance.
Great Idea #9 4WD-ING
Escape the crowds this summer with a 4WD adventure. You can explore the colossal dunes in Lancelin, manoeuvre along powerline tracks through the hills, or find a deserted beach where you can camp beneath the stars.
NORTH COAST & VALLEYS
Using the town of Gingin, 25km inland, as a starting point, trek along the edge of the Moore River National Park where you’ll find forgotten stock tracks, bush terrain and dune formations. Beachside 4WDing begins at the vast sand dunes on the edge of Lancelin – ideal for recreational fun. The adventure continues north along beaches and dunes to locations such as Dide Bay and Wedge and Grey islands, before re-joining the Indian Ocean Drive to Cervantes and the Pinnacles. Regulations, nogo zones and seasonal and environmental restrictions apply. Contact DEC Moora office (9652 1911) for all you need to know.
The gorgeous Whitehills Beach, just 15 minutes from Mandurah, is the closest
place south of Perth to 4WD along the beach. Keep driving south and stop to see the thrombolites, living fossils easily viewable from a purpose-built boardwalk: these babies are among the earliest known life forms on earth! If you’re headed to Preston Beach, there are miles of beach driving options leading north to Tim’s Thicket. This stretch of coastline is an undiscovered gem, with terrific fishing and beach 4WD tracks. Camp at Martins Tank, within the Yalgorup National Park, amid the peppermint woodland and tuart forest. Dune preservation is important, so check with the City of Mandurah ranger for access and condition reports. There are various inland forest tracks around Dwellingup, Waroona and Lane Poole, perfect for 4WDing. The Nanga Heritage Circuit winds through jarrah forest and the river valley along a network of timber tramways, steam train tracks and trestle bridges. The Captain Fawcett Commemorative 4×4 Track is an easy to mediumgrade track starting in the Lane Poole Reserve and showcasing more than 100km of jarrah forests, historic farmhouses and early settlers’ bridges. There are also mountain-bike and bridle trails.
The beauty of 4WDing in the Perth Hills is that you get some great, rocky terrain (it’s a nice change from sand and beaches!). There are a fair few rocky outcrops that can be reached with a 4WD along tracks that aren’t too daunting (check the
coordinates on a 4WDing website). If you’ve got some guts about you (and
some experience) try the Mundaring Power Line Track (entry is near Sawyers Valley Tavern), which is ideal in spring – fewer showers allow for the track to dry out and be less slippery.
Great Idea #10 JETSURFING
It’s the latest exhilarating water activity to hit our shores: motor-powered
surfboarding. The carbon-fibre boards are powered by 100cc two-stroke engines and weigh only 15kg – but don’t worry, you don’t have to leap over waves to enjoy it, you can hit 57kph on fl at water. The twist on regular surfi ng is brought to us by Neil Mans and Rebecca Rempel of Jetsurf Perth. “Neil and I saw Jetsurf on a YouTube video last year and immediately thought, ‘We must have one of those!’,” says Rebecca. “And here we are now, the offi cial dealers for Western Australia. We had our offi cial launch at the Mandurah Boat Show recently, so it’s still very new for WA. The Jetsurf Experience Centre on the Swan River will be the only place in the Southern Hemisphere where you can rent one.” You don’t need any experience on the water, and Rebecca says that most people are up and standing within 15 minutes. Take one for a water test for 30 minutes and see what you think. jetsurfperth.com.au
Great Idea #11 CAMPING
It’s super easy to escape the city and get ‘off grid’ in Perth, with plenty of options less than 100km away from the centre of town. In our crazy summer heat, we recommend you head to one of these locations – their proximity to water makes cooling off easy as.
LANE POOLE RESERVE
Perfect for first time campers, this has it all – several campgrounds, an undercover camp kitchen (with gas barbecues, cold collected rainwater, and dining benches), incredible forest to cycle and bushwalk in, and activities galore at the nearby Murray River. Go fishing, canoeing, kayaking, or swim in waterfalls and deep, still pools along the way. Dwellingup’s also nearby for an emergency coffee break. Lane Poole Reserve, Dwellingup.
Camping at Rotto gets you just far enough away from the city, yet with heaps of
cafe and shopping options so you’re not totally cut off. The campgrounds were
given a makeover in 2013, with 43 non-powered, sand-covered sites, new ablution blocks and a camp kitchen. Chances are you won’t spend much time here though – being surrounded by water, you’ll want to head to one of the endless beaches (or chill out at the pub). Rottnest Island Camping Ground.
Beautifully situated on the foothills of the Darling Ranges, this is for campers who like a view. The site is spread out over grassland, under shady trees, and close to all necessary amenities, barbecues, ablution blocks, laundry and kitchen. The main attraction here is the Serpentine Falls – bathe under the cascading waterfall and jump off the rocks into the dam. From there, it’s a short drive to the Millbrook Winery and Action Paintball (though maybe not in that order…). Serpentine Falls and National Park, Serpentine.
This is beach camping at its finest, a completely isolated and untouched gem just north of Yanchep (be prepared: access is only by 4WD, beware the soft sand). There are no luxury amenities – it’s just you, the sand and the water. Those who get a bit excited about the DIY camping set up will froth on this. Camping here is free, beach fi shing abundant, and dogs are allowed. Try not to spread the word on this one, or we’ll be in trouble. Wilbinga Campground, Two Rocks.
Make sure your beach camping adventure is of the legal variety – ranger fi nes are hefty. It’s also always best to call up and try to book first, to avoid missing out on the perfect spot.
Great Idea #12 BODY BOARDING
Summer is the time to get into the water and learn how to bodyboard, as the swell is perfect for beginners. Best of all? It’s way easier to get the hang of than surfing.
We turn to bodyboarding fanatic and Bicton local Darius Ardeshirian, who grabbed his first bodyboard at the tender age of six, for his advice on how to get started. “Bodyboarding is the easiest way to experience a barrel,” says Darius. “Once you have come out of a barrel or have even been inside a barrel, you will be hooked.”
1. A great starting beach is City Beach – then move further north to Scarborough or Trigg to get bigger waves as you progress (or do a day trip to Margs).
2. Always check the conditions fi rst on seabreeze.com.au. Beginners want a 2 3m summer swell, and wind direction of SE, ESE, E or NE.
3. Get into the water and teach yourself – no lessons needed. Grab a board and some mates, then watch and learn from how the other guys do it.
4. When a wave comes, kick as hard as you can to get on it, and then pick a direction (every wave is either a left or right). When going right, take the top right hand corner of the board with your right hand and hold the left side halfway down the rail with your left hand, then lean to the right, until you’re in the barrel. The ultimate aim is to get barrelled – then aim for the exit and get out.
5. Bodyboarding is all about timing – learning when to get on the wave and when to come out (and try tricks!).
6. To improve confi dence, practise as much as possible with mates, and push each other. Getting dumped a few times will also help to boost confidence.
7. To really get into the culture, go down to Pitz Bodyboarding Culture – Perth’s premiere bodyboarding shop – to get set up with all the gear, and go to
riptide.com.au or leboogie.com to watch videos.
Great Idea #13 MOUNTAIN BIKING
WA is awesome for mountain bikers, with almost 30 tracks in the Perth surrounds. For insight into where to ride, grab a copy of the WA Mountain Bike Guide, check out trailswa.com.au, or choose from our favourite tracks below.
This 22km single track, purpose-built, intermediate trail is the crowning glory of the Perth Hills. The best place to park is the Calamunnda Camel Farm (Pauls Valley Road, just off Mundaring Weir Road between Kalamunda and Mundaring) where mountain bikers are always welcome. The trail goes through the farm’s car park – be sure to check out their excellent scones.
GOAT FARM, GREENMOUNT
On the outskirts of Perth and near to public transport links, there’s something here for every rider: downhill, crosscountry (XC), four cross (4X) and a great skills park. Not the best trails in the state, but the easy-to-reach location and the skills park make it a good location to try out.
FORSYTH’S MILL, SAWYERS VALLEY
This 5km trail is speedy with plenty of jumps, and is great to ride along when the pea-gravel is compacted after rain. The biggest drawcard for parents is the small loop for the kids, about 50m from the end of the trail. The best place to park is the dirt car park off Gorry Road (1km past Lake Leschenaultia).
LANGFORD PARK, JARRAHDALE
This park off Nettleton Road is a common location for races and events, and was upgraded in late 2013 (the trails are now signposted). The beloved maze of trails has something for everyone, with a beginner loop surrounded by tougher routes and even a trail that’s been specially designed for riding at night (just follow the refl ectors). Toilets, picnic benches, barbecues and campsites mean it’s easy to spend a whole weekend riding the various trails.
Dwellingup and its surrounds are mountain-biking heaven, boasting a huge range of trails. There’s Turner Hill (be sure to ask a local for directions, it’s tricky to find) and Dwellingup DH, which has six downhill trails. The track at the Marrinup campsite (great for beginners) is in riding distance from the town. South Shore (off Dawn Road) has been described as the toughest free-ride course in the country; definitely not for beginners, but still seriously impressive for anyone who wants to watch skilled adrenalin-seekers ride it.
MUNDA BIDDI TRAIL
You can’t go past the Munda Biddi if you don’t mind the distance (1000km to be exact). The world-class track runs from Mundaring to Albany, passing through towns including Jarrahdale and Dwellingup. It’s easily accessible by carand there are campsites along the route. The trail features vast areas of unspoiled bushland and if you keep your eyes peeled you’ll spot rarely sighted native wildlife.
Rock and Roll Mountain Biking (hire also available) rockandrollmountainbiking.com.au, 0410 949 182
Great Idea #14 WATER PARKS
Summer is upon us – this calls for waterslides, pronto. Get slippery-dippy at these top three parks.
¦ ADVENTURE WORLD
This world of adventure is hailed as king of the water parks in Perth. With water slides aplenty, take your pick from the mighty Tunnel of Terror, or race your mates on the super speed slides (you might want to double knot your bikini for this one). Paddle pools and dinosaur safaris occupy the young’uns, while the (technically) older can get their hit of adrenalin on a choice of 30 thrill rides (the new Abyss has been dubbed the best rollercoaster in Oz), or make use of the licensed bar and rent a cabana for the day. Tickets get dirtcheap after 2pm. Adventure World, Bibra Lake, 9417 9666.
THE GREAT ESCAPE
Head to the harbour of Hillarys, home of the speedy slides. For a slightly slower
ride, take the hydro tube – the longest slide in Perth, or wild ones can jump onto the 16m-high wild rapids. Feeling waterlogged? There are also enough trampolines, ropes and rock-climbing walls here to well and truly wear out both you and the kiddiewinks. The Great Escape, Hillarys Boat Harbour, 9448 0800.
Perth’s newest water park’s three-storey waterslides are only half the fun – get lost among the endless mazes, or backfl ip on the trampolines. There’s a huge grassed picnic area for a break (pitch a tent here to avoid the rays), with barbecues to cook your own lunch. If you’re feeling friendly you can also say hey to the gang of kangaroos in the Park’s animal enclosure. Outback Splash, Bullsbrook, 9571 1375
Save money – and avoid the awful queues – by investing in a season pass.