Review: Perth City Coach Tour with Australian Pinnacle Tours
This morning coach tour of Perth and Fremantle is a relaxed and cost-effective way to see the key sights and tourist hotspots. Ride in air-conditioned comfort and hear live commentary throughout the tour.
I’ve been described as a serial traveller, and I do love to explore new places.
What I don’t like is that overwhelming feeling of not knowing where to start. That’s why, after many years of travelling the world, I’ve discovered that the easiest way to get acquainted with a new city is to let a local show me around on a guided tour.
Today I’m doing a Perth City Coach Tour with Australian Pinnacle Tours and Gray Line Australia. I find that short and sharp tours like this are ideal for the first-time visitor who wants to hit the ground running in their chosen destination. It makes planning the rest of your stay a breeze, as you can simply head back and explore the sights and attractions that take your fancy, at your own pace.
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The tour begins at 8am with hotel pick-ups. There are just eight guests on board today, including me. Perthite Amy is our guide and driver, and as we pull out of Crown Perth she begins her commentary — which reveals how the surrounding Burswood area was once a rubbish dump! This glittering entertainment precinct is now home to flash hotels, restaurants, bars, shops, theatres, and a casino. What’s also interesting about Crown Perth is that they maintain 23 separate gardens around Burswood. It’s certainly a rubbish dump no longer!
Aussies love to use nicknames for people and places, and it didn’t take long for the city’s newest entertainment venue — Perth Stadium — to be dubbed the ‘cray pot’. It does look like one, although there are few cray pots that can seat 70,000 people and were christened with an Ed Sheeran concert.
Amy drives past another significant landmark — the WACA (Western Australian Cricket Association) Ground. I’m not a cricket fan, so this doesn’t interest me at all. However, the fact that the WACA holds a 999-year lease on the stadium, which basically means forever, is fascinating.
As we pass Queens Gardens, Amy shares the story of its famed bench from the movie Notting Hill — complete with the inscription that reads: ‘For June, who loved this garden. From Joseph, who always sat beside her.’ The bench was donated to the City of Perth anonymously after a failed marriage proposal. A story like this (and the bench itself) is bound to be missed by tourists who wander about in the city centre without guidance.
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Driving along Adelaide Terrace, we learn that the small bend in the road near St Georges Terrace was to accommodate rose bushes belonging to Matilda Roe — the wife of John Septimus Roe — Western Australia’s first Surveyor-General. Once we hit St Georges Terrace Amy points out the Perth Concert Hall and Government House, and does a drive-by of the Barrack Street Jetty and stunning Elizabeth Quay.
Our first actual stop is Kings Park and Botanic Garden — a vast green space adored by locals and tourists alike. We have 45 minutes to take a walk through the gardens, grab a coffee, view the war memorial plaques beneath rows of shady lemon-scented gums, or take a photo of the city skyline. I mosey towards the Fraser Avenue Lookout (Kaarta Gar-up), passing a restaurant, cafe, and gallery/gift shop, and the park’s Visitor Information Centre. The emotive State War Memorial is located close by and encompasses the Cenotaph, Court of Contemplation, Flame of Remembrance, and Pool of Reflection. Queen Elizabeth II dedicated the remembrance park back in 1954. She returned in 2000 to light the eternal flame, which is surrounded by torches representing the Royal Australian Navy, Air Force, Army, and Women’s Army Service.
It’s a clear, sunny day, but the park is very quiet; only a handful of other visitors can be seen in the Fraser Avenue Precinct. The sun is high above the CBD, but I manage to snap a few photos of the skyline from the lookout. Heading back to the bus, I stop to chat with one of the volunteer gardeners and enquire about a purple flower that looks like a kangaroo paw (which I thought were always gold or red). ‘Kangaroo paws have been cultivated to produce many colours, but the green and gold ones are Western Australia’s emblem colours’, she tells me. I’m not a natural gardener (even though my mother and stepfather were professionals), but I do love flowers. And this native bloom is gorgeous.
Back on board the coach, we exit Kings Park via Poole Road, then travel along Hackett Drive for views of Matilda Bay — home to the Royal Perth Yacht Club. Cruising down Jutland Parade, it soon becomes clear why this is known locally as ‘Millionaires’ Row’. These homes are mansions! Amy points out the property belonging to mining mogul Gina Rinehart and gives us an update on the eye-watering median property price in the area.
Our second and final stop of the day will be in the historic port city of Fremantle. To get there, we pass Cottesloe Beach and catch a glimpse of Rottnest Island in the distance.
On arrival in ‘Freo’ (the local lingo for Fremantle), we’re set down in the city centre for 45 minutes of free time. Fremantle is awash with convict and colonial history, and is home to a famous market, great cafes and restaurants, and a swag of museums. And let’s not forget that this is also the birthplace of Australian craft beer.
I’ve decided to stay on in Freo and catch the train back to Perth later in the day. If this will be your only visit to Fremantle, I recommend turning this half day into a full day excursion and going ‘full tourist’. There’s a lot to see.
There’s no better way to learn about a city than spending time with a local. Amy told me stories that were fun and enlightening, and took me to places I hadn’t been before. All in all, this Perth City Coach Tour is a fabulous introduction to the Western Australian capital.
On that note, I’m off to the much-loved Little Creatures brewery in Freo for a pint of pale ale!
Cover image: The Bell Tower. Additional images: Bigstock
About the writer
Jennifer Morton is a freelance writer and photographer. The Canadian expat has lived all over Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. She also spent six months working on a cruise ship in Europe. When Jennifer is not writing about travel, you may find her lounging on the beach, fishing with her son, sipping coffee at a cafe, reading a book, or zooming in on a beautiful scene.