After 8 years away from home, I’m back.
Just in time for a pandemic.
There is a lot to do in Perth when your wallet is wide open. It’s no secret the city is pretty pricey. But can you get by with no money at all? I think so.
Thankfully there are many things to do in Perth that don’t require you to open your wallet. Great for a time when people are struggling with their income and with having the kids at home.
In no particular order here are my kids’ favorite things to do in Perth, Western Australia that won’t cost a cent.
At least twice a week the kids and I take the dog to the beach. There are so many beautiful beaches all over Perth. Pristine white sand, cold blue ocean, and great facilities. Some of my favorites north of the river include:
- Whitford’s Dog Beach / Quinns Rocks Dog Beach – A great place to take your dog for a walk or to play with mountains of puppies.
- Alkimos – The further North you go the better the facilities, since each estate has a designated beach area, with a park and restaurant. Alkimos has Ocean 27, which is my favorite.
- Hillarys – This is a marina with restaurants and a truckload of attractions. But free to use is the enclosed beach with a jetty for jumping off, slide from a pontoon, and a shaded playground on the white sand in front of the warm water.
- Mullaloo – A beautiful green area, great for BBQs with friends and several playgrounds. Plus they’ve opened up a few restaurants opposite now too.
- Google some of these favorites too – Iluka Foreshore, Burns Beach, Yanchep Lagoon, City Beach, Scarborough Beach, Trigg Beach, Cottesloe Beach, Port Beach, South Beach, Rottnest Island.
When I lived in Bali, public playgrounds were not a thing, but Australia has plenty of open space and plenty of free, outdoor playgrounds that kids will go nuts over. The kids and I are frequent fans of:
- Rotary Park, Wanneroo – this park is huge with forts, climbing structures, spinning teacups, and, of course, swings. Bring a picnic and let the kids go wild. Also perfect for parties with several shelters with tables, free BBQ facilities, and benches.
- Heathcote Reserve, Applecross – A giant pirate ship sits on a hill overlooking the magnificent Swan River. It’s fun for the kids and a feast for the eyes.
- Pitstop Playground, Banksia Grove – Bring the kids bikes and scooters and let them drive around at this park-like a regular car, complete with signs, stop lights, and some very big hills for climbing.
Perth has many open spaces so public parks are plentiful – you won’t have trouble finding one. There are small parks with green grass and playgrounds or you can opt for the really big parks like:
- Whiteman Park – The largest parkland in Western Australia where you’ll find museums, trams, a wildlife park, BBQs, picnic shelters, dog park, mini water playground, and more. Plus, the fun bushwalk for kids known as the Children’s Forest.
- Kings Park – Synergy Parkland is a wonderful area for kids to run and play in. They even have a playground in the middle of a lake, that’s almost like visiting a castle surrounded by a moat. Along with this is Rio Tinto’s Naturescape. If your kids love sticks, rocks, water, and climbing they are going to love this place. It’s made for adventure and fun.
When my kids were younger one of my small reliefs was the small play area found in most malls (shopping centers). Some of our favorite shops that cater for kids are:
- Bunnings – a big local hardware store found in most parts of the country. Usually with a cafe and decent size playground for kids. On weekends they even have free face painting or a couple of dollars can get you a snag (hot dog), sausage on bread. Visiting Bunnings is like visiting an Australian institution.
- Joondalup Lakeside mall – this shopping center is set to become one of the largest in the state. Upstairs are a number of small areas for kids to watch a movie, color, or climb. Parental supervision is required so grab your coffee and rest those weary shopping feet. Facilities also include play areas in the mother’s room to keep toddlers busy while feeding your newborn.
5. Water Playgrounds
It’s hot in Perth and water playgrounds are thankfully popping up all over the place. You can now find kids playing in a labyrinth of water fountains in the center of the city at Forest Chase. Otherwise, you could also visit:
- The Ellenbrook Water Playground – there’s no pool here so it’s perfect for even the little ones. There are plenty of colorful water guns, buckets, and more.
- Hyde Park Water Playground – cannons, sprays, and buckets that fill up with water and tip out their contents creating screams of delight! Great play for parents and kids.
- Whiteman Park – as mentioned above Whiteman also has a 30cm deep paddling pool. Open-end of October until the end of April.
- BHP Billton Water Park – Brand new at Elizabeth Quay in the city. It features a central “island” bordered by 3 smaller “islands” and water jets. Plus mist sprayers!
Public libraries around Perth offer many free activities for kids, from storytime to rhyme time to reading time. Take the kids indoors out of the heat or rain and cozy up with a book yourself. Most of them also offer free Internet access and a range of other services.
7. Outdoor Cinemas
While there are plenty of cinemas you have to pay for, local councils and community organizations hold free cinemas in suburban parks from time to time, particularly during the warmer months. You can always ask a local which one is happening near you. Or I find a lot on Facebook.
8. Free Trials
During the holidays or the beginning of the calendar year, many different activities entice parents and kids with free lessons. You can take a month in karate, a lesson in gymnastics, or some prancing around at Fairy Dancing. These are a great way to keep the kids amused during holidays and, maybe, even find out your child’s passion.
The best part of visiting down south is the multiple stores all offering free taste tests. It’s something you can find in the Margaret River wine region and the Swan Valley region. And I’m not talking about the ones you find in your local supermarket, I’m talking gourmet. From free cheese, honey, olives, vinegar, fudge, or bucket loads of chocolate chips available at the Swan Valley Chocolate Factory. Your kids will have a blast trying all the free food and you won’t pay a dime unless you are tempted to buy a whole lot more.
While it’s hard to find a list of restaurants in Perth that offer kids facilities, we have been working our way through them. You can find restaurants that cater to kids like Café Elixer, Wanneroo which offers coloring books and pencils for free.
Or perhaps you want them really out of your hair so check out Portofinos, Quinns Rocks where they can play on the gated playground while you sip a coffee.
Eagle Falls Spur in Wanneroo has a great arcade and playground for the kids to run amuck whole you eat your ribs.
Most McDonald’s have playgrounds for you to take the kids.
Lastly, there are restaurants like Hog’s Breath or Outback Jacks that offer ‘kids eat free’ menus with any main meal purchased.
I hope this list has helped eradicate some of your concerns when visiting Australia’s most expensive city, and you’ll easily find out why so many people love this beautiful place.
Whatever your budget there is always something fun to do when planning your family trip to Perth – you just have to know where to go.
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