Shall we get Perth’s ‘dullsville’ stigma out of the way? Visitors to the Wild West are often surprised that unlike many other cities, the state hasn’t been patiently waiting for the economy to resurrect itself. On the contrary, resource-rich Western Australia has reaped the benefits of its mining boom and is flourishing with a flow-on to its favourite suburban hangouts.
CLAREMONT: THE CHIC
The Claremont Quarter takes Perth’s designer shopping to the next level with luxe brands galore like Oroton, Allanah Hill, Sass & Bide and SABA, but there are many unique treasures amongst the mix to add your own personal touch of style.
Dangerfield’s high street fashions have glamazons, cowgirls and retro aficionados in rapid eye-lash flutter with each season launch. Rugged types may opt for Rodd and Gunn’s casual weekend men’s wear (designer stubble optional) and complete the look with some cool sneakers and caps from HAL (Highs and Lows). Fashionistas clamour over themselves to be as well-heeled as the celebrities Zara Bryson dresses.
A chocolate gorge at Koko Black with the Belgian Mousse Martini will leave you shaken as well as stirred, while their Queen of Hearts high tea offers the most Australian of sweets: the humble lamington, a chocolate coated sponge covered in a snow of coconut flakes. Continue the indulgence in the privacy of your home with one of the hand-selected boxes.
The leafy Bayview Terrace has plenty of shopping and coffee options but Lemon Lane and its graffiti coated laneway is a quirky option in this chic enclave. Spruce up your wardrobe with an arty contemporary makeover from Dilettante’s Galerie temporary hessian clad pop-up store.
All that hard work deserves a drink in glamorous surrounds at the Duchess Bar or indulge in some fresh WA seafood, caviar and oysters from Beluga. Nibbles and drinks at Madrid Tapas Bar will keep you topped up all day and long after the shops have closed.
Take me there:
Dangerfield, 23 St Quentin Ave, (08) 9383 1877; Rod & Gunn, 23 St Quentin Ave, (08) 9384 4579; HAL, rear 21 Bayview Tce (or enter off St Quentin Ave), (08) 9284 3633; Zara Bryson, St Quentin Ave, (08) 9384 6936; Lemon Lane, Bay View Tce, (08) 9284 4600; Dilettante, 24 Bayview Tce, 0415 167 321; Duchess – 1 Gugeri St, The Lane, (08) 9227 7555; Beluga – Gugeri St, The Lane, (08) 9383 1638; Madrid Tapas Bar – 14/22 St Quentin Ave, (08) 6261 7001; Koko black, 23 St Quentin Ave, (08) 9284 2049
MT LAWLEY: THE RETRO
Lady Lawley would not approve of Beaufort Street today. She allowed the naming of the suburb after her husband – the WA Governor between 1901 and 1902, Sir Arthur Lawley – on the condition that no drinking establishments would be built in the area.
Oops; so let’s start with a gentle pastime of collecting some reading material and coffee from the Daily Planet Café and Bookshop.
Designer denims, unique prints, chunky boots and the glam rocker fashions of Wheels and Doll Baby are Elroy’s signature street-wear garb. Splurge at Method Clothing on luxurious vintage-inspired kaftans, retro t-shirts, cute denims and clutch purses you won’t ever want to let go.
Upset Mrs. Lawley’s ghost with a lager pit-stop at The Queen’s Hotel, or slink into the warm cocoon of Clarence’s for supper or a bevy in the courtyard. Once a former dowdy pool hall Five Bar has been transformed into a sleek and industrial-style hangout and serves boutique brews and THE best chips with mustard mayonnaise in town. Feel free to dispel this outlandish claim yourself.
A chili-fuelled fiesta at El Publico may blow your head off, given their bragging rights of sourcing eight types of organic chillies. The modern Mexican kitchen shares the pain with its tapas and cools patrons down with cucumber icy-poles served with tequila shots. More mellow spice can be had at the Middle Eastern inspired Raah; highly recommended is the pan-fried lamb manti (Turkish pasta), chunky cut corn with sumac-dried lime butter and the coffee pot adorned with fairy floss.
Across the street is Must Winebar with its enormous selection of wine labels, brasserie fare (sample the signature charcuterie plate); upstairs awaits the Champagne Lounge with its long list of bubbles in clandestine surrounds. Or perhaps you’re lucky enough to have tickets to the restored Art Deco Astor Theatre and its line-up of alternative stage acts throughout the year.
Take me there:
Daily Planet Café and Bookshop, 634 Beaufort St, (08) 9328 7560; Elroy Clothing, 666 Beaufort St, (08) 2971 3666; Method Clothing, 557 Beaufort St, (08) 9227 8944; The Queen’s Hotel, 520 Beaufort St, (08) 9328 7267; Clarence’s, 566 Beaufort St, (08) 9228 9474; Five Bar, 560 Beaufort St, 0407 851 911; El Publico, 511 Beaufort St, 0418 187 708; Raah, 484 Beaufort St, 9227 9745; Must wine bar, 519 Beaufort St, (08) 9328 8255; Astor Theatre, 659 Beaufort St, (08) 9370 1777
FREMANTLE: THE BOHO
Fremantle is where anything goes and blows – specifically, that is, when the afternoon sea breeze known as the Fremantle Doctor comes to the port town.
It’s here in Freo that the WA Maritime Museum shows off its rich maritime history with the America’s Cup winning yacht Australia II and the Submarine Ovens, a memorial to the submariners who sacrificed their lives during World War II.
For a taste of the macabre, tour the gallows of Fremantle’s Prison, where up until only 50 years ago hangings took place on Monday mornings. Built by convicts in 1864 as a lunatic asylum, The Fremantle Arts Centre is known for its ghosts as much as for its contemporary and traditional artworks, photo exhibits, intimate courtyard performances and the eclectic gift shop Found.
Make a start on your holiday reading at the iconic New Edition Bookshop. Around the corner is the suburban lounge-room-cum-op-shop café Moore & Moore and its contemporary art gallery.
For heady French flavours and harbour views Le Poisson D’or won’t disappoint, with seafood reigning over a menu which includes grilled swordfish, barramundi, and a flirty lobster sprawling itself over a beef fillet.
Save Saturday nights for a bump ‘n grind with blues and burlesque at the Soho Blues Supper Club. Before losing all inhibition, pick out an outfit from Spank Candy where corsets sit alongside killer heels and the kinds of vintage dresses which inspire Mad Men dress-ups later. The more demure may prefer the vintage wear or Italian designer jeans from The Archive.
Stroll down the cappuccino strip, (aka South Terrace); where cafes, gelato, buskers and local characters make up the fibre of this favourite bohemian haunt. Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour awaits with fish and chips at sunset; the quintessential weekend pastime.
Take me there:
WA Maritime Museum, Victoria Quay, (08) 9431 8334; Fremantle Prison, 1 The Terrace, (08) 9336 9200; Fremantle Arts Centre, 1 Finnerty St, (08) 9432 9555; New Edition Bookshop, 82 High St, (08) 9335 2383; Moore & Moore Café, 46 Henry St, (08) 9335 8825; Le Poisson D’Or – 47 Mews Rd, (08) 9430 5050; Soho Blue Supper Club, 16 South Tce, (08) 9430 7646; Spank Candy, 54 Market St, (08) 9336 1110; The Archive – 23 Market St, (08) 9431 7615; Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour, 2 Mews Rd, +61 (08) 9431 7878