Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Why I'm in love with Perth and the Golden Outback

I vaguely recall my first visit to Perth more than 5 years ago. My husband and I were there on Australia Day and spent an entire afternoon with patriotic Australians whose bodies were draped in varying fashion with the Australian flag. We felt the celebratory mood and saw a public concert in a park. I remember enjoying a cuppa in Fremantle. Then there was Northbridge aka Chinatown, where we had large portions of chicken rice and sweet sour chicken. Nice city but rather slow-paced and laid back, we thought. Metaphorically, there were no sparks and cupid failed to strike. I liked Perth enough but wasn't in love with it. 

Fast forward to May 2014. After a second visit (without the hubby as I was there for work and had more time to explore), here's why I'm in love with Perth and the outback.

1. Elizabeth Quay - Perth's Marina Bay

Change is in the air. A leisurely walk around Perth's central business district hints at a soon-to-be-transformed Elizabeth Quay. No doubt that sleepy Perth is playing catch-up to Sydney. At the centre of a big bold plan to "revamp" the city, Elizabeth Quay's revitalisation will embrace the Swan River. Redevelopment is expected to include an inlet connected by 1.5km of continuous boardwalks and promenades, public spaces, new hotels and residences.  A bridge will connect the inlet to an island featuring winding paths, kiosk, children's playground and spectacular views back to the city. When completed, Elizabeth Quay is expected to attract more visitors and be a place where people gather by the river to work, live and celebrate occasions, big and small.  

Elizabeth Quay now (inset: redevelopment plan) viewed from the top of The Bell Tower in Perth

In many ways, Singapore has done with Marina Bay what Perth plans to do with Elizabeth Quay. Sitting on land reclaimed from the sea, Marina Bay has a 3.5km waterfront promenade, a city skyline carefully sculpted by urban planners, accessibility to public transport, parks and gardens. Marina Bay is as popular with photo buffs as it is with joggers, families, retirees and curious tourists. Now a 360-hectare extension to the adjacent Central Business District, Marina Bay is a vibrant and happening place whose food outlets, restaurants and retail shops are patronised by tourists as well as residents of the nearby upmarket condominiums and corporate types from the CBD. Open air spaces pop up as venues for theatres, carnivals, walkathons and marathons. Since 2008, thousands of Formula One grand prix fans have converged each year to watch the evening race on a street circuit that meanders through the area.

Just as I watched Marina Bay gradually transform into my fave place to chill, I look forward to delighting in the magic that Elizabeth Quay promises on my next visit.
My Segway adventure by the Swan River. What a blast! Our guide has a wicked sense of humour, the sun is out and there is a cool breeze. We booked our ride through Segway Tours WA in Perth