If you are anything like us, when you travel you always want to spend a few days in around the city, but there is always such a long list of things to do and see, it seems impossible to fit them all in. That’s why this time we opted for a an organised tour which was suitable for the kids, enabling us to maximise our short time in Perth and the surrounding area.
We were kindly invited by Explore Tours Perth to try out their Penguin Island and Caversham Wildlife Park Tour, which seemed any ideal mix of nature and and animal based attractions to suit all the family.
The tour is a full day and if you are staying in Perth City Centre Explore tours Perth will pick you up from one of their designated hotels or pick up areas in the city. We were staying just outside the city centre in the Swan Valley and had a rental car, so we drove in and parked for free at one the city centre hotel car parks.
Penguin Island – Rockingham
Firstly I need to give a big shout out too our wonderful and informative tour guide, Beck. I was so impressed that she was managing to drive and get through busy Perth traffic as well and explaining the history of Perth including a brief introduction to Aboriginal history as well as the mining boom. It was fascinating to hear how the city grew and how it affected local residents.
Now, I’m not sure who was more excited about seeing penguins on this tour me or the girls, and I might add not just any penguins, we would be seeing Little or Blue Penguins, the smallest of all the penguins species.
It was 40 minute drive from central Perth to Rockingham to explore Shoal-water Reserve on a wildlife cruise. Rockingham has an amazing setting, right on the water with the most crystal clear water and white sandy beaches.
Firstly we had a quick ferry ride over to penguin island, and escorted into the viewing area where the penguin island keepers fed rescued penguins in a closed enclosure and explained that Penguin Island also has the largest known breeding colony in Western Australia, with an estimated 1200 little penguins and 500 to 700 breeding pairs.
All the penguins had such individual characters and Bella and Maya loved watching them especially as the keeper stared to feed them. Afterwards our guide Beck lead us around the islands board walk trail, to see if we could spot any of the wild penguins, we didn’t see any and this usual as during the day time the penguins are in the water hunting for fish.
Once we finishes the trail we hopped on the wildlife cruise to explore the waters surrounding penguin island. Although this cruise was packed with people we all managed to get a seat, unfortunately we didn’t get to see the resident pod of dolphins. The skipper was trying his hardest to find them but to no avail. However we did see sea lions sunning themselves on the beach and more pelicans. It is actually quite unusual not to see the dolphins, we just seemed to have some bad luck on that particular day.
Lunch at Pengo’s Cafe Rockingham
One of the reasons we choose this particular tour, was that lunch pre-booked and included in the price of the tour package. Lunch at Pengo’s was fantastic, it exceeded our expectations, they had some great options, we had simple fish and chips which was cooked perfectly and delicious and it was the perfect spot to enjoy a quick lunch near the water and there was even a kids playground.
Caversham Wildlife Park
Caversham Wildlife park was top of list of places to visit in Perth, but because we were short on time we weren’t sure how we would fit it in, so were delighted that it was included on our tour, although we didn’t get to spend a long time at the park, we had a personal guide which allowed us see and do the main experiences at the park.
In fact our time here ended up being the highlight of the day. Not only did we get to see up close some of Australia’s most famous wildlife like a koala and a wombat.
But I think the most memorable moment was when Isabella actually asked to hold an olive python with Marco and I, we reluctantly obliged. It was a role reversal, as Maya is usually super confident around animals and wanting to touch every animal she sees, but she wound’t come near the snake, obviously, reptiles aren’t her animal of choice.
The girls also got to feed some rescued kangaroos in an open enclosure, we were very impressed by all the staffs enthusiasm and care for the animals and the parks continued efforts to rescue Australian wildlife, especially kangaroos.
It was such a hot day and weren’t so keen to be sat down in hot barn packed with people to watch a farm show of sheep shearing, whip cracking, cow milking, sheepdogs mustering. However we were pleasantly surprised how informative and entertaining the show was. The most entertaining part of the show for us was when Bella got called down to give a bottle of milk to a lamb, you can can see from her face how much she enjoyed it.
The last stop on our explore Perth Tours was at the chocolate factory, where we all ate our weight in chocolate, the girls then proceeded to have a hyper thirty minutes and a crash due to exhaustion of such a big day out.
The tour was perfect for our three and and five year old daughters. I even think you could do the tour with younger children as there isn’t much walking and everything is well organised with transfers on the comfortable air conditioned tour bus.
The Swan Valley
During our four day stay in Perth we purposely stayed just outside city in the quaint Swan Valley, we wanted to be away from the busy part of the city and new that we wanted to explore the Swan Valley area with our rental car.
As any family knows when you have kids it alway helps when there is some outdoor space, pool, plus a playground to keep the kids occupied. For this reason we stayed at the Swan Valley Discovery Park, in one of the two bed luxury cabins.
This was perfect set up for us a family as the girls had their own separate bedroom. Plus we had a kitchen and BBQ facilities so we were able to cook our own food, allowing us to create healthy meals that we knew the girls would eat. There was also a small swimming pool and playground, which the girls loved, especially after a busy day out an about.
During our remaining three days in The Swan valley, we drove the Food and Wine Trail, a 32 – kilometre scenic loop and stopped at a couple of family friendly wineries, and also checked out the Margaret River Chocolate factory again for a big dose of chocolate plus the fantastic House of Honey.
I’d recommend before you drive the loop stop at Swan Valley Visitor Centre in Guildford to pick up Guides and Maps, the staff are really helpful and informative, also there are some lovely cafe’s and architecture to visit nearby.
Kings Park and Botanic Garden
Our last day in Perth we headed to Kings Park and Botanic Gardens which was recommended to us by our local friends, the park is is a 400.6-hectare park overlooking Perth Water.
The park is a mixture of grassed parkland, botanical gardens and natural bushland on Mount Eliza. It is a fantastic place for kids, our girls especially enjoyed the playground which included huge wooden dinosaurs to climb on. Two-thirds of the grounds are conserved as native bushland, with trails and if we had more time we would have loved to walk some of them.
Overall we loved our time in Perth and the surrounding area, although we didn’t see much of the city centre, we maximised our four days and manage to fit in most of the kid friendly sites and activities plus a few glasses of delicious wine in the Swan Valley.
I can’t speak more highly of the Explore Tours Perth they are very professional company that I wound’t hesitate to recommend them.
Some useful information
Explore Perth Tour Details
Tour Duration & Pickup Time: Approx. 9.5 hours
Pick up time – 8.00am | Drop off time – 5.30pm
Penguin Island Tour
Ferry ride to Penguin Island to see the Penguins being fed in the Discovery Centre and explore the beautiful Island (During June to September the Penguin feeding takes place at Caversham Wildlife Park)
Explore Shoalwater Reserve on a wildlife cruise. Look out for sea-lions lazing on the shores and playful dolphins in the water. The birdlife around the islands is also magnificent.
Lunch at Pengo’s
Enjoy Lunch at Pengo’s cafe on the mainland by the Shoalwater Marine Reserve.
Caversham Wildlife Park
Feed Kangaroos, stroke Koalas, meet a Wombat and take a guided tour of the Wildlife Park.
Enjoy the Farm Show at Caversham Wildlife Park where you will see sheep shearing, whip cracking, wow milking, lamb feeding, billy swinging and watch sheepdogs mustering the sheep
To finish off the day we have one more special treat, a visit to a Chocolate factory for free tastings.