With its sunny Mediterranean climate, relaxed way of life and unique natural environment, Perth is a terrific place to live. However, when the pleasantly warm days of spring transform into the sweltering hot summer months, the beguiling charm of our beautiful city can begin to wear a bit thin. While it's very tempting to remain cocooned in the air-conditioned comfort of our homes, inevitably duty calls and we need to emerge to do whatever needs to be done.
Image courtesy of Cinder1280 / Wikimedia Commons
School holidays can be a particular challenge for parents, due to children's endless eagerness for new and exciting diversions. With this in mind, I've created this list of Perth's coolest school holiday fun. Continue on, dear reader, to discover some of the best ways to chill out and beat the summer heat, here in our beautiful city.
Image courtesy of the Surfing WA Surf School website
Located just eighteen kilometres off the Western Australian coast, Rottnest Island
has been Perth's number one school holiday attraction for generations. Whether you're on a tight budget or have money to burn, your little ones will be spoilt for choice at this unique beach-lovers' paradise. Rottnest Island boasts sixty-three beaches and twenty bays, ranging from cosy intimate coves to long sandy stretches of beach. A popular way to experience these is by bike, stopping off at whichever ones capture your fancy. Alternatively, an Island Explorer bus enables visitors to explore at their own pace, jumping on and off at picturesque spots such as Little Parakeet Bay, Fish Hook Bay and Stark Bay.
One of Rottnest's most popular beaches for families is The Basin, situated just a short stroll from the island's main settlement. Its crystal-clear, calm waters are perfect for young children to swim, play and snorkel in - and there is plenty of soft sand to play in.
The Basin, at Rottnest Island, is a paradise for families
Other fun experiences on Rottnest that will keep you cool and refreshed include glass-bottom kayak tours and waterbike tours. You can also hire pedalboards, waterbikes, and fabulous kids' inflatable electric jetskis from Aquaplay
, located near the main wharf. With dozens of ferries transporting visitors to and from the island each day during summer, Rottnest Island is easily accessible from Elizabeth Quay, Fremantle and Hillary's Boat Harbour.
Image courtesy of the Aquaplay Rottnest website
Image courtesy of the Aquaplay Rottnest website
Ice-skating is another ideal remedy for Perth's sweltering-hot days. Whether you're an experienced skater or a fumbling novice, it's invigorating to let go of your inhibitions and have some fun at Perth's two main ice-skating rinks.
Image courtesy of the Cockburn Ice Arena website
Located in Malaga, Perth Ice Arena
is a one-stop-shop of icy, frozen fun. This state-of-the-art skating rink offers a range of options, including public skating sessions and even a disco evening each Friday at 7.30pm, complete with flashing lights. Aspiring skaters of all ages can also take figure skating and ice hockey lessons. If you don't have your own skates, you can hire them.
Further south, Cockburn Ice Arena
is another option. This wonderful establishment offers loads of cool options that will warm the hearts of skating enthusiasts of all ages and abilities. Amongst the many activities that Cockburn Ice Arena offers are special school holiday sessions, inclusive sessions for people with special needs, cheapskate nights (for skating enthusiasts on a tight budget), all-ability skating sessions, synchronised skating teams, and even Ice Byke sessions. There are also loads of lessons offered, ranging from standard skating classes, parent and child classes, private figure skating tuition, and an Ice Skating Summer School. If ice hockey is more appealing for your children, the Arena is also home for the Ice Skating Academy, as well as an Ice Hockey Summer School.
Enjoy Life at the Beach
Fun and affordable, a visit to a local beach is a highlight of many Perth children's summer holidays. With no entry fees and no need to dress up, a beach outing is a treat you can enjoy regularly, without being too concerned about breaking your budget.
Image courtesy of Steve Hildebrand / Wikimedia Commons
Located in the heart of Perth's leafy western suburbs, Cottesloe Beach is probably the most iconic of Perth's beaches. With its long, wide expanse of soft sand, historic beach pavilion, picnic facilities, and dual-purpose walking and cycling path (perfect for a family bike ride), you can easily spend an entire day here. Best of all, the eco shark barrier will give you peace of mind, as you enjoy the cool salty water.
Image courtesy of Che Lydia Xyang / Wikimedia Commons
Other Perth beaches that are particular family favourites include Burns, City, Scarborough, Trigg and Floreat Beaches. Further south, Rockingham is renowned for its unique marine environment, and beaches such as Rockingham Beach, Safety Bay and Secret Harbour are considered some of the best in Western Australia. Beautiful Quinns Beach, in the northern suburbs, and Coogee Beach, near Fremantle, also deserves a mention, due to being two of a handful of local beaches that are protected with eco shark nets.
Wonderful Water Parks
For more affordable school holiday fun, you really can't beat Perth's water parks. Located throughout the metropolitan area, they come in all shapes and sizes – with many being completely free of charge.
Image courtesy of the Visit Perth website
Perth's most well-known water playground is situated right in the pulsing heart of the city. Created by Danish artist Jeppe Hein, the Water Labyrinth is a nine-metre square interactive sculpture located in Forrest Place. Featuring jets of spontaneously spurting water, part of the fun is to anticipate when the closest spouts will be activated, leaving you completely drenched. These spouts form 'walls' and 'rooms' of water - sometimes all the water jets will spurt, and sometimes just a few here and there. Youngsters can easily spend hours of fun dodging these jets, so it's a good idea to pack a change of dry clothes – and sunscreen.
The BHP Billiton Water Park at Elizabeth Quay is another awesome water park, located close to Perth's CBD. Relatively large in size, it's a collaborative mosaic artwork by Sandra Hill and Jenny Dawson, portraying the Noongar Dreaming story of the creation of the Milky Way. Here and there, an impressive array of water jets release spurts of deliciously refreshing water – making this another popular destination on hot summer days.
While these two water playgrounds are undoubtedly loads of fun, several others also deserve a place on your children's school holiday wish list. Situated near the corner of Vincent and Throssell Streets, Hyde Park Water Playground is a popular destination for many local families. During a visit, youngsters can also enjoy the nearby play equipment, grassy lawns, large trees, and lakes teeming with ducks, swans and other waterbirds. Some other family favourites that are free of charge include Kingsway Aquatic Play Space, Rainbow Waters in Ellenbrook, the Mini Water Playground at Whiteman Park, and the Cockburn Central Water Park.
Surf lifesaving is one of Australia's most iconic sports. Like many sports, surfing is best learnt from an early age, and several spots in Perth offer quality tuition for both children and teenagers. What better way to chill out during the summer holidays?
Image courtest of the Surf Lifesaving WA website
Children can develop confidence in and around water at several programs offered by Surf Lifesaving Western Australia. These include a Surf Babies program for littlies aged two and three, and Surf Kids programs for children aged four to five, and six to seven. Fun and interactive, the earliest lessons introduce children to the basic principles of water safety, the importance of staying close to their parents, identifying lifesavers, and recognising basic signals. They're held at various Perth beaches during the warmer months of the year, including Cottesloe, Sorrento, Mullaloo, Coogee, Alkimos, and North Beach. Check out the Surf Lifesaving Western Australia website
for more information.
Image courtesy of Surf Lifesaving Western Australia
Another initiative of Surf Lifesaving Western Australia is the Woodside Nippers program, which has been created for youngsters aged five to twelve. Children participating in this program learn a wide range of valuable skills such as surf awareness, individual safety, lifesaving techniques, and surf sport skills. The program is divided into different groups, enabling youngsters to develop skills that are appropriate, according to their age and level of development. Children complete the program at twelve, and then have the option to continue their training to become a fully-fledged surf lifesaver. Find out more here
Image courtesy of the Surf Lifesaving WA website
Alternatively, you may have kids who simply yearn to be Australia's next surfing champ - but need to develop the appropriate skills first. The Surfing WA Surf School at Trigg has been operating for over 35 years, and offers a great range of surfing lessons for children and teens, as well as adults. Their Woolworths Surf Groms program has been formulated for youngsters aged five to twelve, and is delivered over five different skill levels so children can gradually develop the knowledge they'll need to stay safe in the surf. The Surfing WA Surf School website
will tell you everything you need to know.
Image courtesy of the Surfing WA Surf School website
There are also several other terrific surf schools throughout the Perth metro area that offer surfing tuition for youngsters. These include Perth Go Surf
, which conducts lessons at Leighton and Scarborough Beaches, and Salt and Mantra
at Secret Harbour.
Kayaking is another wet and wonderful experience that children will love. It's also a great sport for families to enjoy together. Fortunately for us, the Perth region offers loads of great options for paddling enthusiasts. Situated just sixteen kilometres northeast of Mundaring, Lake Leschenaultia is a great spot for complete beginners. The lake is surrounded by parklands and native bush, and its refreshingly cool waters are not only perfect for kayaking, but also swimming and snorkelling.
Lake Leschenaultia - Image courtesy of Martybugs / Wikimedia Commons
If your children are older, a kayaking adventure on the Canning River might be more to their liking. Extending along the length of the river, the Canning River Canoe Trail
offers kayakers and canoeists a first-hand glimpse into the natural flora and fauna of the area. The section which extends through the Canning River Regional Park is of particular interest to nature lovers, and also passes a few historically significant sites including nineteenth century Woodloes Homestead, the Kent Street Weir, and Mason's Landing.
Approximately one hour south of Perth, the Peel River Canoe Trails
encourage paddlers to explore the natural beauty of the Serpentine and Murray Rivers. The Murray River trail begins in the pretty town of Pinjarra, and meanders 24 kilometres through bush and farmland, until it reaches Kings Carnival in Mandurah - a terrific water-based adventure for families with teenagers or older children. For those who would prefer to explore Mandjar Bay, the estuary, and other waterways within Mandurah itself, there are many places where you can launch your kayak – or hire one. It's also possible to hire stand-up paddleboards and water bikes locally.
Serpentine River Canoe Trail - Image courtesy of Western Australia Tourism website
Although several businesses around Perth offer kayaks for hire, if your family want to go out regularly, you may find it worthwhile to purchase your own. While brand new kayaks and canoes will cost you at least several hundred dollars, you can save money by purchasing good quality second hand ones on Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace.