Perth: A city of champions
Written by Jessica Zoiti
The people are friendly, the beaches are beautiful, and the weather is envied the world over – not even dedicated Olympians can resist a quick coffee break in their hometown, Perth. From Subiaco cafés to trendy inner-city bars, see the city through Olympic eyes.
Receiving more hours of sunshine than any other capital city in Australia, Perth is paradise for outdoorsy types.
Within 30 minutes of the city you can sun yourself on a white sandy beach, tour the bountiful Swan Valley wine region, or sip a cappuccino in Fremantle. The historic harbour town was the first Australian port of call for many migrants – many Italian and Greek – and today, Fremantle is a melting pot of European flavours, smells, and sounds.
Back in the city centre, there’s plenty to write home about, too. In recent years, an explosion of quirky small bars has invigorated disused laneways and out-of-the-way side streets, and nine-to-fivers are happily embracing these new venues.
Pleasingly, it’s not just parochial locals who are recognising Perth’s worth. Britain’s Economist magazine ranks the city the world’s eighth most liveable in its 2011 Global Liveability Survey, awarding it a tidy 95.9% across the categories of stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure.
With so much going for it, it is little wonder Olympic swimmer Eamon Sullivan and hockey player Kobie McGurk are proud to call Perth home.
Born and bred in the city, Eamon is one of Australia’s most exciting swimming superstars. A one-time world record holder in the 50m and 100m sprint events, he’s also an Olympic medalist. Currently living in Sydney, he’s moving home at the end of the year to be near family, friends and his Subiaco-based café, Louis Baxters.
“I like Sydney,” he begins, “but to be honest, living here has made me realise how great Perth is, especially the weather. Every time I visit home I’m reminded how much I love it.”
Raised in a small mining community, about two hours south of Perth, Kobie is a country girl at heart, but having lived in the ‘big smoke’ for more than a decade, she considers Perth home.
“I love it that it’s not a crowded city,” she begins. “We have great beaches, everything is easily accessible, and we have loads of good cafés. I genuinely think the people are nice, too.”
Like Eamon, the London Olympic Games will be Kobie’s second. Training, physiotherapy, and massage currently commandeer most of the duo’s week; however, even finely-tuned machines like these need some R&R every now and then.
Both admit to having a very casual, laid-back approach to socialising, so when they’re not punching out laps in the pool, or flying around the field, this is where our sporting stars like to take five.
PERTH’S BEST COFFEE:
Eamon’s pick: Louis Baxters, Subiaco
Okay. Being the business owner does make Eamon biased; however, he’s fiercely proud of his café and backs the coffee all the way. “We use Campos Coffee, which no one else uses in Perth,” he explains. “The guys behind the coffee put a lot of money back into sustainability projects – they give money to their growers to improve their farms and increase wages for the workers. I find that’s when you get the best cup of coffee – when people actually care about their product.”
Kobie’s pick: Ootong & Lincoln, South Fremantle
“I really can’t go past this place,” says Kobie of the quirky, retro-inspired café in South Fremantle where nostalgic tricycles line the walls and diners even sit at old- school desks. “I think it’s really unique and it’s always a sure coffee bet.”
FOR A CASUAL BITE TO EAT:
Eamon’s pick: The Greenhouse, Perth
Vertical gardens spill down the walls of this eco-friendly favourite and a rooftop veggie patch provides the produce for the dishes on the tapas-style menu. “This place is all about sustainability. Everything is grown on site and everything is either used or recycled, which I think is just a great idea.”
Kobie’s pick: Il Lido, Cottesloe
“I go to Il Lido quite a bit,” says Kobie. “I like its shared tables, a great and unusual wine list, and good, hearty food.”
TO CHILL OUT
Life can literally be a beach in Perth, and with so many outstanding stretches of fine white sand to choose from, it’s little wonder our athletes hit the surf when they need to relax.
Eamon’s pick: Leighton Beach
Just north of Fremantle, Leighton is one of Perth’s less crowded beaches and is a popular spot for wind and kitesurfing. A dog exercise area at the northern end is what attracts Eamon. “I have two dogs, so I usually head down there and just sit and watch them play. It’s such a beautiful beach with lots of white sand. I like to watch the sunset and the boats cruise past.”
Kobie’s pick: North Cottesloe Beach
Cottesloe may be Perth’s most recognisable beach, but for Kobie North Cottesloe, a five-minute walk away, has more sentimental value. “When I first moved to Perth I worked at Barchetta (a café overlooking North Cottesloe Beach) so I’ve always felt comfortable there.”
A SPECIAL OCCASION:
Eamon’s pick: Jackson’s, Highgate
Listed as one of Australian Gourmet Traveller’s Top 100 Restaurants in Australia, Jackson’s is one of Eamon’s favourites, but considering his penchant for all things epicurean, it’s really little wonder. “I love fine dining,” he begins. “I love cooking – it’s a big passion of mine – so I really appreciate good food and I draw inspiration from this place.”
Kobie’s pick: Restaurant Amuse, East Perth
A recent night out with a friend unearthed Restaurant Amuse. “I love dégustations – they give you variety, and they’re not rushed so you can sit back and really relax. The (dégustation) at this place is really special,” she says.
FOR A DRINK WITH FRIENDS
Eamon’s pick: Clarences, Mount Lawley
Eamon prefers venues that allow him to enjoy a quiet catch-up with mates. Currently, he likes Clarences, a new bistro in trendy Mount Lawley. “I like this place for its laid-back feel. It has a good menu and a nice little beer garden out the back. It’s somewhere you can go, hang out and actually hear each other speak,” he says.
Kobie’s picks: Little Creatures, Fremantle, and Mrs Brown Bar, North Fremantle.
“I’m more of a casual girl, so I prefer to go somewhere like Little Creatures,” she says. “Lately I’ve also been getting a burger from Flipside Burger Bar and then heading into Mrs Brown next door (the venues are owned by the same people). I love doing this because it’s always really chilled and there’s a great, friendly crowd.”
Eamon’s picks: Father, Claremont, and Epicurious and Kitchen Witch.
“I don’t shop much. With my sport I don’t really have time, or the use for much other than a pair of bathers and my goggles,” Eamon laughs.
When he does want to splash some cash, he heads to Father at the new Claremont Quarter shopping precinct (“It’s the only place I shop for clothing,” he admits).
Otherwise, he visits cooking shops. “Cooking is my other passion,” he says. “I enjoy spending time in kitchen stores, and I think that Kitchen Witch and Epicurious are two of the best.”
Kobie’s pick: Claremont Quarter, Claremont
“I love this new shopping precinct. There’s a good selection of boutiques – some are more pricey, but there’s more affordable shopping, too,” she says. Sass & Bide, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Jigsaw, and Country Road are just the tip of the iceberg.
By the numbers
Average hours of sunshine per day in Perth.
Native Western Australian wildflowers in Kings Park.
Years the local Noongar (Aboriginal) people have lived in the Perth area.
Under the bar
In 2007, the City of Perth initiated a programme called Forgotten Spaces: Revitalising Perth’s Laneways, taking the CBD’s sleepy backstreets and alleys and turning them into hot spots.
“The project has added life and interest to some of the city’s ‘forgotten spaces’,” begins Perth Lord Mayor, Lisa Scaffidi. “We’ve seen small bars, cafés, and public art emerge in a way that attracts more people to the city, or to stay longer.”
Little-known Howard Street was the first to receive a facelift. It’s home to Andaluz, a moody den-like space that serves excellent tapas, and nearby, Helvetica, a little treasure selling top-shelf whisky and classic cocktails.
Some of the best venues sit on Wolf Lane – a former delivery alley – located off the boutique Kings Street. Worth visiting are Wolfe Lane Bar, Tiger Tiger, and The Cheeky Sparrow.
And don’t miss art gallery, design store, trendy bar, and café all in one Venn on Queen Street.
Doha, Perth celebrate addition to Qatar Airways menu
The recipe for great travel just got a little more delicious.
In celebration of Qatar Airways’ new route between Doha and Perth, Australia, the airline and Hyatt Hotels Corp. will bring about a 10-day culinary swap through which the flavours of these two cities will trade places in a tasty initiation to their relationship.
Arabian chef Jamal Arnous from the Grand Hyatt Doha will showcase his Arabian cooking talents and expertise at Hyatt Regency Perth for 10 days in July, while at the same time Hyatt Regency’s Simon George will venture to the Grand Hyatt’s Grill Restaurant, doling out the best West Australian dishes.
Arnous, originally from Damascus, Syria, brings more than 15 years of experience into the kitchen, where he crafts delectable dishes such as wood-fired king prawns. Dishes like that, and a welcoming approach to others’ ideas, should serve him well during this Perth stint. “I am always happy to learn from different people,” Arnous says.
Chef Georgebrings similar experience as Chef Arnous, and looks forward to dazzling Grand Hyatt Doha patrons with a host of tantalising dishes. The chef plans to show off some of the classic West Australian flavours while in Doha, with seafood and Australian bush spices being among his preferred ingredients.
During the chef exchange, each hotel will have a series of events taking place with opportunities for guests and diners to sample flavours from the two destinations.
“We are delighted to organise this programme in coordination with Qatar Airways and to present the culinary talents of Hyatt Hotels’ chefs worldwide, in which Chef Arnous and Chef George will have the opportunity to prepare, present and showcase their Arabian and Australian inspired dishes,” said Garry Friend, General Manager of the Grand Hyatt Doha.”
Grand Hyatt Doha
Situated in the new district of West Bay Lagoon, this majestic beachfront hotel is minutes from the city's financial and commercial centre, yet cast in an idyllic setting that offers as much relaxation as you require. Each of the hotel’s nearly 250 guestrooms include a balcony from which to enjoy grand views, and all guests have access to the hotel’s private beach and three glorious outdoor pools.
Hyatt Regency Perth
Overlooking the expansive Swan River, the Hyatt Regency offers relaxation while providing an ideal location only minutes from the business district and great shopping options. A sauna and spa massage services will relax and rejuvenate guests, just in time to head down to The Café restaurant, where down to earth, rustic food with an Italian flavour gets an Australian twist for a dining experience you won’t want to miss.