Welcome to the July edition of This is WA

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July 2020


Travel and Lifestyle News from Western Australia


Welcome to the July edition of This is WA, bringing you the latest travel and lifestyle news from across Western Australia.

What's Hot

WA wildflowers ready to bloom

Coalseam National Park

WA will soon be awash with colour, when more than 12,000 species of wildflowers start to bloom across the State. The six-month flowering season has begun in the Pilbara in WA’s North West where Sturt Desert Peas and Mulla Mulla have been spotted. The season is set to continue into the Goldfields, Wheatbelt and along the Coral Coast, where vibrant blooms contrast with pindan earth, rugged canyons and turquoise sea. By September, it will move south and reach Perth’s botanical gardens, nature reserves and national parks, finishing with a flurry in October and November throughout the forests and coastal heaths of the South West. With more than 60 percent of the State’s wildflower species found nowhere else on Earth, WA’s wildflower season colours the landscapes from coast to forest and city to outback. Visitors can take in the spectacles of each region and season on the many wildflower scenic drives and walking trails located throughout the State. The WA Wildflower Guide contains information on where to see the best wildflowers on offer, and includes 11 self-drive trails to help visitors plan their trip. The WA Visitor Centre also offers an online Wildflower Tracker, providing travellers with one easy-to-use wildflower information and sightings reference. Updated daily, the interactive map shows exactly where the wildflowers are blooming around the State.

Samphire Rottnest opening in October

Samphire Rottnest villa interior

Perth’s island playground Rottnest will soon welcome its latest luxury accommodation offering – with Samphire Rottnest due to open in October 2020. Named after the native samphire plants found on the island, and set within the natural habitat of the A Class Reserve – the hotel embraces the essence of Rottnest, and encourages guests to immerse themselves in the natural elements and feel the sand beyond their toes. Ideally situated on Thomson Bay – next door to the iconic Hotel Rottnest - the 80 room architecturally designed accommodation offers 64 generous (30m²) guest rooms and 16 spacious (45-57m²) rooms positioned at the front-row, all with private balconies and views over vantage points around the property, and over Thomson Bay. The development also includes lagoon-like pools – catering to adults and children – with day beds and umbrellas. Additional dining options include a separate indoor/outdoor dining hub and beach club.  Hotel Rottnest will also receive a refresh to allow it to morph seamlessly with the new development. Bookings for Samphire Rottnest can be made from July 28 for October 2020 onwards, or head to samphirerottnest.com.au and sign up to the database before Tuesday July 21 to access the exclusive pre-sale offer.

CinefestOZ to return in 2020

Set against the stunning backdrop of WA’s South West region, the CinefestOZ Film Festival is set to return in 2020 - from August 25 to 30. Though the festival will look and feel a little different this year, it will continue to champion West Australian and Australian stories and film through an original program of almost 40 live events and screenings including feature films, short film curations, Cinesnaps school program activations and community screenings. This year the festival has also welcomed WA-born, AACTA award-winning actress Emma Booth as an official Patron of the festival. For the first time in its 13-year history, CinefestOZ will include a Short Film Competition with four cash prizes on offer for Best Short Film, Best Indigenous Short Film, Best WA Short Film and Best WA Female Short Filmakers. The full festival program will be announced on July 31, with early bird tickets on sale July 17.

Swim with ocean giants at Ningaloo Reef

Humpback whale swims at Ningaloo Reef. Image credit: Live Ningaloo

Swimming with humpback whales in the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Marine Park on WA’s Coral Coast has returned for 2020, with tours underway in Coral Bay and set to run in Exmouth from August to October 30. Visitors to the region can not only experience the magic of swimming with one of the world’s biggest mammals, but may also have a face to fin encounter with the world’s biggest fish, with whale shark swim tours finishing in August. The humpback whale swim season coincides with the release of a management program for humpback whale interactions along the Ningaloo Coast 2020 – making WA’s Ningaloo Reef one of the premier destinations in the world for swimming with these gentle giants; along with whale sharks and manta rays (with tours operating year round).

Shinju Matsuri celebrates 50 years

Shinku Matsuri Festival

Shinju Matsuri festival

Shinju Matsuri (festival of the pearl) is set to return in 2020 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the annual event. Masterchef Australia favourites Derek Lau and Brendan Pang, along with Anna Gare, will headline this year’s festival, to be held from August 29 to September 6 in Broome – the pearling capital of Australia in WA’s Kimberley region. The event is a celebration of the four diverse cultures that have come together in Broome over the past century for pearls; Japanese, Malaysian, Chinese and Aboriginal. Full programming details and tickets for the event are on sale now.

Get ‘Quokka Happy’ at Rottnest Island this winter

Quokka on Rottnest Island

Visitors to Perth’s island playground are encouraged to ‘Get Quokka Happy,’ with a range of activities and incentives designed to increase visitation to ‘Rotto’ over the cooler months. Enjoy a winter stay on the island, with offers of up to 40 percent off accommodation. Two-bedroom self-contained units now start at $149 per night, and three-bedroom units from $199. A new pop-up beach bar, located outside Hotel Rottnest, offers visitors the chance to enjoy a drink and a meal around a fire on the beach. Adult visitors to the island will also receive a $20 ‘Rotto Dollars’ voucher to spend on activities, tours, and food and beverage on the island – with 6,000 vouchers available until the end of winter. Admission fees for overnight visitors to the island will also be waived from July 20 to end of August – a saving of $25 per adult. This year’s Quokka Birthday celebration will be extended to a month-long celebration throughout September, with further details to be announced soon.

It’s time for Cabin Fever

A celebration of the cosy winter months in WA’s Margaret River region, Cabin Fever festival is set to return this July with a weekend of enticing events. Between July 24 and 26, guests will enjoy all the winter warmers that the event is known for, including cheese toasties, fireside wines, hearty comfort food and more. Tickets to signature events are now on sale, including The Cheese Toastie Battle at The Common, Fondue by the Fire at Howard Park, Heart and Soul dinner at Vasse Felix, Many Lands – A World Feast at Voyager Estate and a Mulled Wine and Spice Masterclass with the Spice Mistress.

COMO The Treasury named world’s best hotel

Travel + Leisure has named Perth’s COMO The Treasury as the number one Best City Hotel in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific at the World’s Best Awards. The awards are compiled of surveys where readers are invited to participate in ranking their favourite hotels, along with other travel destinations and products. COMO The Treasury is located in the heart of Perth, within the historic 19th century State Buildings, and comprises 48 elegant and contemporary rooms and suites, and award-winning dining experiences including Post, rooftop restaurant Wildflower, and the newly relaunched Wine Merchant.

Lifestyle and Culture

Australia’s first underwater Aboriginal sites discovered in the Pilbara

Deep History of Sea Country project scientists in the water on Murujuga sea country.

An archaeology discovery project in the Pilbara region of WA’s North West has uncovered Australia’s first underwater Aboriginal sites, along with 8,500 year-old artefacts. More than 269 artefacts have been mapped across multiple sites on the Dampier Archipelago seafloor, on Murujuga sea country. The stone artefacts were found following an extensive three-year subsea investigation of the ocean floor, revealing links with the islands dating back at least 7,000 to 8,500 years across two key underwater sites. The Dampier Archipelago is a chain of 42 coastal islands, islets, rocks and nature reserves, located off the town of Dampier on the Pilbara coast.

WA Opera to celebrate Aboriginal culture

The West Australian Opera has announced the commission of Koorlbardi wer Wardong – a new work that will celebrate Aboriginal language, music and culture. Lead by Nyoongar musicians Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse, the new work will be performed in Nyoongar language, and will be based on the traditional story of how the koorlbardi (magpie) and the warding (crow) became the birds we see today. Set to hit the stage late next year, it will be one of the first opera works performed in First Nations Language and based on Aboriginal stories.

Black Swan Theatre launches digital platform with Unsung Heroes

WA’s Black Swan Theatre Company is launching its new digital platform Black Swan Home Theatre with the production of Unsung Heroes: A Digital Festival of Western Australian Stories. To be distributed across the company’s suite of digital channels, Unsung Heroes is a collection of solo performances that celebrate everyday West Australians who have done extraordinary things, with each monologue filmed on stage. The five pre-recorded performances will be livestreamed for free over two weeks from July 21 to 30, and will be made available on demand. The Black Swan Home Theatre platform will also include video messages from the company’s actors, behind-the-scenes interviews with artists and creatives, and backstage workshop tours.

Food and Wine

Broome welcomes its first distillery

Moontide Distillery. Image: Instagram @moontidedistillery

The tropical town of Broome in WA’s Kimberley region has recently welcomed the opening of its first boutique craft distillery - Moontide Distillery. Using pure monsoonal rainwater mixed with native botanicals - including locally sourced Gubinge (Kakadu Plum), Guwarl (white berry bush), native myrtles, mango, tamarind and exotic spices - the spirits reflect the charm and bold character of the Kimberley region. The range of spirits include White Pearl Gin, Black Pearl Aniseed Spirit and Roebuck Bay Bitters. Visitors can sample the range of spirits at Moontide Distillery’s cellar door, open Tuesday to Sunday from midday until 6pm.

A new brewery in the Swan Valley

The Swan Valley wine region, located less than 30 minutes’ drive from Perth’s CBD, will welcome the opening of a new brewery this spring. Founded by a father and two sons, Bailey Brewing Co will feature a large tavern and kitchen serving classic pub meals made from local, quality ingredients. The family friendly venue also features an 850 square metre playground, private function spaces, large sports screen and a coffee roaster – and will brew simple, classic beers such as Pale Ale, Lager, IPA, NEIPA, plus a cider.

Origins Market opening in Busselton next spring

Origins Market artists impression

Opening in spring 2021, Origins Market is set to be a landmark destination for both locals and visitors to Busselton in WA’s South West region. Offering a space for growers, artists and creators in the region to showcase their produce and talent, the market will allow visitors to engage with the farmers, producers, winemakers, artisans and creators – all under one roof. In addition to more than 100 stalls, Origins will also include a microbrewery, tastings, long-table dining, demonstrations, edible gardens and more.

Tours, Accommodation and Attractions

Matagarup Bridge zip-line and climb to open this summer

Optus Stadium and Matagarup Bridge

Construction has begun on a new zip-line and climb structure at Perth’s iconic Matagarup Bridge. Set to open this summer, the zip-line will allow thrill seekers to travel 400 metres at up to 100 kilometres per hour from the bridge launch platform, across the Swan River, landing on the Burswood Park foreshore. The bridge climb will include a 314-step trek up the bridge’s main arch, ascending about 70 metres to the ‘sky view’ platform. It’s expected that the bridge climb and zip-line will open to the public in early 2021. The Matagarup Bridge was completed in 2018, and provides pedestrian access over the Swan River, from East Perth to the Optus Stadium precinct.

Adventure awaits in Collie

Mountain biking in Collie

The historic town of Collie in WA’s South West is set to become a premier destination for mountain bike enthusiasts, following the completion of the Arklow mountain bike trail. Winding its way through the Arklow forest, the trail network totals 36 kilometres; with six kilometres of the trail built to accommodate hand cycles, allowing mountain bike riders with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy even more of the area. Also underway in Collie is a Mural Trail, which will feature a number of murals throughout the town, including a centerpiece mural at the Wellington Dam. Queensland artist Guido van Helten has been confirmed as the lead artist, who is known for his realistic large-scale murals that have turned structures into icons across the world – including Portugal, Canada, the United States of America, Italy and Iran. Located just a two hour drive south of Perth, Collie has long been a popular destination for adventure lovers; with nature-based activities such as camping, white water rafting, water skiing, canoeing and bushwalking all on offer.

Road trip through the Villages in the Valley

The Tiny Tea Shop in Nannup

In the heart of WA’s South West region, the Villages in the Valley road trip meanders its way across the rolling landscape of the Blackwood River Valley. Only 2.5 hours south of Perth, the route passes through the towns of Balingup, Bridgetown and Nannup, offering spectacular scenery, homely cafes and restaurants, classic country pubs, charming antique stores, mountain biking and bushwalking trails; plus fresh produce, cider, wine and boutique beer. Between the towns, the winding country roads traverse through rolling green hills and forests of ancient jarrah, marri and karri trees – all tied together by the beautiful Blackwood River.

Waterbiking on the Swan River

Waterbiking on the Swan River

Visitors can experience Perth’s iconic Swan River from a fun and unique perspective, thanks to the introduction of two new waterbiking tours. Perth Waterbike Adventures and Perth Waterbike Co allow guests to pedal and glide across the Swan River. The activity is suitable for all ages and fitness levels – due to the waterbike’s safe and sturdy design. Both companies operate tours daily, with a range of different experiences available. Perth Waterbike Adventures depart from Matilda Bay, and Perth Waterbike Co depart from South Perth.

Eco Beach Resort now open

Set in the pristine and untouched Kimberley region, multi-award winning Eco Beach Resort has re-opened its doors for the 2020 season. Located 130 kilometres south of Broome, the property comprises 25 luxurious eco villas interlinked by elevated wooden boardwalks, and 30 safari-style eco tents. With stunning views over the Indian Ocean, the resort offers a range of unique activities and experiences, including whale watching, turtle monitoring tours, yoga, kayaking and fishing charters. This year will see the return of Long Table Dinners, with the first of four events to be held on July 29, ticketed at $185 per person.

Get reacquainted with Fremantle


West Australian’s are being encouraged to Relive Perth by visiting local tourism businesses and exploring their own backyard. Michael from Fremantle Tours – which recently opened The Dellers café, serving up coffees, vegan and vegetarian treats in a cosy heritage courtyard – invites visitors to come and explore Fremantle, and reacquaint themselves with what the eclectic city has to offer. Known for its heritage, culture and diversity, the historic port city is currently experiencing a renaissance thanks to a once-in-a-generation redevelopment of Fremantle’s Kings Square. Due to be completed in 2020, it will see the civic heart of Perth’s port city transformed into a vibrant cultural and commercial hub. There has also been a resurgence in the city’s already impressive hospitality scene, with historic buildings being transformed into new venues, such as the Old Synagogue, Beerporium, Darling Darling and Freo.Social. New accommodation offerings are on the horizon, including the boutique Warders Hotel and the new DoubleTree by Hilton.


Yonder Yarns

Shark Bay. Image by Sean Scott

To inspire your next WA adventure, a collection of our passionate operators have answered the question ‘what do you love about what you do here in WA?

GPS Adventure Tours – Perth and beyond
GPS Adventure Tours specialise in small group tours for people who want to experience a bit of adventure, spectacular scenery, see local wildlife and enjoy a bit of stargazing.

“Mother Nature is always giving you something different to look at. Different plants flower at different times of the year, native animal sightings change throughout the year and the sunsets and night sky always have some surprises. We also love meeting people from different parts of the world, it’s always fascinating to hear their story and talk to them about places they’ve been, what’s still on their bucket list.” Gavin Parker, owner

Red Sand Campers – All of WA
Red Sand Campers provides premium four-wheel drive (4WD) campers. All vehicles are individually customised with quality rooftop tents and fully-equipped camp kitchens, allowing guests the flexibility to get off-road and discover the amazing landscapes WA has to offer.

“Seeing the smiles on client’s faces and the accompanying laughter when they return from their trip is an unbeatable feeling. They have seen places they have never seen before, experienced amazing adventures and have loved their self-drive adventure.” Adam Sands, owner

Perth Waterbike Co - Perth
One of Perth’s newest water adventures, experience the Swan River on a performance waterbike, and view the iconic river and Perth city from a whole new perspective.

“It’s an absolute joy to see people try something new and experience the thrill of being out on the water. ‘Cycling on water’ is a really unique experience and the reactions we observe on a daily basis are sensational. The smiles, squeals and guaranteed laughter are absolutely sensational and totally infectious! Sharing that passion with people and creating an opportunity for them to experience it for themselves is what we’re all about.” Penny McPherson, owner

Segway Tours WA – Perth
Segway Tours WA offer guided 60 or 90 minute Segway tours of Perth CBD and the Swan River foreshore, Fremantle, Rottnest Island and Kings Park and Botanic Garden.

“Meeting new and exciting people from all over the place. From locals that say that they did not realise how Perth had developed, to the internationals that have travelled far and wide who think that Perth and Western Australia is the place to come…a hidden gem.” Belinda Hill, owner

Margaret River Discovery Co – Margaret River region, WA’s South West
The ultimate Margaret River food, wine and adventure experience for people who don't do tours. Limited to only six guests, the Discovery Tour is a wine tour with a twist, linking the region's best wines to the stunning outdoors.

“It’s not work, its pure fun! It’s like getting a couple of mates together for the day and go out and doing all my favourite things. Canoeing, hiking, 4WDing and wine tasting. I love it. I genuinely pinch myself every day that I get to do this for a job… I also love the seasons, I love watching the nuances of the bush and the ocean, how it all interconnects. I particularly like winter in the South West. I love hiking the Cape Track and beachcombing in winter and crazy wild storms. But then I love spring for wildflowers and whales, and then summer with epic beach conditions. But autumn is the best. No wind. No crowds. Balmy days. Changing colours. It’s a region for all seasons.” Sean Blocksidge, owner

The Beach House at Bayside – Albany, WA’s South West
The Beach House at Bayside offers boutique B&B hotel accommodation in the beautiful and historic town of Albany in WA’s South West.

“We love that we offer such a personal experience – we get to know our guests and assist them to personalise their Albany experience to ensure they leave loving the place and wanting to return! We love welcoming guests from near and far to The Beach House at Bayside to experience the very best of our beautiful town - Albany never fails to surprise and delight our guests and it gives us such pride and joy to share the stories of their daily adventures to gorgeous spots like Little Beach, Bluff Knoll, The Gap and their hikes, bike rides and drives around the region. We love showing off the best wines and produce of the Great Southern and surprising our guests with the quality of the boutique producers around us and sharing the stories of other dedicated family businesses who are part of our lovely community.” Sally Pullin, owner

Balingup Heights Hilltop Forest Cottages – Balingup, WA’s South West
Balingup Heights Hilltop Forest Cottages offers six fully self-contained bush cottages nestled amongst jarrah and marri trees near the quaint Great Southern town of Balingup.

“We love seeing people arrive from the city all ‘wound up’ and leave ‘relaxed and refreshed’. When you’re surrounded by magical vistas and immersed in our hilltop forest, it’s very easy to unwind and reconnect. We also love seeing the joy on the children’s faces at our morning farm animal feeding sessions. There’s so much fun to be had in feeding a horse a carrot, bottle feeding a lamb, meeting a llama or collecting fresh eggs from the chickens.” Deb and Brian Vanallen, owners

Naturaliste Charters - WA's South West
Naturaliste Charters offer Whale Watching Tours and Bremer Canyon Killer Whale Expeditions, with five different departure locations along the stunning South West coast of WA.

“We are incredibly lucky, we get to wake up each morning and feel genuinely good and excited. It is easy to feel that way when we get to work on the water on our amazing vessels, showcase the beautiful locations that we work from, see the stunning marine life in their natural habitats, enrich customers lives with knowledge and joy, it truly is the best job in the world. We have encountered special interactions with orca that had only ever been documented in the world twice before, we have assisted research teams with important work on understanding the mammals and their homes, it’s an amazing feeling. The best part of it all though is seeing the smiles from our customers, for many it is a life time dream to see orca in the wild, or the largest animal in the world the blue whale, to be a part of that dream turning into reality, well there really is no words to describe.” Paul & Alison Cross, owners

Kimberley Air Tours – Kununurra and Broome, WA’s North West
Kimberley Air Tours offer spectacular air tours by seaplane and fixed wing aircraft to the many iconic destinations in the Kimberley, such as the World Heritage-listed Bungle Bungle Range, Lake Argyle, Mitchell Falls, the Kimberley Coast and the Horizontal Waterfalls.

“We really can’t describe how excited we get about delivering personal, high quality touring experiences. As the Kimberley is so remote we love taking our seaplanes into areas seen by very few people. It is incredibly rewarding seeing how amazed and bewildered our customers are after experiencing the Kimberley from above.” Leigh Rawlings, owner

Wula Gura Nyinda Eco Adventures – Shark Bay, WA’s Coral Coast
Wula Gura Nyinda Eco Cultural Adventures offer Aboriginal cultural experiences, kayak and wildlife adventures, four wheel drive tours, overnight and extended tours in the magnificent Shark Bay World Heritage Area.

“I love my job because I get to be out in nature and to be able to educate our guests to better understand and respect our local Aboriginal culture and our amazing eco systems. My job sustains me both spiritually, emotionally, mentally and culturally and I want to share this with our guests.” Darren ‘Capes’ Capewell, owner

Exmouth Dive and Whalesharks Ningaloo – WA’s Coral Coast
Exmouth Dive and Whalesharks Ningaloo specialises in swimming with mighty whale shark tours, humpback whale watching and humpback whale swims, scuba diving, snorkelling, and enjoying what the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef has to offer.

“Being able to share our wonderful underwater experiences with guests and watching their reactions when they encounter a whale shark or humpback whale for the first time.” Debbie Ferguson, owner

Esperance Chalet Village – Esperance, WA’s Golden Outback
Esperance Chalet Village offers a collection of laid back cabins, rustic chalets and shacks all individually styled, located in an idyllic hideaway on the edge of Esperance town.

“Learning from our guests and hearing their stories and travel experiences …injecting their perspective on the village and bringing it to life. I also love that my office is set on beautiful acreage by a creek and commute to work a short bike ride.” Fiona Shillington, owner

Wooleen Station – WA’s Golden Outback
Wooleen Station is a working cattle station in the outback of WA dedicated to landscape regeneration and conservation. Guests can choose to stay at the homestead, the rammed earth guesthouses or camp in the outback.

“The outback has a very strong spiritual effect on many people. A romantic notion which lingers within all Australians from the early settlers when Australia was born off the sheep’s back. And never more so as we learn to acknowledge and celebrate our vast and connected cultural heritage. Connection to Country is what it’s all about! We love nothing more than facilitating and nurturing that connection within people.” Frances Pollock, owner


Cabin Fever

July 24 to 26 | Margaret River region

A celebration of the cosy winter months in WA’s Margaret River region, Cabin Fever festival is set to return this July with a weekend of enticing events. Guests will enjoy all the winter warmers that the event is known for, including cheese toasties, fireside wines, hearty comfort food and more. Tickets to signature events are now on sale.

Visit website


August 25 to 30 | Margaret River region

Set against the stunning backdrop of WA’s South West region, the CinefestOZ Film Festival is set to return in 2020. Though the festival will look and feel a little different this year, it will continue to champion West Australian and Australian stories and film through an original program of almost 40 live events and screenings; including feature films, short film curations, Cinesnaps school program activations and community screenings. 

Visit website

Shinju Matsuri

August 29 to September 6 | Broome

Shinju Matsuri (festival of the pearl) is set to return in 2020 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the annual event. The event is a celebration of the four diverse cultures that have come together in Broome over the past century for pearls; Japanese, Malaysian, Chinese and Aboriginal. Full programming details and tickets for the event are on sale now.

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Perth Craft Beer Festival

September 4 to 6 | Perth

WA’s largest beer event – the Perth Craft Beer Festival – is returning this year at the Claremont Showgrounds. The event will activate one of the biggest beer halls in Perth, with plenty of undercover areas and fire pits to keep warm. An impressive range of breweries and cideries from WA and across the country will be featured, alongside carnival games, rides, silent disco, and live music.

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Margaret River Region Open Studios

September 12 to 27 | Margaret River region

Margaret River Region Open Studios will see more than 101 artists from the region open their studio doors to art lovers. The event will run in the same format as previous years, with artists opening their private studios to the public to gain an insight into how they create their art, and share their stories and inspiration. The event will feature painters, sculptors, illustrators, jewelers, printmakers, glassblowers, ceramicists, potters, photographers, furniture makers, woodworkers, textile artists, metalworkers, mixed media artists and up cyclers. Renowned artists participating in this year’s event include Leon Pericles, Rachel Coad, Lauren Wilhelm, Mary-Lynne Stratton, Patricia Negus, Ian Mutch and Christian Fletcher.

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2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup

2023 | Perth

The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup will descend on Perth for a series of matches after Australia and New Zealand were awarded joint hosting rights for the blockbuster global event. This will be the first time that Australia has hosted a senior FIFA tournament. While the final match schedule is still to be determined, the Australian-New Zealand bid proposed the use of 13 stadiums across 12 cities – with Perth’s HBF Park set to host a number of matches.

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Media contact:
Tiana Anderson

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