This is WA December 2017 - travel and lifestyle news from Western Australia

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December 2017


Travel and Lifestyle News from Western Australia


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

This will be the last newsletter for 2017, with the next edition scheduled for February 2018.

Tourism WA wishes you a safe and happy festive season.

What's Hot

Marco Pierre White to appear at IGA Taste Great Southern

Internationally renowned chef, author, restauranteur and TV star Marco Pierre White will be a part of next year’s IGA Taste Great Southern, which is held in WA’s South West. As part of the event, the celebrity chef will appear at the Albany Food and Wine Festival and at a dinner at Three Anchors in Albany with Fervor, on Saturday, March 17. IGA Taste Great Southern runs for 18 days from March 8 to 25, 2018 with events in Albany, Denmark, Mount Barker, Porongorup, Frankland River, Kojonup and Katanning. It includes a line-up of more than 40 events with festivals, markets, degustation’s, dinners and lunches, wine tasting, beer, coffee and spirit sessions, food and wine pairing, masterclasses, seminars and community events.

Field of Lights to honour the Anzacs in Albany

An immersive art installation will light up Albany in WA’s South West to honour the sacrifice of the Anzacs, 100 years since the end of WWI. Field of Light: Avenue of Honour by UK artist Bruce Munro, will see 13,000 shining glass spheres on slender stems installed in Albany Heritage Park and the Desert Mounted Corps Memorial, creating a glowing landscape of whites, yellows and golds; the colours of the national flowers of Australia and New Zealand, the wattle and kowhai. The commemorative exhibition is expected to attract more than 28,500 attendees to the city of Albany, located a one hour flight south of Perth, or a five hour drive. The installation will be on display from October 2018 to April 2019.

Perth’s festival season kicks off

Perth’s festival season is set to sizzle this summer, with FRINGE World and Perth Festival bringing a smorgasbord of event experiences to the city.

FRINGE World just keeps getting bigger and better, with 2018 set to deliver more than 750 free and ticketed events, from January 26 to February 25. It’s a packed program of comedy, circus, theatre, music, dance, cabaret and more presented by local, national and international artists such as Club Swizzle, a new show from the creators of La Soiree, circus blockbuster Cirque Africa, international sell out Hot Brown Honey, blindfolded experience Fear, and award winning Australian theatre production Terror Australis. FRINGE World events will be held in more than 150 venues across Perth, including pop-up festival hubs FRINGE Central at the Perth Cultural Centre, the Showman’s Fair at the Urban Orchard, the Pleasure Garden in James Square, plus new venues in Yagan Square, King and Queen Streets precinct and The Ice Cream Factory.

Perth Festival will kick off from February 9 to March 4. As one of WA’s premier cultural events and the oldest multi-arts festival in the world, it is a feast of cutting-edge performances and activities for all ages. Each year, some of the world’s best international and contemporary theatre, dance, classical music, visual arts and literature head to Perth. Major acts in 2018 include the dazzlingly theatrical The Far Side Of The Moon by Robert Lepage, Taiwanese drumming and martial arts spectacle Beyond Time, Syria's White Spirit, French circus from Compagnie XY at the Regal Theatre, South Korean visual artist Kimsooja and music from Dizzee Rascal, Neil and Liam Finn, Mogwai and Perfume Genius.

Australian music acts confirmed for the 2018 Ord Valley Muster

Ord Valley Muster, Kununurra.

Some of Australia’s biggest musical performers will head to Kununurra in WA’s North West next May for the 2018 Ord Valley Muster. Country music legend Lee Kernaghan, along with The Cat Empire, who are renowned for their live music shows, have been confirmed for the Muster’s pinnacle event – the Aviair HeliSpirit Kimberley Moon Experience on May 19. The annual festival will take over Kununurra and surrounds from May 11 to 20, 2018, offering a variety of unique experiences, including black tie dining under starry skies, Indigenous food, culture and dance, intimate dinners in secret locations, a challenging bike ride, art exhibitions, local talent quests, a country rodeo and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow. Early bird tickets are now on sale, with event-goers able to save almost 20 per cent with a new ticket package - the Muster Double which includes general admission to the Kimberley Moon Experience, and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow. Travel packages with flights from Perth start from $1,210 per person including accommodation, transfers, event tickets and tour options. Self-drive packages from Broome start from $524 per person including accommodation, transfers and event tickets

Swan Valley’s new boutique accommodation

Mandoon Estate, one of Perth’s premier boutique wineries in the Swan Valley, has officially launched its new accommodation offering, The Colony. The new site offers 32 luxury rooms and suites, all with alfresco areas looking out to the Swan River on one side, and the historic Verdelho vines planted in 1895 on the other. Room rates start at $235 and being only 10 minutes from the airport, is an ideal location for visitors to experience the Swan Valley. Australian musician Deborah Conway will perform at the property on February 25, with the Colony offering accommodation packages from $524 for two people, which includes a three course dinner, reserved seating for the concert, an overnight stay and breakfast at the Homestead Brewery. The Swan Valley is WA’s oldest wine region, and is located an easy 25-minute drive from Perth city.

Hot new bar openings in Perth

Perth’s bar scene continues to grow with the recent opening of two exciting new venues.

Market Grounds, located in the new Kings Square in Perth’s CBD, is a modern inner city pub that pays homage to its historical roots as a market place. The double storey pub will be the first link between the CBD and Northbridge in more than 100 years.

Henry Summer has opened the doors to its secret garden of delights in Perth's cultural hub of Northbridge. An urban cocktail and wine bar, it offers five bars and multiple rooms for drinking, dining and functions and is the latest offering from Clint Nolan who is behind several of Perth’s other venues including La Cholita, Pleased to Meet You, Sneaky Tony’s and Joe’s Juice Joint.

Lifestyle and Culture

Simon Baker’s adaptation of Tim Winton’s Breath – trailer released

A trailer for the film adaptation of Breath, based on the novel of the same name by West Australian author Tim Winton, has been released. The feature film is the directorial debut from Hollywood actor Simon Baker (The Mentalist, The Devil Wears Prada), who also stars in the film. Shot in WA’s South West around the coastal town of Denmark, the story follows two teenage boys who form an unlikely friendship with a mysterious older surfer and adventurer (played by Baker). Simon Baker said: “Breath is a story that resonates with me, not only as a surfer and a parent but ultimately as a child reared on the magnificent Australian coastline. I’m excited to show the trailer to audiences here and to bring Tim Winton’s classic story to the big screen.” It will be released in Australian cinemas in May 2018. 

New look for Tourism WA’s mobile app

Visitors to WA will have more information about our extraordinary State at their fingertips thanks to a major update of Tourism WA’s Experience WA app. First launched in 2011, the app now uses technology that can anticipate what a user may be interested in doing or seeing based on information they provide when they download the app. Or, visitors can save things that interest them and the app will “learn” their interests to personalise suggestions for them in the future.  It is designed to encourage visitors to see more, do more and spend more while they are travelling in WA.

Have a laugh at Perth’s new comedy lounge

A new, custom-built live comedy venue has opened on Murray St in Perth’s CBD. The custom-designed $3 million laneway venue, built atop an existing restaurant, has ensured each of the 200 tiered cabaret seats is no more than a stone’s throw from the stage, so every guest has the very best seat in the house. The Comedy Lounge will welcome a star-studded line-up of comedy acts in the coming months. For more details on upcoming shows, visit the website

Creatives set to emerge in Margaret River

Early bird tickets are now on sale for Emergence Creative Festival, held in Margaret River from March 21 to 24. Each year the festival attracts professionals and emerging creatives from the disciplines of music, film, photography, advertising, gaming, digital and visual arts to network, collaborate, create and be inspired in WA’s scenic South West. Next year’s festival promises to deliver an exciting line-up of speakers, with internationally renowned artist Ian Strange already confirmed as a keynote speaker. Early bird sales end on January 20. Tickets can be purchased via the website.

Food and Wine

Vasse Felix wins major international award

Margaret River winery Vasse Felix has been named New World Winery of the Year by leading American publication Wine Enthusiast. It’s the first time a WA winery has taken the honour in the annual Wine Star Awards, and only the fourth time in the awards’ 18 year history the gong has gone to an Australian winery. The win coincides with the 50th anniversary of commercial wine growing in the Margaret River region, with the first commercial vineyard planted at Vasse Felix by Perth cardiologist Dr. Tom Cullity.

Perth’s new eateries

  • Spanish-inspired restaurant Ascua has recently launched at one of the city’s newest hotels, InterContinental Perth City Centre. Ascua, which means ‘embers’ in Spanish, offers an Australian approach to Spanish cuisine with the focal point of the restaurant a theatre-style open kitchen, featuring a sizzling wood-fired grill (also known as a barbacoa).
  • Island Market in Trigg is the latest edition to Perth’s growing list of coastal dining options. Already garnering great reviews, it’s fast becoming a popular destination for beachside lunch and dinner dining. Designed for sharing, the menu offers Spanish/Mediterranean-inspired cuisine and is a great addition to the northern beaches suburb offering superb views of the Indian Ocean.
  • New late night venue Peaky Bodega has brought New York City vibes to the heart of Mount Lawley, one of Perth’s inner city precincts. Serving up NYC inspired cocktails and eats, with walls covered in street art, guests can expect R&B beats and VIP bottle service booths. Located on Beaufort Street, the venue is open Wednesday to Sunday from the afternoon until late.
  • The Oyster Bar has just opened its doors at Elizabeth Quay in Perth’s CBD, overlooking the Swan River. Take advantage of Perth’s beautiful water ways, climate and lifestyle while enjoying fresh local seafood and the best oysters Australia has to offer.
  • South of the city in Mandurah is new venue Bar Therapy. Overlooking the scenic Mandjar Bay, it offers ‘interactive’ cocktails and gourmet bar food. The small bar style venue occupies a significant local heritage site, and the owners have preserved the character of the iconic heritage-listed building. Just across the road is the Bridge Garden Bar, which has recently been revamped with a new menu and style, offering shared plates and street eats, plus local brews and a great selection of wine.

Walking Farm Wine Tours

Glenarty Road Wines in Karridale has taken wine tasting to another level with its new Glenarty Walking Farm Tours. Owners Sasha and Ben Foley have installed portable bars among their vineyards to allow visitors to take a seat and taste wine while exploring the property. The progressive tastings will be on foot, and the owners will share information on how they farm the land, creating a real immersive wine tasting experience. Karridale is located in the Margaret River region and can be accessed in a three hour drive south of Perth.

Tours, Attractions and Accommodation

Two Feet & a Heartbeat launch Kings Park walking tours

Kings Park shot by Sean Scott Photography.

Perth tour operator Two Feet & A Heartbeat have launched a new Wildflower, Nature and Wildlife tour. The tour visits three of the best wildflower locations in the centre of Perth, including one of the world’s largest inner-city parks, Kings Park, quaint Queens Gardens and the secluded Heirisson Island. Tours run on Friday, Sunday and Monday, from November to April, 9am – 12.30pm. Keep an eye out on a $25 special on offer across the school holidays.

Bremer Canyon Orca Experience

Launching in January 2018, Whale Watch Western Australia is offering Bremer Canyon Orca Experiences, which take guests, along with a team of marine experts, to the edge of the continental shelf to ‘discover the dinosaurs of the deep’, the orca. The Bremer Canyon is the summer feeding grounds for the orca, and also sperm, beaked and pilot whales. Tours will run until April, and depart daily from the town of Bremer Bay at 8am. Day trip transfers are available from Albany, or there is the option to book a three day fly in/out from Perth. Naturaliste Charters also operator several tour experiences to Bremer Canyon, including a Killer Whale Expedition tour. Bremer Bay is located a five hour drive south east of Perth, in the South West region.

New crayfishing experience launches in Mandurah

Mandurah Cruises is offering a unique experience for those who enjoy eating WA’s seafood delicacies. The new Wild Seafood Experience tour allows international and domestic customers to catch their own crayfish in the pristine waters off Mandurah’s coastline, located a one hour drive south of Perth. With an abundant crayfish population, groups will be able to experience pulling up the pots and eating their fresh catch of crayfish, which is then cooked on board in front of them. The tours will run year-round on board a newly refurbished luxury vessel.

The ultimate Kimberley Adventure launch

El Questro Homestead and True North Adventure Cruises have partnered to offer a special package for combined bookings. The Ultimate Kimberley Adventure package will be offered to guests who book three nights or more at the El Questro Homestead, combined with a Kimberley Ultimate Cruise in 2018. The package includes:

  • 4WD transfer from Kununurra to the El Questro Homestead
  • Two-for-one Miri Miri scenic helicopter flight (two hour duration)
  • 4WD transfer from the El Questro Homestead direct to True North
  • $250 per person onboard credit to spend whilst on-board the True North.

The package is available now for travel in 2018 and is subject to availability.

First official WA surfing museum in Margaret River

Surfing WA has partnered with Aravina Estate to launch the State’s first Western Australian surfing museum, the WA Surf Gallery. Celebrating WA’s surfing history, it will be the State’s first and only official collection of surfing memorabilia. The gallery will feature surfboards from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s along with never before seen memorabilia and historical surf photographs. Located at Aravina Estate in the Margaret River region, the museum be open seven days a week from 10am to 4pm.


2018 - what's to come in Western Australia

Perth Stadium

This year has been a big one for Western Australia, and it’s only going to get bigger in 2018, with a number of exciting new projects and experiences coming to life. Everyone is starting to talk about WA, and with Perth, the State’s capital city undergoing such a significant period of change – that’s not about to stop anytime soon. We’ve put together a rundown of what will be trending in WA for 2018.

New public precincts
Yagan Square will to open to the public in early 2018, and is set to become one of the city’s most popular community, meeting and celebration places. It will be a hub of activity during the day and night with cafes, restaurants, green spaces, native gardens, public art, interactive digital media, pop-ups and shopping providing plenty to see and do.

Situated 15-minutes from the CBD, Scarborough’s ongoing revitalisation project aims to create one of Australia’s best beachfront destinations, while creating a vibrant hub of activity with new restaurants, cafes, shops and entertainment. Forming the centrepiece of the redevelopment is the Scarborough Pool Facility, due to open on 22 January 2018. The 8-lane, 50-metre beach-side pool will be a popular spot for locals and tourists this summer.

Perth’s east end, spanning from Barrack Street in the west to Hill Street in the east, will start to transform throughout 2018 thanks to not-for-profit group, Historic Heart of Perth. The project aims to reinvigorate and revitalise the area, with a vision to create an identifiable neighbourhood with a strong sense of place. A number of art-led initiatives are currently in the works, with the first being the installation of 65 planter boxes featuring native wildflowers. This project is ahead of the opening of The Westin – a five star, 368-room hotel which will be situated in the area, and is set to open in April 2018.

Another exciting development is Fremantle’s Kings Square Renewal. The $270 million project is one of the biggest in Fremantle’s history, and will see the area transformed into a vibrant cultural, community and commercial hub. The redevelopment, which is expected to be finished by late 2019, will include specialty retail and dining precincts, new commercial spaces including office accommodation, a revamped city square with landscaped grassed areas, public art and new street furniture, plus a new civic chamber and state-of-the-art library and visitor centre experiences. 

A new world-class venue – Perth’s Optus Stadium
Perth is fast becoming a sport-lover’s dream destination following the construction of the 60,000 seat Optus Stadium, which will officially open in January 2018. The stadium will be one of the major sporting and entertainment venues for Perth and one of the top international sporting venues in Australia.

The stadium will officially open to the public on January 21 with a Community Open Day, followed by the One Day International cricket match between Australia and England. Tickets for the match sold out in days, which will make it the most attended sporting event in WA’s history.

It’ll also be home to Australian Rules Football in WA, with the first AFL game to be between the Fremantle Dockers and Collingwood women’s teams on February 10, followed by the main season with the first game at the stadium on March 25.

In March, the opening round of the 2018 National Rugby League Telstra Premiership season will kick off at the stadium on Saturday March 10 with a double header as the Canterbury-Brankstown Bulldogs take on the Melbourne Storm, and the South Sydney Rabbitohs clash with the New Zealand Warriors.

And in a coup for soccer fans, Premier League powerhouse Chelsea Football Club will head to Perth in July or August for an international match against Perth Glory Football Club. The match will be the first international soccer club appearance at Optus Stadium, and an Australian exclusive.

Live music performances will also be part of the stadium’s offering with major international artists Ed Sheeran performing on March 2 and 3, and Taylor Swift on October 19.

Accommodation openings
Perth now offers some of the best value hotel and short-stay accommodation in Australia following the raft of new and refurbished properties that have opened in the CBD and surrounding urban and coastal areas.

It’s about quality and quantity with a broad selection of boutique, big name and luxury accommodation options set to open in Perth. This includes The Westin – a five star, 368-room hotel in Perth’s east end, set to open in April 2018. The historic Melbourne Hotel in Perth’s CBD will reopen in early-2018 following a major refurbishment, with the heritage-listed property transformed into a seven-storey, 4.5 star hotel with 73 new or refurbished rooms, and new dining experiences.

Other hotels earmarked to open in Perth in 2018 include the QT on Barrack Street in Perth CBD, and DoubleTree by Hilton in Northbridge.

The RitzCarlton will make its first foray into Australia in 10 years, with the opening of a 204-room hotel at Elizabeth Quay in 2019.

Meanwhile, on Perth’s Rottnest Island, Pinky’s Eco Retreat will open in time for summer 2018/19, which is set to offer 86 glamping tents, as well as a bar, café, restaurant and function area. Hotel Rottnest is also set for a major refurbishment.

Since 2012, 24 new or redeveloped hotels have opened in and around Perth, adding more than 2,200 new rooms to the local market. In the next four years, a further 15 new or redeveloped hotels will come online, adding more than 2,300 new rooms.

Humpback whale swims at Ningaloo Reef
Humpback whale interaction tours have been given the green light to continue for the 2018 season. The tours will return to Exmouth and Coral Bay from August to November 2018, following the successful inaugural season in 2016. The tours offer a once in a lifetime opportunity to interact with the whales as they swim by or rest in the temperate Ningaloo waters, and complement the region’s other nature-based offerings such as whale shark swims, and manta ray interactions.

Direct aviation access
History will be made when Qantas’ daily direct Perth to London flights take off in March 2018, becoming the first regular passenger service directly linking Australia and Europe. Many visitors from Europe are expected to kick-start their Australian experience with a stay in Perth, while people from other Australian states will fly domestically to Perth and stay before connecting to the non-stop London service, the world’s third-longest passenger flight.

Qantas will mobilise its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner fleet for the 14,500 kilometre each-way journey. Enhanced cabin design, improved air quality, and technology to reduce noise and turbulence are all designed to make the long-haul journey more comfortable for up to 236 passengers across business, premium economy and economy.

In other aviation news, international air services linking Broome in the Kimberley to Singapore, will be tried from June 2018. SilkAir, the regional arm of Singapore Airlines, will operate four return flights to the exotic pearling town using Boeing 737 aircraft, which can carry 150 economy and 12 business class passengers.

WA on the big screen
WA will again have its chance to shine on the big screen in 2018, with the release of Breath, which was shot in the State’s South West around the picturesque town of Denmark. Based on the award-winning novel by celebrated WA author Tim Winton, Breath is the directorial feature film debut from Hollywood actor Simon Baker (The Mentalist, The Devil Wears Prada), who also stars in the film. Simon Baker said: “Breath is a story that resonates with me, not only as a surfer and a parent but ultimately as a child reared on the magnificent Australian coastline. I’m excited to show the trailer to audiences here and to bring Tim Winton’s classic story to the big screen.” Breath is produced by Emmy-winning United States producer Mark Johnson (Breaking Bad, The Notebook, Rain Man), and Australian producer Jamie Hilton of See Pictures (The Little Death, The Waiting City, Backtrack). Breath releases in Australian cinemas in May, 2018. The release of Breath follows a raft of films and documentaries shot in WA including Ben Elton’s Three Summers which was filmed around the Peel region south of Perth, Jasper Jones with Toni Collette and Hugo Weaving (Pemberton in WA’s South), Red Dog and Red Dog: True Blue (the Pilbara region in WA’s North), Bran Nue Dae (Broome in WA’s North), surfing film Drift starring Sam Worthington (Margaret River), Son of a Gun with Ewan McGregor (Perth, Fremantle, Kalgoorlie), and Baz Luhrmann’s Australia with Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman (the Kimberley in WA’s North).



ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth

February 8 - 11 | Perth | Experience Perth

Comprising of some of the world’s best golfers, the ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth is a unique format, combining 54 holes of traditional stroke play with an exciting six-hole knockout format on the final day.

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SunSmart Busselton Jetty Swim

February 10 - 11 | Busselton | Australia's South West

The SunSmart Busselton Jetty Swim event will be held over two days, with activities and family entertainment for everyone. The event is regarded as one of the South West’s premier sporting events. The course will take participants out and around the 3.6 kilometres of Busselton's iconic Jetty, in the tranquil waters of Geographe Bay.

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UFC 221

February 11 | Perth | Experience Perth

Western Australia will get its first taste of the fastest growing sport in the world by hosting UFC 221 at Perth Arena. This mixed martial arts event will feature a World Title Fight as well as more than six hours of entertainment with a full card of fights, including Robert Whittaker v Luke Rockhold.

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Sculpture by the Sea

March 2 - 19 | Perth | Experience Perth

One of Perth's largest free public events, Sculpture by the Sea, sees Cottesloe Beach transform into a sculpture park with more than 70 sculptures on display from artists across Australia and the world. Enjoy exhibits from some of the world's top sculptors against a backdrop of one of the city's most popular beaches

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Channel 7 Mandurah Crab Fest

March 17 - 18 | Mandurah | Experience Perth

The Channel Seven Mandurah Crab Fest is Mandurah's premier annual event which is enjoyed by more than 100,000 locals and visitors. This must-visit annual event celebrates Mandurah's vibrant coastal lifestyle. The jam packed weekend festival features a plethora of fun and activities including live performances from international and local talent, cooking displays, and free family entertainment. Of course, food is in abundance with tasty crab-inspired dishes, fresh seafood and sweet treat delicacies.

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Fremantle Street Arts Festival

March 29 - April 2 | Fremantle | Experience Perth

The Fremantle Street Arts Festival is set to bring some of the world's best street, outdoor theatre, music, comedy, circus and cabaret performers to the iconic port city. Each year over the Easter long weekend, the streets of Fremantle are transformed into an open-air theatre of the amazing, weird and wacky, while Fremantle’s famous alfresco dining steps up a notch, with pop-up bars and eateries extending into the streets.

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Margaret River Pro

April 11 - 22 | Margaret River | Australia's South West

The world’s top 34 male and top 17 female surfers compete in some of the most challenging and powerful surf on the World Surf League Championship Tour. Previous contestants have included Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning, Gabriel Medina, Stephanie Gilmore, Tyler Wright and Sally Fitzgibbons.

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Australian Surf Life Saving Championships

April 14 - 22 | Scarborough | Experience Perth

Members from Australia’s 313 Surf Clubs are returning to Scarborough beach to compete for national titles at the ‘Aussies’ 2018.

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Unearthed Pemberton Festival

April 26 - May 6 | Pemberton | Australia's South West

Unearthed Pemberton presents a series of open gates, open studios and events under three categories: Food and Wine; Adventure; Art and Heritage. The mission of the Festival is to open up the region by encouraging the visitor off the beaten track to meet the locals at their labours.

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Media contact:
Tiana Anderson

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