Australia is a vast and inviting country, steeped in history and infused with a dynamic and upbeat culture. Yet even with its popularity, Australia enjoys some friendly rivalry between its east and west coast. With both Perth and Sydney representing fantastic cities in their own right, each side has their own tale to tell.
West coast wonders
A little more wild, a little more untamed and a little more untouched by tourism, Australia’s west coast is a rugged sprawl punctuated by a city that’s starting to make a name for itself – Perth. While a decent hotel and a guide to Perth are all you really need to make the most of this city, it’s got a tremendously rich heritage that you won’t find elsewhere. It’s home to Western Australia’s first heritage icon, the scenic Swan River. Popular with runners and cyclists, it’s equally at home to the picnics and boating crowd, which speaks volumes to the downtempo pace of life Perth enjoys so much.
Of course, the city’s got plenty of live-wire activities as well. Northbridge is just outside Perth’s central districts, and it’s a hotbed of foodie hangouts and cocktail bars. Vintage boutiques and performance spaces also round off what almost feels like a city within a city, especially considering you’ll also find Perth’s Chinatown here.
Of course, Australia’s west coast is much more than just Perth. Raw, untamed landscapes rule the day here, like the Pinnacles at Nambung National Park on the aptly named Coral Coast. These almost alien karst structures are stony remnants of a forgotten era, and you can learn more at the Pinnacles Desert Discovery Centre.
They say the west of Australia is more spontaneous and less commercially driven than its east. As such, it’s a good way to get in touch with the real heart of the country, as well as take in some of its most eclectic sights. Down in the southwest for example, Elephant Rocks can be found near the town of Denmark. Surrounded on all sides by achingly beautiful turquoise shallows, this is a top swimming spot that nonetheless remains unspoilt. As for the name, as eccentric as any of Australia’s finest, it comes from the fact that the huge grey boulders here look like a troupe of bathing elephants’ backs.
Yet if Australia’s east coast is the realm of beers and barbecues, the west is cheese boards and wines all round. While you’ll likely enjoy a glass or two naturally in your travels, the Margaret River region is true blue wine country through and through. For wine lovers, touring the region is a must, especially when the opportunity to visit so many authentic cellars and vintners exists. Settlers Ridge and Peace Tree come highly recommended.
The appeal of the east
The eastern reaches of Australia, right along its coast, are infused with a youthful energy and zest for life. The most notorious city is of course Sydney, which is home to the famous spaceship-like opera house.
And while that city teems with things to see and do, it hasn’t let its embrace of modern tourism dampen its homegrown appeal. The foodie scene bristles with Australian greats and you’ll find seafood, fast food, Asian cuisine and some fantastic vegan eats awaiting you.
Yet even with its teeming nightlife and lively arts and performance culture, any good Sydney travel guide will enlighten you to the city’s mellower side, which deserves to be enjoyed. For instance, the likes of Gordon’s Bay, secluded and out of the way, is one of those rare and beautiful Australian coastal coves whose beach more than speaks for itself. With a cold beer in one hand, a good book in the other and the feeling of being far from your worries, it’s the kind of place you can escape to when the bustle of the city gets too much.
Of course, on the subject of beaches, you’ll soon see why this is dubbed Australia’s Gold Coast. Despite its tranquil moniker, however, this is the playground of adventurers and adrenaline junkies. Outback hikes are one thing, but the surfing culture is enough that Surfers Paradise invites the best and boldest to dare to tame the waves. Beachfront cities with evocative names like Byron Bay and Nambucca Valley keep golden beer flowing and good times coming. The latter also has a thriving river cruise scene, weaving through the Nambucca River and, on a good day, letting you meet the dolphins.
Whether the wild east or the untamed west, Australia is infused with adventure and culture, awaiting the brave and the bold on every street corner and behind every forgotten woodland trail.