Thursday, 23 April 2015

Perth trip – Prologue

I always wanted to visit the Down Under i.e Australia and New Zealand. Both are colloquially known as Down Under due to their position in the Southern Hemisphere below the equator.

Initially I plan to visit Australia during Chinese New Year but after doing some research, I dropped the plan as it is summer season and February is the hottest month in Australia. I was contemplating booking Qantas as it is offering S$700 return fare to Melbourne but we couldn't find a pair of friend to join us. In the end, hubby and I decided to visit Australia on our own. Scoot promotion came along and return fare to Perth is S$266 which is relatively cheap. I booked 25kg and 40kg for departure and return leg for one pax instead of booking individual baggage as it is slightly cheaper this way.

I make use of the Labour Day holiday in May for this 10 days trip. I have planned to depart on Saturday and return on the following Sunday but there was no cheap tickets so we depart on Friday instead. Scoot flight timing is usually not favourable either on the departure or the return leg. The departure flight is noon timing and reach Perth in the evening while the return flight departs in the evening and reach Singapore at midnight. I would prefer a red eye flight to Perth since the flight duration is 5hrs.
Map of Australia (extracted from Lonely Planet)

Australia is the sixth largest country in the world by land area and it's capital is Canberra. Australia main cities are served by numerous airlines from Singapore which makes it one of the top holiday destination among Singaporeans:
- Sydney: Singapore Airlines, Scoot, British Airways, Qantas
- Melbourne: Singapore Airlines, Scoot, Jetstar, Emirates, Qantas
- Brisbane: Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Qantas
- Gold Coast: Scoot
- Perth: Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Scoot, Jetstar
- Adelaide: Singapore Airlines
- Cairns: Silkair
- Darwin: Silkair

Perth is the capital and largest city in Western Australia and Western Australia is the largest state in Australia. It is the fourth most populous city in Australia after Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. After I have started to do research on Perth, I discovered that everything is expensive in Australia, ranging from accommodation, attraction admission ticket to food. At least, the car rental is reasonable and pertrol is slightly cheaper than Singapore.

All visitor to Australia except Australian and New Zealand citizens requires a visa to visit Australia irregardless of the visit. There are 3 types of visitor visa depending on the nationalities and Singaporean falls under the Electronic Travel Authority (subclass 601)​. Visa can be applied online and processing time takes less than a day. Although there is no visa application charges, there is a service charge of AUD20 for online application.

Taxi from airport to Perth CBD cost at least A$40 ~ S$44 while the Connect Shuttle cost A$15 ~ S$17 per pax. The cheapest way to get to Perth CBD is taking the free shuttle bus from Perth Airport T1 to T3 and board Transperth bus number 37 or 40 which cost A$4.40  ~ S$5 per pax. The journey time to Perth CBD range from 40 - 60 min. The other option is to rent the car directly at airport itself but since we will be reaching Perth in the evening, it's not advisable to drive to the outskirt at night.

In Perth CBD & Fremantle, it is easy to navigate around public transport as there are reliable and extensive public transport networks. There are free CAT bus services in Perth, Fremantle and Joondalup. In addition to the free CAT bus service, travelling on public transport is free within Perth Free Transit Zone. However it is recommended to rent a car when travelling beyond Perth.

There are many car rental companies in Perth and some allow rent and return at different location. After doing the research, we decided to rent a car from Bayswater which has outlets in both Perth CBD and near Perth Airport but it does not allow rental and return of car at different location. Bayswater offers competitive rate at A$300 for a Toyota Corolla Sedan car for 6 days rental for driving within 500km from Perth. The excess damage is capped at A$400 and can be reduced to A$0 with a top up of A$7 per day. Extra charges such as rental of GPS is A$7 per day and each child booster is A$7 per day (capped at A$70). Petrol price in Australia is currently A$1.40/ litre which is slightly cheaper than the petrol price in Singapore. 

Even though I have travelled to many countries, I have yet to purchase a local SIM card, not even when I travelled to Europe as I relied on the maps which I have printed out. However I will be buying local SIM card in Perth. It's much value for money compared to renting a GPS since we can use the data to surf net on top of the google map which we require. The cheapest prepaid card cost A$1 per day and comes with 30min local calls, unlimited local SMS and 40MB data per day and I have decided to buy the A$2 prepaid plan which includes unlimited local call, unlimited local SMS and 500MB data per day.

As we will first be travelling North and then to the South, we will be staying at 4 different hotels and B&B throughout this trip. In Perth, we will be staying at Ibis Perth Hotel as it is conveniently situated at Perth CBD Murray Street. There was 40% Accor discount for at least 2 consecutive nights booking hence I saved around S$120 for the 4 nights in Perth. Hotels under the Accor brand range from from economy brand (Ibis etc), midscale brands (Mercure, Novotel etc), Upscale brands (Grand Mercure, Pullman etc) to luxury brand (Sofitel) and membership is free. In the outskirt, we will be staying in B&B instead of hotels. It's more intimate since B&B usually have fewer rooms and those B&B which we will be staying includes complimentary breakfast.

For Margaret River Region, I have done intensive research from Margaret River Visitor Centre and I have even request a visitor guide and map which was mailed to me free of charge (Email: In the 2004 visitor guide, there is a list of wineries and breweries in the Margaret River Region and I'm spoilt for choice when selecting which one to visit.

Day 1: Reach Perth at 5.25pm (GMT+8)
Accommodation: Ibis Perth (A$92)
Transport: Bus 37 or 40 from Airport to Perth CBD (A$4.40)

Day 2: Fremantle
Attractions: Fremantle Town Hall, Fremantle Prison, Fremantle Markets, Fremantle Round House & Whalers' Tunnel, Shipwreck Galleries, E Shed Market
Accommodation: Ibis Perth (A$92)
Transport: Train from Perth to Fremantle (A$4.40 each way)

Day 3: Caversham Wildlife Park & Cervantes
Attractions: Caversham Wildlife Park, Hangover Bay, Kangaroo Point, The Pinnacles @ Nambung National Park
Accommodation: Windbreak Bed & Breakfast (A$140)
Transport: Car rental

Day 4: Lancelin & Mandurah
Attractions: Emu Downs Wind Farm & Lancelin Sand Dunes, Mandurah Performing & Arts Centre
Accommodation: Aran Brae Bed & Breakfast (A$130)
Transport: Car rental

Day 5: Bunbury & Busselton & Margaret River
Attractions: Koombana Beach, The Bunbury Tower, Busselton Jetty, Underwater Observatory, Duckstein Brewery, Bettenay's Margaret River Nougat Company, Margaret River Providore, Margaret River Chocolate Company, Margaret River Silk Road, Margaret River Nuts & Cereal, Margaret River Dairy Company
Accommodation: Pinda Lodge (A$200)
Transport: Car rental

Day 6: Margaret River
Attractions: Wine Tourism Showroom @ Margaret River Tourist Information CentreThe Good Olive, Margaret River Fudge Factory, Miller Ice Cream Farm, Candy Cow, Voyager Estate Winery, Leeuwin Estate, Edwards Wines, Vasse Felix, Bootleg Brewery
Accommodation: Pinda Lodge (A$200)
Transport: Car rental

Day 7: Margaret River & Augusta
Attractions: Boranup Karri Forest, Hamelin bay, Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, Jewel Cave, Blackwood Meadery, Colonial Brewery
Accommodation: Pinda Lodge (A$200)
Transport: Car rental

Day 8: Donnybrook & Perth
Attractions: Spring Valley Orchard, Crawley Edge Boatshed (Blue Boat House)
Accommodation: Ibis Perth (A$92) 
Transport: Car rental

Day 9: Perth
Attractions: King's Park, Parliament House, Barracks Arch, Government House, Kangaroos in the City, The Swan Bells, Ferry from Barrack St Jetty to South Perth
Accommodation: Ibis Perth (A$92)
Transport: Transperth bus & CAT bus

Day 10: Perth, Depart Perth at 6.35pm (GMT+8)
Attractions:  Shopping at London Court & Hay Street
Transport: Bus 37 or 40 from Perth CBD to Airport (A$4.40)

Budget for this trip is S$2,400:
- S$700 for accommodation
- S$30 for transport
- S$400 for car rental & petrol
- S$20 for prepaid card
- S$150 for admission fee
- S$750 for meals (include $150 for a wine pairing meal at Leeuwin Estate)
- S$350 for souvenirs and shopping
>>Day 1: 24 Apr 15

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