Perth on the Cheap


CBD, Victoria Park & South Perth

This area has plenty of parklands – take advantage of it by packing a picnic and heading for a walk. Your first stop should be Kings Park – the largest inner city park in the southern hemisphere; it’s a huge sweeping parkland that sits high above the city. The views are incredible, and there are plenty of places to picnic. You can also take a free guided tour, and learn about the native Western Australian species that fill the park.

In the city itself, try the beautiful Queen’s Gardens, with its lily-filled lake, or Heirisson Island, under the Causeway Bridge, which is home to five Western Grey kangaroos – visit at dawn or dusk to catch a glimpse. On the other side of the river, have a barbeque on the South Perth foreshore, or make use of the river itself: there’s great fishing and crabbing underneath the traffic bridges.

If you can’t catch enough to fill your belly, head back into the city for a cheap meal at Taka’s Kitchen – two CBD locations serve tasty, filling Japanese food for around $8 a meal – or head to Annalakshmi, on the banks of the Swan River. Staffed entirely by volunteers, it’s a pay-what-you-feel set-up that welcomes everyone in for a meal, no matter how much money they have.

Northbridge, Leederville & Mount Lawley

Northbridge is the best option for cheap activities in this area, but Leederville and Mount Lawley pull their weight as well. The restaurants on the competitive main streets often put on special deals (try the Sunday $10 pizza and pint combo at the Flying Scotsman). To burn it off, visit the Leederville skate park or Banks Reserve in Mount Lawley, which has free basketball courts.

For more options, though, head closer to the city – there’s free entry to the State Library and the Art Gallery of WA, and two giant outdoor screens in the Cultural Centre and the Northbridge Piazza, which show free films and music.

Northbridge is also a great option for cheap food – there are nicely-priced dim sum houses and Vietnamese restaurants everywhere. You can buy the cheapest dinner from Govinda’s, a Hare Krishna restaurant. It serves an $8 all-you-can-eat buffet at lunch, and then sells the leftovers in the evening – $4.50 for a huge takeaway container will keep anyone happy.


Explore the area’s rich Indigenous history at the Aboriginal Cultural Centre, where you can get free lessons in Noongar, the language of Fremantle’s traditional owners, or visit local store Didgeridoo Breath for a free lesson on a didgeridoo, an Aboriginal wind instrument. Continue your history lesson with a wander through Fremantle’s historic streets – Fremantle Visitor Centre offers free guided walking tours of Fremantle’s landmarks, or, if you’d prefer to go it alone, the local council has information on all of the heritage-listed buildings on its website.  Make sure you check out the Esplanade Park, with its enormous pine trees and brand-new skate park, and wander round the boardwalk at the fishing boat harbour, as well.

For the cheapest meal in Fremantle, head to the West End – Bar Orient on High Street consistently serves up cheap meals but make sure to drop in on a Thursday, when you can get a hot dog and chips for $1. On a Sunday afternoon, hit up the markets – vendors discount food, including delicious paella, after about 4 pm.

Download a copy of Fremantle’s little book of BIG savings to save on restaurants, tours, shopping and cafés in Fremantle:

Cottesloe, Claremont & Nedlands

Though prices in this neighbourhood aren’t cheap, there are plenty of activities you can do for free. In Cottesloe, go for a swim at the beach, or explore the walking trails throughout the dunes at North Cottesloe Beach – the paths are clearly laid out, and signs spaced along their lengths describe the local wildlife. Wander through the residential streets and admire the pine trees, and make sure you visit Jarrad Street – former Australian wartime Prime Minister John Curtin lived at number 24, and you can tour the preserved house.

Further inland, this area’s natural beauty is on show in its parks. There are parklands and playgrounds all through Nedlands and Claremont, and the banks of the river are shaded and grassy. Pack a picnic and try Claremont Park, or the Mrs Herbert Park. If you want to explore more, the Claremont council offers heritage tours of the area – you can pick up a free map from the Town of Claremont council office and learn about Claremont’s history.