Prince Charles has chosen the white sands of Cottesloe beach in Western Australia's capital Perth to celebrate his 67th birthday on 14 November. The royal will mark the day with a relaxed barbeque with his wife, Camilla, and West Australian families overlooking the turquoise Indian Ocean. No stranger to the most popular of Perth's 19 beaches, Prince Charles was famously chased through the surf at Cottesloe in 1979 by a bikini-clad model.
The royal visit comes at the same time as a huge redevelopment of Perth, with a stunning new waterfront, Elizabeth Quay, named after the Queen, due to open later this year as well as new hotels and a thriving restaurant scene. Here are 10 tips for discovering the gems of Western Australia.
1. Escape to an island paradise
A short ferry-ride from Perth is Rottnest Island, a nature reserve where cars are banned and quokkas, similar to a cute mini kangaroo, bound free. Pick up a bike and free-wheel between the 63 white sand beaches and turquoise bays.
2. Explore the outback in the city
Perth is home to one of the largest inner city parks in the world, Kings Park. Stroll through its botanic gardens to get a taste of the unique flora found across Western Australia, take an indigenous tour to hear about its history or cycle through untouched bushland a short walk from the city’s centre.
3. Feast like a king at the new foodie scene
Perth’s food scene has exploded in the last few years with hundreds of new openings. Choose from gourmet cheese toastie bars and beachside cafes to five star food at places like Co-Op Dinning, with its award-winning mix of wild foraged foods and local organic produce. This month Michelin-starred chef David Thompson, makes his much anticipated return to Australia, with Long Chim, a new Thai restaurant in Perth’s city centre.
4. Head out to sea to spot wild dolphins
Wild dolphins are a common sight in Perth. For a chance to swim with them head to the spectacular Shoalwater Islands Marine Park with Rockingham Wild Encounters. The crystal waters are also home to sea lions and fairy penguins.
5. Stay at the new COMO hotel
For historical glamour head to COMO The Treasury, which once housed the State Treasury and Cabinet rooms. Its spacious rooms have soaring ceilings and the original balconies with the best views in town. Enjoy the complimentary in-room bar, chauffeur and butler services as well as a pool, yoga studio, and spa offering holistic therapies. Don’t miss its rooftop restaurant, Wildflower, serving contemporary cuisine revolving around the indigenous ethos of six seasons. Rooms start from $595 (£270) including breakfast.
6. Take a sunset cruise
Even the locals make a habit of pulling up a bar stool and watching the sun melt into the Indian Ocean. Cottesloe and Scarborough are popular spots or head to Fremantle, Perth’s port, for a twilight sail on a luxury catamaran with a glass of champagne. Lonely Planet has just dubbed it one of the best cities to visit in 2016.
7. Shop for some jewels
Western Australia is home to ‘rare’ pink diamonds as well as luscious freshwater pearls and Kalgoorlie gold. Treat yourself in the jewellery designers on aptly named King Street in Perth’s city, or Rokeby Road in Subiaco.
8. Discover the "Humpback highway"
WA's coast becomes a ‘Humpback highway’ from May to December as 30,000 whales can be seen on their annual migration. Boat tours run from Perth but follow Prince Charles’ lead and head to Albany, a coastal town four hours south of Perth. The King George Sound sees some of the best aquatic acrobatics in majestic surroundings.
9. Taste fine wine
Albany is also at the centre of an up and coming wine region with over 20 vineyards offering cellar doors, a super friendly set up where you can taste a range of their wines for free. Try Singlefile Wines which is making waves with its Shiraz and Riesling. Closer to Perth, the lush Swan Valley offers a number of vineyards just 30 minutes from the city.
10. Step back in time
Prince Charles will be heading to Albany to visit the National Anzac Centre, a museum which follows the departure of Australian and New Zealand troops from Albany to enter the First World War 100 years ago. Closer to Perth is Fremantle with its colourful colonial buildings and bohemian air. Immerse yourself in its maritime and convict history on a walking tour, before refreshing yourself on its famous cappuccino strip.
Austravel (0800 988 4834/ www.austravel.com) has an eight night self-drive holiday to Perth and Albany from £1,149 per person, including return international flights, accommodation and car hire. Based on travel in February 2016. For more information visit westernaustralia.com.