Head for the beaches – there are 19 near Perth. Cottosloe Beach 15mins from the centre is a favourite summer spot, with bustling cafés and playgrounds that draw young crowds and families for bodyboarding, surfing and snorkelling. Port Beach is slightly more remote but safe for families, with a lovely stretch of sand. Woodman Point about 20km south of the centre is a good spot to swim, snorkel, scuba-dive, sail and fish. Get the kids surfing lessons at one of these or many other local beaches.
Visit family-friendly Fremantle just 20km from Perth (their suburbs have pretty much merged) – still a working harbour, it retains a character and charm of its own. Perth’s slightly artier sister has a wonderful renovated dock area and cafés and galleries lining its streets. Come for the character, the heritage buildings, the maritime museum, the festivals and the watersports. Take older kids on a haunting visit to Fremantle Prison: built by convicts in the 1850s and closed in 1991, it offers several tours, including a spooky night-time candlelight tour. Those with a spirit of adventure who don’t mind ladders and boats can don a hardhat and harness for a trip through the 1km labyrinth of tunnels built 20m beneath the prison more than a century ago.
Sail out to Rottnest Island just off the coast near Perth, renowned for its superb snorkelling, diving, surfing, fishing, boating and swimming in crystal bays, as well as the resident quokkas, an extremely cute marsupial. Take a picnic and some suncream for a perfect day out.
Talk to the fish at the Aquarium of Western Australia at Hillarys north of Perth. Snorkellers or qualified divers can pay extra for a face-to-face shark experience.
Discover Whiteman Park in the Swan Valley 25 minutes outside Perth, a huge recreation park with acres of natural bush and farmland, shops, restaurants and museums, kids' rides, train rides, a wildlife park and Swan Valley Oasis, an 18-hole golf course modified for kids. Afterwards, drive through the vineyards of the Upper Swan Valley to enjoy the scenery, slightly cooler weather and the farms that cover this lovely area (make sure to buy a couple of bottles of the local plonk).
Spend at least a couple of days in the beautiful Margaret River region, famed for its wineries and surf. Explore the almost deserted beaches and gorgeous countryside, making sure to venture to Tall Timber Country to the southeast, with towns set amidst the remnants of giant karri trees.