Hillarys Boat Harbour




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There are a number of small harbours up and down the coast of the Greater Perth region. The largest, of course, is Fremantle which is a major port. The smaller ones mainly serve pleasure craft and a number of those are tourist destinations as well. That’s the case with Hillarys Boat Harbour, about 23 kilometres from downtown Perth or a 35-40 minute drive. The easiest way to get there is to take the Mitchell Freeway (Highway # 2) and turn left onto Hepburn Avenue which takes you all the way to the marina.

The map above is an earth view of Hillarys. Click on the View Larger Map button and you’ll see it on a full page. There you can use CTL and your mouse to rotate the map any which way you choose.

The Breakwater complex has a fine dining restaurant upstairs and a more casual rendez-vous below.
The Breakwater complex has a fine dining restaurant upstairs and a more casual rendez-vous below. The large boat moored there is the Rottnest Island Ferry.

A couple of breakwaters enclose the marina. where many private boats are moored. One of the Rottnest Ferries docks here. The other’s home port is Fremantle. But for visitors, it’s the shopping mall and restaurants that are the big attraction. Formally called Sorrento Quay, it features wide boardwalks and a concert staging area completed in mid-2016.

Reataurants abound here. You can find casual fare like Grill’d or Dome to the the classy Breakwater which has four facilities, the casual Lower Deck to the upscale Ishka Restaurant and adjacent Reid’s Lounge. You can also reserve the Akoya Suite for corporate functions and even weddings.

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Zeno’s Cafe and fro-yo are among the many food service outlets at Hillarys. Much of the quay and boardwalk is on stilts above the water.

There are specialty food places like Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, Belissimo Gelato, La Chocolateria and more. Or fast food like Subway or Little C’s Pizza. Scrolling through eateries on their website, I counted 34 of them. There are also a lot of specialty shops. Everything from clothing stores to souvenir shops to a barber shop and a candy shop. Around 30 different shops.

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Art Affaire Gallery, one of many gift shops at Hillarys

While the mall is open air, it does have a skylighted roof over the passageways.

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The quay and boardwalk wraps around an inner bay with beach and waterpark.

The complex of restaurants and shops wraps around an inner bay which includes some shallow beaches for swimming. And on the shore is a large children’s complex called The Great Escape which includes a waterslide park. Unfortunately the lease ran out for The Great Escape and it is currently closed until a new tenant can be found. But it is scheduled to partially reopen for the Australian summer starting November 26th.

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Cockatoos like to hang out near the waterslide park.

When we first visited Hillarys in May 2015, the waterpark was a popular hangout for wild cockatoos.

At the other end of the complex you’ll find the Aquarium of Western Australia. We never got around to visiting it so I can’t rate it. And there is an apartment hotel complex, an exciting alternative to staying in a large hotel.

A bridge and walkway over the harbour connects the mall and the shore. There you’ll find another restaurant, the Hillarys Yacht Club, the Department of Fisheries building and some commercial buildings. You’ll also run across the Three Dolphins statue and fountain.

Sarah and her friend Natasha with the Three Dolphins.
Sarah and her friend Natasha with the Three Dolphins.

A short walk takes you past a couple of shallow beaches and back to the other end of the quay. Here are a few more restaurants and still more shops.

Hillarys Boat Harvour at night.
Hillarys Boat Harvour at night.

We happened to visit Hillarys one Friday evening and the quay is beautiful lit up in the evening. For some entertainment, Perth’s Northern Ukulele Group meets here every Friday from 5:00 to 7:00 PM. I never would have guessed there were so many ukulele players in Perth. And that’s just one club. There’s a website that lists ten different groups of enthusiasts. Who knew?

If you’re there on a hot sunny summer day, you may want to spend some time at Sorrento Beach which is just a short walk away. Like most Western Australian beaches, this one has pristine sandy beaches, a grassy park area and barbecue areas for family picnics or group outings.

The boardwalk from Hillarys to Sorrento Beach.
The boardwalk from Hillarys to Sorrento Beach.
Sorrento Beach
Sorrento Beach

Since opening in 1988, Hillarys Boat Harbour has continued to be a popular venue for both locals and visitors. Do check it out. And if you are arriving or leaving around 5:00 to 5:30, you can catch a glimpse of kangaroos in the wild at Pinnaroo Valley Cemetery. I know that sounds odd, but check out the article I wrote about it a while back. We’ve been back several times. One of the best places for kangaroo watching in my opinion.

Below is a link to an additional photo gallery as well as to some Hillarys Boat Harbour attractions.

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The Aquarium at Atlantis




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In 2002 Forbes Magazine had an article on the most expensive hotel suites in the world. Top of the list at $25,000 a night was the Bridge Suite at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. Ever since, I’ve always wanted to see the Atlantis Resort.

In January 2015, my wife and I, her sister and her brother and his wife took a Caribbean cruise that stopped at Nassau in the Bahamas. One of the excursions available was to the Atlantis Resort. Naturally, we jumped at the opportunity.

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The Atlantis Resort Hotel

The  Bridge Suite is in the bridge between the two Royal Towers. But the hotel complex shown above is just one of five hotel complexes and they also have the Harborside Resort which is a collection of villas and a marina if you want to stay there on your boat.

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The Harborside Resort is the colourful collection of villas you see across the inlet.

Besides accommodations, Atlantis has a 141 acre waterpark, beaches, pools, aquariums and  21 restaurants. There is also a street of shops you can check out. You can swim with the sting rays, snorkel, scuba dive, and get up close and personal with dolphins. It really is a destination resort with something for everyone.

Our tour barely scratched the surface of what there is to see. A bus took us from the cruise ship to Paradise Island where Atlantis is located. We met up with our guide who first took us through the casino. No picture taking was allowed inside the casino.

The Casino at Atlantis
The Casino at Atlantis

And then we got to the main part of our tour which is the aquarium. It’s a world class affair with many different species of fish. There is a clear tunnel you can walk through and watch the fish swim overhead and alongside. And there are many different aquaria, each with its own theme.

Many colourful tropical fish were on display.
Many colourful tropical fish were on display.
Including this odd bunch that liked to hang out in the corner by themselves.
Including this odd bunch that liked to hang out in the corner by themselves.

I’ll include more pictures in a separate photo gallery because I want to focus on the best part of the aquarium visit which was quite different and which I haven’t seen anywhere else. Many of the aquaria opened up at the surface to the outdoors and you could, in fact, walk around outside and look down on the fish.

Juvenile sawfish and stingrays swim around in this outdoor area.
Juvenile sawfish and stingrays swim around in this outdoor area.

When we finished our inside tour, our guide told us we could spend the rest of our time exploring on our own. She recommended checking out the feeding of the sharks and rays outside in about a half hour. So we went out and waited. Remarkably few people joined us. Their loss as what we saw was amazing. A young lady named Bianca, one of the curators at the aquarium, came out with a trolley filled with pails of fish. She fed some in one location and then walked across a shallow section of the immense pool field with sharks and rays following her around like puppies.

She climbed out of the pool and walked over to another area where she hand fed stingrays and zebra sharks. It was an incredible sight as these denizens of the deep snapped fish from her hand. She sometimes patted their heads and you could see she had a great affection for these beasts. And they seemed to like her as well.

My wife asked Bianca if she named her charges. Indeed she did using names from Greek and roman mythology. But she only named the rays and sharks. Too many other fish to name them all. Amazingly, she could identify which sharks and rays were which though they all looked much alike to me.

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Bianca and one of her charges.

In the video below, Bianca explains the names of her fishy friends. But watch that zebra shark just snap up that last fish as she tries to identify him. Chomp! So cool!

We still had an hour or so after the feeding session so we explored some more of the Royal Towers complex. Outside the casino was an immense abstract sculpture, one of five that each cost over a million dollars.

Janis and her sister Betty in front of a million dollar statue.
Janis and her sister Betty in front of a million dollar statue.

We headed for the lobby and came across the Throne of Atlantis. Naturally we had to try it out. It was big enough for two!

Janis and I sitting on the Throne of Atlantis.
Janis and I sitting on the Throne of Atlantis.

The lobby area had an immense atrium with intricate carvings and fluted columns. Quite amazing.

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The immense lobby of the Royal Towers.

We inquired about the Bridge Suite and yes, it was open to tours. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time before we had to return to the cruise ship. Another time for sure.

The Bridge Suite
The Bridge Suite

Our tour guide had told us that it was informally know as the Michael Jackson Suite as he was the first person to have stayed there. It rents for $25,000 a night with a four night minimum.

I recently checked online and it is no longer the most expensive hotel suite in the world. In fact, it slipped to number three in 2003 and it is not even on this year’s top 15 list. A lot of fancy hotels have been built since 2002!

But I also checked to see how much a stay at Atlantis would set back the average person. The budget complex, still pretty fancy, is the Beach Tower. There is currently a special on if you order before July 20th. Forty percent off. I did a tentative booking for a week in early October and it costs a much more affordable $129.14  a night.  I think a week at Atlantis just might be in our future!




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Photo Gallery: Atlantis Resort




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Here are some additional photos of the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas.

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Visitors with boats and yachts are welcome at Atlantis.
The lobby.
Detail shell work in the cupola at the lobby of the Royal Towers.
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Another million dollar sculpture at Atlantis. Looks like Medusa to me!
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Through the plexiglass tunnel.
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Silver dollar fish at the aquarium at Atlantis.
A grouper
A grouper
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Jellyfish
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Stingrays

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Bianca walks through a shallow part of the pool, followed by her good buddies.

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This cat lives at the Atlantis Resort near the aquarium.
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Bianca prepares to feed the rays and sawfish.

Here sharky, sharky sharky!
Here sharky, sharky sharky! Come and get it!



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S.E.A. Aquarium on Sentosa Island, Singapore




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A maritime museum was part of the aquarium exhibit.
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One of the features in the Maritime Museum at the aquarium was this replica of Noah’s Ark.
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Sharks swim all around us in this walkway.
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Colourful fish and corals.
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Schools of fish, sharks and rays are some of the sea life seen in this giant tank.
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A school of jellyfish.
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Here’s a close-up of one of those guys.
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A nice looking jellyfish.
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Colourful tropical fish.
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More colourful fish.
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An eel says hello.
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This creature is called an Emperor Nautilus.
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This octopus was very active.
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The underside of a large ray.
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A dolphin performing for crowds above, plunges back into the water after a mighty leap.

 




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