Perth By Night

Last Updated: 22 Dec 2014
Anna Christensen

Nighttime is the best time in Perth come summer, thanks to the city's abundance of rooftop bars, festival gardens and outdoor cinema. Live it up with our nocturnal guide to Perth.

Yeah, yeah, we all know how to drift away those summer days – beach, beach and more beach. But what about those summer nights (said in Danny from Grease's falsetto)? Well, there's cocktails atop trendy rooftop bars, sultry clubs that won't quit until dawn, and film screenings under the stars. Tell you more? Well, read on. A-wella wella wella hoo!

Rooftop Movies (photography Court McAllister).

Best Outdoor Movies

Moonlight Cinema
VIBE It's something of an institution in Perth, and it's pretty easy to see why. Set in Kings Park's stunning botanic gardens, it's scenic, central, and screens a great selection of new releases, classics and family-friendly films.
EAT Their LA-style food trucks have you covered for deep-fried everything – we recommend trying the southern fried chicken burger and parmesan truffle fries. Those who prefer their movies served sans heart attack can opt for Japanese.
TIP Pack a bottle of vino – there are no alcoholic beverages served on premises but BYO is permitted – nay, encouraged. The exception? Spend a little more on a Gold Grass ticket – it will get you a glass of wine on entry, plus a reserved bean bed and a spot right near the front. Fancy!
Kings Park, until Mar 29.

Rooftop Movies, Northbridge
VIBE We can only describe the kitsch Rooftop Movies as 'Miami Vice meets sideshow alley' – think pink flamingos, palm trees and garlands of colourful baskets hung like fairy lights, silhouetted against the skyscrapers. Totes 'grammable.
EAT Candyfloss-pink vans serve as makeshift bars, stocking alcohol, popcorn and imported candy, and Dough Pizza delivers right to the top.
TIP Bring a blanky and someone to cosy up to – it can get windy up there. They also rent out blankets if you've come unprepared (or stag). Buy tickets online – you can book pizzas and parking in the same click, and popular movies sell out ludicrously fast. Also, sort your parking at the box office so you can drive out right after the film.
68 Roe Street, Northbridge, until Apr 11.

Ben & Jerry's Openair Cinema
VIBE It's super fun, with live music acts before the screenings, a fully licensed bar, and a cart doling out Ben & Jerry's ice-cream. Plus they have a 2K HD digital cinema system with a 12m by 6m screen. For tech n00bs, that translates to really high quality and, like, really, really big display.
EAT Um, is that even a question? Ice-cream, obviously – and lots of it!
TIP Head to the opening night to see Triple J Unearthed winners Husky perform – all proceeds from the night go to WWF's efforts to protect the Great Barrier Reef. Feel like upping the ante? Invest in their new Volkswagen Polo Class ticket, which gives you reserved premium seating with a blanket and cushion, a bevvie from the bar, and a Ben & Jerry's shorty.
Ozone Reserve, Mar 19-Apr 26.

Movies at Cape Mentelle.

Best of the rest

  • If you've got a hot date, head to Camelot Outdoor Cinema on Wednesdays for Jazz & Oyster night, with oyster shucking from Andy Grljusich, and performances by Perth's finest jazz musicians. Aphrodisiac city.
  • We adore the food at Luna Outdoor, which includes stuff like quesadillas and hotdogs. Cheesaholics, pick up a Blue Cow Cheese Company platter filled with Capel Cheddar and Double Brie.
  • Trip down south? Make it super special with Movies at Cape Mentelle. Rent a beanbed, pick up some gourmet food, and swill a glass of Cape Mentelle under the stars. Bliss.
  • To channel the gang from Puberty Blues, head to the Galaxy Drive-In Theatre. It's totally retro (right down to the Chiko Rolls!)
  • Somerville and Joondaup Pines screen the Lotterywest Films part of the Perth International Arts Festival. Check out p49 for our top picks.
  • If you've got kids, take them to see a Disney classic at the Perth Zoo Twilight Outdoor Cinema, where you can hear the calls of real animals during the hushed bits. Hell, go even if you don't.

Ben & Jerry's Openair Cinema.

Armadale Summer Cinema Kelmscott.
Busselton Drive-In Outdoor Cinema 9752 2370, Busselton.
Camelot Cinema 9386 3554, Mosman Park.
Cape Mentelle Outdoor Cinema 9757 0812, Margaret River.
Galaxy Drive-In Theatre 9409 9664, Kingsley.
Joondalup Pines 0407 420 503, Joondalup.
Kookaburra Outdoor Cinema (08) 9295 6190, Mundaring.
Luna Outdoor Cinema (08) 9444 4056, Leederville.
McDonald's Community Cinemas – Burswood 0403 560 684, Burswood.
McDonald's Community Cinemas – Bassendean 0403 560 684, Bassendean.
McDonald's Community Cinemas – Curtin 0403 560 684, Bentley.
McDonald's Community Cinemas – Murdoch 0403 560 684, Murdoch.
Movies in the Square Fremantle.
Northbridge Piazza Superscreen (08) 9461 3368, Northbridge.
Somerville Auditorium 0410 699 075, Crawley.
Sun Pictures (08) 9192 1077, Broome.

Mechanics' Institute.

Best Rooftop Drinking

Mechanics' Institute
How do we love thee, bartenders at Mechanics'? Let us count the ways: 1. You don't take yourselves too seriously – there's no snotty service or wanky drinks. 2. You shake a mean cocktail that won't cost us our firstborn. 3. You let us order said cocktail with a juicy burger from downstairs neighbour Flipside.
CONSUME We suggest ordering a Screwdriver, just so you can giggle at the pun. More mature than us? Try the Hillbilly Bob's Ruckus Juice, made from spiced rum and syrup, beer, ginger beer and a dash of lime – which, refreshingly, comes in on the right side of $15.

The Standard
Don't let the name fool you: this new bar is anything but run of the mill. Pearl Jam and The Ramones play on the stereo, stacks of cinder blocks constitute bar and wine racks, and blown-up photographs in Polaroid frames reveal the venue's origins as an Italian social club and clandestine gambling den. Outside, steps lead up to a recycled shipping container that has panoramic views of the cityscape.
CONSUME Let us preface by saying vegos and Babe lovers should look away. Now. Okay, now they're gone, let's talk about the croquettes, which are light and crispy crumbed shells filled with pigtails (yes, really) that are incredibly tender and juicy. Even better? The lamb belly, which takes a full three days to cook. It's juicy and rich, balanced by a sweet and sour eggplant salad with a ginger grapefruit dressing.

Bob's Bar
It's worth trekking up two newspaper-lined flights of stairs
for this rooftop gem. Even though it attracts a stylish clientele, the bar is far from pretentious – fitting, given it's named after Bob Hawke. We love the cheeky (but extensive) menu, cheerful red tiles and leafy foliage. Just quietly, reckon anyone would notice if we swapped the old West Australian sign that hangs on the wall for a Scoop one?
CONSUME The fresh-as watermelon white sangria, and coriander and prawn dumplings is the perfect summer pairing. Yum.

The Standard.

Best of the rest

  • The Conservatory Perth's oldest rooftop bar rocks for a number of reasons, but our fave one? You can cook up a barbie on a 10-seater barbecue table – without having to do the washing up.
  • The Aviary Suits and stilettos flock to this slick rooftop bar after business hours for its cool DJs and G&Ts.
  • Subiaco Hotel We love the rooftop bar at the newly refurbished Subi Hotel, with cute hanging terracotta pots overflowing with flowers.
  • The Lounge at Connections It's super sexy with smoky mirror columns, low lighting and funky DJs.

Joe Jnr.

After Midnight

No, we're not talking about a whimsical Richard Linklater film. We mean those nights when heading to bed before dawn just won't do. Nocturnals, listen up.

12AM-1AM Get the party started at Hula Bula Bar on Victoria Avenue. With its tiki decor, retro tunes and awesome rum selection, it's impossible to start the night on a bad note. We suggest sipping The Easter Island Iced Tea, Hula's tiki spin on the Long Island Iced Tea, made with pineapple and coconut liqueur.
FEELING PECKISH? While you're still respectable, swing by The Conservatory and feast on pancetta- wrapped asparagus and twice-cooked pork belly with winter apple and cinnamon cider sauce – the rooftop bar stays open til 3am.

1AM-2AM It's getting late, but not obscenely so. Mix with well-clad folk at Mt Lawley's Luxe Bar, admire the Stormie Mills mural, and sip on its famous espresso martinis – there's a long night ahead still.
FEELING PECKISH? Soak up the night's transgressions at La Cholita with prawn and mango salsa tacos and toasted tortillas with guac. The Mexican bar and restaurant has a vibe that's so electric you might even be convinced to keep partying…

2AM-3AM If you're still standing, mosey on down to Malt Supper Club on Beaufort Street. We kinda feel like we're in Marie Antoinette's chambers here, with its luxe brocade, velvet and gold overload. We love drinking the Ciao Bella, a fruity cocktail from Southern Italy.
FEELING PECKISH? Fuel up at Darlings Supper Club on Lake Street in Northbridge. It's open until 3am, seven nights a week. They have heaps of dumplings but we advise having the delicious Hong Kong XO pork noodles or the lime, lychee and coconut trifle instead.

Darling's Supper Club

3AM-4AM You trouper! Luckily, new bar Joe Jnr is open til 5am. The unabashed dive bar is all about loud rock and hard liquor. Yee-ha!
FEELING PECKISH? The soon-to-be-opened Lucky Chan's Laundry and Noodlebar on William Street – the first crowdfunded restaurant in Australia – serves noodles and cocktails until 4am. It's from the folks behind The Classroom so we have it on good authority it's going to be awesome.

4AM-5AM Go home already! No? Fine, hit up underground club Ambar. At first you might feel like you're descending into hell, with its slightly seedy decor
and sardine-packed crowd, but it's often voted among the best clubs in the world. Why? The music is consistently awesome and the vibe is kicking. We asked the staff the best drink and the decision was unanimous: the tasty and potent Coconut 1800 Vodka Shot. Bottoms up.
FEELING PECKISH? Northbridge's U&I 24hr Cafe serves Pho around the clock. Can't stomach liquids? 'Fraid Macca's drive-in is the only place that'll have you. Hope you like hash browns.

Pleasure Garden (photography Jarrad Seng).

Best Festival Pop-Ups

Chevron Festival Gardens
Well, we appreciate the opera and all… But is it wrong that we love the Chevron Festival Gardens just a teensy bit more? We can't get enough of the chill-out space that pops up on the northern lawn of the Perth Cultural Centre when the Perth Internatonal Arts Festival rolls around. Just a stone's throw from the stage, it's the perfect spot to soak up tunes from this year's awesome lineup (think Chet Faker, Spoon and Mr. Scruff) with a boutique beer in hand.

Urban Orchard
Each year, the brightly lit-up colanders strewn across the Perth Cultural Centre herald the return of Fringe. The vibe at Urban Orchard is super chill: festivalgoers balance paper plates of messy food on their laps, drink wine from plastic cups and sit barefoot on the lawn. Get classic vendor food and plastic cups of wine and beer from the Aquarius Fountain Bar – a carousel island bar that doubles as a fountain – while you listen to roars of laughter emanating from the Spiegeltent. Spiegel-what? It's a Dutch word that means 'mirror tent,' constructed from wood, mirrors, canvas, and leaded glass, with brocade and velvet detailing. For the past few years, De Parel Spiegeltent has travelled to Perth for Fringe, but in an unprecedented move aided by Lotterywest, the Fringe World producers bought it outright from its original Belgian owners. Get set to see it at cultural events at Fringe and beyond…

Pleasure Garden
Billowing Chinese lanterns, neon pink signs and, well, the name itself, mean the Pleasure Gardens are super sexy. Factor in Perth's sultry heat and the scantily clad performers sauntering through, and you better brace yourself for some sizzle. Inspired by the pleasure gardens of 18th and 19th century London, the transformed Russell Square features circus tents, pop-up performance spots
and The West Australian Spiegeltent, plus new spiegeltent Palais des Glaces.

Fringe Rickshaws
If you're anything like us, choosing appropriate footwear isn't your strong suit when you're swept up in the excitement of the festival. But weary feet will do a happy dance at the news that Fringe is providing rickshaws that take punters for free rides, from shows at the Perth Cultural Centre to the Pleasure Garden, each Friday and Saturday night of the festival.

The Gold Digger
A nod to WA's gold-rush history – and not the Kanye song – the Gold Digger is a custom-designed pop-up comedy venue at the State Theatre Centre. Expect plenty of lolz delivered by national and international stand-ups.

Best Beach by Night

Bathers Beach Sunset Market, Fremantle
The crowds at the Sunset Market are so bustling you'd think you stepped into a One Direction concert. But don't let that deter you; it's just a testament of how good it is. With a selection of all our favourite international food vendors, craft stalls and live music, we can't think of many better ways to while away the summer nights.

Bathers Beach House, Fremantle
Located just off the boardwalk of Bathers Beach, Freo's newest venue is heaving on Sundays. Sun worshippers are drawn to the wind-sheltered al fresco area, families to the free sun loungers on the sand out front, and absolutely everyone to the first floor's sweeping harbour-to-port views.

Salt On The Beach, North Fremantle
Sandy glad-wrapped sandwiches and kiosk chips just got a serious upgrade. Salt on the Beach made WA history this year as the first restaurant to offer beach dining – as in right there on the sand. It's $250 for two people, which includes a drool-worthy tasting menu and a glass each of Laurent-Perrier. But the views of the sunset, starry skies, pretty fairy lights, and rolling waves? Priceless. (Apologies, MasterCard).

Best Make-Out Spots

Because sometimes you just feel like channeling the characters in a 90s high-school film. We're spoiled for choice for make-out spots in Perth, with our gorgeous coastline and rivers, but these locations in particular are worth salivating over (pun intended).

Zig Zag Scenic Drive, Gooseberry Hill
With panoramic coastal views of the city and eucalypt-covered hills in the foreground, this is Perth's best-kept secret. You'll have to make your way up a winding road that's just dangerous enough to make you cuddle that
little bit closer.

Monument Hill, Fremantle
The sunset views from atop the grassy knoll are postcard-worthy gorgeous. Pack a picnic and, as the sun goes down, sneak glances at your makeout buddy while you gaze out at the ships pulling into the old Freo ports. Then redefine starry-eyed by looking up come nightfall.

DNA Tower, Kings Park
Sure, its namesake isn't exactly sexy (we're yet to see someone purr in delight at the thought of a double helix molecule), but the epic views from this winding
tower sure are. If you're still struggling to get your mind away from science class, remember it was actually inspired by a double staircase in the Château de Blois in France. Now that's sexy!

South Fremantle Power Station, North Coogee
For those who like their romance a little gritty, the derelict (and heavily graffitied) old power station at Coogee Beach is a weirdly appealing option. It's so surreal you start to feel like you're in another realm – and isn't that what romance is all about? Head for a beach sunset on the Coogee coast afterward for a romance more textbook.

Heathcote Reserve, Applecross
During the day, it's filled with little kids screaming in the park. But when night falls, it's transformed to a saucy makeout spot – with 180 degrees of the Swan River. Bonus: there's a pirate boat on the playground if you feel like getting all Jack Sparrow and Elizabeth Swann.

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