The one-hop Kangaroo Route to Perth

With tickets now on sale for the first direct UK to Australia flights, we discover why Perth should be on your radar


With companies already investigating commercial space travel, the news that you’ll finally be able to fly non-stop from the UK to Australia next year seems thoroughly overdue.

Tickets for the direct Qantas flight from London Heathrow to Perth went on sale at the end of last month for departures starting March 2018, with the flight taking around 17 hours — saving three hours on the current fastest route and avoiding stopovers in the United Arab Emirates — and fares starting from £1,232.

And while the daily flights will be part of a new London to Melbourne return service via Perth with other international connections planned, Flight Centre has already started selling ‘Perth Long Weekend’ packages for £1,679 including four nights in a five-star hotel.

There’s plenty to discover in Australia’s sunniest state capital — itself closer to Jakarta than Melbourne or Sydney. Known for its street art and buzzing food and drink scene, it’s easy to while away at least a few days.

Hit the museums

With several major museums covering heritage, culture, art and natural history, it’s easy to get a quick introduction to Perth and its past. Start at the Western Australian Museum, before exploring Aboriginal art at the Art Gallery of Western Australia along with modern works at the nearby Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Get outdoors

Wander through Kings Park’s Botanic Garden, home to more than 2,000 indigenous plants across its 17 hectares. There are also trails to follow, views of the Swan River and tours with aboriginal guides, some needing advance booking. Or head down to the waterfront at the revitalised Elizabeth Quay. The more energetic can climb the 242 concrete steps of Jacob’s Ladder for its city views.

See a quokka

These smily little marsupials are found on Rottnest Island, one of their few homes, inspiring the name given to it by a 17th century Dutch mariner — “rats nest”. Known too as Wadjemup (and Rotto), you can hop onto a ferry from Perth including a cruise along the Swan River, or a shorter journey from nearby Fremantle. Hire bikes to explore or there are tourist buses as well.

Discover Fremantle

Fremantle, dubbed the Brighton to Perth’s “London”, has more than 3,000 heritage listed buildings including the Fremantle Prison — the first task for the convicts sent here in the 19th century was to construct this themselves, and the various tours tell of its most famous escapees as well as showing the conditions many would have endured behind the 5 metre high walls. Fremantle is also home to Western Australia’s first purpose built synagogue — no longer used, the area’s Jewish small community is now firmly based in Perth, along with several kosher food shops.

Enjoy a gold rush

Perth has mining to thank for much of its growth, including the gold found in Western Australia in the 19th century. At the Perth Mint, check out the Gold Exhibition packed with the country’s biggest collection of natural gold nuggets and the largest and most valuable coin on the planet, the Australian Kangaroo One Tonne Gold Coin.

Facts and stats

  • When Qantas created the Kangaroo Route to London in 1947, it took four days and nine stops, with a total of 55 hours in the air.
  • The route stretches for 14,498km – just over 9,000 miles.
  • The flight is expected to be the world’s third longest passenger flight. Qatar Airways route from Doha to Auckland covers 14,535km, while Air India’s flight from Delhi to San Francisco covers more than 14,500km — although it takes under 15 hours, thanks to a strong tailwind.
  • The last time Qantas flew from Australia to Europe non-stop was a one-off charter flight from Perth to Istanbul to take Australians to the Centenary of Anzac at Gallipoli in 2015.
  • The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners used on the route will carry 236 passengers across Business, Premium Economy and Economy cabins.

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