Literary City Guide | PERTH, AUSTRALIA

The river sucked up the sky and went flat and glittery right down the middle of the place and people went to it in boats and britches and barebacked. Where the river met the sea, the beaches ran north and south, white and broad as highways in a dream, and men and babies stood in the surf while gulls hung in the haze above, casting shadows on the immodest backs of the oilslicked
— Tim Winton

Tour Guide: JAYDEN o'NEIL

Jayden is a freelance journalist and writer. While studying English teaching and journalism, he worked as a barista and wine retailer to fund a life of surfing and reading in the corners of Perth cafes. Now, he does much the same, except for the study part. Find him online or on Instagram(Photos from the ground by Lajos Varga; photos from the air are by Tranquil Lane)



Relationship to Perth: It was an arranged marriage but I have grown to love this city like no other.

Writer you’d like to invite to dinner: Cormac McCarthy

Chef you’d like to prepare the meal: Sammy Smith

Writing soundtrack: Helios, Khruangbin

Pen or Pencil: Pencil

Coffee or Tea? A life without either is a life not worth living, I say.


Good Reads


New Edition. A haven for lovers of fine books. New Edition is a Fremantle institution known for its thoughtfully curated selection that is small but weighty.

The Lane Bookshop. Ensconced down a laneway this local literary hub stocks a selection of bestsellers and the more eclectic sorts. A coffee shop is conveniently near, too.

Northside Books. Unassuming and genuine, Northside is a find. With antique furniture, mismatched rugs and vintage lamps, it's like walking into your grandparents' library.

Beaufort St Books. The owner, who once dreamed of owning a bakery, has curated the largest range of cookbooks in the city. It's a place for book lovers and foodies to peruse and at their literary lounge events meet authors and cookbook writers.


State Library. Other than looking like a spaceship, this building is an extensive research, reference and public lending library offering ample room to read and work with a worthwhile view of the cityscape at the top.

Perth City Library. The cylindrical library provides seven stories of respite from the bustle of the city streets. On the fifth floor is The Tree of Knowledge, a reading space for children under a weeping fig. I particularly love the ceiling which features a visual retelling of the end of Shakespeare’s The Tempest by a local artist.

Subiaco Library. This modest community library in Subiaco is surrounded by a serene municipal garden established in the early 1900s.


Writing WA. Below the inert surface, Perth has a small but teeming literary scene—just check their online forum. Without the organization’s resources I’d find it hard to keep track of the many writers’ clubs, readings, workshops and events hosted all around Perth.

The Moon Cafe. The Perth Poetry Club runs a weekly poetry reading every Saturday afternoon at this late night café.

Centre For Stories. The centre runs dinner conversations, literary readings, book clubs, monthly story telling, short story festivals and writing workshops. The founders are also the Directors and Publishers of Margeret River Press, a small publishing company which also holds a number of events and competitions.


Compendium Design Store. The gift store provides a select collection of stationary, watches design books, periodicals and a range of The Adventures of Tintin collectables and books. I get all my magazines here.

Strange Company. This is my favorite bar. The only literary tie is a Hemingway quote on their menu but the fit out provides a good setting to write or read with one best the wine, beer and cocktail menus at your disposal.

Fremantle Arts Centre. Set in a gothic building built by convicts in the 1860s, the centre is a multi-arts organization offering exhibitions, residencies, art courses and music. Fremantle Press, a local and established publishing press, also displays a miniature bookstore at the reception.

Moores Building Contemporary Art Gallery. The exhibition space is joined to a cafe and always displays a worthwhile selection of contemporary art.

Good Eats


Modus. A favorite among enthusiasts. These guys are meticulous about delicious coffee, offering an diverse menu of single origins sourced from around the world. It also sits just off a popular street in Mount Lawley with noteworthy bars, restaurants and bookstores.

Gordon St Garage. Renovated from an old mechanic’s garage, this bustling establishment is a truly impressive space. Their coffee is sourced from one of the best roasters in Perth—Mano a Mano—situated in the middle of the dining area. There are lots of corners to hide out and watch the bustle before you. Come lunch, the wood-fired pizzas and a glass of locally sourced wine pairs well in the Italian garage setting.

Uptown, and Felix and Co. I couldn’t decide between these two. Uptown for a breakfast, coffee, book combination. Felix and Co for one of the most comprehensive coffee menus I’ve seen, and a walk or picnic along the river afterwards.

Ooh Coffee. This is my secret haven. The small and light filled space is popular among the locals and gazes onto the street which has the most quality restaurants, bars, boutiques, antique shops in a 100-mile stretch in all of Perth, arguably.

Hush. Set on a lively street in heritage listed building, Hush has a mezzanine with couches for folks that like their coffee paired with a good book.