The IGA Perth Royal Show is a WA institution, but in recent years there’s no denying gate figures have waned and there’s a lot of mumblings about how pricey it is for a family day out in Perth. This year their big marketing focus seems to be around family value with slogans like 'royally good value' and '#8daysofvalue' so I thought I would test out just how easy (or even possible) it is to enjoy the show on a tight budget.
It was the first time I’ve visited since having a family - on my last visit 5 years ago I was pregnant with Master B and since then we have also welcomed little Miss Sunshine (now almost 2) into our crazy world.
I set out with $40 in my purse and an advance ticket (save $4 on the adult gate price by stopping off at your local IGA store). Kids under 5 go free so there was nothing to pay for my two little ones - if you decide to go on Thursday kids aged 5 to 15 years are half price on the gate = $7.50.
Very friendly camels in the Petstock Animal Nursery at the Perth Royal Show
Our first port of call after getting off the train at the Showgrounds station was the Follow the Yellow Brick Road (FYBR) sales point just opposite the gate. We visited on Tuesday so the FYBR showbag was half price - just $6.25. Inside there’s a passport with details of the various stops around the Showgrounds where kids can join in with free, exclusive activities and pick up FYBR freebies. The size of the show can seem a bit overwhelming so following the FYBR trail to the various stops was a great way to shape the route of our day. We started off at the sports stop run by WAFL just opposite the main arena - lots of bouncy castles, inflatable ball skills games and free OJ and a muesli bar. Burned off a bit of energy and started the day well.
Next up we headed round the main arena and through the grandstand out towards the Petstock Animal Nursery. Buggies have to be parked at the entrance here because there are animals roaming loose on the upper level. Entry is free and there was a huge selection of animals to see including day old goat kids, two very inquisitive camels and some week old baby parrots (wow they are ugly!) On the upper level Master B had the chance to hug a guinea pig, feed a donkey and pet the free roaming sheep, turkeys, dogs and more. Both kids were very content gathering straw and trying to feed it to the already clearly well-fed livestock!
Petting a fluffy guinea pig in the Petstock Animal Nursery at the Perth Royal Show
Master B requested we tasted some food next so we headed into the Food Forum next door. This area is sponsored by the Italian Chamber of Commerce so we enjoyed tasting their Italian biscuits and wafers. We also picked up some free samples of WA-made curry sauce and shelled out $6 for a skewer loaded with bananas and strawberries and drowning in melted chocolate! In this pavilion the FYBR passport gives you a 2 for 1 cheese toastie deal so we snapped up two piping hot sandwiches for just $2.50. Lunch sorted.
High tech action
Outside the Food Forum is another FYBR stop - the technology park. Kids’ chairs and tables were available outside so we perched here to enjoy our lunch. Older kids could have a go at flying a drone but ours enjoyed the craft activity decorating a foam crown. I managed to dodge the obligatory free balloons here - it was way too early in the day to be dragging an errant balloon on a stick everywhere we went!
Meeting a donkey in the Petstock Animal Nursery at the Perth Royal Show
Walk through WA
Using the FYBR trail as our guide we headed for the Walk Through WA exhibit in the Centenary Pavilion. On our way we came across the Garden Gurus Garden by Trevor Cochrane and followed the path into the Discover Dirt exhibit at the rear. In this area they were giving out the Royal Agricultural Society of WA’s free Junior Farmer activity booklets and also running a heap of free kids activities. We enjoyed the painting and the chance to dig in a dirt box hunting for buried plastic bugs!
Onto the Centenary Pavilion and the FYBR stop in here was a bit crowded with a decent queue for face painting so we dived in and grabbed our freebies (two apples and an orange) before having a go at the free prospecting activity directly opposite. Master B took great delight in using a metal detector and digging up a little “gold” coin. A stall making apple slinkies caught our eye and after sampling some free apple pieces, I parted with $4 for 2 tasty fresh spiral cut apples.
The Dairy Pavilion has long been known as a freebie-lovers paradise so we headed in here looking for some tempting treats. We sampled two complimentary cheeses and some vanilla fudge before investing 2 x $2 in the new Brownes milk drinks with a hint of chocolate and strawberry (separately) plus a strawberry yog pouch ($1) for little Miss Sunshine. All Brownes customers had the chance to spin the lucky wheel for a prize and Master B was chuffed with his free keyring. Green eyed with envy at his sister’s yoghurt pouch, Master B then splashed out $1 for a Mundella greek yoghurt (raspberry flavour.) Out the back of the Brownes milking parlour area we found a free picnic bench to rest our weary legs and finish off our dairy delights.
Heading next for the All Creatures Great and Small pavilion, we found ourselves timing our run with the imminent start of the free Racing Pigs show just outside. Cue fifteen minutes of good old-fashioned family fun with a bunch of racing pigs, some lively presenters and a spectacular pig diving display to close the show!
The crowd dispersed en masse into the neighbouring All Creatures Great and Small pavilion so we thought better of that idea and re-routed to the sheep pavilion to “Luv a lamb”. Somehow we missed the FYBR stop in this area and instead rolled outside to the free Funky Monkeys climbing frames. A large area with all kinds of climbing apparatus kept the kids occupied for an age, until the eldest spotted the neighbouring racing car ride. In a moment of weakness I parted with $6 for his only show ride of the day. This area was pretty quiet and the friendly operator was happy to run the ride for him and one other lad for several minutes so it did at least feel like reasonable value.
One solitary show ride - enjoying the racing cars at the Perth Royal Show
By this time our legs were getting weary and we started to make for the exit. A decent walk back toward the station worked up an appetite so we shared a bag of donuts on the grass beside the main arena while enjoying some show jumping action. We only made it to less than half of the stops on the FYBR trail - with older (faster!) kids I reckon you could do them all, but we still felt it was good value none the less.
Total spend = $39.25
FYBR showbag $6.25
Banana/strawberry/chocolate on a skewer $6
2 x cheese toasties $2.50
2 x apple slinkies $4
2 x Brownes drinks $4
Brownes yoghurt pouch $1
Mundella yoghurt tub $1
Racing car show ride $6
6 donuts $8.50
Top tips for surviving the Perth Royal Show on a budget
1. Give older kids a set budget and stick to it - give them their own cash to manage or have them earn it through chores in the weeks running up to the show.
2. Pack some simple sandwiches, snacks and water - if everyone carries their own bag then it reduces the load for Mum/Dad.
3. Consult the map before you arrive and steer younger kids away from tempting areas like Sideshow Alley or the Showboats stalls.
4. Purchase a Follow the Yellow Brick Road showbag
Navigate the Showgrounds by heading towards the main arena - the walkways around it are often less crowded, there’s fewer shops and you can enjoy some free entertainment in the arena as you pass.
5. Head to Kiddieland between 3-4pm to purchase '2 for 1' tickets for the range of show rides in this area.
Essential Information The IGA Perth Royal Show
Address: Claremont Showgrounds, Graylands Road, Claremont
Dates: Runs until Saturday, 30th September
Expect a jam-packed program of pop-up venues, non-stop entertainment, food trucks galore, boutique market stalls, amazing authors, fantastic activities for all ages, free dance lessons and so much more.
In the grounds of Mundaring Weir Hotel, there will be entertainment, kids activities and a feast complete with interactive Medieval dancing, roast lambs, roast chickens, roast veggies, deserts, live musicians, Amazing fire shows, and the mighty fire sword fight for VIP ticket holders.