The Western Australian capital of Perth is a destination for nature lovers, beachcombers, wine tasters, and anyone who wants to relax in a laid back city with a summer atmosphere. From swimming with dolphins to taking surfing lessons, getting to know the local vineyards or enjoying multicultural cuisine at an outdoor restaurant table, there are numerous reasons to visit the city of Perth.
Perth is famous for a few unique reasons: as the city in Australia which has the highest number of sunshine hours each year; as the City of Lights when astronaut John Glenn orbited above it during the night, and Perth people switched on all the lights for him; as the most isolated city in the world, with the nearest city over 1,300 miles away.
Its first inhabitants, the local Aboriginal Nyungar tribe, date back some 40,000 to 60,000 years, and have a rich history and culture that they are more than willing to share with visitors. White settlement began with the British establishing the Swan River Colony in 1829; convicts arrived from 1850 onwards and contributed much to the building of Perth. It was officially proclaimed a city in 1856 and Western Australia became part of the new nation of Australia in 1901.
Situated on the Swan River, Perth people themselves divide the city into north and south of the river. Most of the population live in close proximity to the coast, making Perth a long city stretching some 60 miles from north to south, with more suburbs in planning. The city also reaches towards the east, with the low hills of the Darling Scarp marking the boundary. The west coast of the city extends along the Indian Ocean and watching the sun set into the ocean is a perfect way to end a Perth day.
While the initial influence of the culture of the British settlers is still apparent, Perth has become a very multicultural city and there is evidence of this in the cafes, restaurants and shops of both Perth and its port of Fremantle. These days, the population is shaped by citizens of British, Italian, Chinese, Eastern European, South African and South-East Asian origin, along with significant groups from smaller countries or regions.
Most Perth visitors will start in the city centre, perhaps with a visit to the Perth Mint or a shopping trip in the Murray Street Mall or the Hay Street Mall. From here it is a short stroll to the Swan River foreshore, with the Swan Bells ringing to guide the way. The Barrack Street Jetty houses restaurants and pubs as well as the ferry terminal for trips to South Perth, Fremantle and the Swan Valley. Looking up past the Convention Centre, the natural beauty of Kings Park looks down over the city, with native bushland, wildflowers and war memorials to explore.
Over the other side of the railway line, the cultural area of Northbridge includes the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the Western Australian Museum and the State Library all arranged around a central square. Northbridge is also the place to be for nightclubs, pubs, restaurants and cafes, and it buzzes with activity particularly on the weekends.
The port city of Fremantle is home to the Western Australian Maritime Museum and the Fremantle Markets, as well as the Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour where it is practically obligatory to enjoy a meal of fish and chips while sitting outside next to the water. Fremantle is also the most convenient place to catch a ferry to Rottnest Island, a sanctuary just visible from the coast of Perth where you can relax in a vehicle-free environment, spending the day snorkelling at numerous small beach coves or cycling around the island.
In the eastern suburbs of Perth, the Swan Valley is the right destination for wine lovers and foodies, with numerous vineyards offering award-winning meals to complement their varied local wines; a dessert stop at the Margaret River Chocolate Factory is a great idea, too. The nearby Caversham Wildlife Park offers the best chance for visitors to see and interact with some of Australia's unique animals, like kangaroos, koalas and wombats, as well as to see how a typical Australian farm operates.
Visitors with time to spare to explore other parts of Western Australia close to Perth can travel to the south-west of the state to see ancient forests, great surfing beaches and the large Margaret River wine region. To the east, the key attraction is Wave Rock and to the north, the natural stone sculpture of the Pinnacles desert calls.
185 St Georges Terrace
5123 W Swan Rd
33 W Coast Dr
393 Murray Street