Enjoying more hours of sunshine than any other Australian capital, Perth is the place to take advantage of clean air, great beaches and a laid-back lifestyle. The city is located on the Swan River, with the suburbs sprawling out in a north-south direction, and east to the Darling Ranges. Locals refer to locations as being either north or south of the river, or in the Hills.
The Central Business District (CBD)
It is easy to navigate your way through the grid-like streets of Perth's central business district. A walk along St George's Terrace, is a walk on the windy side. Situated at the western-end of the city, with Adelaide Terrace at the eastern-end, the district's high-rise buildings create a notorious wind tunnel effect along this stretch of road. Nearby
Within the Hay Street Mall lies the entrance to
Over the rail line from the city, lies Perth's nightlife centre. Every Friday and Saturday night, the streets of Northbridge overflow with people on their way to nightclubs, after eating out at one of the many nearby restaurants. A combination of Italian, Greek and Asian influences make for a wide variety of food and a cosmopolitan party atmosphere. As well as being the capital of the city's nightlife, Northbridge is also the place to take in some culture. The
Although strictly speaking a suburb of Perth, Fremantle has its own unique style, and the locals consider the suburb separate from the rest of Perth. A major working port and fishing city, the town's history dates back to convict times. The National Trust has classified most of Fremantle's buildings. A major restoration occurred on many of these historical buildings, when Perth hosted the Australian defense of the America's Cup yacht race in 1987. Fremantle's culture has a dynamic multicultural influence. A visit is a gourmet dream, as the cafes and restaurants that line the streets offer an international feast of dining experiences. Sipping a cappuccino at an outdoor cafe, as you enjoy a spot of people watching on South Terrace, is practically compulsory.
Do not miss the
The Swan Valley, 30 minutes drive from the centre of Perth, is home to an excellent selection of wineries, restaurants, galleries and accommodation options. The Valley hosts two festivals each year. Taste of the Valley, held during April, and
Rottnest Island is Perth's own holiday resort and home to the famous quokka (a small wallaby unique to this area). The island is a great place for a day trip. It is reminiscent of bygone days—playing hide-and-seek in small coves, cycling across rolling hills and stopping for ice cream in a hidden local store.
In 1697, a Dutch captain, Willem de Vlamingh, named a river after the black swans he saw on the water. The Swan River eventually became the base around which the city of Perth and its suburbs would grow. Perth began life as a colony established by free pioneers, with 100 men, women and children from Europe arriving in 1829 to settle the land. Aboriginals however, had been in the area for thousands of years; and there is an Aboriginal site in the Upper Swan area thought to be 40,000 years old.
The proclamation of Western Australia as a colony occurred on the 8th of June 1829, at Garden Island. A short time later, Captain James Stirling sailed up the Swan River to an area that was to become the centre of Perth. The 12th of August 1829 saw the founding of the city of Perth, with the ceremonial cutting of a Sheoak tree on a site close to the present Town Hall. The hardships of colonial times meant that development of the city was very slow. In 1850, the Government agreed to transport convicts to the colony. Following this agreement, Perth grew steadily on the back of hard convict labour. The Perth Gaol and Fremantle Prison were two of the first building projects completed by the convicts. The Town Hall was the last building in Perth to be built by convict labor.
Named after the Scottish city, Queen Victoria declared Perth a city in 1856. The 3rd of June 1929, saw the port city of Fremantle (pictured), proclaimed as the first port of call for migrants and visitors to Australia. The different mix of cultures arriving in Fremantle was the foundation for the cosmopolitan atmosphere still found here today. Western Australia's oldest remaining building, The Round House, was built here by convicts between 1830 and 1831. Built as a gaol, the building housed eight cells and a gaoler's residence. The building soon became too small to house the growing number of convict arrivals and so the prisoners built their own "new home", the Fremantle Prison. 1859 saw the completion of the prison, which only ceased being a working prison in 1991.
Thirteen kilometers from central Perth is Guildford, the only town in Perth recognized by the National Trust of Australia. Together with Perth and Fremantle, Guildford was one of the first three original Swan River Colony settlements. Established in 1829, Guildford was an inland port and market town, making use of the Swan and Helena Rivers to transport goods to and from Perth and Fremantle. The Guildford town site is arranged in the manner of a 19th century English market town, complete with a church square, main street and grid subdivision. Many of the town's original buildings and homes still exist and are open to the public. The original commercial precinct, dates back to 1829. Situated around Meadow and Swan Streets, this district contains many historically significant buildings.
Some of the buildings well worth visiting include Padburys Cafe Restaurant built in 1869, the Old Town Gaol, built in 1840, and which today houses the Guildford Tourist Bureau, and St Matthew's Church, which was built in 1873. The opening in 1881, of the railway line to Fremantle, irrevocably changed the town's development. River transport declined and rail became the ultimate transport utility. Guildford is the gateway to the Swan Valley, Perth's wine producing region. Olive Farm Winery is one of the area's oldest vineyards. Established in 1829, the limestone wine cellar is still in use. The Swan Valley is also home to Western Australia's oldest church, All Saint's Anglican Church at Henley Brook. The church is in the area where Captain Stirling made camp in 1827. Opened in 1841, it was originally made of mud brick, with a porch and belfry added in 1860.
The growth of Perth owes a great deal to the discovery of gold in the northwest of the state, and again in 1887 at Southern Cross. Gold fever hit the fields and the population doubled twice in a decade. The biggest gold boom occurred in 1893 when Paddy Hannan, Tom Flannagan and Dan Shea discovered gold 40 kilometres east of Coolgardie. Prospectors from China, Europe and the USA flocked to Western Australia in search of their fortune. The "Golden Mile" is the name given to the area around Kalgoorlie. It was here that gold-diggers discovered the Golden Eagle in 1931. This nugget of gold still holds the record for being the biggest discovered in Western Australia. The Perth Mint was established in 1899 and refined much of the state's gold. The 1960s saw Western Australia's mineral mining industry boom and in the 1970s natural gas resources in the North West Shelf brought further growth. The city skyline changed significantly during this time, with the building of many of today's office towers.
In 1962, the Challenger spaceship passed over Perth, and from that day, Perth became the "city of lights”. In honor of the spaceship's passing, the people of Perth, turned on both the city and building lights, as US astronaut John Glenn orbited the stratosphere. Thirty-five years later, in 1998, Perth lit up again, with Glenn this time passing by on board the Discovery space shuttle.
1987 was a very important year for Perth, with Fremantle hosting Australia's defense of the America's Cup yacht race. The region saw major renovations to many heritage-listed buildings during this period. World publicity put Perth on the global tourist map, and since that period, Perth has enjoyed a prosperous tourist and business profile.
To the east are the picturesque Darling Ranges. To the west the sublime Indian Ocean. The meandering Swan River runs through it, whilst in the south, find the ancient Karri and Jarrah forests. North it is golden sands and red-dirt dreamlands. Surrounded by an abundance of natural beauty, a visit to Perth guarantees an awe-inspiring range of tour opportunities.
Getting to Know the City
When you arrive in Perth, it is a good idea to orient yourself by jumping on one of the local buses. The Central Area Transit (CAT) system is a free service that loops central Perth. The blue CAT does the north-south round stopping at spots like London Court. The red CAT runs from east to west, including drops at the renowned WACA sports-ground and His Majesty's Theatre.
If you prefer a guided tour, then the City Explorer Tram is an excellent way to travel. It takes in the main sights including Kings Park & Botanic Garden, where you will enjoy a superb vista of the city and Swan River.
Once you have covered the central city follow the river on a ferry from Barrack Street Jetty to Fremantle. On arrival, you will find a similar service to the Perth system called the Fremantle CAT Service. Alternatively, climb on board one of the Fremantle trams, which leave from Kings Square at regular intervals.
The More Exotic
If you want something a little different, or indulge in a luxury-chauffeured tour. Perhaps a horseback ride along the Perth foreshore. Or, why not hire a bike from Barrack Street Jetty and soak up the riverside ambience. For a particularly unusual experience, join a ghost walk through some of Fremantle's haunted buildings.
Another option is a scenic flight with Kookabura Air. For those who like to shop, then Let's Go Shopping Tours will escort you to a variety of outlets. Other city tours options include the Perth and Swan River by Night tour, the Aboriginal Heritage Tour and the Perth and Fremantle Morning Sights tour.
Several tourist attractions also offer their own tours. Checkout tours held by the Perth Mint, Fremantle Prison, Kings Park, the Old Observatory and the Perth Zoo.
Beyond the Central Sights
While Perth and Fremantle have more than enough to keep you busy, visiting the surrounding areas is a must. Head north to the Sunset Coast, Yanchep National Park and the Pinnacles. Eco Activity Tours does a day trip to these attractions, or if you want to go further afield Bush Ecotours offers a variety of packages, including a tour of the beautiful wildflowers when in season. Another option is the Water, Wildlife and Winery Tour, which follows the coast north, to one of Western Australia's premier attractions, The Aquarium of WA, before heading inland to vineyard territory.
Swan Valley is renowned for its wines, arts and local produce. If you are in town in autumn you might catch the annual local event, Tastes of the Valley, or, later in the year, Spring in the Valley. If not, enjoy the sights on a wagon trail, where you will get the chance to test wines, visit historic sites and view local art.
Boat Torque Cruises combines a peaceful river cruise with a vineyard tour and delicious lunch at Mulberry Farm. Caversham Wildlife Park is situated in West Swan and an interesting way to visit here is on an After Dark at a Wildlife Park tour.
A little further south you will enter the magical hills area. Planet Perth Tours offers an excellent bush tour on horseback that includes a barbecue lunch. You could hire a car and drive the Cala Munnda Heritage Trail. For those chasing an adrenaline rush, try some rock climbing or abseiling with Adventure Out. For the more subdued, treat yourself to a Llama Leisure picnic. Another fun option is a camel trek. The Hills Forest Activity Centre has guided flora and fauna walks, and you can tour the Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre to see injured and endangered native animals. For those with a passion for the stars, Perth Observatory has star gazing tours.
Taking to the Water
Water plays an important part in the local lifestyle. If you have time, a visit to Rottnest Island is not to be missed. Rottnest Express has a day tour to the island and offers whale-watching tours from September until December. Regular ferries run to the island from Barrack Street Jetty, Victoria Quay in Fremantle and Hilarys Boat Harbour. There is plenty to do. The Visitor Centre organises free walking tours from 11.30am-2pm daily. You can hire a bike, and there is excellent snorkeling and diving. Diversity Diving Australia has a selection of dive tours that include Rottnest Island and other spectacular dive sites along the coast. Another great dive site is Penguin Island. Or you can swim with the dolphins in the Cockburn Sound.
If you would like more rigorous exercise while on holiday then checkout the kayak tours and Leeuwin Ocean Adventures. For a more leisurely water experience go sailing, try some beach fishing, maybe a bit of offshore fishing or surfing.
Beyond the City
This may be the city and its surrounds taken care of, but do not forget that further north there is the incredible Ningaloo Reef, one of the only places in the world where you can swim with whale sharks. Broome is another incredible town, with its amazing tides and sunsets. Then there is the southwest corner, and the major tourist drawcard—the spectacular Margaret River region.
For a fine tour and a unique experience check out Worldwide Shopping Tours (http://www.worldwideshoppingtours.com.au). They offer an insiders guide to some of the best products in the region. Email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Perth is a well-known tourist destination and the city's accommodation reflects the interesting and varied mix of today's visitors. Up-market hotels, smaller motels, bed and breakfast establishments, and budget accommodation is found, in the city, by the sea and on the fringes of the hills. The main concentration of accommodation is in the city centre, and its neighboring suburbs of Scarborough and Fremantle.
The central Perth area is home to the standard range of high quality hotels, and a few treats for those looking for something special. Adelaide Terrace is just two streets back from the spectacular Swan River, and is the city's primary hotel district. It is home to the Sheraton Perth Hotel and the Novotel Langley. The extremely luxurious Hyatt Regency, and the new Duxton Hotel are also nearby.
Just east of the central business district, there are a number of high quality hotels, including the recently opened Park Inn. The luxurious Perth Parkroyal Hotel and the new and exciting Chifley on The Terrace, Perth offer luxury for a price. The comfortable Rydges Perth Hotel and the almost hidden Mercure Hotel are more affordable nearby venues. Whilst the reasonably priced King's Perth Hotel and the cosy Sebel of Perth make up an excellent choice of accommodation in the area.
The north is home to the shopping malls of Hay and Murray Streets, as well as a number of very comfortable, interesting and guest-friendly hotels, including the Holiday Inn, and Hotel Ibis. For something historical, try the Victorian comfort and charm of The Melbourne, and for those who want more than a hotel room, the West End Quest Apartments are the best choice.
Just two kilometers east of the central business district is the spectacularly luxurious Burswood International Resort Casino, complete with casino, restaurants, golf course, theatre and entertainment centre.
On the eastern edge of the central city, adjacent to scenic Kings Park, is the wonderfully situated River View on Mount Street, which has genuine views of the Swan River. The new Mounts Bay Water Apartments and Hotel, also offers apartment-style accommodation.
Just a five-minute ferry ride across the Swan River is South Perth, which is also home to a number of interesting apartment-hotels. The up-market Arlington Quest Apartments and Metro Inn South Perth offer high quality, executive-style accommodation. This area is also home to the imaginative Drake's Apartments with Cars, which offers hire cars with rooms, and the good-value South Perth Apartments.
Accommodation, like everything else in Fremantle, has boomed since it became the first non-American home of the America's Cup. The pre-eminent venue in Fremantle, which has been around for over a century, is the Esplanade Hotel Fremantle. However if you are after a unique colonial experience, Fremantle Colonial Accommodation offers accommodation inside the grounds of the Fremantle Prison. The numerous apartment developments in Fremantle offer good accommodation options, with the South Beach Apartment Hotel being one of the prime choices. The idyllic boat harbors of Fremantle are home to some prime quayside apartment hotels, most notably the Harbour Village Quest Apartments on the Indian Ocean and Pier 21 Resort, located on the Swan River.
About 15 kilometers north of Fremantle is Scarborough, home to some of the city's best swimming and surf beaches. Accommodation has been expanding rapidly here since the construction of the landmark Rendezvous Observation City Hotel in the 1980s. Many apartment-hotels line the beach, including the excellent All Seasons Observation Rise Apartments Perth, the comfortable Seashells Resort Apartments and Sandcastles on Scarborough. The affordable Scarborough Palms Apartments is also popular. However despite the recent developments, the well established Indian Ocean Hotel still remains a popular landmark. Just north of Scarborough Beach is the new harbor development of Sorrento Beach—Hillarys Harbour. This is home to numerous restaurants, cafes, boutique shops, and two excellent apartment hotels, the All Seasons Sorrento Beach Resort, and Hillarys Harbour Resort.
On the northern edge of Perth is Yanchep. This is the spot for lovers of golf, fishing, and walking in the nearby Yanchep National Park. The Yanchep Holiday Village provides ideal accommodation close to all the nearby outdoor activities.
Although not geographically part of the city of Perth, Rottnest Island is just a short ferry ride away. The weather here is mild, the beaches excellent, the fauna friendly, and the Rottnest Lodge provides the island's most renowned lodgings.
On the eastern edge of the metropolitan area, discover the beautiful Perth Hills. This region is home to some pleasant bed and breakfast options. Checkout the Asparagus Patch Bed and Breakfast, where you can pick asparagus in season, or the Bungendore Hill Bed and Breakfast, with its views over the city. The pleasant Kalamunda B&B: Whistlepipe Cottage, and the rustic charm of the Catton Hall Country Homestead also offer competitive packages.
Perth also has a range of options for golfers, with numerous public golf courses and private clubs. The luxurious Novotel Vines Resort, located in the lush Swan Valley, is a golf-aficionado's dream, whilst the more affordable Joondalup Resort located in Perth's northern suburbs still offers excellent golf and accommodation.
No city in Australia would be complete without accommodation for backpackers. Perth has some well-located and comfortable accommodation for those on a tight budget. The Grand Central Backpackers, near the Perth Train Station, is very convenient. The Beatty Lodge and Redbackpackers in the Northbridge and West Perth areas, respectively, are within walking access to the central city. Fremantle is home to a number of backpacker lodges, with the YHA Hostel Fremantle being the best. Scarborough Beach offers the Indigo Lodge, giving access to the surf beaches of Perth's western suburbs.