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 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.
The Rise of Perth 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. National Trust-listed Guilford 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.
Gold Fever 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. The City of Lights 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.
Food gurus and wine buffs can tantalize their taste buds in Perth and be sure of an unforgettable experience. Surrounded by vineyards, orchards and market gardens, the city has delicious produce at its doorstep. Add to that the location—on the edge of the Indian Ocean and straddling the sparkling Swan River—the city offers a supply of succulent seafood as well as superb waterside venues. Then there is the dynamic cultural diversity and vivacious ambience. Dining and drinking in and around the city will not leave you disappointed.
In the City If you are staying in the city centre there is a long list of eateries within walking distance. Head down to Barrack Street Jetty to dine outdoors at Moorings Café, or enjoy river views from Shun Fung on the River.
In the heart of the city, Hay Street and Murray Street Malls are dotted with food favourites, particularly for lunchtime diners. If you are in a hurry grab a delicious croissant. For those who like to indulge in a pancake, take a detour down Carillon Arcade, or if you are in the mood for sushi Jaws Kaiten Sushi should not be missed. Another heartland favorite is the Empire Cafe. For more up-market locations, Joe's Oriental Diner serves a choice selection of Southeast Asian cuisine, or meander through some fusion fare at Globe's Wine Bar and Restaurant.
Strolling along Murray Street you will find the stylish Cockatoo Island Cafe open until mid-evening most nights. For juice fanatics chasing a shot of wheat-grass, there is Java Juice. Next door to His Majesty's Theatre, the delightful CBD is the perfect spot for a pre- or post-theatre meal.
Northbridge The other direction to head from the mall area is over the railway tracks to Northbridge, a bubbly hive of activity popular with hip suits and in-the-know locals. This area is pumping with trendy clubs, pubs, and cafes. Vultures is a great spot for kerbside viewing, and the brasserie balcony at the Brass Monkey is another place with a streetscape view. For an upbeat contemporary edge head to the Universal Bar, where the partying goes on until the early hours of the morning.
Fremantle For the best coffee in the state, try Fremantle. The main thoroughfare is known as the "Cappuccino Strip". It is an outdoor haven, that promises a relaxing yet stimulating cafe experience. Both Gino's and Old Papas's are an institution, with delicious Italian dishes and mouth watering cakes. Just a few minutes from the strip you will stumble across an absolute gem for food, beer and music—Clancy's.
While exploring the sights stop for Tea at the Round House or treat yourself to ice cream at the fishing boat harbour. The harbour offers a challenge when deciding what to eat. You cannot go wrong choosing a fish and chip venue, as they all serve fresh fish and offer fast service. Other choices include, the exquisite Chunagon for Japanese cuisine, the Sicilian for a casual ambience and impressive menu, and Sails, with spectacular views across the Indian Ocean.
The Swan River The Swan River offers a superb scenic backdrop for a number of venues. E Shed market at Victoria Quay has a food hall with entertainment on the weekends. For those with a passion for Sunday brunch The Red Herring has a wonderful location. While the nearby Left Bank is a favorite haunt for members of the Freo Dockers, (a national Australian Football League club), and is generally a very popular watering hole.
Beyond the City Sitting at the edge of the ocean, alongside the river, in quaint suburbs and picturesque hills, there are many delightful venues worth seeking out. Indulge in a sunset view from the decks of the Blue Duck or take afternoon tea at the fabulous Indiana Tea House overlooking Cottesloe Beach. Enjoy a twilight stroll along Scarborough Beach before an evening meal at Savannahs. Spend a day at Hillarys Boat Harbour and stop for lunch at Jetty's Restaurant.
For exclusive service, excellent food and an exquisite setting, book a table at Meads in Mosman. If you prefer something a little more casual on the water, try JoJo's. South Perth is a haven for delightful restaurants like Plantation Estate and Holy Guacamole. For spectacular city views and stylish dining visit Frasers Restaurant at Kings Park. Whether it be vegetarian or a wood fired pizza, Mt Lawley has a lot to offer for the gastronome. Subiaco also has a fantastic selection of high quality eateries like the award winning Witches Cauldron Cafe.
The Swan Valley The Swan Valley's tourist drive offers a selection of vineyards and attractions along the way. Pop in for lunch at Lamonts, then finish the day at Isadora's in Guildford, or grab a scrumptious burger on the way back to the city. Head to the hills for lunch at Araluen, or enjoy the live music and family atmosphere at the Mundaring Weir Hotel.
Special Tastes For something a little different, look for marron (freshwater crayfish), kangaroo, and emu, all of which appear on menus throughout the city. For wine connoisseurs, there is an excellent choice of vineyards--watch for wines from the Margaret River region, Baldivis and the Swan Valley. If you prefer a nice cold beer, Western Australia has two favorite brews, Redback and Matilda Bay, plus a number of boutique breweries such as Inchant Brewery and Duckstein Brewery. Also worth a visit is the Sail and Anchor in Fremantle--you can tour the in-house brewery and taste a refreshing chilled beer.
A thriving cosmopolitan metropolis, Perth has a vibrant spirit, inspiring a unique cultural landscape, and exciting entertainment scene. Perth's nightlife reflects the city's cultural diversity, while the emergence of a dynamic arts scene in the early 1990s has attracted rave reviews and lured international acts to the many events held throughout the year.
To find out what is on in Perth, checkout the West Australian newspaper for the best daily guide to theatre, cinema and concert programs. For information on the live music and club scene, Hype and X-Press are free street press. With everything on offer, you are sure to find something to suit your tastes and budget.
Pubs and bars There is no particular style to pubs and bars throughout the city, rather a cross-section of contemporary and Australian themes. A bonus is the outdoor life-style and Mediterranean climate, so you will find most drinking establishments have a garden bar. Northbridge, Subiaco and Fremantle tend to be the trendiest drinking hotspots. The Brass Monkey's down-to-earth style makes it a popular pub with a maze of bars to enjoy. The Universal Bar has a more designer feel and attracts trend-setting locals, out to let their hair down and boogie the night away.
If you are chasing some music, then Spirit Sound Bar is for you, and the All New City Hotel provides a low-key drinking haunt. The gay friendly Aberdeen is also worth a visit for its live music.
Since the late 1990s, there has been a revival of Irish pubs. Try Durty Nelly's in the city, Rosie O'Grady's in Fremantle or The Bog in Northbridge. There are also some excellent old-style pubs worth visiting in the outer areas, including the historical Rose and Crown in Guildford, the Kalamunda Hotel and the Mundaring Weir Hotel in the hills.
Nightlife If you like to dance, there is no shortage of clubs from alternative to house and rave. Goth hangouts include the Dominion and the Loft, which has a positive reputation as an alternative gem. For gay friendly clubs, Northbridge is the place to go. Connections has DJs, Club West is an excellent revue club, and the FRISBEE has pumping dance music. Other hip dance venues are the Rise and Zanzibar in Fremantle.
The live music scene has flourished in recent years. You will find pubs with a variety of concerts, including most Irish pubs. The Queens Tavern, and the Newport in Fremantle have great live music. Another well established band venue is the Metropolis, with a combination of DJ and live music. Kulcha is a vibrant venue featuring a fantastic selection of alternative and jazz groups, as well as performance artists. The Fly By Night is an excellent alternative live gig spot in Fremantle, and Clancy's is another favorite with musicians.
Those in the mood for a symphonic experience, check the program at the Perth Concert Hall. For the ultimate outdoor musical experience, the Leeuwin Estate Concert Series concerts are the most sought after tickets on the music calendar.
Festivals offer another option, most introducing local and visiting musicians. The Perth Festival and Festival Fremantle are the two most well known. However, look out for South Perth's summer concerts, Totally Huge, the Pride Festival and Spring in the Valley. Kings Park has a summer music series, as does Araluen, both superb settings to enjoy a bottle of wine, a picnic and soulful sounds. Fremantle Arts Centre also has a wonderful Sunday afternoon courtyard music series.
Events Perth comes alive with events throughout the year that will keep you entertained. The Burswood Dome hosts a string of expos and international entertainers, while the Entertainment Centre is the prime venue for blockbuster shows. For a more intimate setting, The Playhouse, Subiaco Arts Centre and Deckchair present theatrical performances. His Majesty's Theatre is the home of opera, ballet and musicals and the Quarry Amphitheatre is a delightful outdoor venue.
For a fun family day out head to the hills for the Mundaring Festival and the Zig Zag fair. Closer to the city, on the shores of the Swan River, the Claisebrook Carnival is another option. The two biggest crowd-pleasers are the Lotto Skyworks and the Christmas Pageant. If you like a good laugh head to Hillarys Boat Harbour for the annual milk carton regatta. Other districts that host festivals include Rottnest, Joondalup, Mandurah and South Perth. The Buskers Festival in Fremantle is a wonderful street affair. For youth-based performance arts checkout Awesome and Artrage.
Cinema Cinema lovers will not be disappointed, particularly in the summer months. There is a feast of spectacular outdoor cinema venues. Sommerville and Luna in the Park feature alternative movies while Kings Park, Kookaburra Cinema in Mundaring and Araluen present old and contemporary classics.
Sport Sports buffs will find plenty to do in Perth as well. Rally Australia is one of the main events, but there are numerous national league sports clubs. For Australian Rules Football, the West Coast Eagles and the Dockers are the teams to follow. For soccer, always cheer for the Perth Glory, whilst for cricket the Western Warriors are the local favourites. The Wildcats basketball team also have a huge local following. Car fanatics will discover heaven at Barbagello Raceway, while horseracing fans can get their fix at Ascot or Gloucester Park. For those who enjoy a bet, Burswood Casino has more than 140 gaming tables.
Most hotel receptions will assist with information and bookings, as will tourist information centres. For show, theatre and sports reservations book direct, or phone ticket agent BOCS on +61 (0)8 9484 1133 or REDS tickets on +61 (0)8 9494 1222.