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Visiting Perth – A City Guide
Perth, the oceanside capital of Western Australia, is as well known for its laid-back lifestyle as it is for its natural beauty. The compact city centre has experienced rapid growth thanks to the recent mining boom. Whether you’re seeking vibrant nightlife, culture or simply want to enjoy extensive parklands and world-class beaches, Perth will not disappoint.
Perth: city layout
The sprawling suburbs of Perth lie along the meandering Swan River and the stunning west Australian coastline. To the west of the city centre, atop Mount Eliza, is Kings Park, a mixture of natural bushland and botanical gardens, with sweeping views across the city.
The new Elizabeth Quay waterfront redevelopment links the CBD with the river’s northern foreshore. Restaurants, bars and the glass-spired Bell Tower are the backdrop for year-round events. The area is easily accessible by public transport and a riverside cycle path.
The once separate port city of Fremantle is now connected to Perth by residential suburbs. It offers markets and waterside dining, while the historic Roundhouse is a reminder of the port’s early settlement.
Top attractions in Perth
Cultural establishments, including the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts and the State Theatre Centre of Western Australia, are concentrated in Northbridge, a short walk from the city centre’s Hay Street and Murray Street shopping malls.
Kings Park boasts bounteous displays of native flora as well as walking trails, picnic areas and the Aboriginal Art Gallery, which focuses on work by Western Australian Indigenous artists. During summer, you can watch movies under the stars at the Moonlight Cinema, or enjoy concerts and events for children. Feeling active? Join local fitness enthusiasts in running up Jacob’s Ladder, 242 concrete steps that scale the side of Mount Eliza.
The concierge recommends…
● Scitech is an enthralling interactive science and technology museum. Explore the constellations of the night sky by reclining under the Planetarium dome.
● Perth Zoo features a vast African Savannah enclosure, where grassy plains populated by lions, rhinoceros and zebras can be viewed from an elevated boardwalk.
● Catch a free, yellow CAT bus to Claisebrook, the East Perth foreshore redevelopment. The vibrant waterfront is lined with cafés, cycle paths, parks and playgrounds.
● Take a ride on a charming replica tram, to see the city sights or visit the Swan Valley wine region.
Hotels in Perth
You’re never far from the waterfront in Perth city centre, also known as the CBD. Choose from accommodation overlooking the Swan River, or spend the night in the boutique-packed West End. Free buses link the CBD to Oxford Street, the trendy main street of Leederville, and ferries cross the river to the grassy foreshore and tree lined streets of South Perth.
For peace and tranquility, head to the eastern, riverside edge of the CBD. Here you’ll find the Ozone Reserve and Langley Park. Other green enclaves to relax in include the Supreme Court Gardens and Queens Gardens. The lights of the Western Australian Cricket Association Ground (WACA) illuminate this usually quiet area during cricket season.
The buzzing West End is near Perth Arena, the boutiques of King Street and the eateries that line Murray Street. You can get the night started with a “pickleback” at whiskey specialist Varnish, then join the crowds for late-night karaoke or dancing at Carnegie’s.
Eating Out in Perth
You can enjoy much more than standard pub meals in Perth. Local chefs love creating their own fusion-style dishes, influenced by neighbouring Asian countries, and authentic worldwide flavours aren’t hard to find.
St George’s Terrace, the CBD’s main thoroughfare, provides more than just convenient commuter lunches at experimental restaurant Greenhouse, where sustainability is also a key focus.
Across the Horseshoe Bridge, Northbridge’s James Street is teeming with restaurants, bars and clubs. Walk up William Street to discover local favourites such as Mexican-inspired tapas bar La Cholita. After a night out, pick delicacies off passing trolleys at yum cha specialist New Moon.
The chef recommends...
● Burswood Seafood stocks abalone in season. Locals with a licence dive for the luxury mollusc off the coast south of Perth, and enjoy them crumbed and barbecued, Western Australian-style.
● Chocolate and coconut-covered sponge cake squares, known as lamingtons are an Australian speciality, available in bakeries throughout Perth. Sugar Hound’s own rustic version is sold at the Subi Farmers Market on Saturdays.
● If your sweet tooth still isn’t satisfied, you can indulge in a decadent dessert dégustation at the Trustee, in the CBD.
Shopping in Perth
Perth has developed its own unique sense of style. While beach-casual is always an option, boutiques in the northern suburbs of Leederville and Mount Lawley stock creations by local designers that transcend the surf-wear staples. You’ll be reminded of Perth’s proximity to South-east Asia at local markets, where imported goods are sold alongside wares by local crafters.
Fashionable William Street in Northbridge is the place to find streetwear, vintage clothes and local art. William Topp offers a huge choice of curiosities and unusual gifts.
In Fremantle, MANY 6160 showcases the best of Western Australia’s quirky style, with pop-up shops, studios and businesses in a former department store. The historic Fremantle Markets operates from Fridays to Sundays, with 150 stalls selling local produce, souvenirs and artisanal creations.
Best places for souvenirs in Perth
● The designers stocked in Aspects of Kings Park weave the motifs of Western Australian plants into beautiful jewellery, art and accessories.
● Every first Sunday of the month, the Beaufort Street Art Market showcases the brilliance of local artists and makers. “Suitcase Spots” allow for a constant turnover of sellers, so you can pick up something truly unique.
● Take home limited-edition collectable coins from the historic Perth Mint after taking a tour of the facilities. Designs feature local flora and fauna, and there’s even a coin in the shape of Australia itself.
Culture & Nightlife in Perth
Perth’s nightlife is at its best during the summer, when outdoor cinemas, night markets and cultural events attract large crowds. There is a thriving live music scene and a growing number of interesting one-off bars popping up all over the city.
James Street in Northbridge is where the city’s nightlife is most densely concentrated. You can relax under the awnings of colonial-style pub the Brass Monkey or enjoy live jazz and blues at Universal Bar. Geisha Bar nightclub draws a style-conscious crowd, while the Paramount offers five separate dance rooms, each pumping a different style of music.
You can watch a spectacular sunset while enjoying fine dining at Indiana, overlooking Cottesloe Beach. In summer, that favourite local dish, fish and chips, is served downstairs at relaxed IndiFish.
Best live music venues in Perth
● Perth Arena attracts big-name touring acts in music and comedy and also hosts sporting events.
● The Ellington Jazz Club in North Perth is an intimate venue for jazz. It stays open late too.
● The Bird on William Street presents a diverse roster of acts, from hip-hop artists and slam poets to local rock bands and storytelling nights.
Leisure in Perth
Perth is the sunniest of all the Australian state capitals and has mild winters, giving its beaches and riverside esplanades year-round appeal. Its residents have come from around the world to experience the city’s laid-back lifestyle centred on an endless array of outdoor activities.
Ferries leave for nearby Rottnest Island from the CBD and Fremantle. The island is a key habitat of the quokka, a small marsupial that will happily pose for photos with you – but don’t touch or feed them. Hiring a bike is the best way to explore the island’s beaches and reefs, unless you prefer to get around by boat.
You can experience the beauty of reef-life without leaving the mainland by visiting Marmion Marine Park, which stretches north from Trigg Beach. Charter boats leave from Hillarys Boat Harbour, and the Aquarium of Western Australia provides the chance to view Australia’s deadliest marine life, safely, from behind glass.
Perth’s best free outdoor events
● Northbridge Piazza screens free movies and hosts assorted live events, particularly during the vibrant Fringe World Festival in January and February.
● Langley Park has Perth’s best view of the Skyworks fireworks display on Australia Day. Free events and festivals take place at this riverside spot throughout the year.
● Cottesloe Beach is lined with contemporary art for the duration of the outdoor Sculpture by the Sea exhibition in March.
● You’ll find free guided walks daily in Kings Park. Maps of self-guided walks are available at the visitor centre.