Tourist attractions in and around Perth
Weeks or even months can pass in Perth without substantial rainfall. One of its main attractions are its beaches, located along the city’s coastal suburbs. Perth’s beaches are not as developed as becahes in other Australian cities.
The centre of Perth is located on the northern bank of the Swan River, a part of the River known as ‘Perth Water’ and roughly comprises three parallel sections.
The central business district, close to the river, runs along St Georges Terrace and Adelaide Terrace and is the historical core of the city. It includes Government House and several office towers. Parliament House is on the hill to the west looking along St Georges Terrace towards the Darling Scarp.
The retail district, which has its focus on the Hay and Murray Street Malls. These pedestrian malls are interconnected by arcades and walk through shops. Over time the number of hotels in this area has declined, with new hotels being built at the eastern and western ends of the city. Forrest Place, connecting Wellington Street and Murray Street, is a popular meeting spot, and is the site of political rallies and public events. Closed to traffic and redeveloped in the mid-1980s, it is flanked by the Commonwealth Bank and GPO buildings on the west, and the Forrest Chase retail development on the east.
The entertainment and cultural precinct, known as Northbridge commences at the point where the railway land cuts through the city. It extends for at least four blocks north, and is bound at the east by the Library, Art Gallery and Museum, and to the west by the northern suburbs railway.
Kings Park Perth
Kings Park occupies 1,000 acres (4.06 km ²) of the crest of a large hill (Mt Eliza) overlooking the CBD.
Larger than New York’s Central Park (843 acres (341 ha)), Kings Park contains Perth’s botanical gardens as well as tracts of natural bushland.
During spring, Kings Park bursts into a world-class display of wildflowers, which is a popular tourist attraction. In August 2003, the Lotterywest Federation Walkway was opened in Kings Park. It is a 620 m long elevated walkway through the treetops, providing a remarkable bird’s eye view of the park and gardens as well as sweeping views of the Swan River.
Perth is a relatively green city, with an abundance of parks and tree-lined boulevards.
The Swan Bells is a bell tower siting on the edge of the Swan River. It is a copper clad structure representing the sails of a ship.
It houses bells from the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields, which were gifts from the United Kingdom to the people of Australia on the occasion of Australia’s 200-year anniversary of colonisation.
The Swan Bells was opened to the public in 2001.
The government of Western Australia took a significant amount of criticism for creating the Bell Tower; it was said that the significant funding allotted for the project (millions of dollars) could have been better placed into the health and education systems, and that the structure could have been better designed aesthetically.
The Perth Convention Exhibition Centre
The Perth Convention Exhibition Centre opened in September 2004. Situated on the river foreshore, only a short walk from the CBD, the Centre is WA’s only purpose built convention, exhibition and meeting centre. It can cater for functions of up to 2500 delegates.
The Centre is expected to attract increased tourism for the state. It is jocularly referred to as ‘The Hayshed’, because of its flat and extended design which originally was intended to resemble a gum leaf.
Perth Mint is the oldest still-operating mint in Australia. One of two legal tender mints in Australia, the other is in Canberra.
It is open to the public 7 days a week and includes displays and the Perth Mint Shop which buys and sells precious metal proof quality gold and silver coins, bullion, nuggets and jewellery
Islands off the coast of Perth
There are a few islands off the coast of Perth, notably Rottnest Island, a significant tourist attraction.
Other nearby islands include Garden Island (home to a naval base), Carnac Island, Seal Island and Penguin Island. It is possible to walk from the mainland to Penguin Island at low tide. All of these Islands are ‘A’ class nature reserves with restricted access.
The deep shipping channel between Perth and these islands is called Gage Roads, the site of the America’s Cup yachting challenge in 1987.
The historical port city of Fremantle is located at the mouth of the Swan River, and is home to many attractions including Fremantle Prison and the mammoth newly-constructed Western Australian Maritime Museum. Located on the dock at Victoria Quay, the museum houses ‘Australia II, the yacht which won Australia the America’s Cup in 1983. Also in Fremantle is the Maritime Museum shipwreck galleries, with recovered artifacts and part of the hull of the shipwrecked Dutch ship Batavia, from hundreds of years ago. A more recent vessel, the Oberon class submarine the HMAS Ovens has been retired next to the Maritime Museum.
Fremantle (or ‘Freo’ as the locals call it) is renowned both locally, nationally and internationally for it’s easy-going, laid-back lifestyle. Cafes are the heart and soul of Freo, and one cannot visit Fremantle without going to the Fremantle Markets, before having one of the many varieties of coffee on the city’s infamous Capuccino Strip – South Terrace. There are numerous arts and crafts stores to suit all tastes and budgets. Fremantle is well-known for its local Arts scene.
At nightfall, Fremantle is a music-lovers’ paradise. Venues such as the Fly by Night Club and the Newport Hotel offer intimate, but venerable paradises for concerts, other events, or merely chilling out. Fremantle showcases the best in local and international talent. In addition, Fremantle offers many opportunities for clubbing with venues as the Harbourside, Millennium and the Metro.
Other must-see attractions include the Fremantle Arts Centre, as well as the historic precinct around the Round House – Western Australia’s earliest remaining building.
The Aquarium of Western Australia
Perth is home to Australia’s largest underwater walk-through aquarium, AQWA (The Aquarium of Western Australia), at Hillarys Boat Harbour, about 20 km North of Perth.
AQWA first opened in 1988 as Underwater World, but changed its name in 2001 to emphasis it’s links to Western Australia and to avoid confusion with the Underwater World in Singapore, has over 400 species of marine life including fish, sharks, fur seals, sea dragons, turtles, crustaceans and stingrays in a natural like environment.
Following the closure of the Atlantis Marine Park in Yanchep, Underwater World was the home to performing sealions and dolphins. In late December 1999 all of Underwater World’s dolphins died, with forensic tests revealling that the cause of death was deliberate poisoning. AQWA is also used for rehabilitation of injured or sick sea creatures, mainly sea lions, turtles and seals.
Whiteman Park is situated in picturesque bushland 25 minutes North East from the City Centre, it forms the western boundary of the Swan Valley wine region. The Park covers an area of more than 42 square kilometres (16 mi ²) with nearly half of this classified as high value conservation bushland or wetland. The Park also protects the southern portion of the Gnangara Water Mound – a large underground water source that supplies up to 40% of metropolitan Perth’s drinking water.
The Park takes its name from Mr Lew Whiteman (1903-1994), a prominent local identity and enthusiastic collector of artifacts. His family settled in Guildford from England in the late 19th century and Lew acquired some land around Mussel Pool in the 1940s. This, and other land held by a variety of private owners, was purchased by the State Government in 1978 and combined to form Whiteman Park.
All native wildlife in the Park is protected and more than 100 bird species have been identified. Along with 32 reptile, 7 amphibian and 8 mammals. The Caversham Wildlife Park, containing over 2000 animals and birds of 200 different species, recently moved into an area of park near the Village. There are also a number different collections of transport and machinary equipment as well as working historical tram and Rail lines
Swan Valley Wine Region
The Swan Valley wine region is approximately 16km East of Perth and is Western Australia’s oldest established wine region. It is home to over 35 wineries, many of which have restaurants or cellar-door facilities that are open to the public. Bus and boat tours of the swan valley run regularly from the city.
Relatively warm water and mild to large swells make beach-going a popular activity during the warmer months of the year.
Perth’s Indian Ocean beaches stretch for 30km north of the Swan River. There are also inshore beaches along the Swan River at Crawley, Nedlands, Peppermint Grove and Mosman Bay on the north shore, and Como, Canning Bridge and Applecross on the south.
Swimming beaches include the popularCottesloe , near the Cottesloe train station, City Beach, Swanbourne Free Beach, which has nude bathing, Scarborough Trigg and Hillarys.