A Cheap Day’s Perth – Perth, Western Australia

If your goal is to see the most for the least – then Perth is your town! Blessed with options for the traveller who’s low on cash but high on ingenuity, here are some ideas for around the Central Business District to run with:

1. See Some Flowers – Kings Park is a huge bushland area right in the centre of the city that is great to walk through at any time of year. From the Anzac memorial here, you get the best view of Perth, particularly at night (and you won’t be alone), and the DNA tower just has to be climbed. But if you’re in Perth between August and October, you’re lucky enough to catch the wildflower season in WA. So start wandering around Kings Park, and you’ll see more Kangaroo Paw, Orchids, and other great flowers that only appear once a year.

2. Visit the Power People – Every Monday and Thursday at 10:30 a.m., free tours of the state Parliament House are held – just turn up on time. You can also watch parliament when it’s in session. For more information, have a look at their website.
And the view down St Georges Terrace from the front of Parliament House is sensational!

3. See Money Made – a visit to the still operational Perth Mint at 310 Hay St will cost you a pittance.

4. Take a CruiseTransperth has regular ferries from Barrack St. Jetty in Perth to South Perth for a miserly $2 – any cheaper and it’s theft! You can stay on the ferry for the return, or walk back via either the Narrows Bridge, or the causeway over Heirisson Island.

5. Shop for a Suit of Armour – For the budding Knight in Shining Armour – the quintessential stop in Perth is Millenium Medieval Emporium at 888 Hay St – suits of armour, swords, chain mail – you’ve just got to go and see it.

6. See Dead Animals – an optional ‘gold coin’ donation gets you into the West Australian Museum, just on the Northbridge side of the Perth train station. Dead animals, minerals, and information on WA’s indigenous people. Don’t forget the dead sea creature outside near the café.

7. Read a Book – The Perth City Library, 573 Hay St in the centre has to win the ‘Most Traveller Friendly Library On the Planet’ award. Sit down and read the paper, a magazine, or a good book. Also ask about joining as a ‘temporary resident’ (though you’ll need a sizeable cash deposit that you get back when you leave). Open weekdays and Saturday morning.

You can also read the newspaper from home on the ground floor of the State Library of WA, near the Art Gallery, just on the Northbridge side from Perth train station. You can’t take them out, but catch up on news from a couple of days ago from just about anywhere in the world. Open every day.

8. Discover the Next Picasso – All of the art galleries are free in Perth. Have a look at:

  • The Art Gallery of WA (you may have to pay for some special exhibitions). The hidden jewel: the Centenary Gallery at the back has some great Australian art inside, and it’s inside the old Perth Police Station and Court House (put yourself on trial).
  • Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA) – 51 James St, Northbridge (near the Art Gallery of WA)
  • King St. Arts Centre – galleries inside the centre, and close by on Murray and King St.

You can also see some art scattered around the city. Have a look at The Meteorite in the Murray St. Mall (the ball is on water, and you can spin it!), the fountain in Russell Square, Northbridge, or the kangaroos on the corner of St Georges Terrace and Barrack St.

9. Have Your Chauffeur Drive You Around – a great way to see a lot of Perth for FREE is to grab one of the CAT buses touring the city. There are 3 routes, all circles, and all free.

10. Smell Good – Fragrance counters at Myer and David Jones in the Murray St. mall are simply amazing – both men’s and women’s fragrances, and there’s no obligation to buy.

11. See Some Theatre – hang around the Murray St. mall around lunchtime during the week to see artists tie themselves up, play piano, or juggle. Other buskers of wildly varying quality hang around the Murray St. and Hay St. malls.

12. Listen to a CD – lots of CD shops let you listen to CDs for free inside their shop:

  • 78 Records at 914 Hay St is a Perth institution.
  • JB HiFi in the Hay St Mall has a great range.
  • Escape the crowds at Wesley Classics and Wesley CD Megastore in the Wesley Arcade, corner Hay St and William St.
  • Sanity stores in the city centre are easy to find.

13. Eat – You can’t conquer the Cheap Traveller’s Perth on an empty stomach. Well, forget the Big Mac, and check out the Hare Krishna’s Food for Life restaurant at 200 William St, Northbridge. For around a paltry $6, you’ll get great vegetarian food (including dessert and drink), and won’t leave hungry.

Walk a little way up William St. away from the city will take you into Perth’s version of China Town – have a look at the menus on display to see what cheap goodies you can find.

Sushi places around the centre of town offer a cheap lunch – some offer a discount if you eat between 15:30 and 18:00 Monday to Thursday.

14. Go to a Concert – Lunchtime music is at the beautiful His Majestys Theatre at 825 Hay St. almost every Thursday at 12:30 – a 40 minute concert will set you back $7. You won’t see a rock band, but anything from Broadway to classical is on the cards. Check with the theatre to see what’s on.

15. Listen to the Bells – the Swan Bells are a collection of 14th century bells in a glass sail-like tower, just at Barrack St. Jetty. Expensive to enter, but you can sit outside and hear the bellringers bang their tunes every Monday, Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m., plus other times for practice or special occasions.

16. Shop for that Gourmet Picnic – Woolworths in the Murray St. mall has everything for the decadent picnic in the park (with a wine shop next door, and great bakery as well), but also visit gourmet heaven across the mall in the food section of David Jones.

17. Play with Toys – Indulge the inner child (you know you want to):

  • The Toys R Us warehouse in the Hay St. mall.
  • Empire Toys, 856 Hay St.

18. See a Movie – Picadilly Cinema in the Hay St. mall has cheap movies for well under $10 – drop in to the cinema for details.

19. See a Train – The India Pacific train takes its passengers for the marathon 60 hour trip to Sydney from East Perth station every Wednesday and Sunday just before noon. Just seeing the extraordinarily long train will have you counting if you can afford the trip (and backpackers get a huge discount – talk to your hostel, or see Great Southern Railways).

See trains as they used to be every Sunday morning at 9 a.m. during winter as the Hotham Valley Railway’s Forest Ranger departs Perth Station for Dwellingup. A hefty $45 will get you on board.

20. Watch Someone Lose Money – Burswood casino is open 24 hours, so there’s always someone losing money. You can watch them for free – just beware of temptation!

21. Visit the Place of Cricketing Legends – Cricket fans just HAVE to visit the WACA ground at the very eastern end of Hay St., Perth. Tours every Tues, Wed & Thu at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. (unless a game is being played). See the website.

22. Get Around – Perth has the sensational idea called the “Free Transport Zone” around the city centre, with “free” being the word we all want to hear. Ask Transperth for all the details, but inside this zone, you can grab any bus or train for free. Add to this the free CAT bus we’ve talked about before, and your legs are saved!

23. Take a Shower – for a couple of dollars, you can use the Traveller’s Lounge in the Perth train station, including a shower.

24. Sneak Inside Someone Else’s Luxury Apartment – Australians love shopping for new houses/apartments, and you can join them. Have a look at the West Australian newspaper every Wednesday and Saturday for properties ‘Open for Inspection’, and just turn up at the right time for a peek.

25. Go Touring – Free tours in Perth include:

  • Kings Park – FREE guided walks around most days.
  • Burswood Park – more FREE guided tours, starting most days at 11:30 a.m.
  • Parliament House (but we’ve already mentioned that!)

26. Go Through the Gateway to Nowhere – it looks like a gateway, it’s at the end of St. Georges Terrace (Parliament House end), and it goes nowhere. Why is it there? Go and find out, and say hi to the photographer near the front.

27. Go Courting in Perth’s Oldest Building – The Francis Burt Law Centre and Museum, Supreme Court gardens, corner St. Georges Terrace and Barrack St. Entry is FREE.

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And we haven’t even started on the beaches, Fremantle, or anywhere else. Have great cheap days Perth!

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