Perth is said to be the world’s most isolated city. It is on the SouthWestern coast of Australia and harbors a population of 1,282,783 people. It lies on the banks of the Swan River (the black swan being this city’s emblem).
If you are looking for beaches, then a short trip to Fremantle should satisfy. This is like a baby sister city to Perth and like most sea side cities, this is where you will find the more relaxed side of Perth.
There are also a lot of galleries here. To find a guide to Perth’s galleries pick up the gallery circuit and the Perth cultural guide from PICA (the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art), at the station end of James St on the left-hand side (north) of the station.
The weather lately has been very varied and it is not surprising to experience four seasons in one day. With patches of sun followed by heavy downpour. If you are planning to go to the beach rug up. Although, from experience it is great sail-boarding weather if you have had a little practice before, to combat the 20 to 25 knot winds.
North & South
Due to the size of this city it is very hard to find anything apart from a mainstream lifestyle, although I haven’t looked very hard. There is a definite difference between the north and south sides of the city, which is separated by the Swan River. The south side is on the banks of the Swan River and hosts the major shopping district with Hay St Mall at the centre. This is where you will find most major shopping chains, and some nice cafes.
Northbridge to the north of the city is where you will find the library, art gallery, museum, and PICA, as well as the major clubs and pubs. You can also find the Hare Krishna’s here (open 12-2.30 Monday to Friday, on William St) and some excellent continental delis, Greek and Italian coffee shops, Lebanese sweet shops and much more. The Villa Italia serves an awesome macadamia and wattle-seed cake. Personally I find this the more interesting, if seeder, side of town.
While Perth may be smaller than most Australian cities it definitely has its benefits. The first that comes to mind is the public transport system that is second to none that I have ever experienced.
There is an inner metropolitan zone within the city within which all public transport is free!! There are also very clear route markings on bus stops. Within the city runs a bus system called CATS. These take you around the city for free, and the stops all come with talking pillars which tell you the time of the next bus.
The trains run every fifteen minutes through the day and every half hour otherwise until one or two am. They are clean and you get a local weather report before you get into Perth central.
It is about $3.40 to call a cab for hire and about $1 per km after. The change over time is 6am and 6pm and it is really difficult to find cabs at this time.
To find out about public transport and get guide maps and books, go to the information stand at Perth station to the left as you leave through the main archways.
Perth city was recently voted to be one of the least polluted cities in Australia (I can’t remember by who but they were talking about it on the local radio station 96.9 fm). And this is not hard to believe at all. I have found only two public toilets, one at the station which costs 30¢ to use and one at the tourist lounge which costs 20¢ to use, There are not many public phones around either.
I don’t know how true it is, but I was told the island was named after the cute little marsupials found on the island called Quokkers. They look a little like rats and when the island was first discovered it was covered with them, so they named “rottnest” as they thought it was like a rat’s nest.
It costs about $35 to catch a ferry out to the island. You can either go on bus tours or hire bicycles to explore. It is a nature reserve and all fauna and flora are protected.
With over 60 venues, Perth has a fairly large choice of mainstream and some alternate venues. The local free mag is Xpress; it contains all the info on local events and can be picked up from most trendy clothes stores, cafes and galleries.
There are two main centres for pubs and clubs in Perth. Northbridge, and Fremantle. I went out to Northbridge last weekend. First call was the Aberdeen, a club that is segmented into different areas, a lounge and pool hall, outdoor stage for bands, the upper mezzanine level and the dance floor. It is good if you like variety in a club, but it closes at one am.
Metropolis was the next stop. It is impressive in size, stage, and pyrotechnics with four mezzanine levels looking down on to the main stage and dance floor. It was fun although the vibe seemed to be missing.
So on to Redheads where they were playing more dance music. It wasn’t chart stuff but my companion remarked that it lacked soul, I suppose it is a matter of personal taste. This place has an outside bar and I found the people to be a lot friendlier. The only pub I have been to is Bride O’Reilleys, an Irish pub with live music at least on Saturdays and Fridays. They only serve half and full pints here.
The last week of July saw the WAMI awards (Western Australian Music Industry Awards). There is a very talented and diverse band scene in this state and it is concentrated mainly in Perth. This event means there has been no shortage of fresh homegrown talent, and I am sure it will continue for at least the next few weeks.
There is a pretty good shore dive off the beach at Rockingham, about an hour’s drive south of the city. They have sunk some boats to provide a substrate in the sand muddy bottom. On one night dive I saw seahorses, lionfish, and sea cucumbers. It is a relative easy dive to a max depth of 17 metres, and because it is a shore dive all you have to pay for is the hire of gear you don’t have and air. Another popular dive is over the granite boulders off Rottnest Island. These dives cost gear hire $40, Tanks $19, and boat trip out there with lunch, $55.