On the northern bank of the Swan River, Perth is
the fourth biggest city in Australia. It has a population of over 1.2
million and is arguably Australia's most modern city -the mining boom of
the 1970s and 1980s transformed its skyline, and everything on the streets
The city and its greater metropolitan area sprawls
over more than 5700 sq. km of undulating sand plain, from Rockingham on
the south coast, north for 55 km to the coastal suburbs of Burns Beach and
Mindarie. Inland the metro area stretches to the rolling hills of the
Darling Ranges and the city of Armadale, and along the Swan River north
and east to Upper Swan and Brigadoon.
Vast areas within this region have been kept as
open land, and much of the Swan River frontage is open to the public. The
beaches and the surf are thought by the locals to be the best of any
Australian capital. The southern beaches in the lee of Garden Island offer
calmer waters, and the Swan River has many bays and areas to swim in.
Offshore there are a number of islands, including Rottnest Island. If you stay in hostels Perth backpackers organise tours, trips and activities for guests around the city.
Mount Eliza, which blocked the city's expansion to
the west, is today Kings Park, one of the jewels in Perth's crown. The 400
ha of park and bushland provide many fine panoramas of the city and the
river, and are a showcase for
Western Australia's vast floral wealth and colourful bird life. A couple of roads wind through the park, and there
are also walking and bike paths, plus some lovely picnic areas and
Western Australia's, fortunes changed
when gold was discovered. First it was far away in
The Kimberley and the Pilbara, then the finds grew closer and richer, until almost unbelievable
discoveries occurred at Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie during the 1890s. The
population of the State rocketed, and by the turn of the nineteenth
century the city had over 29,000 people. Many of Perth's finer old
buildings date from this boom period: the refurbished commercial buildings
along King Street, the Central Government Building (1874Ð1902), His
Majesty's Theatre (1904) and the Perth Mint (1898).
Perth's fortunes waned during the 1920s and 1930s
and did not really revive until after World War II: the next mineral boom
began in the 1960s and 1970s, when iron ore, oil and natural gas were
discovered and developed, and Perth grew into the city it is today
-modern, cosmopolitan, egalitarian and friendly.
Northbridge, on the northern side of the city, has
a strong migrant heritage, and comes to life at night -it has one of the
highest concentrations of restaurants anywhere in Australia. There are a
number of riverside restaurants in South Perth, Crawley and Nedlands, as
well as down at Fremantle and if you want to partake in food and a little
flutter, there is always the Burswood Casino.
Fremantle, Perth's port, is a part of the Perth
experience. It became a city in its own right by 1929, and survived the
building demolitions of the 1890s and the 1960s to emerge in 1987, when it
was the host city for the America's Cup sailing challenge, as a city rich
in heritage and character. 'Freo', as nearly everyone calls it, is home to
a 500-strong fishing fleet and a vast number of yachts and pleasure craft.
Over 150 buildings in the port, including The
Round House (built in 1831 and
Western Australia's oldest public
building), the Esplanade Hotel (1890s) and the Fremantle Prison (which was
built by convict labour and used from 1855 to 1991) are classified by the
National Trust. The National Trust Fremantle Markets, established in 1897,
are still open every weekend, and have just about everything on offer,
from bric-a-brac and fashions to fresh produce. Yet another good spot to
visit is the Fremantle Arts Centre and History Museum, housed in a
magnificent building constructed by convicts in the 1860s to be the
colony's first lunatic asylum. The WA Maritime Museum contains a
first-class international exhibit about the many early Dutch wrecks that
litter the coastline of
If you enjoy fine food, alfresco cafe's or even
quirky beers such as 'Dogbolter' or 'Redback', Freo is definitely the
place for you. South Terrace is known as the cappuccino strip, while on
Victoria Quay, the E Shed Markets have an international food court and
offer some particularly good seafood restaurants.
As you would expect, there are plenty of good
fishing opportunities both in and around Perth and Fremantle, with estuary
fishing in the Swan and Canning Rivers, throughout the port area and also
off the beaches, where you can catch a variety of different fish such as
tailor, garfish, flathead, whiting, mulloway and tommy ruff.
The Perth Royal Show is held each year during
September/October, and the Kings Park Wildflower Festival is around the
same time. In late October, Perth hosts the Australian round of the FIA
World Rally Championships; the Highland Games are held at Armadale in
November/December, and there are Australia Day Celebrations in January.
Fremantle hosts the Sardine Festival in January, and the Fremantle
Festival in November.