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Perth - Western Australia

PERTH

The City of Light

 

HEMA Map reference 74/C3

 

31 57' 11" S 115 52' 00" E

 

 

Where is this?

 

Climate data for Perth
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average Temp high C 31 31.5 29.6 25.7 22.5 19.3 18.3 18.9 20.1 23 26.4 28.8 24.6
Average Temp low C 18 18.2 16.6 13.6 10.5 8.5 7.7 8 9.4 11.2 14.1 16.2. 12.7
Rainfall mm 16.4 8.2 19.9 35.3 86.9 133.4 152.7 123.1 86.2 39.6 22.4 6.7 739
Source: Bureau of Meteorology

 

 

 

Statistics

 

Km from Perth

0

Population

1,454,000

Autogas

Available

Telecentre

 

 

 
 

Caravan Parks

 

Burns Beach

 

08 9305 5333

Carine Gardens

 

08 9447 5046

Caversham

Visit website

08 9279 6700

Forrestfield

 

1800 626 677

Fremantle / Coogee

Visit website

08 9418 1810

Fremantle Village

 

08 9430 4866

Gosnells

 

08 9398 2746

Hazelmere

 

1300 885 224

High Wycombe

 

08 9454 9454

Karrinyup

 

08 9447 6665

Kelmscott

 

08 9390 6137

Kelmscott

 

08 9495 4490

Kingsley

 

08 9409 9039

Madeley

Visit website

1800 119 988

Midland

 

08 9274 3002

Orange Grove

 

08 9453 6226

Queens Park

 

08 9356 2380

Redcliffe, Ascot (Central)

Visit website

08 9277 1704

Scarborough

 

08 9341 1770

Swan Valley

Visit website

08 9274 2828

Woodman Pt.

Visit website

08 9434 1433

Wanneroo

 

08 9405 1176

 

Jobs for travellers

 

Services

 

Emergency

000

Visitor Centre

1800 812 808

08 9483 1111

RAC

08 9325 0033

 

 

Attractions

 

Kings Park, Perth Zoo, WA Museum, Armadale Reptile Centre, Swan River, Canning River, Caversham Wildlife Park Darling Scarp, AQWA, Adventure World,  Beaches, Aviation museum, Northbridge restaurants, Gosnells Railway markets.

 

Holiday in Western Australia Perth and West Coast Australia (Lonely Planet Country & Regional Guides) Insight Guides: Perth Smart Guide (Insight Smart Guide)

 

Buildings of note

 

St. Mary's Cathedral 1863, London Court 1936, Supreme Court buildings 1902, Weld Club 1892, National chambers 1897, Former police courts 1905, Art gallery & museum 1896-1908, General post office 1914, Perth town hall 1868, Perth mint 1896, Grosvenor hotel 1887, Savoy hotel 1913, His Majesty's Theatre 1904, melbourne hotel 1895, Hackett hall 1903, Perth technical college annexe 1896, Fire brigade No1 station 1900, Old Government printing office 1894, RPH Admin building 1894, Kirkman house 1909, Barrack Street arch 1863, St. Georges Cathedral 1880, Trinity church 1864, Government house 1859, St. Andrews 1906, The Deanery 1859, Old Perth boys school 1859, Cloisters 1858, Old courthouse 1836, Former Archbishop's palace 1855, Railway station 1894, Wesley church 1870, Great Western hotel 1906, St. George's college 1927, Old observatory 1897, Shenton's mill 1835, Albany Bell castle 1914, Tranby House 1836, Freemason's Hall Subiaco 1929, Former teachers college Claremont 1902, Christ Church Claremont 1892, Former Congregational church Claremont 1895, MLC Claremont 1907, Guildford hotel 1886, Guildford post office 1897, Rose & Crown Guildford 1840, Midland town hall 1906, Woodbridge 1880s, Edward Millen House 1912, Broke Hill hotel 1898.

 

Calendar of events

 

January: Skyworks, February-March: Arts festival. August: Avon Descent, September: Royal Show, Fashion festival, Perth hills wine show, Kings Park wildflower festival, New music festival.

 

 

Council House

Perth Council Building

Supreme Court Gardens

Statue of a kangaroo

Burswood Casino

Burswood Casino

Perth City

City skyline

Perth City

 

Narrows Bridges

Narrows Bridges

 War memorial Kings Park

King's Park

Old Swan Brewery

Old Brewery

Cathedral

St. Mary's Cathedral

St Marys Cathedral

 

Aviation museum

Aero Museum

Point Walter

Point Walter

Ferry

Hillarys

Barrack St Jetty

Barrack Street jetty

Jet boats

Jet boats

London Court

London Court

Perth Mint

Perth Mint

Old Fire Station Perth

Old fire station

Perth town hall

Town Hall

Heritage buildings Perth

 

South Perth

South Perth

Hay St Perth

Hay Street

Old Courthouse Perth

Old Courthouse 1837

Government House Perth

Government House

Inside Government House Perth

Inside Government House

 

Some of Perth's Lost heritage buildings:

AMP Building BL 341133PD

Old barracks building BL 215600PD

Elder House BL 095459PD

How could anyone knock this down? BL 007460d

BL 007461d

BL 003994d

 

Getting Around Perth and WA

 

What to do in Perth

 

Description

 

‘The situation of the city is ideal, and the views of Perth from the top of Mt. Eliza, with the river winding through it and the tree capped ranges in the background challenges comparison with the most beautiful cities in the old or the new world.’

The Story of a Hundred Years. 1929.


The first European known to have explored the area was
Willem De Vlamingh  (there are alternate spellings of this name) in 1697. He named the Swan River after the large flocks of black swans which inhabited the area. The original name was actually Swartte Swaane Drift – Black Swan River.

As black swans were unknown in Europe he ordered his men to catch some and three were taken aboard ship. Sadly they died soon after reaching Java. De Vlamingh was not impressed with the land he found and wrote: “I found neither good country, nor did I see anything of note.”

When the Napoleonic wars ended
James Stirling had no ship to command and was put on half pay. In 1825 he was recalled to active service and sailed the HMS Success to New South Wales. His mission was to help move settlers from Bathurst Island to Raffles Bay. The northern monsoon meant that this trip was delayed and Governor Darling sent Stirling west to examine the prospects for a settlement on the Swan River.

Stirling was impressed with what he saw and made a favourable report to Darling who in turn sent a report to the Colonial Office. The British Government was less than enthusiastic about establishing a new colony and wanted nothing to do with funding such a proposal.

Capt. James Stirling saw the foundation of a colony in the west as his big chance to make a name for himself and from 1827 he campaigned vigorously to get his ideas accepted.

Charles Fraser (a botanist with the early exploration party) wrote of the Swan River: “The land on the banks of the Swan is superior to any I have seen in New South Wales east of the Blue Mountains.” A review of the proposed settlement published in England stated: “This colony will be capable eventually of giving support to a million souls.”

Stirling ran advertisements to get people interested in his venture which stated:

‘Settlers will have no purchase money to pay for their lands, nor will they be chargeable for any rent whatever. Their grants will be conveyed to them in fee simple and will descend to their assignees or heirs forever.’

The British Government eventually agreed to a new colony but on the strict proviso that it was to be a purely capitalist affair and that no Government funds would be available to help settlers with the cost of passage. Instead land grants were offered based on the value of goods and servants taken to the new colony. The deal was 40 acres of land for every 3 pounds worth of goods taken out. (Servants were valued at 15 pounds a head.)

By February 1829 Stirling was on his way with a group of free settlers aboard the Parmelia. The HMS Sulphur (Commander Dance) followed with a military detachment from the 63rd regiment.

After a stop off in Cape Town (where Dr. Tully Daly and his daughter Jessie unfortunately drowned) the settlers arrived on the 31st of May and the ship dropped anchor off Garden Island.

 

When an attempt was made to find a passage into the sheltered waters of Cockburn Sound the Parmelia struck a hidden shoal where she was stranded for 18 hours before being re-floated. HMS Challenger (Capt. Fremantle) was already anchored in the sound so most passengers and supplies were transferred to her. Two days of fierce winds followed and Stirling made the decision to make landfall on Garden Island, instead of the mainland.

Later Stirling chose a site about 16km up river from the sea at a place east of Mt. Eliza (Kings Park). The original instructions from
George Murray (Secretary for the Colonies and War) were that the settlement should be made either on Cockburn Sound, or at the junction of the Swan and Canning Rivers. Stirling ignored these instructions an placed the settlement where the city of Perth now stands. George Murray was less than pleased with this decision but Stirling made the right choice.

 

Kings Park is the largest inner city park in the world – larger even than Central Park in New York. It was the first park in Australia to be designated for public use (1872).

 

The origin of the name Mt. Eliza seems to be disputed in various historical works with some claiming that it was named in honour of Eliza Burdett, sister of the Rev. John Burdett Wittenoom the first colonial Chaplain who arrived in 1829 aboard the ship Swansted. Other sources claim that James Stirling named Mt. Eliza after the wife of Governor Darling and as he named the Darling Scarp in honour of Governor Darling it seems most likely that Stirling did name Mt. Eliza after Darling's wife.

Perth was declared on August 12 1829 and became a city by 1856. It was originally called the Swan River Colony. It is Australia’s third oldest capital city.

Stirling was only officially proclaimed Governor and Commander in Chief in March 1831. Perhaps the British authorities were waiting to see if the venture would fail before giving him an official title. (For the first two years he served as Governor, Stirling had to rely on his own resources as he received no salary.)

Early progress must have been slow as
Lt. H.W. Bunbury wrote in 1836:

From Fremantle to Perth and again as high as Guildford, 8 miles higher up the Swan, the country is all a most wretched sand covered with stunted prickly scrub and small timber…..Perth itself is a most dismal place, duller than anything you imagine.”

If only he could see it now!

D.B. Robinson describes the site a little more objectively in her book 'The Swan Valley: A Perspective.'

‘The site was edged on the south and east by the river with its border of mud flats, and on the north by lakes and swamplands. On the west was a high limestone ridge, named Mount Eliza, with a rugged scarp to the river’s edge. Mt Eliza provided a lookout point from which to watch for a potential enemy. It was a good defensive site.'

'The main street, Hay Street, was surveyed to run along the crest of a sand dune extending eastwards from Mt Eliza, with parallel streets on either side, and with streets at right angles leading southwards to the river and to northwards ending in lakes and swamps. A number of springs provided fresh water, as did the lakes to the north. The river being an estuary, its water was too salty to drink. However, the river was a source of supply of fish for food.'

Some of the colony’s early problems stemmed from the way land grants were allocated. Those in positions of power were allocated huge land grants and much of the river frontage was taken up very quickly. Too much land was given to too few people and was kept too close to Perth. Stirling, never backward in giving things to himself, tried to take up much of the land that is now Fremantle but was made to give the claim up by the Colonial Office in London.

In addition to this many grants were given to Officers on temporary assignment who had no intention of developing it. Complaints were also made that grants were not given in order of the date received. This led to the development stagnating and food shortages that continued for some years.

Lionel Lukin wrote:

To my surprise, however, I found all the banks of the Swan and Canning Rivers granted, mostly to officers in the army and navy on full pay, who never brought a sixpence worth of property into the colony, and who had not the means of improving the land granted to them.’

Eliza Shaw was even more direct:

The fact is simply this … all the land that is good for anything, and that is but a small patch here and there, is given to Jews, stockbrokers, men-of-wars and the like.’

Stirling returned (temporarily) to England in 1832 to shore up support for the struggling colony and having done what he could, returned to the Swan River in 1834. While he was absent his role was taken over first by
Captain Irwin and when he returned to England Captain Richard Daniell filled in.

J. Allen published the following in ‘The Emigrant’s Friend’ in London:

Were 100,000 Emigrants to land at Swan River, with money, food, goods and labour, and had all the assistance that Government could render them, they could never raise Swan River Colony to eminence or permanent prosperity… …we will not dwell longer on The Swan River Colony, no Emigrants have gone there for years past, nor would we advise any one to choose his resting place there. Swan River has little or nothing to recommend it…’

Development may have lagged a little in the early years but the first settlers were quick to begin exploring their immediate surrounds. On June 25th 1829, Captain Currie was leading an party to explore the Canning River when he was accidentally shot in the head. The explorers returned and the wounded man was tended to and a new leader (Lt. John Henry) was selected to lead the party that set out again the following day.

 



They followed the course of the Canning to the foot of the Darling Scarp and climbed up to the top to get a better view. Although looking west they could see as far as the coast, to the east their view was obstructed by what looked like endless hills and thick forests.

Another exploratory party (led by
Lt. William Preston) started out on the 9th of September. He was joined by Ensign Robert Dale – who would go on to explore much of the hilly area to the east of Perth.

Preston was unimpressed by the country over the scarp but within a month Dale returned trying to trace the source of the Helena River.

Dale’s men walked in to an Aboriginal camp and while the Aborigines were very surprised and initially appeared aggressive, they quickly settled down and led the explorers to a number of water sources before vanishing back into the bush.

Much later on Dale was to be involved in a confrontation with some very hostile natives and was to bare to spear wounds for the rest of his days.

Dale’s efforts to open up territory to the east did not go un-noticed by the Governor and Stirling praised him highly then rewarded Dale with a large grant of land on the banks of the Avon River.

Dale was then re-assigned to the Garrison at
Albany where he put his interest in exploration to good use again before being promoted to Lieutenant and serving in India. He died aged only 46 in Bath, England.

The Swan River Colony was the first Australian settlement to be developed by free settlers, but by 1850 the need for cheap labour was so great that convicts were eventually shipped out.

Settlers were encouraged to move to the new colony with the offer of land grants. The going rate was 3 pounds worth of goods for 40 acres of land. On the face of it this may have seemed like a good idea but in effect it meant large areas of land were taken up by rich men who did not have the means to cultivate it. This restricted the land available to poorer people and meant little was done to make much of the land grants productive. By 1830 around 1 million acres had been granted with less than 200 under cultivation.



This led to dissatisfaction among many settlers and between 1830 and 1832 the population fell from 4,000 to around 1,500.

The main supporter and first Governor of the Swan River Colony (James Stirling) was granted large tracts of land in appreciation of his efforts. By October 1837, Stirling had had enough and resigned to return home to England. His wife (Ellen) had borne him no less than seven children (no TV back then) in the time they had been in W.A. and despite his large land holdings Stirling was never to return to the place he helped get started.

On his return to England he remained in the Royal Navy and commanded ships of the line such as the HMS Indus and HMS Howe. In 1851 he was made a Rear Admiral and served as Commander in Chief in China and the East Indies. He became a full Admiral in 1862.

Stirling had named the city on the Swan, Perth, after the Scottish city. He chose the name because Perth, Scotland was the birth place of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Sir George Murray. (There are reports that he originally favoured the name Hesperia – land looking west).

Perth was not initially a popular name, as Stirling (a Scot) was seen to be giving Scottish names (such as Cockburn, Dalrymple and Melville) to everything he saw. English settlers saw this as some sort of Scottish plot.

He is remembered in the names given to features around the state and a simple search through this book will see his name mentioned many times. Optimistic, headstrong and even rash, Stirling was none the less a major driving force in the establishment of Western Australia and we owe him a vote of thanks for his efforts.
 

It isn't well known today, but Perth and the surrounding suburbs stand on what was once an extensive system of wetlands. They were seen as useless swamps by the early settlers and most were drained or filled in. The railway station stands on what was once Lake Kingsford. The land under the GPO had timbers inserted to keep it stable and the post office stands on what was once the muddy shore of a lake. Basements of older shops (like Boans) that have since been demolished, used to have pumps to keep the water at bay. Even the Entertainment Centre stands on what was once Lake Irwin. It is estimated that 99% of the wetlands that used to exist near Perth have been lost forever and that at least 75% of those along the coastal strip are likewise gone.


The Trans Australian railway (which has the longest stretch of straight track anywhere in the world.) was completed in 1917 and that combined with the opening of the goldfields to the east of Perth saw the population soar from about 40,000 to over 270,000. By 1947 over 800,000 people were living in the city and since that time there has been a slow but steady increase. Although the railway crossed the country from west to east it was not a simple task to travel from one side to the other or to ship goods. Due to the extremely parochial nature of the states each decided on a different gauge of rail line and so passengers and freight had to be unloaded from one train to another every time the lines changed. This was not rectified until 1970!
 

 

The old Perth (pre 1970s) was a very conservative town and in some ways remained very backward looking. The visit of Queen Elizabeth II in 1954 generated a wave of patriotic pro-British sentiment that would be almost unthinkable today. The 1970s brought many changes and possibly the worst was the wholesale destruction of wonderful heritage buildings like the CML, the AMP and many wonderful old hotels. The rush for modernisation at any cost saw the city turned into a row of faceless, soulless sky-scrapers. Today very little remains of what was once fascinating architecture in the city centre.


As cities go Perth is still one of the safest and undoubtedly most scenic in the world, but it is after all, a city, with all the inherent problems of city life. As a gateway to the rest of the state, Perth is wonderful, but if you want to experience the real W.A, get out into the countryside and avoid the traffic and pollution. If you want to stay in a city, then you can go anywhere in the world. The really unique Australian experience awaits you in the bush.

More often than not, Perth now cowers under a blanket of smog - especially in the colder months when wood fires add to the already fume laden air.

The city centre is quite small compared with other Australian capitals. There are easy access points leading to the city from the ocean, the hills, and both northern and southern suburbs.

The suburbs now stretch in an almost unbroken line from Yanchep in the north to Safety Bay in the south. It won't be long before the urban sprawl goes all the way to Mandurah.

Generally speaking Perth is easy to navigate. If you avoid rush hour, the freeway will take you from Kwinana to Wanneroo without having to go through any suburban areas at all.

The city sits on the north bank of the Swan River and the foreshore is lined with gardens and open spaces. It is possible, though a little tiring to walk a circuit right round the Narrows Bridge to the Causeway and back again along these very attractive foreshore reserves.

 

GET THESE GREAT BOOKS ONLINE

 

   Holiday in Western Australia: Free and Low-cost Stops Land of Vision and Mirage: A History of Western Australia Since 1826 Beaches of the Western Australian Coast - Eucla to Roebuck Bay: A Guide to Their Nature, Characteristics, Surf and Safety Discover Western Australia Camping Guide to Western Australia Western Australia 4WD Top 50 Atlas and Guide    

 

 

Some (interesting) touristy things to do in Perth.
 

A visit to Perth might include some (or all) of our suggestions on what to see and what to do:

 

1. Perth Zoo. Small and compact but very interesting and informative. A good day out.

2. Perth Museum. Ok, so the museum does get a bit dated if you have been there a few times but for the new visitor to Perth it is worth spending a few hours there.

3. Perth Art Gallery.

4. Fremantle Maritime Museum. Possibly more interesting than the main museum in Perth. A tour through the HMAS Ovens (submarine) should be on everyone's list.

5. Old Fremantle Prison. This is fascinating. The prison has great historical significance and tours here are very worth while.

6. Aviation Museum. Maintained by the RAAF and volunteers this musem preserves some of our important aviation history.

7. AQWA (Hillary's). The Aquarium of W.A.

8. Cohunu Wildlife Park (Byford). A good place to get up close and personal with many species of Australian wildlife.

9. King's Park. You haven't been to Perth until you have gone up to Mt. Eliza and taken a photo of the city from near the war memorial.

10. Caversham Wildlife Park.

11. Armadale Reptile Centre. Interesting and informative. Worth the drive out to Armadale to get up close to some of our many reptile species.

 

(Note. We do not accept payment to recommend places to see, the places we list are the ones WE think are worth while and have been to ourselves.)

 

 

Government House

 

The original Government House built for James Stirling was built in  1838 but proved to be inadequate. Construction started in 1859 on a new building and the work was completed in 1863. 

 

The first Governor to take up residence was Gov. Hampton. In 1867 a banqueting hall had been added and a ballroom added in 1899.

 

Government House is only occasionally open to the public.

 

The role of the Governor was once critical to the functioning of government in Western Australia but in recent times the role is largely ceremonial.

 

One of the little known facts about Government House is that there is a drop down door that was used to partition off the Governor's study. This door could be lowered if more room was needed for various functions and raised when the Governor wanted privacy in his study. The door still exists although it can only be seen in the cellar. Today a large double sided bookcase blocks the area the door once occupied.

 

A few interesting facts:

  • W.A. has the highest standard of housing in the world. It also has (per capita) the greatest number of cars and the largest amount of road space on which to drive them. Unfortunately Perth now has one of the highest housing costs of any capital city in Australia.

  • The Perth Mint is the oldest mint in the world still operating out of its original buildings.

  • Apparently someone has done research that suggests that Perth is the third windiest city in the world. Who did the research and what the other two more windy cities are we don’t yet know.

  • Perth is also (on average) the hottest capital city in Australia.

  • Perth is quoted as being the third most livable city in the world, but as Melbourne is quoted as being the most livable, we have to cast doubt on this assertion.

  • Perth has more sunny days than any other Australian capital city.

  • Perth has the highest population (per capita) of millionaires in the world.

  • Electric lights took over from gas lights in Perth in 1923.

  • Perth’s first radio station, 6WF, opened in 1924.

  • By 1927 Perth’s population was 27,000.

  • The first automobile was brought to W.A. in 1903 and by 1905 the Perth City Council had imposed a speed limit of 10 mph.

  • R. Strelitz formed the Automobile Club of W.A. in 1905 and the club affiliated with the Royal Automobile Club of London in 1913. In 1922 it became the Royal Automobile Club of W.A. (Inc.) and there were 660 members. In 1924 the club purchased premises on Adelaide Terrace and occupied the site until it was moved to Wellington Street sometime after 2001.

  • By 1929 there were 38,119 motor vehicles in W.A. with 49,000 miles of road to drive on.

  • The first traffic lights appeared at West Perth subway in December 1953. (Booo!)

  • The first parking meters appeared in 1957. (Hiss Booo!)

  • The first multi level car park in Perth was Canterbury Court which was constructed in 1959. It was never popular and was finally demolished in 1992.

  • Spitting in the street was banned in 1949.

  • On the 20th of February 1962 Perth kept its lights on all night as a greeting to the American astronaut, John Glenn, who was orbiting above. As a result Perth became known as the city of light.

  • There are at least 8 other Perth's around the world located in Scotland, 2 in the USA, 2 in Canada, South Africa, Guyana and even one in Tasmania.

  • Normally the Australian coat of arms has an emu and a kangaroo facing each other. If you visit the old GPO building in Forrest Chase you will see an unusual coat of arms with the kangaroo looking back over its shoulder. We have seen two possible explanations for this. The first is that this is a Masonic pose and the second more interesting theory is that the kangaroo is looking back at parliament house staring at the people who never paid the sculptor for his work.

 

Perth is also the most beautiful city in the world. If you don’t believe me then pay us a visit and see for yourself.

 

Heritage Trails

 

Central: Supreme Court Gardens to east side of the city the Old Perth Boys School to west side of the city. Approx 4.5Km.
 

East Perth: Starts at Queens Gardens. Approx 4.5Km.

 

Northbridge: Starts at Perth Cultural Centre. Approx 3Km.

 

West Perth: Starts at the old observatory. Approx 2.5Km.

 

Tall tales and true: First across

 

In a scene reminiscent of the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge (many years later) at the opening ceremony of the first Causeway bridge John Stephen Maley galloped his horse across the bridge and stole the Governor's thunder by being the first to cross the new structure after it was officially opened.

 

 

 

I'm lost please take me home...