Perth Travel Guide
Situated a long way from any other major Australian city (it is closer to Jakarta, Indonesia than Sydney), Perth is one of the most isolated cities of more than a million people on Earth. With thousands of kilometres of mostly empty desert to the east and the open Indian Ocean to the west, this place would feel more like a frontier town were it not for the modernity and wealth the resources industry has made possible here.
While great to use as a base for Western Australian adventures, there are numerous attractions to see and experience within its metro area, so be sure to take your time here before rushing off elsewhere.
Begin your visit to Perth by dropping by the Western Australian Museum. An institution dedicated to telling the story of Australia’s most isolated state, it is a fascinating attraction which will give you an appreciation for this region’s natural and human history.
To be precise, it is composed of six separate buildings – the one in downtown Perth is devoted to geology, dinosaurs, fauna, and the history of Australia’s First Nations people, while the one in the adjacent suburb of Fremantle covers the maritime history of Western Australia. The other four are situated much further afield in the towns of Albany, Geraldton, and Kalgoorlie, so be sure to check them out if your travels in the state take you through these places.
Next, experience the creative works of this state’s best artists by exploring the halls of the Art Gallery of Western Australia. Opened to the public in 1895, it currently houses over 17,000 pieces of art, 3,000 of which were created by Aboriginal artists. While most pieces are local/national in origin, there are some pieces from abroad in its permanent collection (e.g. Henry Moore), and there are regular exhibitions which bring in pieces from world-renowned museums like the Louvre.
Fans of churches will want to include St. Mary’s Cathedral in their travel itinerary. Built in three stages over parts of three centuries (including a recent extensive renovation), it is easily the most beautiful Christian place of worship in Western Australia.
If nothing else, stop by for a look at its spectacular stained glass windows, originals which have been painstakingly preserved since their creation more than a hundred years ago. If you are a believer, attend Sunday mass at 9:30 am, as its choir is backed by a tremendous pipe organ with 3,000 pipes.
Was your childhood defined by video games? If so, a trip to The Nostalgia Box Museum will take you on a trip straight down Memory Lane. With over 100 consoles on display dating as far back as the 1970s, you’ll be transported back to a time when your evenings were spent batting a digital ball back and forth with digital paddles or squashing goombas in the course of rescuing a princess from a grotesque dragon.
Visitors aren’t limited to looking at displays: you can actually pick up a controller and challenge your buddies to a game of Mario Kart. As such, it is recommended to buy tickets for this museum online ahead of your visit, as the Nostalgia Box has become overwhelmingly popular since its founding.
Taking a day to sail over to Rottnest Island is a virtual must for anyone visiting Perth. A limestone island located 18 kilometres west of Fremantle in the Indian Ocean, it is famed for its white sand beaches, prime snorkelling, and being home to one of the most impossibly cute animals in existence, the quokka.
History buffs will want to check out the local museum here, as well as the Oliver Hill Battery, which was a World War II gun emplacement meant to defend Perth from the enemy. When you are out and about, feel free to take pictures of quokkas if you encounter them, but refrain from giving them food, as this will encourage dependence.
When you get back to Perth, be sure to get a photo of the Swan Bells. A modernist glass and copper tower built to commemorate the coming of the new millennium in the year 2000, it contains 18 bells, 12 of which were gifted to Western Australia by St.-Martin-in-the-Fields church in London to mark its bicentennial.
In addition to getting to hear the lovely sounds these bells make, this 271-foot high spire also has an observation deck, making it perfect for capturing a stunning panoramic photo of downtown Perth.
Western Australia is known for its gold reserves, making Perth a natural location to locate a facility like The Perth Mint. More than a destination for coin collectors, this money factory offers guided tours of its facilities.
Of all things you’ll see, getting to witness workers pouring gold into moulds is among the coolest of the lot. The history of The Mint and gold mining is another facet you’ll likely enjoy, so be sure to pay attention as your guide fills you in on how this isolated corner of the world became a worthwhile place to live only a few short centuries ago.
Finally, relax on a beautiful day in Perth by spending a few hours in Kings Park. Situated high above the banks of the Swan River, its expansive lawns, botanic gardens, and historical monuments is a pleasant place to get away from the busyness of the CBD.
Looking for a great place to get in a workout while in Perth? Jacob’s Ladder, a staircase used to access King’s Park from downtown, will mete out all the punishment your body can take, and then some.