Perth Region

May 1st, 2001 Features, Scoop Traveller

Things to do

Cruise the wineries of the Swan Valley. In between tasting, tour the historical sites around the region that mark Perth’s colonial and indigenous heritage, such as All Saints — WA’s oldest church.

Go horse riding, have a round of golf, walk or drive through the picturesque setting of rolling hills and vineyards. There’s also a strong artistic culture to explore.

Have an ice cream midway through a day of swimming at Perth’s endless stretches of beach at Scarborough and Cottesloe.

Swim, surf ski or fish at Rockingham’s sheltered beach. Swim with dolphins and have a BBQ in the shorefront park. See remains of Perth’s first settlement on Garden Island.

Explore the tranquillity, history and rural solitude of Perth Hills. Have lunch in a cute pub in the country, bushwalk the dozens of parks, trails and the 960 km long Bibbulmun track. Visit Mundaring Weir, see artisans at work and bring some great wines, crafts and market bargains home.

Soak up the alternative vibe at Fremantle. Have a lunch of succulent seafood overlooking the water, tour some of the oldest buildings still standing in Australia, and explore the laneways and terraced buildings for colonial ghosts and yarns.

Hit the clubs and pubs of Northbridge and rage all night or just sit with a wine or beer and a bunch of friends and sample the culinary variety. Join the party crowds on weekends that bring the area to life.

See an IMAX movie, the latest blockbusters, play video games or pool or grab some late night fast food all over the city and Northbridge.

Tour a bit of our political and public culture by climbing the Bell Tower, touring parliament house or the Perth Mint or seeing the Art Gallery, State Library and State Museum, all located in Perth Cultural Centre at the top of James Street.

Be a high roller for the night at the Burswood blackjack or roulette tables, kayak on the gorgeous Swan River, shop till you drop all over the city and suburbs, gaze over the skyline from Kings Park, bike along the South Perth foreshore or cruise the river at night.

About the region

WA wasn’t kind to the early Dutch explorers. Rather than riding the Roaring Forties to reach their targets of the Spice Islands of Southeast Asia, many were blown all the way to the reefs and rocks of the WA coast, and from the mid 1600s to the mid 1900s, over three hundred ships were wrecked on our coasts.

When de Vlamingh came across the site of modern day Perth, he fared no better. He believed the land was corrupt (which had turned the otherwise normal swans black) and the picturesque island off the coast was home to a weird kind of rat, he named the site of his fresh water source the Swan River and moved on.

It was a hundred years later that Captain Stirling surveyed the area and returned east to convince the colonial powers that the fertile valley he’d found would be ideal for settlement.

His return two years later marked the beginning of a period of harsh conditions, lack of supplies as ships were continually wrecked, inclement hot weather no good for farming, and an ever-dwindling population giving up and heading back east.

The city of Perth might never have been except for a desperate plea for cheap labour. With London’s prisons still overflowing, convicts were transported and based at the new penal colony of Fremantle, and the city grew by leaps and bounds.

With a population of 30,000 in the 1880s, WA petitioned for self-government, which it was granted right in time for the biggest economic boom in the world at the time. The gold rush brought immigrants from all corners of the world and, with farming, populated most of the state.

All this grew from a group of settlers huddled on the shores of Garden Island waiting for land grants, dying from influenza and with their provisions and possessions smashed and floating in the sea.

Main page

Perth is one of the last Australian cities not in a mad rush to be like it’s giant North American and European cousins. A place where the lifestyle is still laid back and the hustle and bustle comprises a few well planned city blocks and traffic that would make even easterners green with envy.

Not without big city problems and cultural clashes, occasional bad planning by councils and with politicians as silver-tongued as in the rest of the western world, the people of Perth just seem to get on with it, get the work done, and then go to the beach or out for dinner or a couple of drinks.

Some of the chic that’s captivated Sydney and Melbourne has taken off with inner city warehouse and high rise living and lifestyle, but you can still feasibly own your own home or flat in your young years and take your kids through the city at night. In fact, the city and inner city is where some of Perth’s most beautiful and interesting sights and attractions are, from King’s Park and the controversial Belltower to fashionable West Perth and the river foreshore of South Perth.

Growth has embraced Rockingham, the Hills and Mandurah almost as suburbs of Perth in themselves, and you’ll find everything from hip coffee strips in Subiaco to historical markets in Guildford, world-class entertainment at Burswood to endless beaches at Cottesloe and Scarborough, early history in Fremantle to the best pubs, entertainment, movies and shows in Northbridge and throughout the suburbs.

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