Sean Goedecke is a freelance writer trying to visit every cafe in Australia. If you enjoy his articles, it can't hurt to click the 'like' link at the bottom or subscribe.
Published April 9th 2012
Kings Park and Botanic Garden
Perth is a city with suspiciously good weather. Unlike, say, Melbourne, which is perpetually rainy during most of the year, Perth enjoys ridiculous amounts of sunshine and warmth. That, combined with the wealth of beaches and parks, means that visitors to Perth hardly need to do anything to have a good time. But don't think that sun and sand is all that Perth has to offer – there are plenty of other things worth seeing. Here's a list of some of them, to consult if you're bored or, God forbid, it ever rains.
The Kings Park War Memorial, with the sun rising behind it.
Kings Park and Botanic Garden covers over four hundred hectares and is only a kilometre and a half from the Perth CBD. It's got wonderful views from lookout points over basically everything you could want: the city, Swan River, and all the way to the Darling Range. There are picnic facilities, playgrounds and public toilets, for family outings, and cafes both in and around the park. It's such a good way to get in touch with some Western Australian flora, especially if you're a visitor from overseas. Sit on the grass or on a bench next to the huge, white-trunked gum trees, under the perpetually blue sky, and watch the city spread out below you.
The Art Gallery of Western Australia is right in the middle of the Perth Cultural Centre on James Street Mall. Whether you're a genuine art lover, a pretentious artiste, a vaguely-interested tourist or a total know-nothing with regard to art, this gallery has something for you. There's plenty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, which is usually a big draw-card for visitors to Australia, along with a huge collection of more recent West Australian art.
Eileen Yaritja Stevens' painting, called Piltati. Image courtesy of Art Gallery of Western Australia website
All in all, the gallery comprises over fifteen thousand works, from old-fashioned European paintings to the cutting edge of incomprehensible abstract sculpture. Don't worry if you don't know where to start, either, as free guided tours are available daily.
Take a short ferry trip from Perth to Rottnest Island, a place that somehow manages to be even more relaxing than the city itself. It's a car-free zone, so you'll have to walk, take the island bus or hire a bike to get around – and if you want to visit most of the sixty-three secluded beaches that Rottnest Island offers, you'll need to cover a fair bit of distance. Tourists can take their cameras and hunt – photographically, not literally – the island's population of quokkas, which are as a general rule very hard to find outside of a zoo.
One of the quokkas in question, obligingly posing for a photo.
Those who aren't chasing after souvenirs, though, can enjoy a slice of typical island life: kayaking, surfing, fishing, diving and enjoying glasses of wine at the restaurants or at Hotel Rottnest. The real attraction to Rottnest Island is its peace and quiet, since, with a little effort, you can almost always find a beach to yourself. This privacy is a badly-kept secret among Western Australia's nudist community – don't be too shocked if, coming across a sheltered cove, you find some naked gentleman has got there first.
The Bell Tower
Right next to the Swan River is Perth's famous Bell Tower, a unique combination of the old and the new. The tower houses the bells from London's Saint Martin in the Fields Church, shipped all the way from Trafalgar Square and mounted in a distinctly modern-looking glass building. The bells themselves – and the art of ringing them – date back to before the 14th century, and tourists can come and watch how it's done. Climb up inside one of the largest musical instruments on the planet to the sixth-floor observation deck, and see panoramic views of the Perth skyline and the Swan River. There's nothing quite like it anywhere else in Australia – or the world, for that matter.
The tower itself, looking very much like a spaceship. Image by SeanMack (Wikimedia Commons)
The Western Australian Museum is also a fabulous place for visitors to experience, as they can learn about our unique environment and wildlife, its history and the traditional culture of the Noongar people. The WA Museum in Fremantle is also special, as they can learn more about WA's maritime history.