We've all seen it, we've all heard of it, and we've definitely all heard it! Whether you like it or not the Swan Bell Tower is one of the most iconic, instantly recognisable and original landmarks in Australia.
Our Bell Tower was born in a sea of controversy back in 2000. People were expecting a towering lookout post, instead we got a stunning yet comparatively small building sitting between river and city at Barrack Square. What many don't realise is that the towers main purpose is not as a look out post, but as a house for some very, very famous bells.
Over three hundred years old, these bells were formerly hung at St. Martins in the Fields in England and are the only known set of royal bells outside of their homeland. They've rung in several famous events including victories at Al Alamein, Waterloo and defeat of the Spanish Armada. They've even celebrated the return of Captain Cook from his voyage of discovery!
And this is where the Bell Tower sets itself apart. Volunteer Bell ringers come in around midday every day to give the public live demonstrations. This is the only place in the world where the public can actually go in and ring the bells - some weighing over one tonne - by themselves.
Furthermore, it is the only place in the world where the public can view the bell ringers performing up close. On level two the public can witness the bell ringers performing a style known as chain ringing. On level four, you can go in and watch the bells wheeling around, producing a remarkable array of sound and music.
Besides the bells, you can learn a lot about the history of Perth by going here. The walls inside are covered with interesting facts about Perth, bells and how the two came together. They also have an old mechanical clock which used to be housed in none other than Royal Ascot itself.
Despite not being built as a lookout, there are some pretty special views on the top floor. at 25 metres above ground the open air viewing platform boasts remarkable views over the river, kings park and out to the Darling escarpment.
You can even take a walk around the gantry - a metal lattice walkway teetering out over the edge of the tower. From this you met with equally beautiful views of our rapidly developing city and out to East Perth.
The tower does cater for functions, tour groups and weddings too, one flick through their photo album will show you how great a venue it is for hosting.
IWe've all heard the saying don't judge a book by its cover. For me the Bell tower is a perfect example of this - although the cover is rather spectacular. Most people that have taken the time to look around have come out smiling, you only need to read the feedback book for proof of that.