Difference between revisions of "Perth"
Revision as of 14:19, 20 February 2012
Perth sprawls along on a flat coastal plain, centred along the Swan River and bounded by the Darling Scarp to the east and the Indian Ocean coastline in the west. Perth has a population of around 1.6 million (2009), making it the fourth largest city in Australia. The many uncrowded beaches along the Perth coastline define the lifestyle: Perth is laid-back, quiet and safe.
Perth Metropolitan Area
While the CBD straddles the Swan River, most of Perth's residents live in suburbs along the coast.
Outside the city
1-2 hr outside the city are many small townships and a big island
The Perth region has been home to the indigenous Nyoongar people for at least the past 40,000 years.
British settlers established a free settler colony in 1829 as part of the Swan River Colony. From 1850, an influx of convicts boosted the size of the colony and their labour helped shape the early architecture of the city. The discovery of gold in the 1890s triggered a boom which, with subsequent mineral discoveries, has been key to the city's economy. As capital of the state Western Australia, Perth joined the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.
The City has a temperate Mediterranean type climate.Summers are hot and dry whilst winters are generally wet and mild. Summer temperatures average 30°C/86°F between November and April. Maximum temperatures during the height of summer can reach and sometimes exceed the 40°C/104°F mark. Very hot days tend to have very low humidity making conditions more bearable.
In the Perth metropolitan area the summertime temperature rises rapidly during the morning, relived in the afternoon when the "Fremantle Doctor" blows inland from the ocean to cool the city by up to 15°C. The doctor runs out of puff before reaching the areas further inland, leaving the hills and beyond to swelter till after sunset.
Winter (Jun-Aug) temperatures are usually around 15°C. Minimum temperatures sometimes drop below 0°C on clear nights. Though Perth goes through lengthy dry spells, when it does rain, it pours. Storms with strong winds occasionally hammer a winter night, but they generally cause no more destruction than a toppled tree or flattened fence.
When to visit
Spring (Sep-Nov) and Autumn (Mar-May) are ideal times in which to visit Perth. Spring is perhaps the very best to see the sights as after a decent winter's rainfall, the famous wildflowers around Kings Park and the Avon Valley bloom splendidly. Beach-goers from colder climes might find the summer months too harsh, so it is perhaps best to visit during March-April or October-November.
Although Western Australia has many public holidays they are unlikely to cause much inconvenience to your travels. Shops are still open, public transport still runs and the sky is still blue. The exception may be New Years' Day (Jan 1), Australia Day (26 Jan), Good Friday (2 Apr), Easter Monday (5 Apr), Labour Day (first Monday of March), Queen's Birthday (27 Sep) and Foundation Day (first Monday in June) and Christmas Day (25 Dec). Most larger shops and shopping centers, pubs and restaurants are closed on these days but smaller convenience stores and some fast food chains keep their doors open. This said only some shops open, most shopping centres and large stores will close for public holidays and Sundays.
All scheduled international and domestic flights arrive and depart from Perth Airport (IATA: PER). Though both international and domestic services operate under the same Perth Airport banner, the international terminal (Terminal 1) is in a completely separate area, about 10 km from the domestic terminals (Terminals 2 and 3).
The domestic terminals are both connected as part of the same building, and it is just a short walk between them.
Airlines & Destinations
Major airlines operating from each terminal:
Major domestic airlines servicing Perth Airport are Qantas (full-service), Virgin Australia (full-service), Jetstar (low-cost, owned by Qantas and from Perth, only flies to a few cities), Tiger Airways (low-cost, only flies to a few cities), QantasLink (a regional subsidiary of Qantas) and Skywest (regional full-service, although does fly to Melbourne via Kalgoorlie).
International connections are mainly to Asian cities such as Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, Hong Kong and Guangzhou. From Africa, South African Airways operates a flight from Johannesburg.
International Terminal 1
The city and major hotels can be easily accessed by taxi or commercial shuttle buses from all terminals. Courtesy phones are located inside the terminals (for the domestic terminal, the courtesy phone is surrounded by a large board advertising accommodation past the baggage conveyor belt as you leave the arrivals area).
For more than two people it is often cheaper and faster to take a taxi into the city (waiting time and drop off other passengers can make a shuttle bus service to the city very long). A taxi by meter to the city will cost approximately $40 from the international airport; the shuttle costs about $16 per person.
There is no public transport to the international terminal.
Domestic Terminals 2 & 3
Transperth buses serve the domestic terminals. Useful services are:
There are a couple of coffee shops and food outlets both before and after security, as well as basic shopping, books and souvenirs. If you have some time to kill in transfers, there are some cafes open during business hours in the surrounding industrial park. Walk straight across the carpark, or turn right and walk past the long term car park to the Flight Path Cafe in the Civil Aviation Authority building.
A free transfer bus operates between T1 and T2/T3. The service runs every 50 minutes and the journey takes 10 minutes. During the night the service is still free but requires pre-booking by phone (0410 636 418).
A taxi between the terminals will still cost at least $20.
Once the only way to way to get into Perth, a limited number of passenger ships now dock at Fremantle. A number of round the world cruise ships including the Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria call into the Fremantle Passenger Terminal  on their own schedule. While sailing into Perth from over the Indian Ocean might sound romantic, its hardly the cheapest way in.
The Indian Pacific  trans-continental railway runs from Perth to Sydney via Kalgoorlie, Adelaide and Broken Hill. It is generally not cheap, but this journey, which takes four days and three nights, is one of the world's great train journeys. The train traverses the longest stretch of straight track of any railway in the world (478km) as it journeys across The Nullarbor.
The Indian Pacific leaves from and arrives at the East Perth terminal, which connects with Perth's suburban rail network as well as the regional bus depot. The city centre is just a 5 min train ride away from the terminal. If you are carrying baggage, it is probably best to jump into a taxi as many of the city's hotels and hostels are located up to a few kilometres away from either of the stations.
International visitors intent on train travel might want to consider purchasing a rail pass for unlimited travel on any of Great Southern Railways' services including the Indian Pacific (Sydney to Perth), The Ghan (Adelaide to Darwin via Alice Springs) and The Overland (Adelaide-Melbourne). The rail pass entitles you to just a sitting seat on any train for 6 months for $700 ($100 less for students/backpackers). Taking your car with you is also possible between the capital cities and Alice Springs, for an additional fee.
Regular train services (one or two per day, depending upon whether you are travelling during the week or on Saturday/Sunday) are available to and from the regional cites of Kalgoorlie (departing from East Perth) and Bunbury (departing from the central station). The Get out section features more information regarding these regional services...
There is currently no regular scheduled coach service across the Nullarbor Plain between Perth and Adelaide. People wishing to travel by road may wish to consider one of the adventure oriented tours that include camping and sightseeing. The only one currently operating on a regular schedule is Nullabor Traveller  Adelaide to Perth and Perth to Adelaide
Driving a car from Perth and Adelaide is also an option and the road and accommodation infrastructure makes it achievable without too much stress. However, be warned that it is still a 2,700 km drive and is considered a 'once in a lifetime' activity for locals.
The main operator of regional bus services in south west Western Australia is the government run Transwa . The Australind  train departs Perth Train Station at 9:30AM and 5:55PM daily for Bunbury in the south west with various coach connections, and The Prospector  departs from the Public Transport Centre (East Perth) at various time to the inland city of Kalgoorlie. Coaches also depart from the Public Transport centre to various locations around the state.
Coach services are available from Transwa or South West Coach Lines (enquire at their office in Esplanade Busport).
By public transport
The Perth metropolitan area has a fairly reliable and inexpensive public transport system operated by Transperth . Information about timetables, disruptions or service alterations can be found on their website, by calling 13 62 13 or at 'Transperth Infocentres' located in at the central train station and a couple of branches in the City
A reasonably reliable network of public bus services run around the suburbs between bus and train stations.
Transperth also operates a free CAT bus service in Perth CBD, Northbridge, Fremantle and Joondalup. The large air-conditioned buses of different colours with the distinctive cat logo run about every 10 min on various routes around major facilities and attractions. They are a great way of getting from one place to another.
The buses are free leaving and entering the city within the Free Transit Zone- it runs from Newcastle Street down and from the end of Kings Park when going towards Subiaco. This does not require a Smartrider, just get on.
The Swan City's suburban railway network is great for quickly getting to outlying suburban areas. All services stop at the central Perth station in the City on their way to or from the outlying terminating stations. The Mandurah line travels through the Esplanade station adjacent to the busport and the south of the city.
Train services run frequently during peak hours and every 15 min during weekday daylight hours and 30 min after 7PM and weekends. Services commence around 5:30AM cease at around midnight. During peak hours Perth Station can get quite busy.
The Transperth system is divided into 9 concentric zones, as well as the Free Transit Zone (city centre and surrounds). The Free Transit Zone on the trains is only available to SmartRider (transport card) holders, passengers without a card have to buy a ticket. Tickets and passes are valid on all buses and trains within a zone. Tickets are valid for two hours and can be used on your return trip.
Zone 2 extends as far as Fremantle and for most visitors a two zone ticket will suffice. Single trip, cash tickets can be purchased from bus drivers or coin-operated ticket machines located at train stations. The more convenient SmartRider cards automatically calculate your fare and deduct it from your card when you tag on and off upon boarding and alighting bus and train services. SmartRiders can be bought or recharged at Transperth Information Centres, major train and bus stations and/or from most Newsagents. Bus drivers can also charge your SmartCard for you, however they will not provide change. SmartRider cards carry a 15% discount over cash fares.
There are $9.30 Single Rider passes available after 9am most days. Family Rider passes also cost $9.30 and allow two standard fare passengers plus up to (five?) concession passengers unlimited travel- these are only available after 6pm Monday to Thursday, after 3pm on Fridays, and all day on weekends and school or public holidays. This is an excellent value for couples and couples with children, as a standard one-way fare alone runs from $2.60 for one zone, $3.80 for two zones, and $4.70 for three zones.
With the advent of the new SmartRider system those passengers not holding SmartRider cards will need to present their paper ticket to the transit guard upon entering and leaving Perth Station and selected suburban stations.
Taxi experiences in Perth can range from hassle-free to problematic. Extended waits during peak periods (5AM-9AM Weekdays and Weekend Evenings) are common, but outside these times, taxis are plentiful. Booking a taxi is possible but only recommended if your journey is likely to be upwards of $25 or you are travelling to the airport. This is due to the convoluted way in which the dispatch services handle timed bookings. If your journey is likely to be short, it is better to simply call for a taxi once you are ready to leave, or hail a taxi if you are in a busy area.
Two major taxi companies are Swan Taxis (13 13 30), who dispatch Swan, TriColor, 13CABS, Yellow and Coastal taxis, and Black and White Taxis (131 008). There are numerous smaller companies that operate mainly out of the Central Business District. Fares are regulated by the state government and all dispatch companies charge the same rate. Flagfall is $3.90 during weekdays, increasing to $5.70 on weeknights and weekends. The kilometre rate is $1.59/km charged in $0.10 increments. Surcharges apply on designated holiday periods (New Years Eve and Christmas Day) and on weekend nights between midnight and 5AM. Tipping taxi drivers in Perth is not customary, but adding a small gratuity ($1 or $2) on top of the fare is common for exceptional service.
Catching a taxi from an entertainment precinct late on a Friday or Saturday night sees clubbers waiting at taxi stands up to 2 hours for a ride home. Drivers are known to avoid picking up drunken patrons from outside of pubs, clubs or from the entrance to Perth central station. There are specially designated 'secure ranks' operating at these times where patrons can queue in (relative) safety. Another option is the late night Transperth trains and buses run specially for revellers after their night out.
Services at Perth Airport are generally reliable, but due to poor airport design, prepare for a lengthy wait at the taxi-stand as the line of waiting taxis crawl in one by one. The frequency at night drops off but there should still be a few cars waiting to meet incoming planes. A typical taxi ride from the Domestic Airport to the City is around $30 ($35 from the International). There is a $2 airport tax payable on top of the fare.
By bicycle or on foot
Perth and Fremantle can be comfortably explored on foot or by bicycle as Perth has some of the best cycling and pedestrian infrastructure in Australia. The Perth bicycle network features an ever growing, metro-wide system of bicycle/pedestrian paths. The system features;
Cycle maps are available from most bike shops, and at Planners Map . The Department for Planning and Infrastructure provides a range of guides, maps and brochures for bike riders. If you have a scenic route in mind, these brochures can take you to the coast, Kings Park, Armadale and the Hills or around the Swan River.
A favourite amongst seasoned local cyclists is the ride along the North side of the Swan River between the City and Nedlands. Allow 60 min for a round trip along this route, as you might encounter a strong headwind.
Bicycles are allowed on board Transperth trains but not during peak hour, unless they are the type of bicycle that can be folded up.
Cycling at full pelt in the fully pedestrianised Hay and Murray St malls in the city centre is generally tolerated by the police. Doing this, however, is an easy way to cheese off local pedestrians if you are going too fast.
Renting a car is the ideal means of transportation for traveling to outlying attractions. Perth's major freeways and highways are free from any tolls, as is not the case in Sydney and Melbourne and from either of these major arterial roads, it is possible to be surrounded by beautiful countryside within minutes.
Rent-a-car providers are located adjacent to the airport and there are quite a few scattered around the city and the suburbs.
The general speed limit within built-up areas is 50 km/h unless otherwise stated.
Note that traffic in Perth (as elsewhere in Australia) travels in the left-hand lane. It is advisable to travel on the left hand lane even in dual carriageways for tourist drivers. This might take a bit of getting used to if you drive on the right-hand side back home. Even for right-hand drivers some things are different here like the ability to overtake on the inside of a vehicle on a freeway.
Note that Police are rarely seen out on the roads but manned mobile speed cameras operated by public servants are very prevalent. Driving even 5km/hr above the placarded speed can incur a fine . Driving 40km/hr above the placarded speed means the car is impounded for 28 days even if it not your car (hire cars excepted).
There is plenty to see in the city centre within wandering distance or on a free CAT bus. Hidden among the sprawl of the surrounding and metropolitan area are a few worthwhile attractions usually less than an hour away by car, or a bit longer on public transport.
Outside of the metropolitan area are some unspoilt national parks, unpopulated coastline and other interesting locations.
There is a designated area in the zoo for kangaroos where they can wander on visitors' paths and the animals are used to people so you can see them very close.
To see semi-wild kangaroos visit the Pinnaroo Valley Memorial Park (a cemetery, but not European style)  - it's a walking distance from Whitfords Transperth Train/Metro Station - just cross the highway, the highway exit and look for the entrance on the left. As there are plenty space for them you may see them not only eating but also hopping.
Perth boasts some of the country's best beaches, which are ideal for swimming during the warmer months. Sunscreen is essential and insect repellent may come in handy during the evening. As the beaches are on the open ocean it is strongly advised that you only 'swim between the flags' at patrolled beaches. Probably the easiest beach to get to by public transport is Scarborough beach, which can be accessed by catching the Clarkson line from platform 1 at either Perth Underground or Esplanade stations, getting off at Glendalough station before catching the 400 Bus. Alternatively, you can catch the 400 from the Wellington St bus station which is located down the far end of the central station - from any of its platforms, head West to the concourse, turn left and then head down the ramp.
There are a lot of options if you have access to a car - from the city just head to the coast, then head north or south for some exploring.
Perth is well known for its indie music scene at established venues such as Amplifier Bar, Rosemount, Fly By Night, The Rocket Room and Mojos. The Big Day Out festival is held in early February every year. Visit YourGigs  for upcoming gigs or Perth Indie Bands  for a selection of good Perth bands.
The largest concentration of boutique shops is in the City centre while adjacent Northbridge is the place for niche independent stores. Trendier suburbs such as Mount Lawley, Leederville and Subiaco have a number of offbeat designer fashion stores.
Large shopping complexes located in the outer suburbs, such as in Morley, Carousel, Cannington, Midland, Joondalup, Booragoon, Innaloo and Karrinyup have the usual department and chain stores.
Fremantle Markets offers an experience on its own with its over 150 independent stalls.
Shopping hours in Perth are mostly regulated by the government. Between January and November they are:
In mid-December Christmas trading hours kick in and usually run until the end of December (individual shopping centres set their own times). Trading is extended to 9PM on weekdays and on Sundays most shops open 10AM-5PM.
A 10% Goods and Services Tax is included in listed prices. Perth tends to be cheaper than cities like Sydney and Melbourne. Harbour Town (Yellow CAT from any stop) is where manufacturers have their factory outlets; some good deals are to be had there.
After Christmas (and around July as well for many stores) is the best time to come to Perth for shopping. Perth City as well as some regional (i.e. Bunbury, etc.) stores are open Boxing Day and suburban stores open on the 27th. Customers have been known to form a line across the street to even enter stores such as 'Guess' and Myer store entry and escalator movement is monitored by security guards to prevent floor crowding.
One of Perth's drawbacks is that its people have not embraced late night dining. Very few places will serve food after 10PM, even on Friday or Saturday nights. Most restaurants in Perth do not cater for vegetarians or vegans, and if they do - the range is extremely limited. If you are looking for a place that embraces vegetarian food, Fremantle is great.
There is an extensive array of restaurants in Northbridge. You will find a great selection of Southern European and Asian restaurants. Northbridge gets very busy on Friday and Saturday nights as Perth goes into party mode. Neighbouring Mount Lawley and Highgate also has some good options.
Fremantle is a good eating option. Famous for its cappuccino strip lined with cafes next door to one another popular with the yuppie crowd. On weekends, a local tradition is to visit the Fisherman's Wharf on warm, sunny weekend evenings for fish and chips. There are a couple of options to choose from close to the beach. Just follow your nose or the seagulls. Further exploring in Fremantle, or "Freo" as it is locally known, can reveal lots of trendy, alternative restaurants that cater for the "careful" eaters. If you care about knowing what it is you are eating, (vegan, preservative free, fair trade, organic), try exploring the Freo markets area, or just ask around, they are often not in the "touristy areas".
Subiaco is located just a couple of kilometres from the city center. It is a trendy but fun suburb which features some great food and entertainment, although can be quite expensive.
Claremont is a suburb on the Fremantle railway line where you will find some good restaurants as well (including authentic Italian), although, again, quite expensive and a limited range.
The Swan Valley, especially along West Swan Road contains various wineries and restaurants with stunning views over the vineyards. Particularly good are The Black Swan Cafe, Duckstein Brewery, Elmar's and The Mallard Duck Cafe.
A large Western Rock Lobster (known locally by its former name of crayfish) industry. Most of the crayfish is exported to Asia and USA for vast sums of money. However, crayfish prices in Perth can be relatively cheap, especially during summer in a good season. A chance to give it a try without breaking the bank.
Chilli Mussels are a popular local speciality, consisting of mussels cooked in tomato and chilli jus, available in various restaurants.
Truffles are grown around Mundaring.
The ubiquitous fast food chains serve the usual oily stuff.
If you're interested in a gourmet road trip, nearby Margaret River (about a two hours drive away) is extremely popular for wine tasting, delicious chocolate and fresh, locally made food and produce.
Perth has a abundance of Gloria Jeans and Dome stores mainly in the city centre and suburban shopping areas. Clusters of independent European style cafes line the trendy streets of suburbs around the city centre. The most well know place for a decent espresso is the Cafe Strip in Fremantle closely followed by the districts of Subiaco, Leederville and South Perth. In recent times Perth has the dubious honour of having some of the dearest average coffee prices in the country with a normal sized coffee coming close to $4, combined with the strong currency this must make Perth or WA one of the dearest drinking spots in the World.
Pubs and Bars
Perth has bars scatered throughout the city but most bars are in the CBD, Northbridge, Subiaco, Leederville, Mount Lawley & Fremantle areas. Bars usually become busy after 5pm with the afterwork crowd, but most locals tend to go to bars on Friday & Saturday nights. The CBD bars in particular get very busy on Friday nights with many of the popular bars forming long entry lines. Most bars open from around 11AM and close midnight (10PM on Sundays), a few bars do have special extended liquor trading hours to either 1, 2 or 3AM.
Perth has a small but strong dance music scene which revolves heavily around drum & bass. Club nights and international gigs are held at a variety of venues across the city centre, Northbridge and outer suburbs (check out local street press magazines such as Xpress for gig guides and further info) for a comprehensive gig guide).
Almost all clubs in Western Australia have very strict ID policies and it is highly unlikely that you will get in if you do not have your passport or an ID issued in Australia by a government agency (either an Austrlian driver's license or proof of age card) with you, even if you definitely look over the legal age. Also most dance music bars/clubs close at 2AM following Friday and Saturday nights and are subjected to Police enforced lockdowns and lockouts (as is the case in Brisbane), so you will find yourself stuck in one place after 3AM, and be stranded should you be short on money for a cab.
Hostels and Backpackers
Perth is very popular with backpackers and there are a large number of backpackers' hostels located in the city, particularly in the Northbridge area. Be warned there are a few hostels in Perth that are in terrible condition make sure to see your room or check the ratings online.
Caravan parks are a cost effective and often good value family way to stay in Perth. Caravan parks are usually some distance from the city, but some have bus stops right out the front door. Caravan parks are generally clean and offer a variety of different accommodation types.
The main dangers that an overseas visitor to Perth faces are sunburn and dehydration. Make sure you cover yourself with SPF 30+ sunscreen and a hat, and preferably a shirt and keep a bottle of water with you, especially in the warmer months. Also be wary of dehydration in the hot weather. An insect repellent such as 'Aeroguard' will be useful on summer evenings if you are outdoors.
Otherwise, Perth is relatively safe, though its best not to walk alone at night. Some areas such as Northbridge are also known to be 'trouble spots' on weekend nights and tourist should be careful.
Police are generally friendly and approachable.
Trains are generally safe with transit guards travelling in pairs, patrolling most scheduled trains after peak hour. All train stations have a time to next train as well as an emergency button which can be used to call transit guards should the need arise. All stations have live monitored cameras and these can be activated by the simple push of the emergency button. In the train, there are "talk to driver" buttons in every carriage, but some older trains do not have them on every door. From 2011 the Armadale Train line especially in the areas of Burswood and Carlisle has had some high profile assaults from gangs travelling on the train system . The gangs usually comprise of disaffected Indigenous youth and although weapons are not usually involved attacks have become more vicious in their nature.
The bus network while generally safe, but after hours can be a little more dangerous than the train network, with extremely limited security patrols, and buses coming under increasing attacks by people throwing rocks and other anti social behaviour. Some bus stations (like Mirrabooka bus station and the associated buses) should be avoided where possible due to ethnic based gangs of youths and other anti-social behaviour. If you have to travel by bus at night, sit as close to the driver as possible and if a problem develops, tell the driver. Often incidents on buses continue for much longer than they should because no one asks the bus driver for assistance.
Exercise caution when crossing the road at zebra crossings, walking along the footpath at the entry/exit point of parking lots or when crossing the street at a T-intersection. Though pedestrians have the legal right of way, some motorists choose to ignore this rule. In the case of a zebra crossing, cars should slow down for you though caution is advisable. If you do not notice a car slowing down, do not begin to cross.