Earth : Oceania : Australia : Western Australia : Perth
Perth is a region of the vast state of Western Australia. It is centred around the states capital city, Perth, one of the most isolated capital cities in the world.
The Perth inner area radiates north and south of the Swan River on a flat coastal plain, bounded in 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
Most residents live in the area around the Swan River.
Outside the city
An hour or two 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 1890's 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.
Perth 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 degrees. The doctor runs out of puff before reaching the areas further inland, leaving the hills and beyond to swelter till after sunset.
Winter (June to August) temperatures are usually around 15°C. Minimum temperatures sometimes drop below zero 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 (September through November) and Autumn (March through 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 (Apr 2), Easter Monday (Apr 5), Labour Day (first Monday of March), Queen's Birthday (Sep 27) and Foundation Day (first Monday in June) and Christmas Day (Dec 25). 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.
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 10km 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 Blue (low-cost), Jetstar (low-cost, owned by Qantas and from Perth, only flies to Melbourne, Adelaide and Cairns), 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, Dubai, Hong Kong and Tokyo. 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 $30 from the international airport; the shuttle costs about $15 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.
If walking off your jet-lag with a 2 hour hike between terminals doesn't appeal to you, shuttle buses depart hourly between 3:30AM and 2AM from in front of the terminal. Look for the orange and grey Connect bus parked on the curb outside the door. Though these transfer buses are very convenient, they're not particularly friendly. The service is available only for passengers transferring to flights on the same day. You must show your itinerary before boarding the bus. No itinerary - no ride. Qantas, One World or Qantas code-share passengers may get complimentary transfer voucher from the Qantas Ticketing Counter for a free ride. Everyone else must pay the hefty $8 fare to the driver.
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 five minute 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 2700 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 (until 10PM) 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 minutes on various routes around major facilities and attractions. They are a great way of getting from one place to another.
Perth'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 minutes during weekday daylight hours and 30 minutes 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.
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.
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.
Taxis can be the most problematic way to get around Perth. Frustrations from lengthy waits for one of the few empty taxis available during peak periods and the resulting exorbitant fares deter most from taxi's unless absolutely necessary. Booking a taxi a few hours in advance should eliminate waiting but can only add to the end fare.
Two major taxi companies are Swan Taxis (13 13 30), who dispatch both Swan and TriColor taxis, and Black and White Taxis (131 008).
Catching a taxi from an entertainment precinct late on a Friday or weekend night sees clubber's waiting at taxi stands up to 2 hours for a ride home. To make things worse, drivers are known to avoid picking up drunken patrons from outside of pubs, clubs or from the entrance to Perth central station. A better option is the late night Transperth trains and buses run specially for revellers after their night out.
Services at Perth Airport are a little better but 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 a few waiting to meet incoming planes. Once again, Transperth bus might be a better option.
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 sixty minutes 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.
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 wonder 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 cementary, but not European style)  - it's a walking distance from Withfords 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.
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, Hyde Park Hotel, 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 it's 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.
Smaller shops may open longer hours by law all year.
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 many 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.
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.
Subiaco is located just a couple of kilometres from the city centre. Subiaco is a trendy but fun suburb which features some great food and entertainment.
Claremont is a suburb on the Fremantle railway line where you will find some good restaurants as well (including authentic Italian).
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 the 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!
Truffles are grown around Mundaring.
The ubiquitous fast food chains serve the usual oily stuff.
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.
Pubs and Bars
Perth CBD and nearby Northbridge has many bars and nightclubs. Bars usually become crowded after 5PM with those who have just finished a hard day's work.
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).
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.
Caravan parks (Trailer 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 danger that an overseas visitor to Perth faces is sunburn! Make sure you cover yourself with SPF 30+ sunscreen and a hat, and preferably a shirt, 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.
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.
The bus network while generally safe, 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 in particular 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 ASK THE DRIVER FOR HELP. 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.