Perth Attractions and Tourist
Swan Bells is a bell game with eighteen large clocks mounted in an 85 meter high glass and copper tower, and has become one of Perth’s major tourist attractions since its opening in 2000. Twelve of the bells were a gift from England and can be traced back to the 1300’s. They used to hang in the church of St. Martin-In-The-Fields on Trafalgar Square in London, but are now part of the world’s largest functioning chimes. Swan Bells is located in Barrack Square, Riverside Drive, and is open daily from 6 p.m. 1000 to 1800. Entrance fee NOK 30, 20 for children.
Art Gallery of Western Australia The
Art Gallery of Western Australia opened in 1979, but has a history dating back to 1895. Here you will find paintings and sculptures from the 19th century to the present day.
The gallery is located at the Perth Cultural Center in James Street, Northbridge. Open daily from 2 pm 1000 to 1700.
Old Fremantle Prison
For 145 years, Freemantle Prison was Western Australia’s largest prison, where convicted criminals sat, and all executions in the state took place. The prison was used as a high-security institution until 1991, and has been a museum ever since. On the tours you can visit the cells and see the preserved graffiti, you can enter the gallery and the underground tunnels. Among the prison’s former prisoners are actually Perth’s great musical son, former AC / DC vocalist Bon Scott, who is otherwise buried in Fremantle’s cemetery. Fremantle Prison is open every day from 6 p.m. 1000 to 1700 and has free admission.
This zoo in southern Perth has been open every single day since it first opened in 1898 with two lions and a tiger. It has now grown to include over 1800 animals spread across 230 species, and the park has earned honors and awards for its work to preserve endangered animal species. Both Siberian tigers and white rhinos have been born in the Perth Zoo, as well as Australian species such as numbat and black bear. Perth Zoo is open daily from 5 p.m. 0900 to 1700, and costs NOK 85 in entry fee, children half price.
Kings Park & Botanical Gardens
This large park one and a half miles east of downtown Perth is over 400 acres. Two-thirds of the park consists of wild nature; the rest are well-kept park areas and recreational areas for play and games. Kings Park & Botanical Gardens was built in 1872 and got its name after the English King George’s visit in 1901. Here, 320 species of Australian plants grow, and about 80 species of birds live here. The park is Western Australia’s most popular tourist destination and receives millions of guests each year.
Aquarium of Western Australia
This is Australia’s largest aquarium. It has its own underwater tunnel that you can stroll through while sharks, eels and turtles swim over and around you. You can also look into beautiful, living coral reefs, visit playful seals and have lunch on the terrace.
The Aquarium of Western Australia is open daily from 5 p.m. 1000 to 1700 and is located at Hillarys Boat Harbor 20 minutes drive north of downtown. The entrance fee costs around NOK 125 for adults, 70 for children between 4 and 15, and free for the little ones.
Western Australia Museum
This museum focuses on Western Australia’s history and environment, and features anthropological exhibits, meteors, dinosaur fossils, Stone Age artifacts and a butterfly gallery.
The museum is located in Northbridge and is open daily from 2 p.m. 0930 to 1700. Free admission.
Cohunu Koala Park
Half an hour’s drive east of Perth, you’ll find this 14-acre park where you can feed kangaroos, deer, ponies and ostriches. And not least you can hold a koala, these little teddy bears that everyone but the Australians themselves find so irresistibly charming. The bears live almost exclusively on eucalyptus leaves and sleep 18-20 hours daily. Don’t forget the camera! Cohunu is open daily from 7 am 1000 to 1700, and costs NOK 110 entry fee, children under 14 years half price.
Two miles north of downtown Perth lies the 40-square-mile Whiteman Park. Here you will find a bustling flora and over 120 species of animals. The park also has an extensive network of hiking trails, bike paths, playgrounds, tennis courts and football fields in addition to museums such as the Western Australia Motor Museum and the somewhat special Tractor Museum.
Free admission, open daily from 7 am 0830 to 1800, and to 8 p.m. 1900 on weekends and in the summer months.
An easy way to see most of Perth is to join a guided tour with one of the open sightseeing buses, with comments in optional language in earphones. These buses have a route with ten regular stops where you can hop off, stay as long as you want and hop on the next bus at your convenience. The passport costs approx. 130 kroner, or approx. NOK 80 for children up to 10 years. You can pre-order tickets online.
Although the center of Perth is relatively small and compact, the city’s main attractions are not within walking distance of each other. It will be worthwhile to buy a day pass, a DayRider ticket for around 35 kroner, which gives unlimited access on Perth’s public buses and trains. If, however, you only have to stay within the city center areas, ie Kings Park / Northbridge / Causeway, you do not need a ticket, as the public transport on the red CAT buses is actually free.
Day 1 in Perth
We start today’s tour of downtown Perth on Victoria Square, where the Roman Catholic St. Mary’s Cathedral of 1865, built in Gothic style, is located. Continue down Victoria Avenue and turn right into St. George’s Terrace. On the left you have Perth Concert Hall, where there are concerts most evenings throughout the year. Turn left into Stirling Gardens and you will see Government House on your left. A little further down the hill you pass one of Perth’s oldest buildings, The Courthouse from 1836.
You will now descend towards the Swan River, and right in front of you, in Barrack Gardens Park, is one of Perth’s top attractions, the 85-meter-high Swan Bell Tower with its eighteen large bells. Twelve of the bells were a gift from England and can be traced back to the 1300s. They used to hang in the church of St. Martin-In-The-Fields on Trafalgar Square in London, but are now part of this world’s largest functioning chimes.
If you go straight north, up Barrack Street, you will pass Perth’s second cathedral, St. Georges, and the town hall on your right. At Plaza Arc you can turn left and you have Perth’s main shopping streets right in front. In the pedestrian streets of Hay Street Mall and the parallel street Murray Street Mall you will find lots of shops, both small local shops and well-known chain stores in large shopping centers.
After the shopping round, it’s time to relax a bit. Walk up to Perth’s train station just above Murray Street and take the local train to Victoria Street, which is the closest station to beautiful Cottesloe Beach. Here are plenty of beach restaurants and eateries where you can have a good and affordable lunch while overlooking the Indian Ocean. Afterwards, the waves or sandy beach will probably be tempted for a few hours.
After a walk back to the hotel for a shower and some relaxation, head west to the city center. From Mounts Bay Road, the so-called Jacob’s Ladder takes you up the steep Cliff Street and into the large Kings Park, where you have a magnificent panoramic view of Perth and the Swan River. The observation tower just off the botanical garden gives you great photo opportunities, as half of the city’s postcard photographers have proven for years.
When noon is set in, take a free shuttle bus or take a walk to Northbridge, the district north of the train station. Here are most of Perth’s eateries, restaurants, bars and cafes. Your only problem is deciding what kind of food you want for dinner. Do you have the sense of Asian, we can definitely recommend Thai Elephant in William Street, which serves delicious Thai dishes at great prices in very pleasant surroundings. Afterwards, Perth’s little legendary nightlife is at your feet, with hundreds of dining options that stay open until late into the night.
Day 2 in Perth
Today it is time to get a little out of the city center. Have an early breakfast at the hotel and get down to Barrack Street Jetty # 2, just off the Swan Bell Tower. From here, the boat goes out to Rottnest Island, Perth residents’ favorite destination for a day trip.
The hike down the Swan River, past Fremantle and out to Rottnest Island takes approx. 90 minutes, and on arrival it may be an idea to rent a bike to more easily explore this 11 mile long island. You can cycle around the entire island in about 2.5 hours at a comfortable pace, and you will come across a myriad of beautiful beaches in idyllic bays. From time to time you will also find places to eat and cafes, bars and ice cream parlors.
If you want to spend more than a day on Rottnest Island, there are also accommodation options in several price ranges, from dormitories and camping, to hotels and resorts. And it’s enough to get away from cycling and swimming. You can rent a kayak or take a glass boat ride, join a free guided hike, play golf or snorkel, or admire the view from the top of the old Wadjemup lighthouse. You can find a complete overview of all Rottnest Island attractions and activities on the website.
As you see, you can easily spend the whole day, and the next, on Rottnest Island, but when you leave in the afternoon, hop off in Fremantle instead of traveling all the way back to Perth. This historic little port town with 25,000 inhabitants has a history as long as Perth, and many of Fremantle’s oldest buildings are built by prisoners. If you still have time, take the opportunity to visit Fremantle Prison, now converted into a museum, or Western Australia’s oldest building, The Round House.
The harbor area is idyllic and pleasant to stroll around, with many pleasant seafood restaurants where you can dine with great views and enjoy the breeze from the Indian Ocean on your face. The local trains back to Perth leave often and late, and you can end your day with a few drinks at a nice Northbridge bar if you still have the energy.