Perth, Western Australia - Stein Travel
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Perth

Most of the two million people who live in Western Australia reside in the sophisticated and scenic state capital. Perth grew on the banks of the Swan River, named after the Scottish city of the same name, and was proclaimed by Queen Victoria as a city in 1856. The discovery of gold in Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie, to the east of the city, in the 1890s led to a dramatic rise in its population and an economic boom. Another boom followed in the 1960s with the mining profits of iron ore and nickel.

Today the city is characterised by numerous waterways, green parks and a compact central business district. There is plenty to occupy visitors in Perth, from touring the city by tram or bus, enjoying watersports on the Swan River or just sipping a glass of the famous local wine in a riverside or beachside restaurant. Perth has more restaurants per capita than any other Australian city. Not far from the city is Western Australia's oldest wine-growing region, Swan Valley, which welcomes tourists to visit the many award-winning family-owned wineries, which offer alfresco and restaurant meals and cellar tastings.

Perth is also the site of the world's oldest operating mint, and boasts several museums and art galleries, historic buildings, a casino and a good variety of shopping opportunities. Last, but not least, the city offers more than 50 miles (80km) of white sandy beaches in close proximity. Among the most popular are Cottesloe and Scarborough.

Information & Facts

Climate

Perth has a Mediterranean climate. Summer, from December to February, is warm, sunny and dry, while winter, June to August, is wet and mild. In between, spring and autumn are fresh, sunny seasons which are an ideal time to visit Perth.

Eating Out

Boasting more restaurants per capita than any other Australian city, Perth's multi-cultural make-up lends itself to a varied cuisine and many styles of eateries. The best place to find a variety of restaurants is in the Perth CBD, where a selection of funky cafes, pubs and intimate, world-class restaurants await, ready to tantalise the taste buds. Northbridge's cultural hub boasts some more exotic options where everything from spicy Moroccan fare to the gentle flavours of Mediterranean cuisine can be found. For great seafood check out the coastal eateries between Fremantle and Cottesloe, where fresh fish, plump prawns and breathtaking views over the ocean will sing to all senses. Tips are not expected in restaurants in Perth, although it is becoming more common in expensive restaurants in the bigger cities to leave some money for good service.

Getting Around

Perth has a very efficient and convenient public transport system called Transperth, which operates buses, trains and ferries. Passengers can hop from one to the other on a single ticket, and obtain information on all the services at booths set up for this purpose at strategic points like Plaza Arcade, the railway station and bus stations. Buses in the central area are free (CAT), covering three routes, while suburban bus services and trains link to the outer districts day and night, buses running till 11.30pm and trains until 2am (later in summer). Ferries cross the Swan River between the Barrack Street jetty and Mends Street jetty, sailing between 6.45am and 7.15pm each day, and later on weekends. Fares are based on zones and tickets can be bought from newsagents and vending machines. Metered taxis can be hailed in the street in Perth, found at taxi ranks or booked by telephone. All major car hire companies are represented in Perth and driving in the city poses no problems. Cycling is a popular way to get around, too, and there are designated cycle routes.

Kids Attractions

With an abundance of fascinating local wildlife and nature on its doorstep, Perth has plenty to offer kids on holiday in the way of attractions and things to do.

With plenty of pristine sandy beaches there's hours of fun in the sun to be had on Perth's surrounding family beaches like Cottesloe Beach and Leighton Beach, but be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen as the Australian sun can be ruthless. Another great outdoors option is the Kings Park and Botanic Garden where families can hike, bike or just relax in the shade of a tree with a picnic and some toys - a great place for kids to let off all that extra steam.

Inquisitive minds will love a trip to the hands-on Scitech Discovery Centre where kids can get involved in interactive exhibits and programs while Tumbulgum Farm, just outside of Freemantleis the perfect place for the little ones to learn about farm life, watch the sheep being sheared, bottle feed baby lambs and even try their hand at milking a cow!

All kids love animals and the Perth Zoo is the perfect place for them to learn more about Australia's indigenous creatures like crocodiles, kangaroos, koala bears and wallabies, while the Aquarium of Western Australia is not to be missed either. The Museum of Childhood is a great place for kids to explore one of Australia's most extensive collections of toys and childhood heritage, or for something a little more exciting, drive just 20 minutes outside of Perth to visit Adventure World where little ones can choose from up to 30 exhilarating rides and a wildlife park, but this is closed during the winter months.

Parents should grab a copy of The Parent's Paper, free every month, for more ideas and current kids-friendly events.

Language

English is the official language of Australia.

Money

The Australian Dollar (AUD) is divided into 100 cents. Banks and bureaux de change exchange most foreign currencies. Travellers cheques are also welcome everywhere, but banks take a small commission and it is better to take cheques in major currencies (e.g. US dollars or Euros) to avoid additional charges. Credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are freely available throughout the country. Banking hours are generally 9.30am to 4pm Monday to Thursday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Friday, but some banks offer extended hours and some are open on Saturday mornings.

Night Life

With a plethora of trendy bars, banging clubs, luxurious lounges and chilled out pubs, there's enough nightlife to keep any party animal's cravings satisfied while on holiday in Perth.

Most of the main nightclubs are situated round the Northbridge, Subiaco and Fremantle areas and are more popular with an older, more sophisticated crowd or sip on cocktails at stylish venues like Base on Lake Street while the Moon and Sixpence British Pub on Murray Street, is a popular hangout where local and international beers flow by the keg.

Club Bay View is a popular hangout for 20-somethings on Thursday nights, but does not usually get going until around 11pm so it's worth grabbing some pre-drinks first to warm up before hitting the club or head to the multi-level dance club the Metropolis Fremantle where house and classic pop music keeps the party going until the wee hours.

There is a huge indie rock scene in Perth and plenty of live music venues cater to these numerous gigs and shows that are permanently on offer and the Universal Bar and Mojo's Bar are the good venues to enjoy the best of Perth's local talent.

Shopping

Shopping in Perth may not rival that of Sydney's but it still has plenty to enrapture any retail addict with a wide range of retail stores, boutiques, specialty shops and local markets.

Start off at Perth's pedestrianised High Street or St John's Shopping Centre where most local chain stores and a few other independent stores can be found, while the Murray and Hay street malls offer a large range of specialty stores.

The best markets in Perth are located on King Edward Street, where the Continental Market will tantalise your senses with the smells of tasty dishes cooking away, fruit and vegetables, cheese, wine and even the distinctive smell of the leather goods. The craft market is the place to find anything and everything from soaps and glassware to chocolates and wines while the Art on the River Market on Tay Street is where local artists display their works.

Best buys in Perth include boomerangs, koala bears and local sheepskin products including warm and comfortable 'Ugg Boots', sheepskin jackets and slippers. Women will love local jewellery produced from gold nuggets, Argyle diamonds, Australian opals and Broome pearls.

Duty and tax free shopping is available throughout Perth where travellers can buy cameras, watches, clothing, sunglasses and fragrances but visitors will have to have a valid plane ticket to a destination outside of Australia when visiting the local Duty Free stores. Tourists can also make use of the Tourist Refund Scheme to purchase goods tax free before their departure.

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