Perth, Western Australia

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Perth is the state capital and most populous city of Western Australia. In June 2005 the Perth Metropolitan Area had an estimated population of 1.47 million making it the fourth most populous city in Australia. <ref>Australian Bureau of Statistics, Regional Population growth, 2004-05 (3218.0) www.ausstats.abs.gov.au (PDF - 4.4MB)</ref> Perth is said to be one of the 'cleanest' and least polluted cities in Australia. The city is well known for its wonderful beaches, nice views, great weather and the atmosphere along with the friendly people.

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Contents

History

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Although the British Army had established a base at King George Sound (later Albany) on the south coast of Western Australia in 1826 — to forestall rumoured annexation by France — Perth was the first full scale settlement by Europeans in the "western third" of the continent. The town was established in 1829, as the capital of the Swan River Colony, a free settler colony. In 1850, as Western Australia, it became host to convicts, at the request of farming and business people who wanted cheap labour. <ref>A Brief History www.perth.wa.gov.au </ref>

Naming and founding

The name Perth was chosen in 1829 by James Stirling. Stirling, a Scot, implemented the wish of Sir George Murray, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, that the Swan River Colony settlement be named after Perthshire, which was his birthplace as well as his parliamentary seat in the British House of Commons. On 1 June 1829, the colonists had their first view of the mainland and Western Australian's Foundation Day has since been recognised by a public holiday on the first Monday in June each year. James said that Perth was "as beautiful as anything of this kind I had ever witnessed." On August 12 that year, Mrs Helen Dance, wife of the Captain of the ship Sulphur, cut down a tree to mark the day of the founding of the town. Queen Victoria announced the city status of Perth in 1856. <ref>History of Perth worldfacts.us </ref>

After a referendum in 1900, Western Australia joined the Federation of Australia in 1901. WA was the last of the Australian colonies to agree to join, and did so only after the other colonies offered several concessions, including the construction of a rail line to Perth (via Kalgoorlie) from the Eastern States. In 1933 Western Australia voted in a referendum to leave the Commonwealth with a majority of three to one in favor of independence, but the election held at the time overturned the incumbent "pro-independence" government, replacing it with a government who did not support the independence movement. When the new government petitioned the United Kingdom for independence, the United Kingdom refused to act against the wishes of the government of the day.

Perth has prospered by becoming a key service centre for the natural resource industries, being the closest city to huge reserves of gold, iron ore, nickel, alumina, diamonds, mineral sands, coal, oil and natural gas.<ref>Geoscience Australia - Australia's identified mineral resources, 2002. www.ga.gov.au (PDF 2MB)</ref> Most of the world's major resource and engineering companies have offices in Perth.

Pre-British Colonization History

The first documented European sighting of the land region which now bares the city of Perth was made by the Flemish sea captain Willem de Vlamingh and his team on January 10 1697. Subsequently later sightings between this date and 1829 took place between other European fleets, but, much like the sighting and observation by Vlamingh himself, the region was disregarded as predominantly inhospitable and largely incapable of producing flourishing agriculture that would be needed to sustain a settlement.

Geography

Sand plain setting

Image:Perth.jpg Image:Map of Australia.png Perth is set on the Swan River, so named because of the native black swans. A Dutch expedition in 1697 captained by Willem de Vlamingh led to Vlamingh naming the river after the black swans. <ref>Heritage Icons: The Swan River www.175anniversary.wa.gov.au</ref> It is a city that fills the sandplain that lies adjacent to the Darling Scarp known as the Bassendean Sand Dune Ecosystem. The metropolitan area extends to Yanchep in the north, Mandurah in the south, total distance of approximately 125km by road. From the Coast in the west to Mundaring in the east, a total distance of approximately 50 km by road.

The coastal suburbs take advantage of Perth's oceanside location and clean beaches. To the east, the city is bordered by a low escarpment called the Darling Scarp. Perth is on generally flat, rolling land - largely due to the high amount of sandy soils and deep bedrock. Perth metropolitan area has two major river systems, the first being the Swan and Canning Rivers. The second is that of the Serpentine and Murray Rivers, which discharge into the Peel Estuary at Mandurah.

Water supply

In recent years, climate change has resulted in reduced rainfall in the region, reducing inflow into dams by two thirds over the last 30 years. The lower runoff into Perth's dams and groundwater supplies, coupled with Perth's relatively high population growth, has caused concerns that Perth will be "out of water" within ten years. The Western Australian State Government has responded by introducing mandatory household sprinkler restrictions in the city. The State Government has also begun the process of constructing a sea water desalination plant in Kwinana (expected to be finished in late 2006 <ref>Media Release, July 2004, "Desalination plant to become a vital source for State's water supply" www.watercorporation.com.au</ref>). Due to the emission of large volumes of greenhouse gases involved in sea water desalination, this plan has been criticised by some as environmentally unfriendly. The state government is also considering other solutions including piping water from the Kimberley region or extracting water from the Yarragadee Aquifer in the southwest of the state.

City skyline

Traditionally, Perth and Perth Water have usually been viewed and photographed from Kings Park, situated on a hill to the south-west of the city or from the South Perth foreshore. The historical record of the view shows clear river banks close to the city and a low skyline through to the 1960s. Since then, the filling in of the northern side of Perth Water and crowding of the skyline have continued unabated.

Perth's city skyline displays the economic prosperity the state currently enjoys. Its tallest building, Central Park, is by some measures the sixth tallest building in Australia. <ref name=TallBuilding>Worlds tallest skyscrapers by country</ref>

Perth is a relatively small city in comparison with Sydney and Melbourne, the capitals of New South Wales and Victoria respectively, but it is still the fourth largest city in Australia. The Central Business District is the financial centre of Perth, and while a hive of activity during the work week, is relatively quiet and deserted during weekends.

Weather

Perth summers are hot and dry, with February generally being the hottest month of the year. The hottest ever recorded temperature in Perth was 46.2 °C (115 °F) on 23 February 1991. Winters are cool and moist, though winter rainfall has been declining in recent years. The official temperature for Perth has only twice reached 0 °C, on 15 July 1997 and 27 July 1998. Even in mid-winter, maximum daytime temperatures only occasionally fall below 16 °C (60 °F). Though most rainfall occurs during winter the wettest ever day was on 9 February 1992 when 121mm fell. Most summer afternoons a sea breeze, which locals refer to as "The Fremantle Doctor", blows from the south-west cooling the city.

Climate Table
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum temperature (°C) 29.7 30.0 28.0 24.6 20.9 18.3 17.4 18.0 19.5 21.4 24.6 27.4 23.3
Mean daily minimum temperature (°C) 17.9 18.1 16.8 14.3 11.7 10.1 9.0 9.2 10.3 11.7 14.0 16.3 13.3
Mean total rainfall (mm) 8.6 13.3 19.3 45.5 122.7 182.4 172.9 134.6 79.9 54.5 21.7 13.9 869.4
Mean number of rain days 2.9 2.7 4.3 7.6 13.8 17.2 18.2 17.2 14.0 11.1 6.5 4.2 119.6
Source: Bureau of Meteorology

Government and politics

Local government

The City of Perth is administered by a local government body called City of Perth.

The Perth metropolitan area includes over thirty local government bodies (cities, towns and shires). These include Melville, South Perth,Fremantle, Bayswater,Cockburn, Canning, Stirling, Gosnells, Nedlands, Subiaco, Peppermint Grove, Claremont, Victoria Park, Joondalup, Wanneroo and Armadale.

See the list of Perth suburbs and the Local Government Areas of Western Australia for a comprehensive list.

Military presence

Perth is a significant base of operations for the Australian Defence Force, since it is the largest city on the west coast. These bases include:

Culture

Social structure

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The "Western Suburbs" between Perth and the Indian Ocean, contain the highest income suburbs - notably the locations of homes of the wealthiest individuals becoming landmarks and tourist attractions.

In the suburbs well away from the city to the north and south, are the "Mortgage Belt" suburbs where the low to middle income population of Perth are often commented about during Federal and State Elections as to their collective responses to government policies that might affect their well-being.

Isolation and attitudes

Western Australia does not embrace Daylight Savings or Summertime, with some parts of the WA population resisting the idea of "conforming" to the eastern states.

This attitude may be motivated by the feeling that the Eastern States' view Perth as a backward civilisation, but can mostly be attributed to Perth's isolation. Perth is the most remote mainland city on Earth, (island cities such as Honolulu or Stanley, Falkland Islands are clearly more isolated). Perth is very remote even within Australia, being closer to the Indonesian capital of Jakarta than it is to the Australian capital, Canberra, or the major cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Historically, Western Australia, along with Queensland, were the most reluctant participants in the Commonwealth. <ref>Review Essay, New Federation History, Melbourne University Law Review www.austlii.edu.au </ref>

Ethnicity

Because Fremantle was the first landfall in Australia for migrant ships coming from Europe in the 1950s and '60s, Perth experienced an influx of Croatian, British, Italian, Dutch and Greek migrants. The name of quite a few migrants who arrived during this period are listed on an honour board outside the Maritime Museum. More recently, large-scale immigration to Perth by air from the UK has continued, giving Perth the highest-proportion of British-born residents of any Australian city. In some suburbs in southern Perth, the populations are up to 20 per cent British by birthplace.

There has also been substantial immigration from Eastern Europe, including former Yugoslavia and former Soviet republics. Perth also has substantial immigrant communities from South East Asia such as Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, China, India and Sri Lanka (Many of whom emigrate from their home countries for educational purposes). The Indian community includes a substantial number of Parsees who emigrated from Bombay. Another source of immigration has been Southern Africa, with many white South Africans and Zimbabweans settling in the city.

Many migrants are from New Zealand, due to the fact that New Zealanders, unlike other foreign nationals, are eligible for 'special category' visas, which allow them to live and work in Australia.

Sports

Perth is very conducive to an outdoors lifestyle, and this is reflected in the wide variety of sports available to citizens of the city.

Interestingly, Perth has the strongest regional (State/County/Province) field hockey competition in the World. There are many field hockey clubs for children, men, women and veterans (over 40 year of age). Western Australia (especially given it only has 10% of Australia's population) hugely contributes to the national Australian men's and ladies' hockey teams which have both been winners of Olympic Gold Medals.

Perth is home to several teams which are part of national sporting competitions:

  • A football team, Perth Glory, which is a part of the newly re-formed soccer competition known as the A-League. In the past Perth Glory have been a relatively successful team by winning the last two NSL (National Soccer League) seasons (2002-03 & 2003-04).
  • In 2002, Perth hosted the World Lacrosse Games, which included the World Lacrosse Championships (won by the United States), the Australian Youth Lacrosse Championship, a Masters (35+ year old), Grandmasters (45+), and International Open Championships.

Every year Perth hosts the Hopman Cup, an international tennis tournament, generally in the first week of January. This is held at the Burswood Dome, and presents Perth on an international stage.

Perth is also home to the annual Avon Descent whitewater event, and the annual Rally Australia.

Every summer the Australian cricket team plays a test match and one one day international matches at the WACA ground. Of the two touring teams for the one day internationals one will play two games the other will play once.

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Music

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Perth has had connections to iconic segments of the Australian popular music scene being the hometown of INXS, and with Fremantle being the place Bon Scott (of AC/DC) grew up and is buried. More recently, several bands from Perth have gained recognition on the national music stage. The success of these bands, including Jebediah, Eskimo Joe, Little Birdy, Gyroscope, End of Fashion and the Sleepy Jackson, have led to claims by some that Perth is the "new Seattle" of music.

Because of the 'tyranny of distance', many 'big name' acts, both of classical and popular music, do not regularly visit Perth, being confined to the eastern seaboard, and overseas artists often do not include Perth in their tour schedule. Regular rock concerts held in Perth are the Big Day Out (nationwide) and Rock-It (Perth only). The city is also the setting to the Pavement song 'I love Perth'.

Perth is home to the West Australian Symphony Orchestra which performs a regular programme of orchestral music, usually from its base at the Perth Concert Hall; it also tours regional Western Australia. There are a large number of smaller professional, semi-professional and non-professional music groups and choral societies and choirs which perform in a variety of venues in and around Perth. Repertoire ranges from baroque to contemporary. The Perth International Festival of the Arts also includes music in its schedule. Opera is provided by West Australian Opera.

Two world renowned Drum and Bass acts also come from Perth, Greg Packer and Pendulum.

Education

See Western Australia for general information on education in Western Australia

Perth is home to four public universities, and one private university: the University of Western Australia, Murdoch University, Curtin University of Technology, Edith Cowan University, and the University of Notre Dame respectively.

The University of Western Australia, which was founded in 1911 <ref>History of the University www.uwa.edu.au</ref>, is renowned as one of Australia's leading research institutions. The university's monumental neo-classical architecture, most of which is carved from white limestone, is a notable tourist destination in the city. Curtin University of Technology is Western Australia's largest university, and was known from its founding in 1966 until 1986 as the Western Australian Institute of Technology (WAIT). Murdoch University was created from land held by UWA in the late 1970s. Edith Cowan University was established in the early 1990s to cope with tertiary education needs in the north west metropolitan area of Perth. The University of Notre Dame was established in 1990 and was the first Catholic university in Australia.

Tourist attractions in and around Perth

Image:Swan river.jpg Image:Yanchep sunset.jpg A sun-baked city that can go weeks or even months without substantial rainfall, one of Perth's main attractions lies in the pristine quality of its beaches. Unbroken stretches of white beaches run along much of the city's coastal suburbs.

While not unlike the beach setting of the Gold Coast in Queensland, Perth has not experienced the same level of beachfront and riverfront development of other similar naturally rich Australian urban environments.

Perth City

The centre of Perth is located on the northern bank of the Swan River, a part of the River known as 'Perth Water' and is roughly divided into three parallel sections.

  • The central business district, close to the river, runs along St Georges Terrace and Adelaide Terrace and is the historical core of the city. It includes Government House and several office towers. Parliament House is on the hill to the west looking along St Georges Terrace towards the Darling Scarp.
  • The retail district, which has its focus on the Hay and Murray Street Malls. These pedestrian malls are interconnected by arcades and walk through shops. Over time the number of hotels in this area has declined, with new hotels being built at the eastern and western ends of the city. Forrest Place, connecting Wellington Street and Murray Street, is a popular meeting spot, and is the site of political rallies and public events. Closed to traffic and redeveloped in the mid-1980s, it is flanked by the Commonwealth Bank and GPO buildings on the west, and the Forrest Chase retail development on the east.
  • The entertainment and cultural precinct, known as Northbridge commences at the point where the railway land cuts through the city. It extends for at least four blocks north, and is bound at the east by the Library, Art Gallery and Museum, and to the west by the northern suburbs railway.

Kings Park

Image:Perth narrows.jpg Template:Main Kings Park occupies 1,000 acres (4.06 km²) <ref>Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority - Frequently Asked Questions about Kings Park www.bgpa.wa.gov.au</ref> of the crest of a large hill (Mt Eliza) overlooking the CBD. Larger than New York's Central Park (843 acres (341 ha)), Kings Park contains Perth's botanical gardens as well as tracts of natural bushland. During spring, Kings Park bursts into a world-class display of wildflowers, which is a popular tourist attraction. In August 2003, the Lotterywest Federation Walkway was opened in Kings Park. It is a 620 m long elevated walkway through the treetops, providing a remarkable bird's eye view of the park and gardens as well as sweeping views of the Swan River.

Perth is a relatively green city, with an abundance of parks and tree-lined boulevards.

Perth Zoo

Template:Main The Perth Zoo is across the Swan River in South Perth, accessible from the city by either the Narrows Bridge or by ferry from the Barrack Street Jetty.

Swan Bells

Image:Swan Bells SMC 2006.jpg Template:Main The Swan Bells is a bell tower siting on the edge of the Swan River. It is a copper clad structure representing the sails of a ship. It houses bells from the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields, which were a gift from the United Kingdom to the people of Australia on the occasion of Australia's 200 year anniversary of colonisation. The Swan Bells was opened to the public in 2001. The government of Western Australia took a significant amount of criticism for creating the Bell Tower; it was said that the significant funding allotted for the project (millions of dollars) could have been better placed into the health and education systems, and that the structure could have been better designed aesthetically.

The Perth Convention Exhibition Centre

Template:Main The Perth Convention Exhibition Centre opened in September 2004. Situated on the river foreshore, only a short walk from the CBD, the Centre is WA's only purpose built convention, exhibition and meeting centre. It can cater for functions of up to 2500 delegates. <ref>Perth Convention Exhibition Centre Datasheet www.perthcentre.com.au </ref> The Centre is expected to attract increased tourism for the state. It is jocularly referred to as 'The Hayshed', because of its flat and extended design which originally was intended to resemble a gum leaf.

Perth Mint

Image:Perth Mint.jpg Template:Main Perth Mint is the oldest still-operating mint in Australia. One of two legal tender mints in Australia, the other is in Canberra. It is open to the public 7 days a week and includes displays and the Perth Mint Shop which buys and sells precious metal proof quality gold and silver coins, bullion, nuggets and jewellery. <ref>Perth Mint History www.perthmint.com.au</ref>

Islands

There are a few islands off the coast of Perth, notably Rottnest Island, a significant tourist attraction. Other nearby islands include Garden Island (home to a naval base), Carnac Island, Seal Island and Penguin Island. It is possible to walk from the mainland to Penguin Island at low tide. All of these Islands are 'A' class nature reserves with restricted access. The deep shipping channel between Perth and these islands is called Gage Roads, the site of the America's Cup yachting challenge in 1987.

Fremantle

Template:Main The historical port city of Fremantle is located at the mouth of the Swan River, and is home to many attractions including Fremantle Prison and the mammoth newly-constructed Western Australian Maritime Museum. Located on the dock at Victoria Quay, the museum houses 'Australia II, the yacht which won Australia the America's Cup in 1983. Also in Fremantle is the Maritime Museum shipwreck galleries, with recovered artifacts and part of the hull of the shipwrecked Dutch ship Batavia, from hundreds of years ago. A more recent vessel, the Oberon class submarine the HMAS Ovens has been retired next to the Maritime Museum.

Fremantle (or 'Freo' as the locals call it) is renowned both locally, nationally and internationally for it's easy-going, laid-back lifestyle. Cafes are the heart and soul of Freo, and one cannot visit Fremantle without going to the Fremantle Markets, before having one of the many varieties of coffee on the city's infamous Capuccino Strip - South Terrace. There are numerous arts and crafts stores to suit all tastes and budgets. Fremantle is well-known for its local Arts scene.

When the lights go out, Fremantle is a music-lovers' paradise. Venues such as the Fly by Night Club and the Newport Hotel offer intimate, but venerable paradises for concerts, other events, or merely chilling out. Fremantle showcases the best in local and international talent. In addition, Fremantle offers many opportunities for clubbing with venues as the Harbourside, Millennium and the Metro.

Other must-see attractions include the Fremantle Arts Centre within the Fremantle Prison, as well as the historic precinct around the Round House - Western Australia's earliest remaining building.

The Aquarium of Western Australia

Perth is home to Australia's largest underwater walk-through aquarium, AQWA (The Aquarium of Western Australia), at Hillarys Boat Harbour, about 20 km North of Perth. AQWA first opened in 1988 as Underwater World, but changed it's name in 2001 to emphasis it's links to Western Australia and to avoid confusion with the Underwater World in Singapore, has over 400 species of marine life including fish, sharks, fur seals, sea dragons, turtles, crustateons and stingrays in a natural like environment. Following the closure of the Atlantis Marine Park in Yanchep, Underwater World was the home to performing sealions and dolphins. In late December 1999 all of Underwater World's dolphins died, with forensic tests revealling that the cause of death was deliberate poisoning. AQWA is also used for rehabilitation of injured or sick sea creatures, mainly sea lions, turtles and seals.

Whiteman Park

Template:Main Image:Roo petting Caversham Park SMC.jpg Whiteman Park is situated in picturesque bushland 25 minutes North East from the City Centre, it forms the western boundary of the Swan Valley wine region. The Park covers an area of more than 42 square kilometres (16 mi²) with nearly half of this classified as high value conservation bushland or wetland. The Park also protects the southern portion of the Gnangara Water Mound - a large underground water source that supplies up to 40% of metropolitan Perth's drinking water.

The Park takes its name from Mr Lew Whiteman (1903-1994), a prominent local identity and enthusiastic collector of artifacts. His family settled in Guildford from England in the late 19th century and Lew acquired some land around Mussel Pool in the 1940s. This, and other land held by a variety of private owners, was purchased by the State Government in 1978 and combined to form Whiteman Park.

All native wildlife in the Park is protected and more than 100 bird species have been identified. Along with 32 reptile, 7 amphibian and 8 mammals. The Caversham Wildlife Park, containing over 2000 animals and birds of 200 different species, recently moved into an area of park near the Village. There are also a number different collections of transport and machinary equipment as well as working historical tram and Rail lines.

Swan Valley Wine Region

Template:Main The Swan Valley wine region is approximately 16km East of Perth and is Western Australia's oldest established wine region. It is home to over 35 wineries, many of which have restaurants or cellar-door facilities that are open to the public. Bus and boat tours of the swan valley run regularly from the city.

Beaches

Locals argue that Perth has some of the best beaches in Australia. Clean white sand, relatively warm clear blue water and mild to large swells make beach-going a popular activity for the warmer months of the year.

Perth's closest Indian Ocean beaches consist of 30km of near-unbroken sand and coastal suburbs stretching north of the Swan River. There are also inshore beaches along the Swan River at Crawley, Nedlands, Peppermint Grove and Mosman Bay on the north shore, and Como, Canning Bridge and Applecross on the south – all of which are calm and very safe.

Popular swimming beaches include Cottesloe which is the most popular and which is close to the Cottesloe train station, City Beach, Swanbourne Free Beach, cut off by army land in both directions but accessible from the road, has nude bathing, Scarborough is popular with a lot of accommodations, Trigg and Hillarys. All of these (except Swanbourne Free Beach) have car parking, landscaped reserves, public amenities, picnic and barbeque facilities and nearby retail outlets.

Transport

Image:PerthRailwayStation gobeirne.jpg Image:GrahamFarmerFreewayTunnel 2005 SeanMcClean.jpg Perth is served by Perth Airport in the city's east for domestic and international flights and Jandakot Airport in the city's southern suburbs for light aviation.

Perth's public transport system is arguably the most advanced in Australia. The West Australian government invested millions of dollars in 2002/03 to introduce new ultra modern Mercedes buses, some running on hydrogen. For example, The new SmartRider ticketing system calculates fares automatically and can be read through a wallet. The STEP programme or, Sustainable Transport Energy for Perth, is responsible for the fuel cell buses in Perth, which is part of an international trial known as the Fuel Cell Bus Club.

Perth metropolitan transport, including trains, buses and ferries are provided by Transperth network, with links to rural areas provided by Transwa. See List of Perth railway stations and List of Perth bus stations. The Indian Pacific passenger rail service connects Perth with Adelaide and Sydney via Kalgoorlie. The Transwa Prospector passenger rail service connects Perth with Kalgoorlie via several wheatbelt towns.


Rail freight terminates at the Kewdale Rail Terminal, 15 kilometres south-east of the city centre.

Perth's main container and passenger port is at Fremantle, 19 kilometres south west at the mouth of the Swan River. A second port complex is being developed in Cockburn Sound primarily for the export of bulk commodities.

Perth has a relatively efficient and well-developed road network, with three freeways, nine metropolitan highways and no toll roads. See List of Highways in Perth and List of Freeways in Perth.

The continuing metropolitan sprawl to the north and south of the city has required continuing upgrading and extension of both the freeway network and railway lines. Currently a new commuter railway is being constructed from the city centre down the Kwinana Freeway to Rockingham and Mandurah.

Sister cities

Perth has a number of sister cities. They are:

References

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External links

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