Sun and isolation, most people’s requisites when planning a relaxing vacation; and Perth in Western Australia offers the best of both. Boasting 300 days of sunshine a year Perth is often referred to as the sunniest city in Australia. While its location, 1,307 miles away from any major city and close to Bali, Indonesia, has earned it the title “the most isolated city on earth”.
Although skyscrapers dominate the skyline of this modern Australian city, the laid-back atmosphere is evident the minute you hop off your flight to Perth. There’s a young vibrancy that fills the air and everyone seems to be partaking in an active endeavour whether it’s the couple riding bicycles or the family walking to the beach with their surfboards. But if your holiday has to include some cultural pursuits, don’t worry there is plenty to keep you stimulated. The Art Gallery of Western Australia houses some of the best representations of Aboriginal art in the country, while the city’s biggest attraction, the Perth Mint, was built in the 1890s to refine gold mined in Western Australia. Visitors can watch a live Gold Pour whereby pure gold is heated and moulded into a solid gold bar.
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With sunshine nearly 300 days a year and a Mediterranean climate, Perth averages eight hours of sun a day. Winters are in the high 20s (Celsius) and summers in the high-teens. January to February is the hottest season and temperatures can go over 37, but there is little humidity and the Fremantle Doctor ocean breeze cools the city in the afternoon. Winter is wetter with rain and cooler weather. The heaviest rainfall is in May and June.
When to fly to Perth
Because of the weather, January and December are peak times for flights to Perth. July, when the Australian school holidays fall, is also a popular time.
Although not necessarily a tourist mecca, fares to Perth are generally the lowest mid-April to late August.
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Getting around Perth
Biking is a very popular way to get around Perth and there are many paths in the city and surrounding areas. You can always take one of the buses, ferries or trains run by Transperth. Put away your wallet and take the free Central Area Transit (CAT) that loops the city or travel in the Free Transit Zone (FTZ) on any train or bus. Find taxi stands at the Perth Railway Station and the Barrack Street end of Hay Street Mall. Driving in Perth requires a great sense of direction and a good map. Road signs are hard to see and often tell where you’ve been, instead of where you’re going.
Perth insider information
- Kings Park, on about 400 hectares of Mount Eliza, overlooks Perth. It boasts parklands, the Botanic Garden (with 1700 native species) and native bushland. It’s a great place to get a view of the city especially from the State War Memorial or the top of the DNA Tower. The tallest building in the park is so called because it resembles the DNA double-helix molecule. From the top of the tower, on a clear day, you can see the Indian Ocean to the west.
- The Sunset Coast for beautiful beaches and … sunsets.
- Fremantle lies south of Perth. The historic port city is lively and it has many convict-built colonial era buildings, including the Round House, a gaol, the oldest remaining building in Western Australia, which dates from the 1830s, and its Whalers Tunnel, which "allows access from High St through to the Indian Ocean," and the Moores Building, originally a general merchant business, now an art gallery.
- Rottnest Island, 30 minutes by ferry from Fremantle or 60 minutes from Perth City, is a popular holiday resort and an A-class reserve. It is known for the quokkas, a type of wallaby, and it offers great snorkelling, scuba diving, surfing and swimming. The Island also has some of Australia's oldest colonial architecture.
- Perth Hills for bushwalking, hiking or bird watching and for the views of the city below. It is also a wine-growing area along with the Swan Valley.
- Swan Valley is Western Australia's oldest and most awarded wine-growing country. The area is best known for its Chardonnay, Shiraz and Chenin Blanc varieties. Swan Valley is also known for its micro breweries.
- Perth Observatory is Australia's oldest continuously operating professional observatory. It offers 90-minute tours of the night sky including the Moon, Saturn, Mars, star clusters and nebulae and galaxies. Book in advance.