When to Fly
Because of the weather, January and December are peak times for flights to Perth so the chances of getting a cheap flight is small. July, when the Australian school holidays fall, is also a popular time. If you're considering visiting Perth and want to get a true Aussie experience, what better time to travel then during late January to catch the patriotic Australia Day Fireworks. This is one of Perth's biggest events, with over 350,000 people gathering in Kings Park and along Swan River to see around 30,000 fireworks light up the sky. The spectacular display is launched from barges on the river, the Narrow Bridge, the Swan Bell Tower and even on top of the city's skyscrapers, all accompanied to specially selected music on the radio. If you book your flight well in advance you can still get a bargain and visit Perth during peak times.
Although not necessarily a tourist mecca, fares to Perth are generally the lowest mid-April to late August.
With an all-encompassing mix of urban excitement, miles of attractive beaches and glorious countryside, Western Australia's capital, Perth, draws visitors flying in from all over the world. Tourism tends to focus on the city, which enjoys a cosmopolitan feel and offers such cultural attractions as the Western Australian Maritime Museum, Swan Valley's many wineries and the enormous King's Park, which is one of the largest urban parks in the world. Shopping features heavily on any tourist's schedule, with outlets for such notable brands as Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Chanel, as well as independent designers, whose works are most often to be found along Hay Street and Rokeby Road. The city is well served by high-quality restaurants and smaller establishments, serving a range of seasonal, local foods.
Although skyscrapers dominate the skyline of this modern Australian city, the laid-back atmosphere is evident the minute you get off your flight. 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. 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.
Spring - September to November - and autumn - March to May - are the best times to visit Perth, particularly for those intending to head for the beaches. With sunshine nearly 300 days a year and a Mediterranean climate, Perth averages eight hours of sun a day. 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.
Getting around Perth
The public transport system, Transperth, consists of trains, ferries and buses and money-saving passes are available to cover specific zones within the area, for which plenty of information is available from Transperth offices. A separate bus and tram service, the free Central Area Transit (CAT) system, operates throughout the city, with computerised schedules on display at stops, so travellers can find out when the next CAT will arrive. Naturally, taxis can be picked up from a range of sites as well.
Biking is a very popular way to get around Perth and there are many paths in the city and surrounding areas. 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.
Getting Downtown from the Airport
It's possible to book a taxi or shuttle bus when you make your holiday arrangements, which saves having to wait, queue or walk for too long, although they can also be used without reservations. Trains and buses are available from Perth Airport (PER), but the train service doesn't run overnight and isn't recommended for vulnerable travellers after dark. To save money, a combination of a short taxi journey to the train station or local bus terminus, with the relevant public transport can be an ideal solution.
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.
- 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 microbreweries.
- 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.