|Enjoying more hours of sunshine than any other
Australian capital, Perth is the place to take advantage of clean air,
great beaches and a laid-back lifestyle.
Perth is located on the Swan River, with the suburbs sprawling out in a north-south direction, and east to the Darling Ranges. Locals refer to locations as being either north or south of the river, or in the Hills.
The central business district (CBD)
The 'nine to five' work is focused along St George's Terrace ('the Terrace') at the western end and Adelaide Terrace at the eastern end. The high-rise buildings contribute to the notorious wind tunnel effect along this stretch of road.
Barracks Archway, located at the very top end of St George's Terrace, is all that remains of the original military barracks, which were built by convict labour in 1863 and demolished in 1966.
City shopping is centred around the Hay and Murray Street Malls and the arcades joining the two together. Forrest Place, a 'town square' bordered on four sides by the Myer store, Wellington Street, the Central Post Office Building and the Murray Street Mall, is often the site of free public entertainment and street theatre. Buskers are a regular feature and the overpass from Myer to the Carillion Arcade offers a prime viewing spot. Across from Forrest Place is the Wellington Street Rail Station, the main terminal for the metropolitan train system.
Within the Hay Street Mall lies the entrance to London Court, a shopping arcade built in the style of Tudor England. Knights joust every hour as the entrance clock chimes.
King Street, at the western end of the city, has seen a revamp that has transformed the once run-down warehouses into funky shops and apartments. His Majestys Theatre is located here. This Edwardian theatre was built in 1904 and is home to the Western Australia Ballet and Opera companies.
Heading east along the 'Terrace', you'll find the Gothic style Saint George's Cathedral (Anglican) and Government House, the home of the Governor of Western Australia. Next door to Government House is the Perth Concert Hall, which is the main venue for classical music performances.
The Perth Mint in Hay Street is Australia's oldest operating mint. Established in 1899, the Mint now specialises in producing gold, silver and platinum coins, and houses a museum with regularly changing displays.
The Old Perth Port and Barrack Street Jetty is the base for Perth's ferry and river cruises, and also host to a number of restaurants and cafes.
Terrific panoramic views of the city and Swan River can be seen from Kings Park, a 1000 acre area of native bushland adjacent to the city.
As well as being the capital of the city's nightlife, Northbridge is also the place to go to take in some culture. The Art Gallery of Western Australia, the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA), the State Library and the Western Australia Museum are all located here. On weekends, you can browse through the open-air market held in the square outside the Art Gallery.
Fremantle is a major working port and fishing city, with a history going back to convict times. The National Trust has classified most of Fremantle's buildings, and many of them were renovated in the lead up to Australia's defence of the America's Cup in 1987.
Fremantle's culture is very strongly influenced by the city's ethnic community. A visit is a gourmet's dream, with the cafes and restaurants lining the streets offering an international feast.
Having an al fresco cappuccino as you do a spot of people watching on South Terrace (the 'cafe strip') is practically compulsory. Don't miss Fremantle Markets at the corner of South Terrace and Henderson Streets. The original markets were opened in 1897 and still flourish today with more than 150 stalls selling fruit and vegetables, clothing, antiques and other assorted 'stuff'.
Fremantle Prison is another must see. Ex-prison guards conduct guided tours of the heritage-listed prison. The spooky night tours, which take you through the prison and gallows by candlelight, are a fantastic experience.
A trip to Freo isn't complete without a visit to Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour and a meal of fish and chips at Kailis' Fish Market Cafe.
The region, one of the first areas within Western Australia to be settled, has a history of producing award-winning wines. Two of the state's largest wineries (Houghton Wines and Sandalford Wines), are located in the Valley, along with many small boutique wineries.