There are grand cities renowned for their chic neighbourhoods, their natural beauty, or their cultural and historical significance… and then there’s Perth. The capital of Australia’s Wild West, it’s long been overshadowed by its eastern rivals. But, despite popular opinion, Perth is no longer the shy and retiring wallflower of a city it once was.
Over the last 10 to 15 years, Perth has blossomed into a genuinely inspiring destination with a distinct cultural flair all of its own. Having grown up in Perth, the most isolated capital city in the world, a long-overdue return to my old stomping ground took me by surprise.
From inner city developments to a dining scene that could give the eastern states a run for their money, here are three good reasons why Perth deserves a revisit.
#1 Street Art Has Transformed The City
Never underestimate the transformative power of street art. Whether it’s a black-and-white stencil, vibrant spray art, a thought-provoking mural, or a piece of mind-bending sculpture, street art can convert a long-forgotten space into an eye-popping visual masterpiece.
In Perth, street art has taken over the streets in plague-like proportions – and it shows no sign of stopping. Implemented in 2009, The City of Perth Public Art Strategy was tasked with making the city centre more engaging. By all accounts, it seems to have done the trick.
Small laneways, shopping malls, public parks – you name it, there’s probably an artwork there now. A few must-visit neighbourhoods for street art fans include the Perth CBD, Northbridge, North Perth, and Fremantle. Streets of Perth Urban Explorers is a great resource to help you track down some of the more interesting street art precincts.
#2 Hotels, Bars, And Restaurants Galore
As an ’80s kid, the smorgasbord at Miss Maud’s Restaurant used to be the bee’s knees. And though Maud’s remains an enduring family classic, it has been eclipsed by a bevy of new and much more exciting restaurants. Best of all, they’re not all confined to one area.
Wildflower, Post and Petition in the Perth CBD; the recently rebuilt Guildford Hotel; Sayers Sister in Northbridge; Bread in Common in Fremantle; and Chapels on Whatley in Maylands are just a handful of the great restaurants and cafes that have popped up across the city.
Some of the must-visit dining and entertainment precincts include Northbridge, which is finally being reconnected to the CBD as part of the new Perth City Link development; the relaxed seaside haven of Fremantle; trendy Oxford Street in Leederville; and emerging Claisebrook Cove, where you’ll find a range of great restaurants overlooking the river.
The hotel scene has experienced a similarly dramatic makeover, too. In the last two years alone, there have been a host of new openings including COMO The Treasury, Crown Towers, Aloft Hotel, Peppers Kings Square, Sage Hotel, and Tribe Hotel, to name a few.
#3 The CBD Is Alive Again
In decades gone by, you could have been forgiven for mistaking Perth for a ghost town. Though packed to the rafters on weekdays, it was all but deserted on weekends. Tumbleweeds, legend had it, outnumbered pedestrians.
Thankfully, that’s no longer the case.
Noeleen Pearson, CEO of Experience Perth, has witnessed the renaissance of the city first hand, and says the mining boom has been instrumental in the ongoing transformation.[related_articles]49992,48802[/related_articles]
“The population of Perth has grown significantly as a result of the boom, creating an almost insatiable demand for new restaurants, bars and other developments,” Pearson says.
Last year saw the opening of Elizabeth Quay, a new riverside precinct that’s drawn locals and visitors back into the city centre. Other developments currently underway include the WA Museum redevelopment, Riverside Precinct, Kings Square, and Yagan Square, which is earmarked to hold a range of music, wine and food events.
Aside from the ongoing physical transformation, the biggest change to Perth is its mind-set. The city has embraced its isolation and begun to celebrate the things that make it unique.
If it has been a while since you’ve visited, it’s time to experience the renaissance first hand.[qantas_widget code=PER]Check out Qantas flights to Perth.[/qantas_widget]
Chris Ashton is a repeat traveller with a passion for street art, street food, and scuba diving – though not always at once. He’s written for print and online media including Australian Geographic, Tiger Tales, Time to Roam, 9Elsewhere and Escape, and will give almost any adventure - no matter how big or small - a red hot go.