What You Need To Know
Perth is the capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia. It is the fourth-most populous city in Australia. Perth is part of the South West Land Division of Western Australia, with the majority of the metropolitan area of Perth located on the Swan Coastal Plain, a narrow strip between the Indian Ocean and the Darling Scarp, a low coastal escarpment. The first areas settled were on the Swan River, with the city’s central business district and port (Fremantle) both located on its shores. The Perth Metropolitan Region includes 30 local government areas, which themselves consist of a large number of suburbs, extending from Two Rocks in the north to Rockingham in the south, and east inland to The Lakes.
Sandy beaches line its suburbs, and the huge, riverside Kings Park and Botanic Garden on Mt. Eliza offer sweeping views of the city. The Perth Cultural Centre houses the state ballet and opera companies, and occupies its own central precinct, including a theatre, art galleries and the Western Australian Museum.
Population: 1.834 million (2012)
Area: 2,080 mi²
Australia’s national currency is the Australian dollar which comes in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes. Coins come in 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent and one and two dollar denominations.
Perth receives moderate though highly seasonal rainfall, making it the fourth wettest Australian capital city after Darwin, Sydney and Brisbane. Summers are generally hot and dry, lasting from December to late March, with February generally being the hottest month of the year. Winters are relatively cool and wet, making Perth a classic example of a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csa). Perth is a particularly sunny city for this type of climate; it has an average of 8.8 hours of sunshine per day, which equates to around 3200 hours of annual sunshine, and 138.7 clear days annually, making it the sunniest capital city in Australia.
Summer is not completely devoid of rain and humidity, with sporadic rainfall in the form of short-lived thunderstorms, weak cold fronts and on occasions decaying tropical cyclones from Western Australia’s north-west, which can bring significant rainfall. Winters are wet but mild, with most of Perth’s annual rainfall being between May and September.
Australia has no official language, but is largely monolingual with English being the de facto national language. Australian English has a distinctive accent and vocabulary. According to the 2011 census, 76.8%} of people spoke only English at home. Other languages spoken at home included Mandarin 1.6%, Italian 1.4%, Arabic 1.3%, Cantonese 1.2% and Greek 1.2%.
Perth is relatively safe, though its best not to walk alone at night. Some areas such as Northbridge are also known to be ‘trouble spots’ on weekend nights and tourist should be careful. Perth citizens almost never carry firearms or other weaponry, therefore it is logical to avoid people and places whenever such things are observed and advise the local police service when safe to do so. Overall Perth is becoming safer, due to small alleyways and other niche problem zones being refurbished and unsuitable for loiterers. Police are generally friendly and approachable. To contact the emergency services, call 000.
The main dangers that an overseas visitor to Perth faces are sunburn and dehydration. Make sure you cover yourself with SPF 30+ sunscreen and a hat, and preferably a shirt and always keep a bottle of water with you, especially in the warmer months. Also be wary of dehydration in the hot weather. An insect repellent such as ‘Aeroguard’ will be useful on summer evenings if you are outdoors.
Perth has ten large hospitals with emergency departments. As of 2013, Royal Perth Hospital in the city centre is the largest, with others spread around the metropolitan area: Armadale Kelmscott District Memorial Hospital, Joondalup Health Campus, King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women in Subiaco, Rockingham General Hospital, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Nedlands, St John of God Murdoch Hospital, Swan District Hospital in Middle Swan, and Fiona Stanley Hospital in Murdoch. Princess Margaret Hospital for Children is the state’s only specialist children’s hospital, and Graylands Hospital is the only public stand-alone psychiatric teaching hospital. Most of these are public hospitals, with some operating under public-private partnerships. St John of God Murdoch Hospital is privately owned and operated.
Education is compulsory in Western Australia between the ages of six and seventeen, corresponding to primary and secondary school. Tertiary education is available through a number of universities and technical and further education (TAFE) colleges.
The Perth metropolitan area has a fairly reliable and inexpensive public transport system operated by Transperth. Information about timetables, disruptions or service alterations can be found on their website, by calling 13 62 13 or at ‘Transperth Infocentres’ located in at the central train station and a couple of branches in the City.
A reasonably reliable network of public bus services run around the suburbs between bus and train stations. Transperth also operates a free CAT bus service in Perth CBD, Northbridge, Fremantle and Joondalup. The large air-conditioned buses of different colours with the distinctive cat logo run about every 10 min on various routes around major facilities and attractions. They are a great way of getting from one place to another.
Perth’s suburban railway network is great for quickly getting to outlying suburban areas, and extends down south to Mandurah. All services stop at the central Perth station in the City on their way to or from the outlying terminating stations. Train services run frequently during peak hours and every 15 min during weekday daylight hours and 30 min after 7PM and weekends. Services commence around 5:30AM cease at around midnight. During peak hours Perth Station can get quite busy, though it is always very safe.
Transperth operates a passenger ferry across the Swan river from Barrack Street jetty, where it connects with the Blue CAT bus, running to South Perth. Fares are the same as the equivalent bus journey, and SmartRider cards are accepted. Services run every 10 minutes in peak times, and every 30 minutes off-peak.
Taxi experiences in Perth can range from hassle-free to problematic. Extended waits during peak periods (5AM-9AM Weekdays and Weekend Evenings) are common, but outside these times, taxis are plentiful.Two major taxi companies are Swan Taxis who dispatch Swan, TriColor, 13CABS, Yellow and Coastal taxis, and Black and White Taxis. There are numerous smaller companies that operate mainly out of the Central Business District.