Perth is the state capital city of Western Australia, the largest state in Australia. Perth is the most isolated capital city in the world, and has a population of 1 339 993, giving Perth the fourth highest population of any city in Australia (Census 2001).
The Perth city skyline displays the economic prosperity the state has enjoyed in the past 20 years. Two towering skyscrapers dominate this skyline: Bankwest Tower (in the centre in the photograph above) and Central Park (on the left). Central Park is the fourth tallest completely habitable skyscraper in Australia, and the tallest outside of Melbourne.
Perth is set on the Swan River, so named because of the native Black Swans which call the river home. It is a sprawling city, extending to Joondalup in the north, Mandurah[?] in the south and Mundaring[?] in the east. The beachside suburbs take advantage of Perth's seaside location and clean beaches. To the East, the city is bordered by a low escarpment called the Darling Scarp.
Perth is on generally flat, rolling land - largely due to the high amount of sandy soils and deep bedrock. Its wide roads, many parks and well-designed layout make it a peaceful place to live.
The Perth metropolitan area includes over thirty local governments (cities, towns and shires). These include Fremantle, Bayswater[?], Canning[?], Stirling[?], Gosnells[?], Nedlands[?], Peppermint Grove[?], Claremont[?], Victoria Park[?] and Armadale[?]. See Local_Government_Areas_of_Western_Australia for a comprehensive list.
Perth was established by the British in 1829 as a convict colony, in response to sightings of French ships in the region. In 1901, the colony joined the Federation of Australia. The city has prospered as a result of repeated mining booms, especially for gold and iron ore: Western Australia is rich with mineral resources.
Perth is generally an egalitarian and relaxed city which, although it has pockets of extreme wealth and poverty, is almost entirely middle class and suburban. The population is easy-going and friendly, but can be parochial, especially towards the "Eastern States" which are often viewed with deep suspicion.
A sun-baked city that can go weeks or even months without substantial rainfall, one of Perth's main attractions lies in the pristine quality of its beaches. Unbroken stretches of golden sands run the entire length of the city's coastal suburbs. While not unlike the beaches of the Gold Coast in Queensland, Perth has not yet experienced the same level of commercialisation and development and hence, degradation, that plagues other such naturally rich Australian urban environments.
The centre of Perth is roughly divided into three sections, each one further north from the northern bank of the Swan River:
King's Park sits upon a huge hill overlooking the CBD. Four times larger than Central Park, New York, King's Park contains Perth's botanical gardens as well as vast tract of natural bushland. During spring, King's Park bursts into a world-class display of wild-flowers, which is a popular tourist attraction. Perth is a very green city, with an abundance of parks and tree-lined stretches.
The Perth Bell Tower sits on the edge of the Swan River: a copper structure representing the sails of a ship, it houses the Bells of St Clements (of nursery rhyme fame), which were a gift from Great Britain to the people of Australia on the occasion of Australia's 200 year anniversary of colonisation. It was opened to the public in 2001.
Although a relatively small city, Perth is home to 5 universities: the University of Western Australia, Murdoch University[?], Curtin University[?], Edith Cowan University[?], and Notre Dame University[?]. The 90 year-old University of Western Australia in particular is renowned for its monumental neo-classical architecture, most of which is carved from white limestone, and is a notable tourist destination in the city.
There are a few islands off the coast of Perth, notably Rottnest Island, a significant tourist attraction. Other nearby islands include Garden Island (home to a naval base), and Penguin Island. The deep shipping channel between Perth and these islands is called Gage Roads, the site of the America's Cup yachting challenge in 1983.
Perth is home to Australia's largest underwater walk-through aquarium, AQWA (The Aquarium of Western Australia). Located at Hillary's Boat Harbour, this attracts large numbers of international tourists.
Further tourism information about Perth is available at the following address: http://www.westernaustralia.net/discover/perth/index.shtml