Set on the Swan River and just 20km inland from the Indian Ocean, Perth, the capital of Western Australia, offers much for the visitor:
Kings Park: Just 2km from the city centre, this 4 square km park offers superb tree-framed views of the city and is great for walking or cycling and includes an excellent Botanic Garden with 2,500 native species on show.
Western Australian Museum: Collections on Aboriginal culture, the marine environment (including a 25-metre whale skeleton), vintage cars, meteorites (the largest of these, the Mundrabilla specimen weighs 11 tonnes), and more.
Art Gallery of Western Australia: Excellent collections of works by European and Aboriginal artists.
Perth Zoo: A popular and spacious zoo set in attractive gardens.
Perth Mint: This mint was established to refine the gold from Australia's goldfields. You will see amazing collections of historic and rare coins, gold nuggets and gold ingots (which you are allowed to touch!). Gold pouring demonstrations every hour.
Underwater World: An exceptional marine collection with 200 marine species on display.
The WACA: The main cricket playing field and the home for cricket in Western Australia. Nicknamed the WACA (after the association name, Western Australian Cricket Association), many Australian and international cricket greats have played here. There is an interesting cricket museum to see here.
History of Perth
European navigators such as the Dutchmen Dirk Hartog (1616) and Abel Tasman (1644) and the Englishman William Dampier (1688) had long sailed along the coast of what is now Western Australia, but it was not until 1829 that the British set up a settlement in Western Australia, in the Swan River valley on what is now the site of present-day Perth.
From 1850, convicts were transported to the area from Britain. Partly because of Perth's isolation, far from other British settlements in Australia (such as Sydney and Melbourne), Perth developed very slowly until the goldrushes of the 1890s.
Following the amalgamation of all the British colonies into the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, Perth became the capital of the Australian state of Western Australia.
The history of Perth during the 20th and 21st centuries has been dominated by therevenues derived from the agricultural industry (mainly cattle raising) and later by the mining industry following the discovery of iron ore in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
Commentators have been frank on the foibles of Perth. George Mikes in his book, Boomerang: Australia Rediscovered (1968), reported on the chip on the shoulder that a certain number of Perth's citizens still seem to have:
" 'A friend told me in Perth: 'What do you mean by saying that we are not a convict settlement? We are a convict-settlement even today. Easterners dump their rejects on us.' "