Australia: Perth fires up the action

By Kate Roff

The world's most isolated city has an impressive agenda, notes Kate Roff.
A flourish of activity in theatre, music and the arts has seen Perth develop its own style. Photo / Thinkstock
A flourish of activity in theatre, music and the arts has seen Perth develop its own style. Photo / Thinkstock

As the fireworks settle over Perth's ever-expanding skyline, marking the opening of this year's international arts festival, one thing is very clear: Perth has hit the big league.

No longer considered the backblocks of the country, Western Australia accounted for almost half the nation's exports last year and its capital is riding the mining boom in style.

Frequently making the "most liveable city" lists, Perth is hosting more and more travellers who are flocking in to see what all the fuss is about.

Perth has been chasing Melbourne's cultural tail for years now and a flourish in theatre, music and the arts has seen the city develop its own style.

The biggest event of the year is the Perth International Arts Festival, which state premier Colin Barnett describes as a chance to be immersed in the city's "vibrancy and creativity".

The February to March festival draws 1000 acts from throughout the world, and is worth using as the basis for a trip. And waiting in the wings is the growing Fringe World Festival and the Perth Writers Festival.

The Mandurah Crab Festival, the Truffle Kerfuffle and the Margaret River Gourmet Escape are but a few ways in which the state celebrates some seriously good food.

Famous for seafood, artisan chocolates and world-class wines, the region is hard to beat for culinary potential. Perth's recent move towards trendy establishments has seen celebrity chef Jamie Oliver open a CBD restaurant and hotel chain Crown Perth bring in the big guns (Rockpool, Nobu and Bistro Guillaume).

With the arrival of a small-bar licence, Perth's quirky little spaces have blossomed.

There are 25 small bars in the city centre, many of them "hidden" down laneways and alleys.

Surrounding suburbs Northbridge and Leederville are following suit and roof-top bars are very popular.

For some awesome hole-in-the-wall places, check out Mechanic's Institute, The Print Hall, Helvetica and Wolf Lane.

Perhaps the most obvious transformation of Perth is in its infrastructure.

The extensive - and controversial - Elizabeth Quay project will see the city riverfront re-built to include a split-level promenade and new public and retail spaces, while the already completed Perth Arena is playing host this year to Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones and the Hopman Cup tennis tournament.

Another big renovation is the $750 million make-over of the Perth airport.

The revamp has already started and will see the domestic and international terminals join forces, with larger facilities, better connections and more parking space.

Perth's public transport options still sadly fall behind other cities of its size, but there are plans to sink some of the city train lines and the main bus station will better connect the CBD with the neighbouring cultural hub of Northbridge.


Getting there: Qantas flies a minimum of five daily services between Auckland and Perth via Sydney or Melbourne. From December 5 to April 26 Qantas will fly direct to Perth twice weekly.

Further details: See: and

- NZ Herald

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