Tamara Thiessen discovers inventive art and fine views in the revitalised Australian city
1. PERTH CULTURAL CENTRE
Perth has recently undergone an extensive urban redevelopment project, which you can witness by exploring the galleries, heritage buildings and natural habitats of the Perth Cultural Centre, located a short walk from the central business district.
The AU$35 million (£19.5m) regeneration has transformed what was previously a seedy wasteland. Major cultural venues here include the State Theatre Centre of Western Australia (WA), the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA) and the Art Gallery of WA.
PICA stages a diverse programme of exhibitions and events. Until November 2, it will host Perth-based artist Erin Coates’ Kinesphere, a mountainous seven-metre-tall installation housing a micro-cinema and climbing room. 51 James Street Northbridge; open Tues-Sun 10am-5pm; free entry; pica.org.au
The Art Gallery of WA’s permanent collection consists of 17,000 pieces that showcase indigenous and 20th-century Australian and British paintings and sculpture. Until March 9, it is holding an exhibition on Australian craft and design. Open Wed-Mon 9am-5pm; free entry; artgallery.wa.gov.au
The centre also has an ecological interest and grows an organic orchard on the roof of a multi-storey car park, as well as cultivating a wetland habitat that supports native fish, frogs and invertebrates. perthculturalcentre.com.au
Heritage preservation is a big focus of the Northbridge neighbourhood, where the Cultural Centre is located.
Tucked alongside the glass-encased WA Museum is a colonial relic, the 1855-built Perth Gaol, which convicts built from limestone cut from cliffs in nearby Freemantle and floated up river.
Its walls now house the Muse Café – a perfect spot for tea and cake with its vintage décor and outdoor terrace. WA Museum Gardens, Francis Street; open daily 10am-4pm; tel +61 411 708 063.
On adjoining William Street, you’ll find an eclectic mix of record stores, local clothing labels and French patisseries.
3. GRAND LANE
Take the pedestrian bridge over Roe Street and veer left into Wellington Street. Further redevelopment plans will transform this area into a tree-lined pedestrian boulevard by next year.
On nearby Grand Lane, as part of the city’s “Forgotten Spaces” strategy, walls have been decked with murals up to 99 metres high featuring spray-painted native birds such as owls, magpies, kingfishers and parrots.
4. BELL TOWER
Walk down Barrack Street to St George’s Terrace, where you’ll find two Perth landmarks from past and present – the 19th-century St George’s Cathedral and, opposite, the lifesize Footsteps in Time sculptures, which commemorate the 1829 founding of the Swan River colony.
Continue down to Barrack Square on the waterfront and to the glass, 82.5-metre rocket-like Bell Tower. It houses the only set of royal bells outside England – replicas of the 12 bells of London’s St Martin-in-the-Fields church, cast in the early 1700s on the order of the Prince of Wales, later King George II.
Its observation deck provides 360-degree views of the Swan River and the CBD. Open daily from 10am, closing times vary; entry AU$14/£8; thebelltower.com.au
5. KINGS PARK
Stroll 15 minutes west along the walking trails of Kings Park, a 4 sq km urban bushland that hugs the Swan River foreshore.
Two-thirds of the park is a protected haven for more than 300 species of native plants, which thrive among its heathlands and woodlands. It’s home to the Botanic Garden, the State War Memorial, picnic areas, lakes, and the Lotterywest Federation Walkway, a 52-metre-tall glass and rusted steel structure that hangs in a canopy of eucalypts (open 9am-5pm daily; free entry).
It provides great views of the city skyline along its 620-metre course. From here, it’s just over a kilometre’s walk back to St George’s Terrace, or take the free 37 Transperth bus from the Fraser Avenue Precinct at the heart of the park.