Just minutes from the city centre, Kings Park is visited by millions of people each year. Beyond it at the end of Kings Park Road is the suburb of Subiaco, with its popular shopping, cafe and market precinct. Below Kings Park, Mounts Bay Road winds its way along the river’s edge to the suburb of Crawley, passing the Old Swan Brewery site, now a riverside complex of up-market offices, apartments and restaurants. The distinctive clock tower of the University of Western Australia’s Winthrop Hall is an easily spotted landmark. Across Matilda Bay Road from the university is the grassy Matilda Bay shoreline, with shady spots and views back up the river towards the city.
Kings Park and Botanic Garden
The first stop for any visitor to Perth has to be Kings Park. Standing on top of Mount Eliza, you enjoy sweeping views of the city and the Swan River, with the Darling Range in the distance. Within this huge 400-hectare natural bushland reserve there are landscaped gardens and walkways, lakes, playgrounds, a restaurant and cafes.
Fraser Avenue, the main entrance road into the park, is lined with towering lemon-scented gums, honouring those who perished in war. The clock tower and bronze portrait bust at this entrance is a memorial to Edith Cowan, the first woman elected to an Australian parliament. A tireless advocate for women’s rights and children’s welfare, she now lends her name to one of Perth’s universities.
Opened in 2003, the Lotterywest Federation Walkway is a combination of on-ground pathways, elevated walkway and spectacular steel-and-glass bridge, extending 620 metres through the Botanic Garden. It is a snapshot of Western Australia’s famed flora; at ground level you’ll pass boabs, boronias and tuart trees, while the walkway through the treetops takes you close to karri, marri, tingle and jarrah trees. The Botanic Garden itself is spread over 17 hectares and planted with more than 1700 native species.
The Botanic Garden’s newest attraction arrived in July 2008 when a giant boab tree weighing 36 tonnes and estimated to be 750 years old was transported 3200 kilometres from the Kimberley town of Warnum and transplanted in the garden opposite Forrest Carpark. It joins long-time favourite attractions such as the State War Memorial precinct; the Pioneer Women’s Memorial, with its water fountains which periodically shoot skywards; the nearby DNA Tower, offering spectacular views; the fantastic dinosaur and fossil creations at Synergy Parkland; and the child-friendly Lotterywest Family Area.
In spring the annual Kings Park Festival showcases the best of the state’s wildflowers, attracting over 500 000 visitors from around the world. This month-long event showcases all aspects of the park, with myriad spectacular events and activities. During summer the park is a favourite venue for live outdoor entertainment and moonlight movies (www.bgpa.wa.gov.au). Fraser Ave; (08) 9480 3600; open daily; free guided walks from the visitor centre at 10am and 2pm daily.
University of Western Australia
With its distinctive Mediterranean-style architecture and landscaped gardens, the University of Western Australia is renowned as one of Australia’s most beautiful campuses. Here you’ll find Winthrop Hall, with its majestic clock tower and reflection pond, and the Sunken Garden, backdrop for many a wedding photo. The Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, home to the university’s extensive collection of Australian art, includes works by Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd, Fred Williams and Rupert Bunny. 35 Stirling Hwy, Crawley; (08) 6488 3707; open 11am–5pm Tues–Sat; admission free.
Also within the university grounds is the Berndt Museum of Anthropology, which houses one of Australia’s finest collections of traditional and contemporary Australian Aboriginal art and artefacts. It has temporarily relocated to the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery building in the Dr Harold Schenberg Arts Centre. www.berndt.uwa.edu.au
Extending along the river foreshore from Matilda Bay towards the ocean is a series of exclusive waterfront suburbs with charming village-style shopping areas, fashionable galleries and foreshore restaurants. Nedlands is the suburb closest to the University of Western Australia. Dalkeith’s Jutland Parade takes you to Point Resolution, with magnificent views of the river to the south and west. Follow the walking paths down the hillside to White Beach on the foreshore, a popular recreational spot.
Beyond West Perth is the popular shopping, cafe and market precinct of Subiaco, with its village-style main street, Rokeby Road (pronounced ‘Rock-a-bee’). ‘Subi’, as it is known to the locals, is one of Perth’s oldest suburbs, and there are some fine old homes in the back streets behind Rokeby Road. The word Subiaco rings a bell for AFL supporters too, as it is the home of Subiaco Oval.
Go inside the corridors of power on a free, 45-minute guided tour. Harvest Tce, West Perth; (08) 9222 7259; tours 10.30am Mon and Thurs.
Scitech Discovery Centre
This interactive science and technology centre has more than 160 hands-on exhibits. You can touch, switch, climb, crank and explore – all in the name of science. There’s also Horizon, a state-of-the-art planetarium screening extraordinary journeys into space on the largest dome screen in the Southern Hemisphere. City West, cnr Sutherland and Railway sts, West Perth; (08) 9215 0700; open 9.30am–4pm Mon–Fri, 10am–5pm Sat–Sun, school holidays and public holidays.