This post is part of a regular series of weekly “Ask Google? Ask Fairlie!” posts. Today I ask Google about Perth in Western Australia. I type the start of a question into Google and based on the Google auto-completion suggestions, I find out what most people are wanting to know. Then I answer those questions myself. Who needs Google when you can ask Fairlie?
Today’s Ask Google? Ask Fairlie! is particularly close to my heart, as Perth is my ‘hometown’. I was born there, and lived there (mostly – if you don’t count my other WA hometown of York) until my early twenties when I moved to Melbourne for work. We returned to Perth in late 2005 and lived there for just over a year before moving back to Melbourne.
Is Perth boring?
Seriously people. We are googling this? I’m tempted to say, “there’s no such thing as a boring city…just boring people.” However, I’ll be tolerant and walk through this.
I suspect a lot of the people googling these words are actually residents of Perth, rather than visitors (real or potential). Anyone I know who visits Perth loves it, and raves about the quality of life, the natural beauty, that incredible dome of blue sky, the outdoor expanses, the magnificent Swan River and stunning Kings Park, the pristine white beaches, the groovy cafes (yes, really!), the friendliness of the residents, and what a great the time they had there.
People who live there? Not so much. There’s a kind of self-deprecating criticism which sees Sandgropers comparing Perth to bigger, busier cities and finding it lacking.
Visiting comedian and writer, Tom Rhodes described this Perth contradiction in an article in the Huffington Post: “Everything there is perfect and no one who lives there seems to be very excited about the place. Most everyone you meet there is bored and complains that the city is too slow paced.”
I certainly don’t find Perth boring. But perhaps I’m unusual in that I find everywhere interesting.
Is Perth the most isolated city?
I’m not sure exactly how this title is awarded? But Perth would certainly be a contender.
Perth is over 2,500kms by road from the nearest Australian capital city (Adelaide) and almost 4,000kms from Sydney. The Indonesian island of Bali is almost as close to Perth as Adelaide is, and Jakarta is closer than Sydney. So you don’t get to or from Perth in a hurry. By road, you’re looking at looooong road trips between capital cities, and even by plane, it’s a few hours.
The year we returned to live in Perth, I actually did feel the isolation acutely. Having spent many, many years in Melbourne by that point, I was used to being just a short trip from Sydney or Canberra, or even Tasmania, and to feeling very connected to Australian public life in general. Living in Perth I felt that, while I wasn’t quite at the end of the earth, if I stood on a chair I could probably see it from there.
Is Perth a good place to live?
Absolutely. If you like an outdoor lifestyle, there is no better place than Perth. I loved getting up on a Saturday morning, heading down to Cottesloe Beach for a walk or a swim, having a quick coffee and being back home by 10am. Or walking along the river late in the afternoon.
Summer outdoor plans can be made weeks in advance with none of the weather-contingency planning we need here in Melbourne.
There’s definitely change afoot in the place too. Between visits, I’m always struck by all the hotels, theatres, shops, restaurants, cafes and developments that have sprung up.
And the residents are generally friendly and welcoming.
What is Perth’s…?
What is Perth’s best restaurant?
If you look it up on Tripadvisor, the current ‘top recommendation’ for Perth restaurants is Friends at The Fortescue Centre in the city. I haven’t been to Friends for years, so I can’t vouch for it….but it does meet my criteria for a great Perth restaurant – it has a view (in its case, a view over the Swan River). What’s the point of travelling to the end of the earth (!), being surrounded by the natural beauty of the Swan River, Kings Park or the beaches and not taking advantage of them when choosing to dine?
Some of my favourite dining rooms with a view in Perth are: Matilda Bay Restaurant in Crawley, Il Lido in Cottesloe (okay, you need to sit outside on the pavement to actually enjoy the view, but that’s okay for breakfast or coffee), Fraser’s in Kings Park, Mosman’s on the Swan River and Clancy’s Fish Pub right on City Beach. For the full 360 degree view effect, there’s even a revolving restaurant on the 33rd floor of one of the city skyscrapers: C Restaurant in the Sky. I haven’t been there since I went as a child to celebrate a special family occasion in the 1970s. Revolving restaurants were a very novel concept then.
For fish and chips with an outlook, I like the iconic Cicerello’s in Fremantle’s boat harbour. And a surprising new find is a Vietnamese restaurant located right on the Swan River Esplanade in the heart of the CBD: Southern Star Cafe & Restaurant.
What is Perth’s climate?
Under the Köppen climate classification, Perth is, broadly speaking, in a Mediterranean climate zone. I remember learning this in geography class at school and thinking it sounded very glamorous to live in a ‘Mediterranean climate’. What it means in technical terms is that Perth has hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. Mediterranean climate zones (there are five around the world) are located between about 30° and 45° latitude north and south of the Equator and are on the western sides of the continents. Perth just scrapes in at 31.57° S.
Perth experiences the highest daily average number of bright sunshine hours of all the Australian capital cities. The hottest months are usually January and February – and rain is infrequent during that time (although when it comes, it is often as part of a spectacular thunderstorm). Average summer maximum temperatures range from 29°C -32°C during the day to 16°C – 19°C minimum at night, but maximum temperatures can soar right up to 40°C+ on the really hot days. There’s a ripper of an afternoon sea breeze though, known as the ‘Fremantle Doctor’ which generally brings a bit of air movement relief on scorching days. On those days it is common to hear people ask, “Is the doctor in yet?” or “what time is the doctor due?”
Winter in Perth is generally cool, and that’s also when you could catch periods of heavy rainfall, the occasional thunderstorm and/or some fierce winds. It can actually get pretty cold overnight in Perth in winter (down around 1 or 2 degrees Celsius at its worst) which often catches visitors by surprise.
What is Perth’s timezone?
Okay, so this is a highly charged question. Perth’s timezone is Australian Western Standard Time (AWST) which is 8 hours ahead of UTC/GMT. That makes Perth currently two hours behind Melbourne and Sydney. (The somewhat cruel Eastern Stater’s response to the question, How far behind is Perth time? is often: “Two hours…and twenty years.” Not me though, I would never say that.)
However, unlike most of the Eastern States, Western Australia does not adopt daylight saving time over the summer. So during that period, the time difference between Melbourne/Sydney and Perth widens to three hours. There’s a long and bitter history to Western Australia’s refusal of daylight saving. There’s been four referendums held on the issue (the most recent in 2009 following a three year trial of daylight saving). It’s not an issue you raise at a Perth dinner party or barbecue, unless you like an argument.
WA is not alone in its rejection of daylight saving. Queensland also declines to adopt summer time, as does the Northern Territory. So the upshot of all this is that while during winter, there are three timezones across Australia, in summer that becomes five.
Click here to find all my previous posts about Perth in one easy-to-access location.