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Brendon on the beach

Tourist in Perth

Thursday, June 17, 2004
This week we have Brendon being a tourist in his own patch in the west, in Perth.

Perth, on the tranquil Swan River, enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with more hours of sunshine than any other Australian capital. The Swan flows from the Darling Ranges and enters the Indian Ocean at Fremantle, 19km south of Perth.

Perth has a series of gardens, parks and reserves. The 400ha Kings Park, close to the city, is bushy and offers beautiful views of the city, the river and the distant blue hills of the Darling Ranges. Always a good place to visit, it is particularly helpful in giving first-time visitors a feel for the layout of the city.

Public transport is plentiful. Transperth manages 970 buses, 48 two-car train sets and two ferries. The ferry service operates between the South Perth and Barrack Street jetties. The trip takes nine minutes.

The river is the venue for other cruises, of course. Miss Sandalford is lavishly appointed and takes luxury cruises to the historic Sandalford in the Swan Valley. Coffee, tea, petit fours, gourmet cheeses and wines are served on board. Lunch at the winery is a three-course affair, ending with port straight from the oak barrel.

Seafood dinner cruises, complete with pianist and other live entertainment, is available. They also run morning coffee cruises.

While there can be no guarantees you will spot a whale, there are special whale watch trips and the vessel's open deck gives everyone a good view.

One of the foreshore's newest additions is the Swan Bells. There are 18 change-ringing bells — the largest weighs 1400kg — that can be heard every day.

The Swan Bells include the 12 St Martin-in-the-Fields bells, recorded as being in existence before the 14th century and recast in the 16th by Queen Elizabeth I. They have been recast twice more and been rung to celebrate many historic events — England's victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588, the homecoming of Captain James Cook after his 1771 voyage of discovery and the World War II victory at El Alamein in 1942.

The bells rang in 275 new years at Trafalgar Square and celebrated the coronation of every British monarch since King George II in 1727.

The London diocese of the Church of England and the parish of St Martin-in-the-Fields gave authority for the 12 bells, plus five specially-cast bells, to be presented to the University of Western Australia to commemorate Australia's bicentenary in 1988.

The 18 bells are hung for change-ringing, an English folk art developed in the 16th century. Learning to ring them is difficult. This is one of the few places people can watch them being rung. There is a good view from the top of the tower.

The Perth Mint, Australia's oldest operating mint, was established in 1899 and played a central role in the development of the state's gold industry.

In the 19th century, three branches of the Royal Mint of London were established in the colonies to refine gold from the rushes and mint sovereigns and half-sovereigns for the British Empire. The Perth mint opened after the Sydney and Melbourne mints and remained under Britain's jurisdiction until July, 1970. It opened to the public in the early 1990s. Tours are very popular, attracting 120,000 visitors each year.

Without doubt the main attraction is the hourly gold pour, held in the dark, 19th-century melthouse. Visitors see 200oz of 99.99 percent pure molten gold being transformed into a solid bar in a matter of minutes. The room's walls are literally embedded with gold dust, accumulated over more than 90 years of continuous refining.

You can mint your own gold-plated, pure silver or gold medallion with a 100-character personalised message. They make attractive gifts, presented in jarrah blocks which can also be engraved.

The international exhibition has over 120 well-travelled bars from 30 countries on display. The collection has toured London, Hamburg, Vancouver, Dubai and Singapore.

There is an array of decorative and innovative gold bars in the exhibition, examples of nuggets, coins, jewellery and industrial items. A gold pig bar, Indian wedding jewellery, yin and yang bars, cartoon and hologram bars and easily concealed, paper-thin Vietnamese gold leaf bars.

The New Maritime Museum in Fremantle opened in 2002. It looks across the Indian Ocean on a site chosen because of its historical and cultural significance and position in the working port. It tells stories of early explorers, trade routes, naval defence, migration and cultural richness.

Its architecture draws on the association of a boat stranded on a sandy promontory, an image held across different periods, regions and endeavours. It has six themed galleries — Indian Ocean, Tin Canoe to Australia, Fremantle and the Swan River, Hooked on Fishing, Cargoes Gallery and Naval Defence Gallery — providing hours of fun and interest.

One of Perth's most popular beaches is Cottesloe, just 15 minutes from the city. It has white, sandy beaches, clear water and terraced lawns overlooking the ocean. It is popular for surfing, kite surfing, sea kayaking and snorkelling. The reef is made of limestone pinnacles, elevated limestone platforms and water-eroded outcrops, with patches of seagrass, kelp beds and sponge gardens.

There is a wonderful range of aquatic life, including fish, shellfish, crustaceans, weedy seadragons and the rare leafy seadragon. It is a Fish Habitat Protection Area and the local community assist in its promotion, protection and management.

Barchetta is recommended as a great breakfast, lunch or dinner venue. The Cottesloe café has a slick, Italian feel and ocean views. The menu changes each month and they do not charge corkage. You can even take your own wine glasses to cut costs!


Perth, Western Australia's capital city


Transperth ferries from South Perth to Barrack street cost $2 one way. They run daily from 6.50am to 7.30pm, with extended summer hours.

Swan Bells Tower entry is $6 for adults. Admission is free on the first Tuesday of each month. There are hourly demonstrations on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 11.30am. General ringing is on weekends between 12-2pm. Lessons are $30.
Perth Mint tours run from 9am to 4pm on weekdays and 9am to 1pm on weekends. They cost $6.50 for adults.

Western Australian Maritime Museum is open each day and entry is $10.

Barchetta breakfast costs $8-$15. It’s open every day, except December 25, from 6am until late in summer and during winter, 6.30am-5pm Mondays and Tuesdays and 6.30am until late the rest of the week.
Please note prices are valid at time of filming.

More information

Swan River
Ph: 13 62 13

Swan Bells
Barrack Square
Riverside Drive Perth 6831
Ph: (08) 9218 8183, fax: 08 9325 2507

The Perth Mint
310 Hay Street East Perth 6004
Ph: (08) 9421 7223, fax: 08 9332 9804

Western Australian Maritime Museum
Cliff Street
Victoria Quay Fremantle 6160
Ph: (08) 9431 8334, fax: 08 9431 8335

149 Marine Parade
North Cottesloe 6011
Ph: (08) 9385 2411
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