Western Australia’s youthful capital city PERTH is home to around 1.7 million people and has a reputation for endless sunshine and an easy-going lifestyle. After work, it’s typical for people to go surfing, sailing, swimming or fire up a barbie somewhere on the shores of the Swan River, which forms a broad lagoon through the city, ideal for recreation and sport. This enviable social life partly explains Perthites’ contented detachment from the rest of the country. Another factor is simply the physical distance: Perth is Australia’s (and many say, the world’s) most isolated city, almost 4000km from Sydney by road, a four-hour flight from the east coast and in a different time zone (Western Standard Time) to the rest of the country.
The state’s recent mining boom has sparked one of the largest building projects ever seen in the city and several new developments were in progress at the time of writing. The Central Business District (CBD) is undergoing something of a renaissance as more international companies set up shop here (particularly Chinese and Indian firms), while the area between the city and Northbridge will shortly see the currently above-ground train line buried beneath an area of squares and public spaces to be completed by the end of 2014.
Just north of the CBD, Northbridge is perhaps Perth’s most notorious suburb, with an other-side-of-the-tracks feel and a vibrant, intoxicating nightlife – it is also the centre for Perth’s Asian community. Much of the city’s daily life takes place in its outer reaches, with the inner west suburbs of Leederville and Subiaco boasting boutiques, cafés, restaurants and pubs galore.