The Best Way to Experience Perth’s Urban Art and Culture, a Walking Tour.
Perth City has undergone a transformation in recent years, with millions of dollars invested to create a vibrant new atmosphere rich with art and culture. What better way to explore this on such a perfect autumn day than on a walking tour?
As a Perth local, (and I must admit a bit cynical), I was intrigued to find out what all the fuss is about. Surely this sleepy city, the worlds’ most isolated Capitol, had not changed that much?
I joined Oh Hey WA on a cultural walking tour of Perth to discover what I had been missing!
I met Adie, our guide and self confessed Perth enthusiast, for a two hour walking tour commencing in Forrest Place at a sculpture colloquially known as The Cactus, created by Perth sculptor James Angus.
It was in Forrest Place that our first surprise unfolded. Scattered through the paving was wording,and I was charmed to find these ribbons of words were ” A Poetry Line” by Robert Drewe. A charming start to the day with more little gifts to discover.
As we made our way through the main shopping district, we were encouraged to look upward at the amazing architecture of original buildings, now housing boutiques at ground level, but still maintaining the intricate and elegant facades of times gone by.
In the Hay Street Mall, we were greeted by a statue of an iconic Perth character from the 1940’s, Percy Button. Percy was a was a vagrant well known for entertaining the locals in the city with acrobatics and circus tricks.
Walking along to the business district of Perth, we visited the lush Stirling Gardens with spectacular images of Australia’s very own kangaroos with Council House in the background. These life-size sculptures are imposing and a little frightening to think you may encounter one of these male “boomers” in the wild.
Walking along St Georges Terrace, it is interesting to see the juxtaposition of old and new. Perth certainly is a city of contrast. It is wonderful to see some old and historic buildings being preserved, even if just the facades, to remind us all of the beauty of their original architecture, now dominated by skyscrapers made of glass and steel.
Elizabeth Quay is Perth’s newest development where the city meets the Swan River and a vibrant precinct at night with pop up bars and festivals. Several spectacular art works are displayed including Spanda, an eight story structure by local artist, Christian de Vietri, which takes inspiration from ripples in water.
My favourite sculpture at Elizabeth Quay is a piece named First Contact, by Laurel Nannup, an indigenous Perth artist. The ” bird in a boat” is a representation of how the Aboriginal locals first saw European settlers. Distant ships looked like floating birds with sails as wings. Little did they know what was in-store for them!
Howard Lane was our first lane-way experience. Tucked away off Howard Street, this lane held some interesting surprises. Helvetica, a whiskey bar, is hidden from those who are not familiar with it’s location and Howard Lane is home to street art of several well known artists. The monochromatic work of Stormie Mills is displayed in The Conversation.
More light-hearted pieces in Howard Lane include this colourful image located outside the whiskey bar and ironically a place where patrons step out for a cigarette.
Wolf Lane was our next experience as we strolled through this gem and one of Perth’s best kept secrets. This lane is home to a variety of bars and restaurants and hosts several festivals and music events throughout the year. Although quiet on a Thursday morning, this is a place I look forward to re-visiting one evening.
Several amazing artists display their work in Wolf Lane such as Amok Island and Destroy. Our guide, Adie, was a wealth of knowledge and able to explain the finer details of many of these urban art pieces and the artists who contributed.
Another huge change in Perth’s landscape is the work in process linking the city to Northbridge, a hub of nightclubs and restaurants. New parks and cultural centres are in planning with a completion of this link expected in 2018.
One of the newest open areas is Kings Square, a home to Perth’s most recent and costly sculptures. The Koorden sculptures, by Perth artist Rod Garlett, represent the Aboriginal people of South Western Australia and their culture. These six silent warriors are breathtaking yet serene and a wonderful reminder of Perth’s cultural past.
As our tour concluded, I felt a new pride in Perth and extremely happy to have taken this adventure as a guest of Oh Hey WA. It was surprising how cosmopolitan and rich in art and culture this city has become.
Perth has bloomed from a quiet, shy cygnet to a confident Black Swan. It will be exciting to see the final chapters of her development.
Look out world, Perth is becoming the place to be!
The two hour Perth Cultural Tour I enjoyed with Oh Hey WA, starts at $30 per person.
I would recommend this tour for visitors to Perth looking to see past the standard tourist attractions. It would be terrific also for Perth locals who have not yet discovered the hidden wonders of their own city.
For more information on this and other tours with Oh Hey WA