Discover Perth's history on a fascinating walking tour.
Everybody's favourite isolated city and slice of paradise is edging towards its 200th birthday, since being founded in 1829 as the administrative centre of the Swan River Colony. And of course, it also comes with an incredible 35,000 years of history and culture for the Noongar people who have continuously inhabited the South-West region throughout that time.
As you can imagine, this means there's plenty of fascinating history to explore - and what better way to do so than with a tour of Perth City! Learn the stories of Perth city centre from expert guides, whose engaging tours spark the imagination and breathe fresh life into the past with their vibrant storytelling; or take a self-guided tour thanks to the excellent maps and resources developed to help you make the most of your historical wanderings. You'll see Perth in a whole new light!
Perth City Heritage Trails
The day-to-day spots many of us have walked past a hundred times are full of hidden secrets, and the Perth City Heritage Trails are a perfect way to uncover them. This comfortable walking tour through some of Perth's best-known city streets is free to join, with knowledgeable volunteer Tour Guides offering free 90-minute orientation, history and art tours from the Perth City Visitor Kiosk. The following heritage tours are available as guided tours on days outlined here, as are the maps for self-guided trails.
- Icons of Influence: Discover the history of the City of Perth via its iconic areas of influence. Walk along and keep your eyes out for plaques placed in the pavement that recognise the many people who have influenced the city’s growth.
- Big Boom: This historical walk through the city highlights the 'boom' created by the gold rush and the surge of growth, wealth and prosperity in Western Australia that followed. The City’s population swelled from 8,500 to over 27,000 in a decade, turning a remote town into a buzzing cosmopolitan city!
- Convicts and Colonials: Although the Swan River Colony was established as a free settlement in 1829, convict transportation was introduced in 1850. The introduction of these reluctant immigrants caused much debate and controversy amongst the residents. Whilst convict transport lasted only 18 years, the legacy of this period is embedded in the streets of the city and the folklore of the State.
- Perth Town Hall: Built between 1867 and 1870, the Perth Town Hall is a uniquely important landmark in Perth’s history. It’s the country’s only major town hall designed in a Medieval style, and the only Australian town hall built by convicts, highlighting their workmanship and technical skills. Major works completed in 2005 restored the Town Hall as a popular Perth venue for the new century.
Perth City Art Trails
Public art can stimulate thinking, deepen sense of place and transform how we engage with spaces. Within Perth City there are more than 200 public artworks that reflecting the city's identity, both past and present. Below are some artworks that reflect Perth's history, heritage and important figures - details of the trails and maps these can be found on are here.
- Mary Raine Tribute Mural: This spectacular mural has transformed the wall in Queen Lane paying homage to Raine Square's namesake, Mary Raine, and the building's incredible history. The 13x13m interactive mural installation was painted by world renowned and local WA artist, Jerome Davenport, who commenced works on February 17th, Mary Raine's birthday, and aptly completed the mural on March 8th in acknowledgement of International Women's Day.
- First Contact (2015): Located at Elizabeth Quay the stunning First Contact sculpture welcomes visitors to Elizabeth Quay from the city and the river. The cast aluminium artwork by renowned Nyoongar artist, Laurel Nannup, represents the arrival of European settler ships to Perth, whom the local Nyoongar people believed to be their past ancestors returning from the sea.
- Koorden (2015): Six dramatic male Indigenous figures rendered in cast bronze stride towards the east across the grass of Wellington Gardens at Kings Square. The bands that form their bodies represent painted ceremonial markings found in historical photographs, reinterpreted by artist Rod Garlett in extensive consultation with local Aboriginal elders.
- Channel Markers Artist: Malcolm Macgregor: A pair of seats located on either side of the Cove, use the imagery of a river channel marker. They also commemorate Solomon Cook's water driven flourmill and the Caretaker's Cottage at the entry to Victoria Gardens by Architect Richard Roach Jewell.
Go Cultural Aboriginal Tours
Join your local Noongar guide on a 90-minute walking tour with Go Cultural Aboriginal Tours and Experiences, on location at Elizabeth Quay. Take in the stunning views of Perth and the Swan River as you embark on a journey of discovery through the historic and cultural landscape of Aboriginal life in the Whadjuk Region (which includes Perth) prior to European settlement. Learn about their spiritual connection to their traditional lands and their deep love of Country, as conveyed through Dreamtime stories, traditional songs, Noongar language and Aboriginal artefacts.
Hidden deTours - Gin Walking Tour
Join the tipple aficionados at Hidden deTours for a spirited experience: a Gin Walking Tour! This tour includes many fascinating stories about the history of gin, as well as the weird and wonderful history of Perth. Enjoy a visit to three awesome gin joints, and indulge in gin flights, cocktails and fab food. This journey includes juicy gin stories peppered with some of Perth's secrets and scandals, so grab your pals and let the good times be-GIN!
Oh Hey WA - Ultimate Perth Walking Tour
The Ultimate Perth Walking Tour is a great way for locals and visitors alike to gain a deeper understanding of our beautiful city and discover the best it has to offer, all in just two hours! This tour is brought to you by Oh Hey WA, a leading tour company offering fun and informative guided walking tours showcasing the best of Perth and Northbridge. The tour offers a complete overview of Perth from history and architecture to contemporary culture and public artwork. You will be guided through streets, laneways, heritage precincts and new developments with many recommendations for the best bars, cafes and restaurants to visit while in town.
Let's Roam Perth Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are a load of fun - there's always something new to discover! With the app-driven self-guided Let's Roam Perth Scavenger Hunt, you can take a walk down historic streets and into bustling cultural hubs, through twists and turns shedding light on the forgotten stories and evolution of Perth. Dig deeper into the history of the CBD’s most iconic landmarks, from the Swan Bells and Supreme Court Gardens to Hay Street Mall and the Perth Cultural Centre, for adventure and intrigue galore.
The Perth Mint - Gold Exhibition Tour
All that glitters is gold on The Perth Mint's Gold Exhibition Tour! Explore the grand heritage building, secured vaults, and 1899 melting house where you can see a live gold pour, hear fascinating tales of the Mint's golden past, and learn of the gold mining legends and events that have shaped WA.
Two Feet & a Heartbeat - East Perth Forgotten History Tour AND Crimes of Perth Walking Tour
The award-winning team at Two Feet & a Heartbeat Tours offer a wide range of tours for various interests, and their history walking tours certainly don’t disappoint! On the East Perth Forgotten History Tour, you'll fall in love with the historic East End of the city as you uncover the remarkable stories of this once-gritty area. Or dive into the dark underbelly of Perth in the Crimes of Perth Walking Tour, as you learn about terrible events and dirty deeds of the past, gangland murders, corporate crimes, opium dens and much more. If you're into dark history, you'll love this tour!
The Hike Collective - Perth Bridges & Heirisson Island Guided Hike
Get back to nature with the Perth Bridges & Heirisson Island Guided Hike delivered by The Hike Collective, and experience amazing historical stories and secrets covering the local heritage of this fascinating, beginner-friendly 12km river loop hiking trail. Enjoy the beautiful sights of Elizabeth Quay, Barrack Street Jetty, Riverside Drive and the South Perth Foreshore, and explore the hidden secrets of Heirisson island. You might even catch a glimpse of the magnificent local kangaroos, just walking distance from the hustle and bustle of the city!
Segway Tours - East Foreshore Tour
Experience the foreshore like never before, enjoying the future of modern transportation technology as you journey back into the past. Segway Tours WA's East Foreshore Tour includes fascinating guided commentary as you cruise for an hour and a half on the foreshore, taking in sights like the WACA, Perth Mint, Government House and the Supreme Court.
Kings Park - Memorials Walk
Perth's iconic Kings Park is one of our most loved tourist attractions, home to beautiful flora and fauna and some fascinating history, which you can learn all about on the Memorials Walk. Kings Park has more memorials, statues and honour avenues than any other park in Australia, and the self-guided 1.7km Memorials Walk takes approximately one hour to walk, with suitable access for wheelchairs and prams. Take in stunning views of the Swan River and the Perth CBD skyline as you pass by the State War Memorial, John Forrest statue, entrance to the Western Australian Botanic Garden and Lotterywest Federation Walkway. The self-guided Memorials Walk brochure is available here, or pick up a print version from the Visitor Information Centre on Fraser Avenue.
Perth has a fascinating history, and learning more about our past helps us to gain a deeper understanding of our present and future. You'll also have plenty of fun facts to share with friends and family about the stories of our amazing city - so whether you join an expert-led guide, visit a historical attraction or enjoy the fruits of modern app-driven technology, bringing the past to life is a truly wonderful experience. For more great tours, keep an eye on the Destination Perth blog.