Review: Perth CBD Walking Tour with Oh Hey WA inner banner

Review: Perth CBD Walking Tour with Oh Hey WA

Get a local's perspective of life in the Western Australia capital and hear quirky stories about the city's past on this engaging walking tour. It's two hours well spent!
Perth CBD Walking Tour
Perth CBD Walking Tour: Enjoy the city’s public art.
Review: Perth CBD Walking Tour

Every time I visit Perth, I learn something new about this amazing city. 

Today my teacher is Robyn from walking tour company Oh Hey WA, and I’m about to embark on their two-hour Perth CBD Walking Tour. Before we make a move, Robyn pays respect to the Noongar people — the traditional owners of the Perth region. Then she draws my attention to the large green sculpture in Forrest Place (our meeting point), known locally as ‘the cactus’. To me, it looks like a heart monitor, which is more in line with what it actually represents — organic farming, living, art, and ideas. The work is titled Grow Your Own, and it was created by James Angus.

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Also in Forrest Place is the handsome once-General Post Office — now an H&M store. The Australian coat of arms adorning the building’s neo-classical facade has the kangaroo and emu gazing to their right instead of inwards. Legend has it that because the sculptor had not been paid, he made the animals look towards the Treasury building — awaiting payday! I continue to chuckle about this as we make our way down the Murray Street Mall and up to the Hay Street Mall.

Perth CBD Walking Tour
Perth CBD Walking Tour. Image: Jennifer Morton

We stop and chat about some of the extraordinary architecture lining this pedestrian thoroughfare — including the Tudor-esque London Court arcade, the beautiful Plaza Theatre, and the Savoy Hotel. The latter two have both stood empty for decades.

I spy a bronze statue of a man doing a handstand over a newspaper. The statue represents Percy Button — a popular Perth street performer from the first half of the 20th century — who’ll forever charm and entertain on Hay Street. You can read his story on the bronze newspaper beneath him.

Around the corner on Barrack Street are the State Buildings — home to several fine eateries, cafes, shops, and the luxurious Como The Treasury hotel. I’m tempted to linger at Sue Lewis Chocolatier, but Robyn’s engaging commentary keeps me moving.

Perth CBD Walking Tour
Perth CBD Walking Tour: Sue Lewis Chocolatier. Image: Jennifer Morton

We’re now on St Georges Terrace — renowned as possibly the windiest street in the Southern Hemisphere! Today, thankfully, it’s smooth sailing and we mosey along while Robyn shares story after story after interesting fact. We enter Stirling Gardens beside the heritage-listed Council House, and walk towards the Supreme Court. Exiting the gardens on Barrack Street, we get a good view of The Bell Tower. It houses 18 bells, twelve of which came from St Martin-in-the-Fields in London. They’re one of the few sets of royal bells to have left England.

Perth CBD Walking Tour
Perth CBD Walking Tour: The Bell Tower. Image: Jennifer Morton

The walking tour takes us past Elizabeth Quay and Perth’s most expensive showing of public art — Spanda — or as Perthites call it — ‘ the paperclip’. Artist Christian de Vietri received the cool sum of $1.3 million for the commissioned piece and though not everyone loves it, it’s certainly memorable.

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We enter Howard Lane to look at some notable street art. Robyn shares a tip that cobblestoned laneways and alleys in Perth (like this one) will generally lead you to something fab: be it a boutique bar, secret cafe, or thought-provoking mural. She’s right! One of the pieces we see here is by Stormie Mills — a well-known Perth-based artist. He usually depicts strange, forlorn-looking creatures in his work, and this one touches my heart.

Perth CBD Walking Tour
See street art by Stormie Mills throughout Perth’s CBD. Image: Jennifer Morton

Next we saunter through Brookfield Place — a trendy space designed to keep socialising office workers in the city. With a series of hip bars and cafes like Print Hall, Small Print, The Apple Daily, and Bob’s Bar (named after former PM Bob Hawke), there’s plenty of choice for after-work drinks and mingling.

Further on is Wolf Lane — another of the city’s most popular laneways. It has plenty of cool street art, along with some great bars to check out. Try Cheeky Sparrow, Wolf Lane, or The Spaniard for drinks and evening snacks.

The stories keep coming as we head towards our final destination — Yagan Square. Perth’s newest public space is making a name for itself as a meeting and dining hub. Developed in consultation with the Aboriginal community, the 1.1-hectare area features rounded benches that encourage conversation and an amphitheatre for community events. The building’s facade looks like it spent time in the Aussie outback. Native trees and shrubs, a water feature, and a boutique food court that offers upscale eats by locally owned businesses all add to the quintessential Western Australia vibe.

Perth CBD Walking Tour
Perth CBD Walking Tour: Yagan Square. Image: Hera Engineering

Yagan Square is the only notable public space in Australia named after an Indigenous person. In the 1830s, Yagan was the tenacious leader of the Noongar people. He rebelled against the European colonists and paid for his efforts with his life. The statue of a warrior standing tall is often mistakenly thought to be of Yagan himself. The sculpture — which was created by Tjyllyungoo Lance Chadd, Trish Robinson, and Stuart Green — is called Wirin and represents the Aboriginal community’s continuing spirit and creative power.

My tour comes to an end in the amphitheatre at Yagan Square. Two hours have flown by and thanks to Robyn, I have learned so much about the city. Tonight I’m going to try out her pizza recommendation — Alfred’s on Barrack Street. I’ll let you know how it went! Update: Robyn was right. Alfred’s is the most gangster pizza joint in Perth!

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Additional images: Bigstock

Jennifer Morton

About the writer

Jennifer Morton is a freelance writer and photographer. The Canadian expat has lived all over Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. She also spent six months working on a cruise ship in Europe. When Jennifer is not writing about travel, you may find her lounging on the beach, fishing with her son, sipping coffee at a cafe, reading a book, or zooming in on a beautiful scene.



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