There are stacks of wonderful historical landmarks dotted about Perth and the surrounding regions. Whether you’re a visitor wanting a crash course in the city’s history or a local uncovering the past of your hometown, here are some of the best places to brush up on your knowledge of Perth.
An excellent way to explore Perth’s historical landmarks, and enjoy commentary on the city’s history and stories, is on a hop-on-hop-off Perth Explorer Pass. These open-top buses take you past many of the city’s best attractions with pre-recorded commentary in several languages. Book your 48-hour bus pass with the Fremantle Lunch Cruise for a full immersion into the highlights of Perth and the Swan River.
Uncover Perth’s fascinating history at these attractions and landmarks
Boorloo, the area now known as Perth, was inhabited by the Whadjuk Noongar people for at least 45,000 years before European settlement. British settlers arrived in 1829, establishing Perth as part of the Swan River Colony.
Since then, Perth has undergone dramatic changes to grow into the vibrant cosmopolitan city it is today. Over 2 million people now call Perth home, in a metro area that spreads 150 kilometres from Two Rocks to Mandurah.
Learn all about the conditions and events that have shaped the city at these historical landmarks around the CBD.
Take a wander through Kings Park for a taste of the ancient history and natural beauty of Perth. The Whadjuk Noongar people know the area around Kings Park as the place where Wagyl, the mythical serpent, entered the ground to create the Swan River. Follow the trails through the park, dotted with informative plaques, to learn more about the Aboriginal and European history of the area.
Perth Town Hall
Sitting on the corner of Barrack and Hay Streets, the stunning Perth Town Hall is Australia’s only gothic-style town hall building. Built in 1870, Perth Town Hall was renovated in the late 1990s and is now used for functions, events and exhibitions. You can visit Perth Town Hall Monday to Saturday between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. Or tours are held on the first Thursday of every month at 10:15 am.
St George’s Cathedral
Located right in the Perth city centre on St George’s Terrace, St Georges Cathedral was consecrated in 1888. It was built by convicts using uniquely Western Australian materials including Fremantle limestone and jarrah wood beams. Check the church website for service times or visit for free to admire the stunning Gothic revival-style architecture.
Established in 1899, the Perth Mint continues to operate as Australia’s bullion mint. You can visit the grounds and shop for free. Or book a fascinating one-hour tour to view the Mint’s attractions and learn more about WA’s gold history.
Built between 1859 and 1864, Government House is the official residence of the governor of Western Australia. While Government House is not open for public visitation, there are ways to get a peek inside. Groups of 20 – 30 can request a free 60-minute tour and the venue regularly hosts events.
Old Court House
Completed in 1836, the Old Court House is Perth’s oldest surviving building. Besides its principal function as a courthouse, the building also served as the centre of civic life during the early days of the Swan River Colony. Visit the building for free on Tuesday – Friday from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm to learn all about the building’s interesting history.
WA Museum Boola Bardip
Having opened in 2020, the WA Museum is one of the state’s newer landmarks. But its collection of scientific and cultural artefacts makes it an excellent place to learn about WA’s history and environment.
At the top of St Georges Terrace, Barracks Arch is all that remains of a larger 3-storey building after it was demolished in the 1960s. Built in the Tudor style and completed in 1866, the building housed Enrolled Pensioner Force members and their families.
Wander through Fremantle to discover the port city’s colonial heritage
Walyalup, now known as Fremantle, was a place of cultural significance and trading to the Whadjuk Noongar people. They inhabited the area for millennia before British settlement in 1829. The development of Fremantle Port in the late 19th century cemented the city’s importance as the gateway to Western Australia.
Wander Fremantle’s streets and visit the historical landmarks to learn how Fremantle grew to the buzzing cosmopolitan city it is today. You can easily visit Fremantle and discover the stunning scenery and notable landmarks along the Swan River with a scenic cruise from Perth. Book the Fremantle Explorer to enjoy free time to explore the port city before you return to Perth.
While the Swan River Colony was originally established as a free colony, it struggled to develop due to a lack of capital and labour. In 1849, Western Australia started importing male convicts to build much needed public infrastructure. The Fremantle Prison was built between 1850 -1859 as a barracks for convicts and served as a jail until 1991. It’s now open as a museum, offering fascinating insight into the history of colonial WA through tours and exhibitions.
Opened in 1831, just 18 months after settlement, the Roundhouse is Western Australia’s oldest building. Before the establishment of Fremantle Prison, anyone convicted of a crime in the new colony was sent there. Amble around the historical building’s walls to learn more about life in Fremantle during the early days of settlement and appreciate the stunning views.
While the vendors and products found at the Fremantle Markets may have changed, much of it has stayed the same since it opened in 1898. It’s one of only a handful of market buildings that survives in Australia and continues as a marketplace. Visit Friday – Sunday to find delicious food or a unique souvenir to take home.
Explore beyond the city for a glimpse into Western Australia’s past
Perth and Fremantle aren’t the only destinations where you will find important landmarks that offer insight into Western Australia’s past. Head out of the city to discover these historical locations.
Peninsula Farm, Maylands
Enjoy a look at the life of the earliest farmers in Western Australia at Peninsula Farm. The property was granted to Joseph Hardey in 1830, who built the farmhouse which remains to this day in 1839. Now run by the National Trust, you can enjoy a coffee at the café (open Wednesday – Sunday). Or simply admire the building and grounds as you pass by on a cruise to the Swan Valley.
Wadjemup / Rottnest Island
Wadjemup / Rottnest Island may be best known for quokkas and beaches, but it is also home to some fascinating history. From viewing 40,000-year-old Aboriginal artefacts at the Wadjemup Museum to exploring the remnants of defence structures built in WWII, there is plenty of history to uncover on Rottnest Island. Ferries depart daily to Rottnest Island from Perth and Fremantle.
The early settlers identified the area around Guildford as the most fertile for farming and established the town as the centre of the colony. Much of the early architecture has been preserved and Guildford is one of only three towns in WA on the National Trust register. The early settlers were right about the fertile farming land. Guildford is now a gateway to the Swan Valley where some of WA’s best wine is produced.
All Saints Church, Henley Brook
Not far from Guildford, the All Saints Church in Henley Brook is Western Australia’s oldest church. Built in 1840 on the site where James Stirling camped during an early exploration expedition, the modest church still holds services on Sundays and is open to visit every day.