Welcome to Perth…the city with lights, sun and surf. With silver skyscrapers glinting in the sun, a remarkably blue sky, energetic outdoorsy vibrancy, and the sparkling Indian Ocean and glorious white beaches just a bus ride from downtown. It likes to boast that it gets more sunshine than any other city in Australia, some 300 days a year.
The site that is now Perth had been occupied by groups of the Nyoongar tribe for thousands of years. They, and their ancestors, can be traced back some 40,000 years (verified by discoveries of stone implements near the Swan Bridge).
In December 1696, three ships in the fleet commanded by de Valmingh - Nijptangh, Geelvinck and Het Weseltje - anchored off Rottnest Island. On 5 January 1697, a well-armed party landed near present-day Cottesloe Beach then marched eastwards to the Swan River near Freshwater Bay.
They tried to contact some of the Nyoongar to enquire about the fate of survivors of the Ridderschap van Hollant, lost in 1694, but were unsuccessful. They sailed north, but not before de Vlamingh had bestowed the name Swan on the river.
Perth was founded in 1829 as the Swan River Settlement, but it grew very slowly until 1850, when convicts were brought in to alleviate the labour shortage. Many of Perth's fine buildings, such as Government House and Perth Town Hall, were built using convict labour. Even then, Perth's development lagged behind that of the eastern cities, until the discovery of gold in 1890s increased the population four-fold in a decade and initiated a building boom. Many of these 19th-century buildings have since disappeared amid a deluge of concrete and questionable architectural taste.
Western Australia's mineral wealth has undeniably contributed to Perth's growth, and in the 1980s the city epitomised the decade's obsession with fast money. A group of entrepreneurs fostered an image of Perth as a place where anybody could become a millionaire. The political and corporate scandals which have rocked the city in recent years have added to its frontier, get-rich-quick image.