Perth’s oldest surviving public building is the “Old Court Law Museum” located next to what is now Western Australia’s Supreme Court building. Designed in the Classical Greek Revival style, this was the first Court in the city. In 1836, Governor James Stirling ordered the construction of a Court house close to the Swan River shoreline. Construction was completed by December of 1836, with the first Court session being held on February 2, 1837. As the largest building in the colony at the time, it also served as a meeting hall, a place of worship, and as the first Perth Boys School. Between 1863 and 1879, the building functioned as Western Australia’s Supreme Court. By the end of that period, the government decided to construct a new building dedicated to being the highest state Court in WA, with unlimited jurisdiction over civil matters , as well as the most serious criminal cases. The foundation of the new Supreme Court building was laid in 1902 and construction completed in 1903. Once that was done, the older building served as a law library for the Supreme Court until 1974, when it was converted into the Law Museum.
Named after James Stirling, the first governor of Western Australia, these gardens lead to the Supreme Court and the Old Court Law Museum buildings.
As the first Court building in Perth, and now the oldest surviving public building in the city, the Old Court Law Museum at one time served as the Supreme Court for Western Australia (WA).
Located next to the Old Court Law Museum, the current Supreme Court building serves as the highest Court in Western Australia.
This Court has “...unlimited jurisdiction over civil matters, as well as over the most serious criminal cases.”
Its main lobby presents one of the most impressive images we’ve experienced in the Court houses during our travels.
In 1837, when the first Court in Perth opened ;now part of the Old Court Law Museum), it was the largest public building in the city...so it served multiple purposes (e.g. a meeting hall, house of worship, and as the first Perth Boys School.
Judge Judy, watch out... there’s a new judge in town.
Christmas celebrations are definitely alive and well in Perth. One of the premier events in this Western Australian (WA) city since 1972 has been the annual Christmas Pageant/Parade, sponsored by the Royal Automotive Club (RAC) and local television station, Channel Seven ( the first TV station - 1959 - in WA). The entire Central Business District (CBD) was shut down so that the more than 200,000 spectators could watch the festivities in safety and comfort. Talking with some locals in the know (e.g. media personnel), planning for this year’s event began immediately following the 2016 parade. Consisting of some twenty floats and fifty-seven entertainment groups, the Pageant included the WA Police Pipe Band, Minions from “Despicable 3”, Chinese dragon dancers, members of the Historical Cycle Club, and many more. Except for the usual few late comers who tried to push their way to the front of the viewing area, this was an enjoyable and fun evening!
”We have to hurry in order to line up prior to the start of the parade.”
The crowd is beginning to grow.
In order to keep the kids happy while waiting for the start of the parade, they are allowed to decorate the street with chalk...
...while unicycling jugglers do their bit.
News anchors from Channel Seven, one of the sponsors of the parade...
...along with the RAC (Royal Automotive Club - similar to our AAA).
Paticipants included the WA Police Pipe Band...
...floats of all kinds...
...even camels (during colonial times, camels were imported to be used as pack carriers through the deserts of Australia. Today, there are an estimated one million camels roaming freely through the Bush country).
Of course, the jolly ole elf himself, Santa Claus, made an appearance.
Located across the street from our apartment was Western Australia’s Parliament. During the mid-to-late 19th century, as the Australian colonies’ population grew, folks began to demand increased responsibility for running their own government ...and Britain was ready to give it them. While most of the Australian colonies obtained self-government between 1855 and 1860, Western Australia (WA) did not. Sure, what was to become known as the “Upper House” was created in 1832, at that time it was an “appointed body” and the Governor was an “...agent of the Colonial Office in London.” By 1880, the Legislative Assembly ( the “Lower House”) was established. Ten years later, WA achieved self-government and by 1901 a constitution was adopted for all the Australian states, establishing legislative powers for the individual states and the country as a whole (similar to our federal and state legislatures). Today, the bicameral legislature of WA comprises 36 members of the Upper House (known as the Legislative Council) and 57 members of the Lower House (known as the Legislative Assembly), all elected by popular vote to four year terms. While the Premier is the head of the state government, the Governor is “The Head of State” representing the Queen. Either House can initiate bills to become law, only the Legislative Assembly can initiate “money bills.”
This was the original main entrance to Western Australia’s Parliament building. Visitors now enter the building on the opposite side.
Known as the Upper House (36 members), the Legislative Council chambers are designated by its red carpet and chairs...
...while the Lower house (57 members), seen here from the public gallery, has a blue carpet and chairs.
Archival photo of the first bicameral legislature.
Edith Cowan was the first woman to be elected to Wetern Australia’s parliament in 1921.
Shortly after this picture was taken, Lori and I became celebrities with our tour group, when they learned of the longevity of our marriage (50 years). Everyone in the group wanted their picture taken with us. That was interesting!
Lee Mun Keen (from Malaysia) on the right with our tour guide,Tina.
Standing in front of the Visitor’s entrance with Lee to my immediate right, Alessia (from Italy) next to her, and one of Lee’s daughters.
In this photo, our tour guide, Tina is taking our picture, while Alissa (from Italy) waits on the right, and the Cong Dang Do family (mother and daughter from Vietnam) are on the left.
One of the more beautiful and interesting parks we have visited during our travels was just a half-mile up the street from our apartment; Kings Park. At just over four square miles (1002 acres), this is the largest inner city park in the world (bigger than New York’s Central Park). Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, the local Noongar peoples used this area, which they knew as “Mooro Katta,” as an important cultural and ceremonial meeting place. Once the Europeans had established their settlement (1835), logging of the local Jarrah trees on the hill (later to be known as Mt. Eliza) became the Swan River Colony’s (which became Perth) first export. This lasted until 1871 when the city council realized that they needed to preserve their resources. By the early 1880’s, Perth’s Volunteer Rifle Corps (the civilian militia) had established a shooting range here for training and for competitions with the Fremantle Militia. Originally called “Perth Park”, the area was opened to the public by 1895. Six years later it was renamed “Kings Park.” Comprising a mixture of grass parklands, botanical gardens, and natural bushlands, the park plays host to at least 324 different varieties of natural plants, 80 bird species, and more than five million visitors per year (making Kings Park the most popular attraction in Western Australia). It was even featured in a 2006 episode of “The Amazing Race.”
Each of the trees lining the main road into the park were
planted by members of the founding park council.
For us, however, the more glorious trees were scattered throughout the park. And they were truly magnificent.
Not to be outdone by their bigger cousins, the smaller flora (such as this “Kangaroo Paws” plant) were also impressive.
At the center of the park is the Western Australia War Memorial Monument, dedicated to all those who served in the uniformed services.
Throughout the park are a number of unique structures. One of them is the “DNA Tower”, comprising 101 steps shaped like a double-helix. Built in 1966, the tower provides some of the best views of the city.
And what views they are!
Another highlight was the glass suspension bridge that provided a great view of the Swan River.
By far, the most beautiful part of our visit to Kings Park was seeing the many fantastic plants in the botanic gardens.
Constructed between 1867 and 1870, Perth’s Town Hall is the only such structure in Australia built by convicts. During the early to mid-nineteenth century, as the population of Perth was growing, the need for skilled craftsmen to aid in construction became evident. By 1866, Western Australia’s (WA’s) Governor, J.S. Hampton had devised a public works program which included the construction of Government House, the Pensioners Barracks, and a Town Hall. Since not enough skilled craftsmen were choosing to immigrate to WA, Perth petitioned Britain to send convicts who had the needed talents (e.g. carpenters, masons, etc.). The building’s design has been described as “Victorian Free Gothic style with strong medieval overtones” - the only such design in Australia. This plan resembled much of the 14th - 16th century village public buildings throughout Europe, which included a watch tower and a market place beneath a hall. The building itself was constructed on the highest point in the center of town, near the spot where Helen Dance chopped down a tree in 1829 to formally commemorate the founding of the city. A number of convict motifs were incorporated into the building, including windows in the shape of a broad arrow ( the broad arrow design was part of the convicts’ uniform), as well as decorations in the shape of a hangman’s noose. Up until 1924, the ground floor of Town Hall housed markets, insurance brokers, and the fire bridgade. Today, the building not only serves as the city’s main civic center, it is also a popular venue for public forums, banquets, and weddings.
Perth’s Town Hall has been the center of city government since 1870. Its four-faced clock in the watch tower had been manually wound until 1956.
James Stirling founded the city of Perth in 1829 (back then it was known as the Swan River Colony). This statue of Stirling in front of Town Hall commemorates his efforts.
An 1868 photo of Town Hall when it was being constructed.
Hanging in the ground floor lobby of the Town Hall is the HMAS Perth’s ship’s bell. Originally commissioned as the HMS Amphion, this light cruiser was transferred to the Royal Australian Navy in 1939. During the Battle of Sundra Strait in February 1942, the Perth was sunk by the Japanese Navy. The bell was recovered during a 2013 dive expedition and given to the city of Perth.
Originally used as the City Council Chamber, this room was latter converted into a Supper Room.
The main hall in the building has been used for large scale meetings, banquets, and weddings...
Just one block from Town Hall is this geographical marker - Point Zero - from which all distances to Perth are measured. This marks the geographical center of the city.
With winter weather fast approaching much of the world, it is time for us to chase the sun; this time to Perth, Australia. Situated along the banks of the Swan River, Perth is the capital, and largest city in Western Australia (WA). Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, the indigenous Noongar aboriginal peoples had inhabited this region for thirty-eight thousand years. They knew the region as “Boorloo”. A Dutch sailor by the name of Willem de Vlamingh was the first European to explore this region in 1697, but felt it was uninhabitable. By 1826, the British, who were worried that the French would try to establish a foothold in WA, began settling the area. Captain James Sterling founded the Swan River Colony in 1829. Helen Dance, wife of a captain of a small sailing vessel, symbolized the establishment of the colony by cutting down a tree (interestingly, she was chosen for this ceremony because all the other women were pregnant at the time...or so the story goes). The name “Perth” was given to the new colony in honor of Sir James Murray, Secretary of State for the Colonies, who came from Perth, Scotland. By 1850, needing cheap labor for farming and skilled workmen to construct new buildings, the colonists petitioned England to send them convicts. When gold was discovered in the region in 1893, Western Australia’s population exploded. Eight years later, WA officially joined the Federation of Australia. Perth earned the nickname “The City of Lights” in 1962 when everyone turned their lights on as American Astronaut, John Glenn passed overhead in “Friendship 7.” Today, Perth is known as one of the most isolated major cities in the world because it is surrounded by a desert on one side and an ocean on the other.
Perth’s Coat of Arms includes images of the black swan, the official bird of the region.
While Perth is considered one of the most isolated major cities in the world, geographically, it physically looks like any other urban complex we’ve visited.
Of course, it does put its own unique stamp on things...this “Pensioneer’s Barracks Arch “ was constructed in 1863 . Designed to resemble a medieval castle, the barracks served as temporary housing for the guards, and their families, who came to Western Australia (WA) on convict ships. The arch is all that remains of the complex when the area was cleared for the construction of the Mitchel Freeway.
Located in the heart of the city is “The Cloisters.” Originally built in 1858 by the first Anglican Bishop of Perth, Mathew Blagden Hale (a statue of Hale can be seen in front of the central door) as a secondary school for boys, it later served as a girls’ school, a government high school, and then as a clergy training college.
Each of the six Australian States and the ten Australian territories, are governed by locally elected parliaments (similar to our state legislatures). This is the WA Parliament building.
While Perth is relatively young (only 188 years old) compared to the European cities we’ve visited, its history is important to the city. Statues and plaques commemorating various aspects of its existence are all over the city (including this one entitled “Footprints in Time” - each statue represents a different important milestone).
Parks and green spaces are important to the vitality of any city. Perth has 16 major parkland areas, plus numerous smaller gardens, throughout its city limits.
Every once-in-awhile, we feel it’s important to re-present some of the lessons we’ve learned during the course of our adventures, and to share them with those who take the time to read our blog. These are things that have worked for us and hope they have the same results for you.
- Because of the way we choose to travel (e.g. with a minimal amount of clothing), we try to follow the sun and avoid colder climates.
- As a result of this minimalist attitude, the apartments we choose MUST have a clothes washer (and dryer if possible). We literally are washing and wearing.
- The apartments also have to have WiFi so we can keep in touch with our family.
- Perhaps the most important task for us is to set a budget and stick to it. To accomplish this, we keep journals of all of our expenditures and match them up with our income (i.e. pensions).
- Since apartments tend to become unavailable quickly, especially during prime visiting months, we try to plan at least two months ahead in order to improve our chances of finding what we want.
- During our research, we’ve found it quite helpful to look for and read reviews (both good and bad) from previous tenants.
- We’ve learned to be skeptical of landlords who tell us that the apartment we are exploring has been rented but they have another one available that has not been advertised. This most likely is a scam.
- One of the more practical lessons we’ve learned is that most modern cities have grown up around old historical sites. For that reason, we look for apartments close to the city center because of the tourist attractions are within easy walking distances.
- With that in mind, we spend the first day or two in a new location getting familiar with the neighborhood around the apartment and then go find the Visitors Center to gather information on what else we want to see.
- We generally use websites such as Vacation Rentals By Owners (VRBO), HomeAway, AirBnb, etc. because they tend to withhold payment to the landlord until we actually get to the apartment and find that it truly does exist, and is as described in the rental advertisement. If there is a problem with the apartment, these organizations will intervene for you to resolve the issue.
- We also use a secure payment mechanism such as PayPal for the same reason as stated above.
- For us, traveling light has really worked well. Minimize what you take. You’ll be surprised at how little you actually need.
- We each have three shirts, two pants, and enough underwear and socks to last a week. That’s why it is important for us to have a clothes washer in our apartments so we can wash and wear.
- Because of this, we each only have a small carry-on suitcase, plus a backpack each (for medications and incidentals). For the most part, this allows us to avoid checked baggage and speeds us through airport terminals. There will always be times when you are forced to check baggage because of flying in smaller regional airplanes.
- All of our clothes are coordinated so that each can be used with everything else.
- When packing, we roll our clothes. This takes up less space and helps to prevent wrinkles.
- Things that will be needed right away are packed on top for easy access. Everything else goes below these items.
- While we do not have any winter clothing with us, if we do encounter colder weather, we layer our wearables (e.g. for me, I’ll start with a shirt, over which I put on a woolen sweater, my vest, and then my spring jacket. For Lori, her shirt is covered by a light, fancy jacket that coordinates with her clothes; followed by a hoodie, and then her spring jacket). This traps air between the layers and keeps you warmer. We did break down and purchase winter hats and gloves/mittens, but these take up little space.
- In these troubling times, staying safe is of prime importance. On the other hand, letting “fools” dictate whether or not you travel means they win.
- By dressing conservatively, we tend to blend in and don’t make ourselves targets. This means no (or at least minimal) jewelry.
- While walking the streets exploring the sights, I put all our valuable items in zippered pockets of my vest and then safety-pin them shut. Pickpockets don’t want to go through all of that to get at our items. They want easy targets.
- Being aware of our surroundings is the best protection (we encountered a number of times when we felt we were being targeted, but because we were alert, we foiled whatever was being planned.
- Hang on to your camera or phone. Do not put it down on a table (or in your back pocket) EVER (unless you want it stolen).
- Consider carrying a throw-away wallet with a few dollars in it, an old, useless credit card , and a dysfunctional phone to hand over to any mugger that may attack you.
- If you must carry a backpack while sightseeing, don’t keep any valuables in it. Thieves will slice it open and run off with the contents.
- If something does not seem right to you, get to a well populated area and look for authority figures. Just being near them will scare most predators away.
- For the most part, we try to avoid being out late at night. There will be times when nighttime activities may be worth experiencing. Just use common sense.
- We learned that when approached by gypsies/Roma, speaking loudly will scare them off. They don’t want attention.
- Our passports and extra money are always carried in money belts under our clothes and next to our skin. Never leave them in the apartment.
- Extra copies of the passport picture page , plus our ID’s are also kept in a secure place in case the real ones are lost or stolen.
- Credit cards and ID chips in the newer passports can be electronically scanned without your knowing it. We now keep them in RFID wallets to stop this from happening. In a pinch, an Altoids tin easily accommodates credit cards, and a Doritos bag, turned inside out, will protect passports (the inside of the bag is aluminum foil).
- There are slice-proof shoulder bags on the market that some believe in. Just remember, a scarecrow tells the birds where the food is. Likewise, these bags tell thieves where you valuables may be. While they may prevent cutting the bag open, we’ve heard of folks that were surrounded by thieves and had those bags taken right off their shoulders. We feel the best place for your valuables is under your clothes.
- Finally, when we felt an area might be a little dicey for Americans, we told folks we were from Canada (Lori’s father actually was from there, so it was not too much of a stretch of the truth). Sometimes the questions became quite specific; “What part of Canada?” “What language do you speak? English or French?” (Anger against the French for a cartoon that was felt derogatory, was quite evident).Most folks can’t identify a Canadian accent from an American one.
Well, there you go. We hope you found this both informative and helpful. It’s now time to move on to the next part of our adventures.
Around the world, there are a number of cathedrals with the name “Notre Dame,” and we’ve had the pleasure of visiting a number of them; including the most famous in Paris; ones in Montreal and Quebec City; and now, Ottawa. Originally, the site on which the Ottawa cathedral is built was home to a small wooden church, known as St. Jacques (built in 1832). This was demolished in 1841 to make way for a larger church. By 1847, the partially constructed structure was designated as the “Cathedral of Bytown” ( as Ottawa was called back then). Twenty years later, two gothic spires were added and covered in tin, according to French-Canadian style. This is the oldest, and largest church in the city, and serves as the seat of Ottawa’s Roman Catholic archbishop. Each year, during December, the diplomatic missions of the European Union stationed in Ottawa sponsor a concert featuring European Christmas carols and songs. In 1990, the Cathedral was designated a National Historic Site. It is truly an impressive structure!
Situated on Ottawa’s Sussex Street, across from the Art Gallery and just a block past the U.S. Embassy, is Notre Dame Cathedral, the oldest church in the city.
The beautiful workmanship of this building, in our estimation, rivals anything we’ve seen so far.
As in every Roman Catholic Cathedral we’ve visited, the stained glass windows are exquisite...
...especially the rose windows.
Everywhere we looked was equally amazing.
Painted to resemble the night sky with stars overhead, the ceiling is designed to give an open-air feeling.
This carved wooden pulpit was one of our favorite pieces.
Canada’s National Museum of Military History was established in 1880, under the auspices of the militia officers of the Ottawa Garrison, as a collection of military artifacts. Over the succeeding years, the collection grew to the point that a larger, dedicated building was needed. By 1942, the Canadian War Museum was officially established and the new building’s design was reminiscent of a bunker. Small windows along the top of the structure spell out, in Morse Code, “Lest We Forget.” The current museum’s exhibits ( which now number more than 500,000 items) are dedicated to conflicts on Canadian soil (some dating back to the first reports of death by armed conflict several hundred years ago), to those in South Africa, World Wars I and II, and the “Cold War.” A stated mission of the museum is to explore the impact of war on Canadian history. As such, the museum does not glorify war, but rather looks at its effect on the human experience. From that perspective, we found this museum to be enlightening.
Originally known as “The Canadian Museum of Military History,” the 137 year old War Museum now boasts over 500,000 items in its collection.
Of course, there are the necessary displays of military vehicles...
...as well as other pieces of military equipment...
...but the museum also exhibits over 13,000 pieces of art...
...and displays of what life was like on the home front during times of conflict.
During the major conflicts (e.g. World Wars I and II), rationing at home became a sacrifice.
Even during the early days of Canada’s existence, life on the home front had its ups and downs.
Sometimes, the conflicts were really close to home, as this diorama of the attack on Quebec by American Rebels in 1775 depicts.
In spite of conflict, life has a way of carrying on,...even prospering.
Originally known as the “National Museum of Natural Science”, the Museum of Nature was founded in 1856 by the Geological Survey of Canada (which, itself, was founded in 1842). The original building was built on the site of a former farm field - then known as Appin Place - by a Scottish-born merchant by the name of William Stewart. The Canadian government bought the land in 1905 with the hopes of constructing a stone structure to compliment Parliament Hill. The massive stone structure envisioned required the importing of 300 skilled stone masons from Scotland. While the official title of the structure was the “Victoria Memorial Museum Building,” locals called it “The Castle,” because it was constructed in the style known as “Scottish Baronal” (as the design was based upon that of Hampton Court and Windsor Castle). In 1916, when fire destroyed the Centre Block of Parliament, the museum building became the temporary home of the Senate and House of Commons (1916 to 1919). By 1990, the museum’s name was officially changed to “The Canadian Museum of Nature” and designated a National Historic Site. It now houses more than 14 million specimens.
Known as “The Castle” by locals, the Canadian Museum of Nature was constructed to compliment the buildings of Parliament Hill, less than a mile away....
...and this 1911 photograph shows why the locals called it what they did.
From its four collections (botony, mineralology, paleontology, and zoology) humble beginnings...
...the museum now hosts over fourteen million specimens.
There are exhibits about deep sea exploration...
...including some from the newest technology, such as this drone aerial photo over the artic.
This 4.57 billion year old meteorite was found in Chihuahua, Mexico.
We’ve said it before; we love history and museums. This was a fun place to visit!
Carl and Lorraine Aveni are two retirees planning on traveling through Europe for at least one year.