Laid-back, liveable Perth has wonderful weather, beautiful beaches and an easygoing character. About as close to Bali as to some of Australia's eastern state capitals, Perth's combination of big-city attractions with relaxed and informal surrounds offers an appealing lifestyle for locals and lots to do for visitors. It's a sophisticated, cosmopolitan city with myriad bars, restaurants and cultural activities all vying for attention. When you want to chill out, it's easy to do so. Perth's pristine parkland, nearby bush, and river and ocean beaches – along with a good public transport system – allow its inhabitants to spread out and enjoy what's on offer.
Relaxed doesn't mean static, though. Western Australia's mining boom continues to see Perth blossom like WA's wildflowers in spring. Those on the gravy train are out eating, socialising, spending money and flexing their muscles in the sun.
The city of Perth lies along a wide sweep of the Swan River. The river borders the city centre to the south and east, and links Perth to its neighbouring port city, Fremantle. Follow the river north from the city and you'll reach prosperous nooks such as Claisebrook Cove, lined with ostentatious houses, cafes and public sculpture.
Train tracks divide the city centre from the Northbridge entertainment enclave, immediately to the north. Here's where you'll find Perth's cultural institutions, most of its hostels and the lively Little Asia restaurant strip.
Continue northeast along Beaufort St and you'll reach the sophisticated suburbs of Highgate and Mt Lawley. Heading west there's Mt Hawthorn and hip Leederville. To the west of the central city rises Kings Park, with well-heeled Subiaco beyond it. Go further west and you'll hit the beaches.
Western Australia's wildflower season
Western Australia is vast, and lots of it is rough, dry country in heavy reds, oranges and browns...