How many courthouses? No wonder Australia is full of the descendants of convicts!
06.03.2013 24 °C
The first place we visited in Perth was the Mint founded in 1899 as a result of all the gold being mined locally in the Western Australia's eastern goldfields. It is the oldest operating mint in Australia and one of its top exporters responsible for refining nearly all Australia's annual production of gold. Unfortunately with all that gold around we weren't allowed to take any photographs but the highlight of the tour was watching gold being heated up and poured in the Melting House to make a gold bar. Apparently they have been cooling and re-melting the same gold bar for their gold pouring displays for years!
Next up was the grand "Beaux Arts-style" General Post Office in Forrest Place. The GPO building itself is now listed and the square in front of it is popular for events and festivals. Murray Street and Hay Street seem to be the main shopping streets in Perth and include London Court, a mock Tudor Shopping Court built in 1937 by a wealthy gold miner and financier. The restored Town Hall is located on the corner of Hay and Barrack Streets.
We then stumbled upon the Old Perth Fire Station which unexpectedly had quite an interesting museum and heritage centre. Downstairs we some old fire engines and equipmnet but upstairs there were displays about all the different types of disasters the Western Australia Fire and Emergency Services might have to deal with - bush fires, cyclones, tsunamis and earthquakes; very well done but is it safe to live here?
Just up the road from the Fire Station was St. Marys RC Cathedral; the originally building built in 1863 is quite pretty although I think the jury is still out on the recently added extension on the righthand side.
Talking of jurys... it was at this point I began to notice a theme - almost every second building seemed to be some sort of courthouse! I found this quite amusing bearing in mind Australia's convict past (even if West Australians proudly point out that unlike the eastern states they were not originally a convict colony). First up we passed the District Court as we made our back down Hay Street, I didn't bother photographing that. Then we reached Perth Concert Hall, a fine auditorium built in the early 1970s - with the Commonwealth Court nestled beside it on the left.
We then continued along St George's Terrace past Government House and the impressive Council House where had my photo taken by the statues of a mob of Kangaroos outside Stirling Gardens. Not surprisingly this is a very popular photo site with tourists!
Across Stirling Gardens is the Supreme Court with hidden behind it the Old Court House. This is a lovely old building (the oldest in Perth) which was originally built in 1836 and in its early years also doubled up as a boy's school, church and concert hall.
Our final port of call on our walk around Perth was the Bell Tower at the bottom of Barrack Street by the jetty. It was opened in 2000 as Western Australia's Millennium Project and contains bells from St. Martins-in-the-Fields in London's Trafalgar Square. The oldest bells date from 1550 and are referred to in the nursery "Oranges and Lemons" with the words "you owe me five farthings say the bells of St. Martins".
We finished off the day in true Perth style with a drink in Maylands watching the sun set over the Perth City Skyline.