Life in Perth by Jo Castro
One of the first distinguishing sounds I heard on arriving in WA was the cackle of a Kookaburra

Life in Perth and what to expect in Western Australia.

Life in Perth is quite different to anywhere else in Australia, especially the Eastern seaboard.

Life in Perth by Jo Castro
Perth city skyline from South Perth at night.

It’s quieter this side of the country, the roads aren’t as hectic, we have vast open spaces and awesome, often deserted beaches.

Perth might strike you as a large country town rather than a frantic city, although the traffic is definitely getting worse.

We arrived in Perth from South Africa in late December 2008, and the first thing that struck me was the heat. It was blistering.

It isn’t that I don’t like hot sunshine, and originating from England I’m actually quite partial to sunny weather, but the scorching summer heat of January and February in WA takes some acclimatisation and it was definitely a different sort of heat to that of Cape Town.

Immigrants make up a large part of the population in WA

It’s actually quite hard to get one’s head around that about one in four people who call Australia home were born in other countries.

“The number of settlers arriving in Australia between July 2010 and June 2011 totalled 127 460,” according to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship “They came from more than 200 countries.”

Most were born in one of the following four places, in order of percentages :-

  • New Zealand
  • China
  • United Kingdom
  • India
  • The Phillipines
  • South Africa
  • Vietnam
  • Sri Lanka
  • Iraq

Once settled I did get used to the heat though, and also ways to avoid it (think glorious beaches, swimming pools and air conditioning). I love living in WA now, and can’t think of uprooting to go anywhere else.

Looking back there were some strong first impressions that I’ll always remember.

Life in Perth by Jo Castro
I quickly fell in love with the birdlife, particularly the wild green parrots and pink Gallahs
  • The cerulean blue of the sky, without a cloud in it.
  • The languid beauty of the Swan River snaking under the impressive Perth city skyline.
  • How clean Perth was, and how uncrowded.
  • The peaceful walk trails and cycle paths.
  • The expansiveness of King’s Park and those amazing city and river views.
  • The gorgeous citrus smells of the lemon scented gums leading into King’s Park.
  • The colourful parrots flying about un-caged and wild.
  • The olive greens of the trees and how golden brown everything looked in mid summer on our drive down to the South in January.
  • The tummy tickling cackle of a Kookaburra.

First impressions of Western Australia and what’s Awesome too

Some wonderful Facebookers have generously offered some of their first impressions too, which I love … and I can relate to nearly all of them. To protect their privacy I haven’t included names.

Life in Perth by Jo Castro
Fragrant lemon scented gum trees line the road to Kings Park
“I found the constant noise that the crows make  took a while to get used to.”
“The smell of eucalyptus tree on a 40 degree day; magpies squawking; the availability of public toilets almost anywhere….”
“Gas Barbies in the public parks…. AND THEY WORK! Awesome!”
“The Crows … I used to run outside because I thought the noise was a baby crying somewhere. My brother on his first visit from South Africa said the crows sounded like sheep. It does take some getting used to.”
“Yip the crows. I thought there were sheep at the airport…so funny. Other things that struck me was that no people were riding on the back of UTE’s and all the robots (traffic lights) all worked.”

“When we arrived at the airport and I saw ‘that’ carpet… I. thought I was on the 70’s show …. and when we arrived, 8 years ago, all the cars looked older [than where we’d come from] too.”

“The opportunity to camp out and hike in the bush away from the city. Beautiful weather and stunning wildflowers. Not crowded like many places around the world – still the opportunity to have your own backyard.”

“How large the State is. It covers such a large area and features all land formations , soil types(plant life) wonderful long coastline, different climates – from one extreme to the other . Big enough City and metro area and vast countryside. In other words it has something for everyone!”

“We were not too impressed with the international airport when we arrived.  I guess we  expected something larger and more efficient…We are happy here though…”

“Oh Man .. that carpet! I thought I’d arrived at a local bioscope straight out of the 50s! When we arrived I tried to pat a little beagle and he bit me.. and the security bloke said “No no no.. if you try to distract the dogs at work they think you are hiding something sinister!” But when I saw the outline of the city on the river.. it was, “Oh wow!””
“Lol… Heat… Arrived in February and thought I had immigrated to hell.”
“Yes heat, still can’t get used to it – especially in February.”
“Even after all this time the public parks still fascinate me.”

“I’ve loved King’s Park since the first day I saw it! Spectacular views and you don’t feel as if you’re in the city.”

“Love the cycle paths in Perth.”
“Love that it’s clean and I feel safe. Amazing public transport, well-behaved dogs, wonderful service levels, rubbish collection trucks (with only 1 person operating them)
and well organised recycling stations. “
“My first impression was seeing a motor bike with a trailer, driven by a tradie.”

“Doggie bags on  dogs’ leashes… Thought, “Oh how cute all the dogs have yellow ribbons!”

“Things that struck me: The rainbows, the crows, the sunsets, the train line in the middle of the “highway” not freeway! Cars with stickers saying milf hunter….
To begin with I thought milf was a type of unique animal to Australia!”
“So many cul de sacs. The colloquial term, “See ya later” – huh??? Don’t think so???”
“Couldn’t get used to living in a house where the bedroom was at the front of the house, where it felt like I was sleeping in the middle of the road. (Many new build houses have bedrooms at  near the front door.) However, over the eight years I have been here, I realise I am blessed to live in this beautiful country and I have so much to be grateful for and the opportunities available to my family and children.
“I found that finding a doctor was a mission. But now I’ve found a good one that I  see regularly.  Having to wait  6 hours in the emergency section of the hospital was a bit of a shock one day.! So too the price of food. But the beaches – well. they made up for anything that’s not good. And the weather – it’s awesome in Perth!?
And here’s a shout out to  Wendy Burger who also replied to my question, who’s written and published a book called ‘Moving Down Under Made Easy’.
Do you have a first impression of arriving in Western Australia – we’d love to hear about it in the comments section.
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  1. As you know I am an Aussie but I loved reading people’s first impressions and can imagine how they come about. I have lived in Perth for 2 years and can understand them all – except the milf hunter on bumper bars. We don’t have that in Queensland. I admit I had to look it up to see what it was even. What the?

  2. There were some great impressions hey, Jan – glad you could relate as a true blue Aussie. I know the milf hunter was a new one for me too! I had to look it up as well 😉 Queensland must be more refined (lol) than WA !!!

  3. Love the post Jo! Perth is definitely a beautiful place to live, looking forward to the beautiful beaches when we return for summer 🙂

  4. Can’t wait to see you in the summer and hear all your travel tales, Nat!

  5. Hi there, we nearly moved to Perth rather than Sydney, with my husband working in oil and gas it would have been the obvious choice maybe. But we both had friends in Sydney and I’d lived here before so we emigrated to the east coast… which is why he is away so much!!

    I must say that I love Perth and sometimes wish we’d settled there instead… so much easier to get around but still have all a capital city enjoys. Hope to get over again soon.

  6. Funny if you Had moved to WA Seanna, and I’m sure we would have become friends irl! Yes, Perth is a lovely city.

  7. Being born and bred in Perth, it was interesting to read these first impressions that people have of the city…most of which we take for granted! Loved your first impressions Jo but I was surprised at how many people mentioned the crows and what is the carpet everyone is talking about!

  8. I know the crows were a big impression, Jenny. I can remember when we first moved to Bunbury it was the sound of the crows in the day and the thump of possums on the roof at night which were my defining memories. As for that carpet – I have no idea!!

  9. Oh, you’ve got me hooked. I am ready to head to WA the next time we head ‘Down Under” – loved this post!

  10. I’m working on persuading my 12-year-old to come along to Australia and I thought maybe Melbourne to Perth (maybe the Great Ocean Road, then the Indian – Pacific from Adelaide). My persuasive powers rest on me finding something horse-related, like a horse riding camp.

    Also, she’s not too keen on hot weather, so perhaps June/July or thereabouts is better. Do you get a lot of rain in Perth during the southern winter?

  11. Hi Sophie, I hope you manage to persuade your daughter to come 🙂 There is a horse riding stable in Margaret River which I ‘think’ does camps, I can find out for you if you’re interested. June and July is cool over this side. Rain generally starts in June and it can be squally and windy from then on too until around October, although we get nice days in between too.

  12. sounds wonderful! Although I must admit, whenever I think of Western Australia or Perth only think about is shark infested waters! Is this true?!

    -Maria Alexandra


  13. Hi Maria Alexandra, well for sure the Shark thing has been widely publicised, and yes in the last few years we seem to have had more. But WA is about so much more than surfing. Glad you liked the pink bird 🙂

  14. Thanks Johanna,
    I think I found the one at Margaret River that do riding camps for kids. One question: they say they do the camps in the school holidays. If I remember correctly, the main holiday downunder is around Christmas. Are there school holidays in June, July or August, as well, do you know?

  15. Hi Sophie, that’s great. Glad you found it. From my diary …WA school holidays are as follows: Fri 11 April to Monday 28th April. Fri 4th July to MOn 21 July. Fri 26 Sept to Mon 13 Oct. Thur 18 December to about 1st Feb 2015. School holidays vary from State to State. Hope this helps your planning.

  16. Thanks, that’s great to know. (Very different from our school holidays, but something will work out, I’m sure 🙂

    Thanks again,

  17. Great Sophie – I hope it does all work out (and yes, the school hols couldn’t be more different, hey?)

  18. Great post. I’m actually from Perth and have done some extensive travel in my time all around the world. There’s just something really great about Perth, in fact I wrote a post about why it’s becoming a top travel destination, if you’re interested you can check it out below : Hopefully your readers will get something out of it too!

  19. Thanks for popping by Pete – yes, I agree there’s just something magical about Perth, and it should be a top travel destination.

  20. As an Aussie who has lived in California for the last 11 years, reading this has me almost wanting to move back home. Almost.

  21. Hi Lee, good to hear you’re happy in California, but glad that enjoyed this virtual visit ‘home’.

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