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25 Strange Things About Living In Perth Australia That Don’t Make Sense!

Moving from living in Sydney to go and live in Perth, Western Australia was a choice that made sense at the time, but once we got over there we found ourselves scratching our heads a little bit as to why we had done so!

Everything just seemed so….quiet and at least 10 years behind the East Coast of Australia (would you believe it – they only got their first Coles Local Supermarket in November 2022 and Tk Maxx is yet to arrive! How do these people cope?!).

For a while after I moved to Perth all I was doing was making comparisons with our old home Bondi Beach, until I learnt to accept Perth for what makes it unique to all the other cities in Australia to live.

The stunning ocean sunsets, having wild kangaroos less than a kilometre from the CBD, the miles of rugged sand dunes close to the city, the vineyards a quick drive away, and the ability to get around so quickly.

Whether you love or hate Perth, here are some really unique and sometimes downright strange things I found about living in Perth when moving from Sydney!

blue boat shed Crawley boat house instagammable perth photography locations

Strange Things About Living In Perth Australia

1. There’s a train on the freeway

Yes, that’s right. The train line runs down the middle of the freeway.

Head down the Mitchell Freeway or the Kwinana Freeway and you’ll see trains separating the traffic heading in either direction – a bit of a shock at first!

2. Supermarkets close at 5pm on Sundays!

Oh yes – you learn this one the hard way if it comes to Sunday night and you forgot to get your groceries in for the week.

This is when Perth especially feels like a country town. You won’t find supermarkets open til midnight like you find in Sydney.

If you need to buy some food or drink after hours in Perth, chances are the servo or the odd fast food restaurant is the only place you can find something.

3. They say they have rock pools but they don’t

Ok we come from Sydney’s beaches. When we say rock pool we mean it.

Newport rock pool, Palm Beach rock pool, Dee Why rock pool, Collaroy rock pool, Mona Vale rock pool. The list goes on. If it says there’s a pool on the beach we expect an ocean pool.

When we turned up to Perth’s version of Sydney’s ocean pools – Mettams Pool and Hamersley Pool, we were bewildered as to where the pool was hiding.

Until we realised it was the teeny rock shelf in the ocean. Visit at high tide and chances are you won’t even realise it’s there.

Strange Things About Living In Perth Australia

4. Lots of the buildings are stained brown from the water

Look around the residential areas of Perth and you’ll see dirty brown looking marks everywhere – on fences, walls, the sides of buildings, pavements, even on the odd car!

I thought it was because Perth just needed a good old scrub, and couldn’t understand why people wouldn’t wash off these brown marks off from the walls.

But it turns out the brown stains are due to the hard water in Western Australia! The bore water stains things due to the amount of iron oxide (rust) found in the water, yikes.

The water in Perth has a lot of minerals in it, which also means the tap water here tastes mighty unpleasant compared to Australia’s East Coast.

You may want to consider getting a water filter in your kitchen!

5. You have to go on the freeway to get anywhere!

This was something we noticed almost immediately after moving to Perth. Perth has freeways everywhere!

Heading to the beach? Freeway. Heading to the CBD? Freeway. Heading to Hillary’s Boat Harbour? Freeway.

If you’re driving somewhere that’s more than a 5 minute drive away you’ll rarely stay on residential roads – somehow the road will just morph into a freeway, a bit like in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

But hey, it’s modern and effective and it cuts down on driving time, it just took us a bit of time to get used to!

6. The Roads That Lead To Roundabouts Curve!

Another strange observation about Perth – pretty much every roundabout you come to in a suburb, the road turns into an S shape before you reach the roundabout.

Forcing you to slow down which is good, but that’s a lot of S shapes you’re doing!

Strange Things About Living In Perth Australia

7. There’s definitely room for improvement in terms of beachside atmosphere

One thing we found different at Perth’s beaches compared to Sydney was that many of the beaches in Perth had regenerative sand dunes behind them.

This really separated the beach from the suburb, often by a hundred metres or so.

From the beach you’d need to walk along the path cutting through the dunes to get to the road to get to a coffee shop or restaurant.

In several of the beachside suburbs too the busy West Coast Highway separates the suburb from the beach (I told you highways were everywhere!).

This often meant enjoying a coffee or lunch with a beach view wasn’t possible (unless you bring a picnic on the beach), which made us feel there wasn’t much of a vibe connecting the suburb and the beach together.

Sometimes you’d even be driving right next to the beach but you’d have no idea as the beach and ocean would completely be obstructed by trees and dunes!

Granted we moved across to Perth in autumn, and some of the beachside suburbs further out are still being developed, but we just found the beaches quite detached from the suburbs, whereas in Sydney the beaches are the focal part of the suburb – even if it’s a quieter, less touristy suburb like Bilgola or Avalon further from the city.

Perth’s Cottesloe Beach and Scarborough Beach are probably the only two exceptions, where the suburb meets the beach and there is a lovely unique atmosphere with the whole focus around the beach and several cafes, bars and restaurants right next to the beach where you can enjoy the views and laidback beach vibes.

a girl living in Australia sitting on the rocks at Cottesloe Beach Perth

8. The beaches are EMPTY and all look the same!

Stemming on from my last point. On a sunny day in Sydney you’ll find plenty of people on every single beach. Yet in Perth there are still beaches that are completely empty!

And to add to that, we also found that so many of the beaches in Perth looked the same – just one long stretch of sand that morphed from one beach into the next kilometre by kilometre – quite different from Sydney’s coves and shorter beaches separated by headlands and cliffs.

9. Basically every other person works for a mining company

Ask anyone in Perth where they work and there’s probably half a chance that they either work at BHP, Rio Tinto or Newcrest, or one of their mates or relatives does.

Loads of people live the FIFO life because it’s good cash, and house prices drop when the price of iron ore drops – mad right?!

Perth is literally in its own little world. Which totally makes sense seeing as it is the most isolated capital in the world!

Strange Things About Living In Perth Australia

10. Everyone living in Perth claims they love it!

Every time we met someone new in Perth and they found out we had just moved there, they were like “Welcome to Perth – you’ll love it here!”.

Like seriously, they all said the same line. It made me laugh, and made me wonder why they all said that – was it the tagline of the city or something?

Or were they just trying to convince themselves that Perth was really better than Sydney? Not one Sydneysider ever said anything remotely like that to me.

All the people in Perth would talk about how amazing Perth was.

When I didn’t fall in love with Perth immediately, like the locals told me I would, I wondered what I was missing and if I was being too critical.

I then met a girl from Melbourne who was living in Perth and she said “Can I tell you something – I actually hate living in Perth”.

And she then listed off several of the things I found weird about Perth! Oh my gosh finally. I was glad I wasn’t alone in my thinking.

It was probably because she had come from a big city like me, and just found Perth too quiet. But it was a relief to find one person in the city who didn’t gush about it 24/7.

11. Everyone has a 4×4. Because no 4×4 = no respect

Yep okay this one is definitely more acceptable than having a 4×4 in any other city in Australia, seeing as there are so many off-road adventures to be had near Perth.

When we first moved to Perth we had a big 4×4 Raptor and felt like the kings of the road. We then downgraded to a smaller, older car.

And boy oh boy did we notice that nobody on the road respected us in our banger. We were basically invisible. People cutting in front of us, honking at us for no reason.

We came to discover that no 4×4 = no respect. Suffice to say we didn’t keep our little old car for long.

12. Everyone drinks ginger beer

Oddly enough, this was the first observation I made when I went into my first pub in Perth. Everyone drinks ginger beer!

Ginger beer is on tap everywhere and all the local breweries make it. The locals just love this stuff! “It’s a real Perth drink” they’ll say. Even though it costs a lot more than regular beers on tap!

Head back to Sydney and ask for a ginger beer in a pub, I dare ya. They’ll think you’re stuck in the 1800’s.

Strange Things About Living In Perth Australia

13. Beer is way more expensive in Perth than on the East Coast!

Perth sure loves its beer. You’ll see breweries everywhere here! However, go out for a beer (or cocktail) anywhere in Perth and you’ll realise it’s more expensive than you think!

People often assume Perth is cheaper than cities like Sydney and Melbourne, and it is when it comes to property.

But in terms of entertainment and eating out, as it’s so isolated they can afford to jack the prices up. And people will pay for beer regardless of the price here. 

14. People in Perth moan about the traffic

The locals sometimes mutter the words “Perth traffic is so bad” and oh my goodness does it make me literally keel over laughing.

Have you been to London mate? Jakarta? Bogota? Lagos Nigeria? That’s traffic.

15. The price to get to Rottnest Island is ridiculous, you might as well go to Bali

Rottnest Island is just 18km off the coast of Perth and is often referred to as Perth’s playground as the locals love to visit. However it certainly isn’t a cheap day out!

When you first see the price to get there, you think surely the cost must include a whole day pass or something. But then you realise it’s just the price of the ferry ticket!

You’ll still need to pay to hire a bike (and even pay to bring across your own bike on the ferry!), or pay for the hop-on hop-off bus at Rottnest, and pay for food and drinks on the island.

A visit to Rottnest Island certainly isn’t cheap, and you most likely could have covered the total cost of a long weekend away in Bali for the same price of a half-day trip at Rotto!

Rottnest island quokkas

Strange Things About Living In Perth Australia

16. Bali really is closer than Sydney!

Speaking of Bali. The flight time from Perth to Bali is around 3 hours 40 minutes. Whereas the flight time from Sydney to Perth is almost 5 hours! It still blows my mind how big this country is.

And with a trip to Bali costing a fraction of the price of the price of a holiday away in Sydney or other parts of Australia’s East Coast, it’s no wonder than everyone from Perth has seen more of Bali than they’ve seen of Australia!

17. They call the local ‘celebrities’ Perthonalities

OMG I cringed so bad too when I heard this word. Basically the word for an influencer or a ‘self-proclaimed celebrity’ who lives in Perth.

Chances are you haven’t heard of any of them. Big fish in a small pond type of people.

Urban Dictionary even describes them as “usually self-superior and with the belief they are better than anybody who isn’t from Perth”. Yikes.

I said it before and I’ll say it again. Perth is literally in its own little world!

18. The locals bang on about the Fremantle doctor. Spoiler alert: it isn’t even a doctor!

The locals love talking about the Freo doctor. Sounds intriguing right? Yeh, nah.

They’re just talking about the summer afternoon breeze that comes to Perth from the direction of Fremantle. Next.

Strange Things About Living In Perth Australia

19. Transperth app and Google Maps for public transport don’t always work!

Trust me – I don’t know what is going on with public transport options on Google maps or the Transperth app, but they are not very accurate!

Once I was heading from Perth to Fremantle, and Google maps told me the best way was to take 2 trains and a bus to get there.

I got on the first train, and then checked with a local I was going in the right direction, when he said ‘erm…. You know there’s a direct train to Freo?” which would take literally half the time that Google maps told me it would.

I felt so silly. How could Google maps get it so wrong? This happened several times when I would type in different routes. So always double check beforehand!

Often if you’re getting from one suburb to another in Perth on public transport, you’ll have to head into the city to then head back out again.

Perth’s public transport mostly consists of all the transport lines intersecting in the city as opposed to the convenient spiderweb-like public transport system that Sydney has – which makes it easy to get from suburb to suburb on public transport.

Perth’s public transport definitely isn’t as convenient as Sydney’s, and it’s much harder to get around in Perth without a car.

20. It rains A LOT in winter in Perth

Perth is supposedly the sunniest capital in the world. Just don’t come during winter.

I was unpleasantly surprised to discover it can actually rain for a whole month during the winter in Perth! Not too different from Sydney, but definitely not what I was expecting.

I had planned to make my Sydney friends jealous sunbathing in Perth whilst they had their coats and umbrellas out.

As it turned out, I ended up doing the exact same as them as Perth gets pretty wet too. 

21. People in Perth get anxious when you tell them you lived in Sydney

You can literally see their blood pressure start to rise and the panic across their face when they think about the amount of people in Sydney and how they could just never, ever live there.

Strange Things About Living In Perth Australia

22. The rest of the country forgets about Perth 

This is so so true. The rest of Australia literally forgets about Perth and Western Australia. It’s the forgotten state, even though it contributes more to the economy than it gets back.

It might as well be another country. In fact – it kind of wants to be, with a quarter of the population in WA wanting independence from Australia and to be known as Westralia (so original right?).

Many people often state there’s a feeling of separateness of WA, and a feeling of favouritism by the Federal Government to the eastern states.

23. You go to the same places every weekend

Perth is essentially a mining town, and being the most isolated city in the world meant that after about a month living in Perth we had pretty much done all the touristy stuff and were doing the rounds again.

There’s only so many times you can go to Scarborough Beach and the Scarborough Markets on a Saturday and then Fremantle Markets on the Sunday….

Fremantle Market Western Australia

24. Whenever there’s any kind of event, everyone from Perth will be there!

Being of course small and isolated means if anything is on, chances are the whole of the city will be there too.

Autumn Festival in the Perth Hills? See ya all there! Springtime Tulip Festival and Cherry Blossom Festival? Yep, see ya there too. Summer Markets at Scabs? You guessed it….

When Perth’s first Krispy Kreme store opened in 2014 it broke world records as so many people attended! 73,200 doughnuts were sold on the first day and there were traffic jams! Holy moly.

Strange Things About Living In Perth Australia

25. You can’t see all the whales migrating because of the reef!!

OMG. THIS was our saddest discovery in Perth. We basically moved to Western Australia to be able to see more marine life. We love whales and the marine life in Western Australia is incredible.

But slap bang in the middle of whale season when all the humpback whales are supposed to be making their way up and down the humpback highway, there’s not a whale in sight off the Perth shores.

Turns out there’s a huge reef a few kilometres off the shore that runs parallel to the coast for 200 odd kilometres.

This means it’s pretty hard to spot any whales from Perth as almost every whale swims on the other side of the reef! You either need to go on a boat trip or head down past Rockingham to be able to see any!

We used to be able to watch the whales breaching from our beachfront apartment in Bondi Beach, but from our beachfront apartment in Perth……nothing. Oh how this made us sad!

There are some good things about Perth though – I promise!

It’s not all bad in Perth. Parking is free at the beaches – wahoo (anyone living in Sydney will know what a luxury this is to have free beachfront parking)!

Pretty much you only need to pay for parking in Perth and Fremantle CBD’s, and in other places there aren’t really parking restrictions.

Whereas when you’re parking in so many suburbs of Sydney you’re constantly trying to work out the parking signs and restrictions to avoid yet another $297 parking fine that everyone in Sydney seems to get so frequently for some rule on a parking sign that doesn’t make sense!

Yes – once a sign in Palm Beach told me I had to park facing a certain direction, at a strictly 60 degrees angle – without parking lines to guide me!

Perth does also have a great ocean drive (or coastal walk) with stunning views below of the beach!

Head up West Coast Drive from Bennion Beach to Marmion Beach – the views are incredible!

The drive along the Swan River from Perth CBD to the Blue Boat Shed (one of Perth’s iconic photo spots) is also divine. Even better if you’re on a bike!

And Heirisson Island – just 1km from the CBD, is the place to spot wild kangaroos with the Perth skyline in the background! That certainly doesn’t happen in other Australian capital cities!

kangaroo city CBD Perth skyline living in australia

As for the Perth casino? Great place! This place is packed come Friday or Saturday night, it felt like I was in Las Vegas!

Perth has a much slower pace than Sydney and Melbourne, and it may take a while to get used to at first, but it’s definitely a lovely city – despite all its unusual quirks!

 

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Chris

Saturday 3rd of February 2024

Some very valid and true points!! It is a funny ole place!

Ana

Saturday 18th of November 2023

I am so glad I stumbled upon this article! SO TRUE, I thought it was just me who thought these things haha - thanks for sharing this and making me smile!

Catrina

Tuesday 21st of November 2023

Hey Ana, thanks, glad it made you smile! :D