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Perth, Australia
By Richard Somerville


Ask someone from the other side of the country (where the majority of Australians live) about Perth and the inevitable response will be: “I’ve never been there, but I’ve heard it’s nice.” Whether you are a booster, a detractor or somewhere in between, there is no denying that Perth is indeed “nice”. There is also some truth to the accusation that Perth is lacking a little in the vitality stakes – probably due to the suburban nature of the place. For the tourist, it is a place to go if you know someone there, or as a stopping point before venturing out into the expanses of the state of Western Australia – if you are willing to spend some considerable time behind the wheel, there is some seriously good stuff to see out there. But that’s a different story. In the meantime, you are here and you want to see something a bit more interesting than the ubiquitous newly-refurbished, characterless drinking barns full of dressed-up, blonde-tipped weekend warriors. There are probably only a handful of useful places to hang out – but the ones that do exist are guaranteed quality..


Clubs


Geisha

135 James St, ~$10
Perth’s main entertainment district is Northbridge. Although very popular, this area is trashy and vacuous by night and should be for the most part avoided. However, if you are staying in a hostel, it will probably be located here, so avoidance may not be possible. If you must go out in Northbridge, you could try Geisha, who have one of those unfortunate admission policies whereby you can’t get in unless you are a girl or have one on your arm. But once you’re inside it’s OK - mostly electronica.
(www.geishabar.com.au/)

Connections
81 James St, ~$10
If you are stumbling around Northbridge at 5am, probably the only place that is still letting in punters is unsignposted gay bar Connections. If you don’t fancy dancing shirtless on the stage, try out Gaplus, the classic sit-down video game sitting in the corner.

Bar Open
230 William St, $5
The must-see tv is located around the corner at Bar Open. They don’t have their entrance on the street (probably to hide from the hordes of losers that hang out around the area), so you have to go to the alleyway around the back to get in. The music depends on the DJ, but is usually flavoured with some Motown, Stones or a bit of hip hop. They also have Perth’s nicest bouncer standing out the front.

Love Is My Velocity
Venues and dates vary
Perth's brilliant indie collective started with a DJ night, and now put on irregular club nights, live shows, film screenings, art exhibitions, and run a cool label. (IW)
(www.loveismyvelocity.com)


Venues

 

Hyde Park Hotel
331 Bulwer St, West Perth
If you go out to one place in Perth, it has to be the Hyde Park Hotel. The clientele is varied - indie kids, goths, metalheads, bogans (you’ll know what I mean when you go there), and washed-up alcoholics. It is an old-school pub which has spurned Perth’s predilection for expensive makeovers in favour of painting the interior red and turning down the lights so you can’t see the cracks in the wall or the mould on the carpet. The carpet is also where the bands play (there is no stage) and you can always turn around and watch the greyhounds on the TVs behind the bar if you get bored. The beer is very cold (buy it by the jug) and the jukebox is the best in the city.
(www.hydeparkhotel.com.au)

Rosemount
464 Fitzgerald St, North Perth
Amplifier Bar
393 Murray St, Perth
Two of the main live venues are the Rosemount and the Amplifier Bar (go down the alleyway). The Rosemount is a little out-of town, but has a fairly ample beer garden to go with the fairly intimate stage inside. Amplifier is more central and has the much sought-after combination of being open late (until 5 or 6 on weekends), while still offering free entry and beer on tap.
(www.rosemounthotel.com.au)

Perth Concert Hall
5 St Georges Tce, Perth
In February, the balcony at Perth Concert Hall becomes a really great venue as part of the Perth Arts Festival.


Bars


Red Sea

83 Rokeby Rd, Subiaco
Llama Bar
464 Hay St
You may find yourself in Perth’s second going-out area, Subiaco, which is smaller and more pretentious than Northbridge. If you are out late you can minimise the damage by avoiding the queue to the Red Sea and go down the road to the Llama Bar, where the beers are on tap and there is no line or entrance fee.
(www.llamabar.com/)

Flying Scotsman
639 Beaufort St, Mt Lawley
After the ear-ringing from your outing at the Hyde Park Hotel becomes a bit much, get in a taxi and go straight to the Flying Scotsman, the main meeting point for Perth’s fuzzy sideburn-and-spectacles set. Warm up with some drinks in the front room before going to the backroom. The music is variable but usually decent. Depending on the DJ it could be lounge, 70s punk, country, afro-latin or one of any number of other genres.

Lucky Shag
Barrack St Jetty, next to the Bell Tower
A good daytime “location beer” can be had at the Lucky Shag, on the river. The best chance of finding a decent old-school version of the Aussie pub, would be by walking around the nearby town of Fremantle.


Record Shops


78 Records

914 Hay St, Perth
The biggest and the best.
(www.78records.com.au)


Local Bands

 

The Sleepy Jackson aren’t seen around town too much these days, but others you may want to keep an eye out for include: The Panics, Red Jezebel, The Panda Band, End of Fashion, Snowman and Jebediah.


Miscellaneous


Cinema

Interesting films can be seen at Cinema Paradiso (164 James St, Northbridge), Luna (155 Oxford St, Leederville & 13 Essex St, Fremantle) and Astor (659 Beaufort St, Mt Lawley).
(www.luna.com.au/index.php)

Street Press
X-press is a free paper that comes out Thursdays and can be picked up at record shops, as well as a few clothes shops and cafés.
(www.xpressmag.com.au)

Radio
Perth is home to what is possibly the world’s best radio station, RTR-FM (92.1, www.rtrfm.com.au). Their programming is eclectic: indie (local and foreign), beats, soul, jazz, hip-hop, blues, funk, afro-latin, prog-rock, rockabilly and so on.
(www.rtrfm.com.au)

Eating
The Turkish food at Eminem (224 Carr Pl, Leederville) is magnificent, especially the starters. The service depends on the head waiter’s mood. The best value is Hans Café. They have a few outlets around town and serve decent Thai food for not much more than the price of a Big Mac meal. The place for late night eating is The Moon (323 William St, Northbridge). Aside from the bruschetta, the food is fairly ordinary, but the atmosphere is great.

Coffee
The post-war influx of Italians may be the reason for Perth’s good standard of coffee. Decent cafés are everywhere, but Café 130 (130 Oxford St, Leederville) is particularly recommended. Their food is ordinary though – if you are hungry go across the road to Retro Betty’s (127 Oxford St).

Additional review by Ian Watson

If you'd like to recommend a club, bar, record shop, band or any indie delight for inclusion in the Indie Travel Guide, please email us. If we've included a link to your band/shop etc, it would be lovely if you could link back to us. Thank you!

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