The City of Perth is opening its doors on the weekend of 20 and 21 October.
Inviting visitors to get right inside heritage buildings, explore historic landscapes and hear stories of the past.
Heritage Perth Weekend is packed with walks, talks and places to explore, from our indigenous legacy right through to Council House, influenced by 1960s architectural flair.
Tours and events are free but must be booked ahead. Visit Heritage Perth for a full list of open buildings and events suitable for all ages, with times and booking information. Here are just some of the highlights.
Perth City has seen some changes since Heritage Perth Weekend was launched ten years ago. One of the most significant has been the development of Cathedral Square, boosted by the refurbishment of what used to be referred to the old Treasury.
Now known as the State Buildings, this 140-year-old architectural gem has been painstakingly preserved yet re-imagined into a stunning collection of restaurants, cafes, retail outlets and luxurious accommodation in COMO The Treasury.
Previously, the Government put the State Buildings to various uses, including a police court and cellblock, treasury, GPO and Premier's office. Before the recent refurbishment, the buildings had stood empty since 1993.
At the same time, the square formed by the State Buildings, the City of Perth Library, St George's Cathedral and St Georges Terrace was opened up into a vibrant cultural hub and meeting space - Cathedral Square. The Library was rebuilt, and the award-winning Cadogan Song School was completed in 2017, an addition to the neo-gothic Cathedral in a modern yet complementary style.
Book a tour with one of the Cathedral volunteer guides, and find out how the marble, stone, wood and bricks were sourced, why the spire was never added, and who is commemorated in memorials and stained glass around the building.
The State Buildings will be open for visitors to explore between 10.00am and 4.00pm on Sunday 21 October, and St George's Cathedral between 10.00am and 4.00pm on Saturday 20th, and from 12.00pm (after the morning services) until 4.00pm on the Sunday.
Other churches welcoming visitors during Heritage Weekend are St Mary's Cathedral, Trinity Church, Wesley Church, Ross Memorial Church and St Brigid's Church. Check the Heritage Perth website for full details.
Popular heritage expert Richard Offen will be hosting the Historic Heart Architecture Walk - Cathedral Square and Beyond, on Sunday 21 October. If you don't manage to secure a spot on this tour, join Richard at 11.00 on Saturday 20th in the City of Perth Library. Richard will talk about his book, Lost Perth, which is all about the buildings that were forgotten as Perth grew from a small country town to the large city we see today.
Our Colonial Past
Perth's beautiful old buildings, which appeared after the Swan River Colony was established in 1829, reflect the European influences of colonisation.
Just along St Georges Terrace from Cathedral Square you'll find historic Government House, the residence of the Governor of Western Australia and stunning concert venue, built between 1859 and 1864 in Jacobean Revival style.
The English would also have had a strong influence on the establishment of lawns and gardens at the House. On Heritage Perth Weekend, a special tour of the gardens will be led by the wonderful, award-winning Two Feet & a Heartbeat guides, accompanied by the Government House Garden Manager.
This is your chance to lap up information from the knowledgeable guides and quiz the gardener for a mix of historical and horticultural insights. Meet the Gardener will run multiple times on Sunday 21 October - bookings are essential.
The colonial influence wouldn't be complete without cricket! If your family is sports mad, take a tour of the Western Australian Cricket Association Ground, known locally as the WACA, in East Perth.
The ground was established in 1889 on swampy land on the Swan River foreshore, but the first cricket match wasn't played until 1894. Since then, the ground has become a popular sporting venue, with a record crowd of over 100,000 watching Australia regain the Ashes in 2006.
The WACA will be open from 9.30am to 1.00pm on Saturday 20 October. Visit the museum or join a tour to hear about the history, events and people behind the home of WA cricket.
Further west, along Hay Street, is His Majesty's Theatre, an impressive Edwardian building influenced by European theatre architecture and named after the British King Edward VII. Opened on Christmas Eve, 1904, this was one of many buildings made possibly by the Gold Rush of the early 1900s, which saw Perth begin to evolve into a significant commercial centre.
This beloved heritage icon in the heart of Perth remains a popular theatre venue. Join a tour with Friends of the Theatre guides and find out about the sliding roof and moving marble staircase. His Majesty's Theatre is open from 9.00am to 4.00pm on Sunday 21 October. Tours must be booked directly with the theatre.
At 2.00pm on the Sunday, you are invited Downstairs at the Maj - a fabulous small performance venue beneath the main theatre - for History Slam. The production steals the 'poetry slam' idea and applies it to history, staging 3 minute stories of the past by a variety of contributors, ranging from the amazing to the weird and wonderful.
A few years after His Majesty's opened, in 1911, the first free university of the British Empire was established. The University of Western Australia, which began life on Irwin Street in the city, and now sits on the banks of the Swan River having moved to Crawley after the First World War.
The campus is a delightful place to wander around, conjuring the timeless tranquillity of academic endeavour. Join one of the many tours running on Saturday 20 October, and get to know the original buildings, including Shenton House and the magnificent Winthrop Hall, as well as the pretty gardens and resident peacocks.
Our Aboriginal Foundations
While European settlement gives us much to explore, it is only a tiny snapshot compared to the previous 35,000 years when WA's indigenous peoples built and lived in a rich culture.
Aboriginal experiences during Heritage Perth Weekend include a walk and talk around Kings Park, and a city walking tour starting at Elizabeth Quay.
Kings Park, just along the road from the University of Western Australia, is one of the most beautiful city parks in the world, and huge, at 400 hectares. It's location on Mount Eliza provides spectacular views over the city and Swan River, and it is an absolute must for any visitor.
A Noongar family will be leading walks through the park, known to them as Kaarta Koomba, on Sunday 21 October. The Noongar are people of Aboriginal descent who occupy the south-west portion of Western Australia, from around Geraldton to Esperance, which of course includes the Perth region.
Walk and Talk on Country offers an introduction to Aboriginal culture and heritage. Hear all about the Noongar's six seasons, which are defined by changes in temperature, wind, rain and vegetation, rather than dates. Learn to 'read' the seasons, and how plants provide knowledge as well as food.
The whole family will enjoy joining in with traditional dance and music with the hospitable Walley family - don't miss it! Tours run at multiple times - bookings and comfortable footwear are essential.
There will be multiple tours leaving Elizabeth Quay on both days of the weekend, led by Noongar guides from Go Cultural Aboriginal Tours and Experiences. The First Story is a walking tour of indigenous history and culture, which goes for 90-minutes, so bring a hat and wear comfortable shoes.
This is a wonderful opportunity to learn from ancient Dreamtime stories, traditional songs and the Noongar language. It will give you a valuable insight into Aboriginal people's connection to the land and the importance of sacred spaces. Again, bookings are essential.
For those who are intrigued by Aboriginal heritage but don't want to walk so far, the City of Perth Library has a display of quilts that explore Noongar culture and the importance of wetlands. Quilter Pat Forster will talk you through the designs in Noongar Country: Wetland Glimpes at 2.00pm on Saturday 21st.
Where to Stay
Apart from the fabulously luxurious and award-winning COMO The Treasury, which is the perfect style and location for heritage lovers, have a look at the historic Melbourne Hotel, built in 1897 and beautifully refurbished. Also centrally located, this independent hotel prides itself on providing personal service. Its Heritage rooms cleverly mix the charm of the old building with contemporary fittings and conveniences. Alternatively, take a break from history and book a Contemporary room. Onsite facilities include a gym, restaurant and rooftop bar.
The stunning new Westin Perth is very close to the heritage heart of Perth, and has a choice of bars and restaurants on site. If you want a little more room, try the Peninsula Riverside Serviced Apartments, right on the South Perth foreshore with sweeping views of the city skyline. There's a ferry terminal close by that takes you straight across to the city.