17 Weird Facts About Perth and Western Australia
Did you know Perth was home to the last Blockbuster in Australia? Or that the opening of a Krispy Kreme caused a traffic jam in the city? Here are some other weird facts about Perth and the state of WA.
Australia is an undeniably odd country in many ways, but sometimes I wonder if the city of Perth (and Western Australia in general) takes the cake for the weirdest city and state, respectively. When you consider some facts about Perth and surrounds, this could very well be the case.
In recent years, I’ve developed close relationships with many people from out west. Sometimes in casual conversation, they’ll mention things that are seemingly totally normal in WA and I find myself in the position where I have to say: “No, that is incorrect, at least where I come from. Consider my mind boggled.”
On recent trips to Western Australia (which I am rapidly falling more and more in love with) I’ve done my best to uncover weird facts about Perth and the mass amount of land outside its borders. I’ve dug around, asked questions of locals and have happily gone exploring around the state. Not nearly enough, but then WA is roughly the size of western Europe.
So, here are 17 utterly baffling facts about Perth and Western Australia to consider if you’re interested in visiting, or just gathering info for your next pub trivia night.
Read more: 20 Australian Urban Legends and Myths
Some facts about Perth
Perth is closer to Jakarta than Canberra or Sydney
Many talk about Perth being the most isolated city in the world. This might not be entirely true, as there are a few other contenders, but it’s probably the remotest city of its size.
The city is closer in distance to the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, rather than Sydney or Australia’s capital of Canberra. This is one of the more interesting facts about Perth and gives you an idea of just how big Australia is.
Perth certainly feels remote in many ways, when you’re there. It’s quiet, it’s clean and when you drive out of the city, it doesn’t take long until you’re surrounded by sweet nothingness, which is certainly something to be valued.
The city isn’t as far as you’d think from some mighty interesting sights. Here are a few ideas for day trips from Perth.Here are some weird facts about Perth and the surrounding state of Western Australia - this part of #Australia is more than worth a visit. #OneDayinWA #PerthisOkay Click To Tweet
Western Australians are known as Sandgropers
Sandgropers are subterranean insects that are found across mainland Australia, but predominantly in Western Australia, inhabiting sand dunes and plains. There’s a lot of desert in WA, so this makes sense.
As such, the colloquial term for Western Australians is “Sandgropers”.
My Perth friends and I have had many discussions on what to call people who hail from the Western capital city – everyone seems to have differing views on what it should be. Some suggestions are Perthies, Perthlings (the space theme ties in nicely with Hobart’s Hobartians), Perthons of Interest and my favourite – Perthonalities.
Read more: The Best Places to Visit in Australia
Everyone elsewhere gets confused about where the sun sets in Perth
The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. By all rights, anyone on the west coast would be able to enjoy a lazy evening watching the sun set over the ocean. This all Western Australians know, but elsewhere, people get a little bit confused.
The most recent and embarrassing example of this was during a recent Tourism Australia campaign, “UnDiscover Australia”.
A beautiful image shows a couple sitting on a hill in Perth’s Kings Park, watching the sun go down over the city’s CBD. The accompanying caption read “Catch the sunset here”.
Problem is, if the sun is setting in the photo, it’s doing so in the east, which is thoroughly impressive of it.
The error was quickly pointed out by the West Australian newspaper and amended. Check out the original image here.
Read more: Fun Things to Do in Perth, Australia
There’s no daylight savings because it will “fade the curtains”
This is one of the more enduringly weird facts about Perth and surrounds – whether the state should or shouldn’t adopt daylight savings. Some people have very strong opinions on it, one way or another. Others couldn’t care less, but really wish everyone would just stop talking about it.
Either way, it has been an ongoing discussion in WA, with referendums occasionally taking place over the issue.
Some consider the state’s refusal to embrace the one good thing about summer as an example of the state’s perceived unwillingness to leave the past behind.
I have been told that some of the arguments against bringing DLS in have been that it will “fade the curtains” and “confuse the cows”. I truly hope these are statements of sarcasm, as it otherwise implements more serious concerns for my country people.
Regardless of what the outcome will be, there is generally ongoing ridicule over the subject, statewide.
When a Krispy Kreme Drive Thru opened in Perth, it caused a traffic jam
One of my favourite facts about Perth, is just how excited the city collectively gets over new things. Countryside NSW, where I have spent a chunk of my life living, is much the same – we had a town fair the day a supermarket giant opened its doors.
I digress. The people of Perth have apparently long had an obsession with Krispy Kreme doughnuts, despite stores opening in Sydney and Melbourne long before Perth.
Apparently Perthlings jetting over to the eastern cities would return baring boxes of the sugary treats for those at home, cramming cartons into overhead lockers on domestic flights.
At last, in 2014 a store was opened in the suburb of Whitfords.
It was chaos.
People queued for days. At the head of the line was Favian Lin, who waited 72 hours to get his hands on some Krispy Kreme, earning a t-shirt in the process, which declared him to be “Perth’s Number 1 Krispy Kreme Fan”.
A local radio station offered people cash to leave the queue and had no takers. The opening also caused a traffic jam, with cars backed up down the road. There’s some swearing in the linked video, so if you’re not a fan of bad language, watch it on mute.
It’s the fate that generally awaits anything new to open in Perth, with the opening of a direct-factory outlet near the airport in 2018 creating a similar buzz… and strain on traffic.
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It’s got a ton of self-made millionaires… and serial killers
WA is mining country and a fair few people have made a tidy income from various mining ventures.
As such, Perth apparently has more self made millionaires per capita, than any other city in the world. I couldn’t find any solid source supporting this fact, but mining magnate Gina Rinehart is the richest person in Australia and she’s from Perth.
One of the more concerning facts about Perth, is that the city has more serial killers per capita than anywhere else in Australia (Adelaide however, is not far behind).
The most famous of these is the Claremont Serial Killings (three victims, maybe more), the accused of which is due to go on trial later this year.
There’s also the Moorhouse murderers (four or more victims), the “night caller” (14 victims) and tragically, various family annihilators in WA, the most recent taking place in late 2018.
No one knows why this is the case, but it’s unsettling information, for sure.
There’s the Bell Tower, Perth’s least popular landmark
The Swan Bell Tower is one of Perth’s more bemusing icons, namely in that no one could ever figure out why they needed it in the first place.
The tower was the passion project of past WA premier Richard Court, built in 1999 to mark the new millennium. It’s home to twelve of the St-Martins-in-the-Fields bells, which were originally housed in the St-Martins-in-the-Fields Church (what a mouthful), in Trafalgar Square, London.
SMINF’s received a sparkling new set of bells in 1988 and gifted their old bells to the City of Perth, so they’re essentially hand me downs to begin with.
After sitting in storage for ten years, it was decided that these historic bells should be housed in their very own tower, along with six additional newly cast bells. It was architect William Hames who came up with the glass tower and copper sails design, intended to reflect the Swan River, which the tower would sit beside.
The strange design of the tower was never popular and the total price tag was $5.5 million AUD, a staggering amount of money at the time, which many thought could be better spent elsewhere.
It’s also become a popular location for love locks to be left, which are just pretty gross in general. Although it’s openly encouraged at the tower so… sigh. Whatever.
The area of Elizabeth Quay, where the Bell Tower is located, has been the site of much redevelopment over the last few years. It’s certainly one of the stranger landmarks to be found in the area, but there are a couple.
Perth was home to the last Blockbuster Video in Australia and second last in the world
Here’s one of the most fun facts about Perth – did you know that the last Blockbuster in Australia (and second-last in the world!) was in the city?
Located in the suburb of Morley, it closed its doors forever in late March, 2019.
The end of an era, for sure.
The last Blockbuster in the world is located in the USA, specifically in Bend, Oregon. It’s still going strong and has no plans to close, for the foreseeable future.
There’s a statue in the Swan River which people delight in dressing up
In the Swan River, specifically on the Crawley Foreshore, stands a bronze statue known as Eliza and she’s one of the strangest of all Perth attractions.
However, it’s not the statue itself which is strange – it’s what the local Perthonalities have chosen to do to her, which makes her presence utterly delightful.
Unveiled in October 2007, she commemorates the Crawley baths, which were a popular place to swim in the city between 1915 and the 1960’s.
What’s most interesting about Eliza, is that in time since, she has more wardrobe changes than Beyonce at Coachella.
The people of Perth delight in dressing Eliza up and hanging signs off her neck. She’s commemorated birthdays, anniversaries, school and sporting events and website launches.
It’s well-worth driving out to see what Eliza is getting up to on any given day.
She’s not far from the Crawley Edge Boat Shed, another Perth tourist attraction. I call it the “Instagram Shed”, as I’ve never driven passed it and not seen a group people doing the same generic pose in front of it, presumably to post for likes on some form of social media.
A man who owns a supermarket chain has become a cultural icon
A rather archaic law in Western Australia states that it’s illegal to possess more than 50kgs of potatoes, a by-product of food regulation in the 1900s.
The WA government has continued to be weird about potato monopolies and no one has done more to fight against these quite amusing restrictions, than local identity Tony Galati.
Galati runs Spudshed – a grocery store – along with his brother Vince and has undertaken many creative methods against the potato restrictions – such as handing out free spuds at shops across the city. Just one of the weirder facts about Perth, you may get a free potato out of your trip.
Galati enjoys an enduring popularity in Perth, to the point where many locals throw ‘Spudshed-themed’ parties where everyone dresses up as the Spud King… and if you’re lucky, he may even make an appearance at your Galati Party!
This is exactly the kind of stuff that makes Perth unique and certainly somewhere worth visiting.
On a final note, any women (and men) who feel so inclined should Google Galati’s strapping sons, one of whom is a model. You can thank me later.
Some facts about Western Australia
The Western Australian Government once decided to kill all the sharks
Some years ago, a past WA government introduced a shark culling program, in order to do something about the increasing number of sharks populating the state’s coastline.
The “catch-and-kill” policy was introduced in 2014, after a spate of fatal shark attacks over the course of a few weeks.
72 baited drums were lined along beaches in Perth and the South West, targeting great white sharks, bull shark and tiger sharks. All up, 172 sharks were caught and 50 tiger sharks were killed, despite the fact that there were no records of that particular breed of shark being involved in any fatalities, for decades.
There was national and international outrage against this policy from marine scientists, to celebrities and even a shark attack survivor. Many other forms of marine life were getting entangles in the nets and culling the sharks was considered environmentally irresponsible, particular the great white, which is an endangered species.
On top of that, there was no scientific evidence that the policy was making beaches any safer.
Most Australians recognise that if you’re entering the ocean, you’re in the shark’s territory and an attack is a risk you take.
For example, far more people die in fatal car accidents every year than shark attacks and you don’t see governments making any moves to pull cars off the roads, or improve countrywide public transport, which is ridiculous at best.
Fortunately, the policy was not extended after the three month trail period was over.
… and the Australian Government actually declared war on emus in WA. Better yet, the emus won
In 1932, WA farmers realised they had a problem.
Around 20,000 hungry emus had moved into the state and were devastating crops. The desperate farmers called in the help of none other than the military. The Minister of Defence George Pearce deployed troops armed with machine guns and it was thought that the issue would be solved in no time at all.
No such luck, as the emus turned out to be quite the adversary for the Australian military. These fast, flightless birds were almost impossible to hit, easily outrunning the men and their trucks and it took more than a few bullets to fell them.
Although the “Great Emu War” brought no human casualties, the soldiers were only able to cull around 900 of the 20,000 emus that had taken over the land. It took around 2,500 rounds of ammunition to achieve this number, which the military quickly worked out was not in their best interests.
The emus won every round and Defence Minister George Pearce earned the unofficial title ‘Minister for the Emu War’, for his efforts.
People have been dumping garden gnomes two hours south of Perth, so much so that it’s become a landmark
Not far from Bunbury and on the way to Margaret River (in Ferguson Valley, to be precise), is a little community of Garden Gnomes, all chilling out together on a patch of land.
Gnome as Gnomesville, gnome one (not sorry) is sure of how it started. Legend has it that one gnome was left there and other people began dumping their garden gnomes there to keep it company. No gnome wants to be alone.
The gnomes then multiplied faster than rabbits procreate and now there are stacks in the spot, all chilling out happily together.
The Gnomes have garnered worldwide interest, with people stopping off on their way down south to say hello, or to add their own legally adopted garden gnomes to the collection.
There’s a whole separate Principality six hours from Perth
There are a few micronations knocking about Australia now, but the first to come about was the Principality of Hutt River, which is located around a six hour drive north of Perth.
The Principality was formed in the 70’s, as a farming family’s response to a government wheat quota. The patriarch Prince Leonard ruled over the principality for over forty years. He abdicated to his son in 2017 and passed away in early 2019, just before the Principality’s 49th commemoration of seccession.
The Principality has its own passports, stamps and currency and welcomes visitors passing through, for a visit or overnight camp. It’s a bit out of the way but certainly worth checking out, if you’re ever in that part of the country.
It’s the only place in Australia that’s home to the Quokkas, the happiest creature on earth
The small marsupial known as the quokka is endemic to only Western Australia. These smiley little creatures are mostly found on Rottnest Island, a popular day trip from Perth, as well as Bald Island off the state’s south coast. There are a few small groups on the mainland, too.
You’re guaranteed to see them on Rottnest – there are no natural predators there and so the island is rife with them. Humans have been known to kill them out of cruelty (we are the worst) and Rottnest is a popular destination for Perth teenagers to head to to celebrate leaving school, which can’t be good for the local population of quokkas…
If you do see them, definitely do not feed them.
There’s a town in WA filled with painted fibre-glass sheep
Not far from Geraldton is the town of Northampton, which is a bit bizarre to drive through (in the best way possible), due to the presence of many different painted sheep, littered through the town.
It is the result of a festival known as “Ewe-Turn”, designed to bring tourism to the small town. It’s certainly well-worth stopping for a break to wander around and check out some of these woolly beautiful pieces of art (my puns are terrible, I know).
WA is home to possibly the biggest rock in the world
Did you know that Western Australia is home to the biggest rock in the world? And it’s not Uluru – that’s in the Northern Territory and although it’s the far more famous of the two, it’s not the biggest.
Mount Augustus or Burringurrah as it’s known to the local Wajarri people, is 8km long and 5km wide. If you wanted to circumnavigate the rock, you’d have to cover 54km to do it.
There are some differences between the two – Uluru is a monolith, meaning it’s a single rock, whilst Barringurrah is a monocline, meaning it has step-like folds.
Either way – it’s a damn huge rock. They certainly do things bigger and better in WA.
More posts about WA and Australia
|Here are 20 fun things to do in Perth.
Some other weird facts, this time about Australia and Melbourne in particular.
What not to do when visiting Australia and some general travel tips.
How to avoid looking like a tourist in Australia.
Here’s a thorough neighbourhood guide to Melbourne.
Check out my Australian archives here.
Can you think of any strange facts about Perth and Western Australia, to add to this list?