The centre of Perth City is located at 31.95°S, 115.85°E. Western Australia has a land mass of more than 2.5 million square kilometres and constitutes approximately one third of the Australian continent. Some 2 million people live in WA with Perth being home to more than 1.8 million, concentrated in an area of more than 5,000 km2. The balance of the population are found in cities and towns throughout the state, the largest of which have populations of around 30,000 people.
Western Australia is on Western Standard Time (WST), eight hours ahead of GMT, the same as Singapore and Malaysia. Perth is 90 minutes behind Adelaide and Darwin and two hours behind the other Australian states. As Perth does not take advantage of daylight savings like most other Australian states these differences increase by an hour from September to March in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Hobart.
Due to the vast size of Western Australia, visitors will find the climate varies greatly depending on location, ranging from mild, temperate climes to sub-tropical and tropical zones. The city of Perth enjoys a mediterranean climate, with warm to hot summers and cool, wet winters. With an annual average of eight hours’ sun per day, Perth is Australia’s sunniest capital. Summer temperatures average between 29°C and 32° during the day and between 16° and 18° at night. However, it is not unusual for summer temperatures to reach 35° for three or four days in a row, especially in February and March. The afternoon sea breeze, known affectionately as ‘the Fremantle Doctor’ offers relief to coastal towns during the summer. The highest daily maximum temperatures recorded in Perth are around 44°. The average winter temperature is 18° during the day and around 8° at night. Although it occasionally snows down south, temperatures in Perth almost never fall below 0° at night. Perth averages only two or three days of rainfall in summer, with up to 19 days of rain in July, our wettest month. Occasionally cyclone systems in the north of Western Australia can cause continuous days of stormy weather, but they rarely come as far south as Perth.
The electrical current in Australia is 240/250 volts AC 50Hz. The Australian three-pin power outlet (pictured below) is different from many Asian and European countries. If your appliances are 100V check if there is a 110/240V switch; if not, you will need an adaptor which can be bought at many shops. Universal outlets for 240V or 100V shavers are found in most hotels.
The basic unit of currency in Australia is the dollar (100 cents = one dollar). Notes are plastic and come in denominations of $100, $50, $20, $10 and $5, while coins are produced in $2 and $1 (gold) and 50¢, 20¢, 10¢ and 5¢ (silver) denominations. Shops round their bills up or down to the nearest 5¢ on cash sales. Credit/debit card sales are charged at the exact amount of the sale.
Banks are generally open from 9.30am–4pm Monday to Thursday and until 5pm on Fridays. Some banks and credit unions are open on Saturday mornings; check their websites for more information. 24-hour ATMs and EFTPOS facilities are readily available throughout the Perth metropolitan area. In Australia 4-digit PINs (personal identification numbers) are the primary form of authorisation for credit and debit cards. When using a contactless system such as payWave or PayPass, the PIN isn’t needed for purchases under $100.
A standard fee applies to local calls made from fixed lines irrespective of the length of call. From a payphone the minimum charge is 50¢. STD (long-distance within Australia) and IDD (international direct dialling) calls are charged by distance as well as time. Payphones take coins, credit cards and/or pre-paid cards (available from most newsagencies). For details of long-distance rates call 1300 362 162. For directory assistance call 1223 for Australian numbers or 1225 for international numbers. When dialing a fixed line from outside Australia it is necessary to dial the country code (61) followed by the area code (without the 0) then the 8 digit phone number: +61 8 XXXX XXXX. To call a mobile number dial the country code (61) and the last 9 digits of the ten digit mobile phone number (dropping the first 0): +61 4XX XXX XXX.
Australia Post offers a range of postal services including packaging materials and postpaks suitable for sending gifts back home. All post offices are open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. Some suburban post offices are also open Saturday mornings. You can buy stamps at many newsagents as well as at Australia Post offices. Standard size and weight letters cost $1 within Australia, while standard size and weight postcards posted Air Mail to any part of the world cost $2.75.
Internet cafes can be found throughout the city, especially in or near backpackers’ hostels. There are coin-operated internet terminals in various locations including at Perth’s domestic and international airports. The City of Perth provides free public WiFi for basic internet browsing around the CBD. The blanket coverage means you can roam the city streets and remain connected with any WiFi enabled device, including smart phones, tablets or laptops. Many businesses such as fast food outlets, coffee shops and accommodation venues also offer free WiFi.