Perth is a city that is geared towards road transport, being one of the few Australian capital cities to plan ahead and build ring roads and freeways to outlying areas long before they became part of suburbia. Perth is therefore an easy place to get around by car, and the traffic flows freely on most roads, at all times. A few freeways become chocked during the peak hour rush, but delays are minimal compared to those experienced in peak periods of larger cities.
The city of Perth is the hub of the state of Western Australia, with all forms of transport radiating out from it.
Western Australia is linked to the eastern states by rail via the Indian Pacific, which departs from Perth and stops at Kalgoorlie before proceeding on to Adelaide and then Sydney. Between April and August and During the month of December, the service operates once a week in both directions. Between September and the beginning of December, and January to March, two services a week operate in both directions. The Indian Pacific's terminus is at East Perth and not Perth Central Railway Station.
TransWA operates a number of regional rail services:
The AvonLink and MerredinLink provides a rail passenger service between Perth and town in the Eastern Wheatbelt. The Australind provides two train services each way each day, including Sundays, between Bunbury and Perth.
The Prospector provides daily rail services between Perth and Kalgoorlie.
The Indian Pacific: The Ghan and the Indian Pacific are Australia's two iconic long distance railways, famous as much as anything because they cross the vast continent from one side to the other. The Indian Pacific, which travels from the west coast to east coast on a 3-day, 4,352 km trek across Australia, is billed as one of the world's great train journeys. The three day trip (if you do it all in one go) takes you through just about every kind of terrain you're likely to find on the Australian continent, giving travellers a true indication of how vast Australia really is.
Numerous operators provide coach services between Perth and Darwin via Geraldton, Carnarvon, Exmouth, Dampier, Broome and Kununurra.
TransWA provides coach services to a large number of localities with the southern section of Western Australia. Many of these services link with trains.
All of Western Australia's international and interstate air traffic passes through Perth International Airport. The airport has immigration and customs processing facilities. Regional airlines servicing outlying areas of WA also operate out of Perth Airport.
WA's towns are linked to each other by a network of well signposted, well maintained sealed highways and major roads which allow for easy travel between localities. Remote areas are serviced by unsealed roads which vary in their condition and state of repair, and their useability is often determined by the weather conditions at the time.
The major highways in and out of Western Australia are The Eyre Highway, which travels east from Norseman across the Nullarbor Plain to South Australia, and Great Northern Highway which links Perth to the Northern Territory via Meekatharra and the Kimberley region of WA. It joins the Stuart Highway at Katherine.
In WA, the speed limit on the open road is generally 100 kilometres per hour and on some sections of freeway, 110 kilometres per hour. In WA, a driver's licence from your home country or another Australian state will usually suffice for up to three months, as long as it has photo identification and it's for the same class of vehicle you intend to drive. If you're staying more than three months, you'l need to get a WA drivers licence.
Travel Times and Distances By Air: Within Western Australia
Perth's public transport system is government owned and operated by Transperth. With a valid Transperth ticket, you can use any combination of bus, train and ferry services. Transperth determines fares by dividing its service into zones. There are nine Transperth zones which are defined by circles centred on Perth CBD. Fares are calculated by the number of zones you travel through during your journey. A ticket buys up to three hours of travel on any Transperth bus, train or ferry service.
SmartRider is the name of Transperth's electronic ticketing system. SmartRider cards have an initial purchase fee of $10 for standard and $5 for concession cards. A minimum of $10 must be added to a SmartRider. SmartRiders can be purchased at any Transperth InfoCentre or SmartRider Retail Sales Outlet.
DayRider and FamilyRider tickets are also available, giving unlimited travel on any Transperth bus, train or ferry service after 9.00am on weekdays and all day on weekends and Public Holidays. Concession DayRider is valid for unlimited system-wide travel before 7.15am and after 9.00am on weekdays and all day on weekends and Public Holidays. Conditions apply. FamilyRider allows unlimited system-wide travel for a group of up to seven people (two of whom can be standard fare passengers) on weekends and Public Holidays. FamilyRider can also be used after 9.00am on weekdays during school holidays, after 6.00pm Monday to Thursday, and after 3.00pm on Friday. Conditions apply.
All buses are government owned and operated (private bus operators were bought out in the 1970s) with TransPerth taking care of the fleet. There are very few suburbs that are not well serviced by buses. For bus travel, you can buy your cash ticket from the driver or use a SmartRider ticket.
The only regular ferry services operating in Perth are across Perth Water between Perth and South Perth, and to Rottnest Island via Fremantle. Ferry passengers can either purchase a ticket from the driver or use the ticket vending machine located at the jetty or use a SmartRider ticket. River cruises operate on the Swan River towards Fremantle and to the Swan Valley wineries in the upper reaches of the river. All ferries and cruises operate from the Barrack Street jetty which is located at the foot of Barrack Street in the city.
Rail: Perth's suburban rail system consists of five lines radiating out from Perth Central station in Wellington Street in the city centre. These lines are to Midland, Joondalup, Armidale, Fremantle and Mandurah via Rockingham and Kwinana. For rail travel, you can purchase tickets from Ticket Vending Machines located at all stations, or use a prepaid SmartRider ticket.
Several taxi companies operate in and around Perth. You may be asked to pay your fare in advance, and the same fare applies to both a group or single person. There is no extra charge for luggage, although taxis will add a ground transport charge for trips to and from Perth Airport. Taxis may be hailed kerbside in city streets or from taxi ranks in the city, near railway stations and at major shopping centres. They can also be advance booked by phone.
Perth has three large taxi companies - Independent Taxis , Swan Taxis and Black & White Taxis. All the taxis are meter operated by time and distance, and operate twenty four hours a day. Taxis are indicated as being vacant by an illuminated sign on the roof and can be pre-booked by phone or on the internet.
A double decker bus provides a hop-on hop-off service that covers all the city and inner suburban attractions. The entire tour takes approximately 2 hours and tickets are valid for two consecutive days from first use.
An alternative to the normal public transport offered in Perth is the Trams. They are actually buses - replicas of the 1899 trams that once serviced Perth - and are a great way to see the city and local tourist attractions. The trams travel through Perth City, Fremantle , Kings Park and to the Burswood Casino . The tours can last up to 90 minutes and have a full commentary informing the passenger of shopping areas, historic buildings and general places of interest. The hop-on hop-off tram service is operated by Transwest.
Long and short term car parking is available at both the International terminal and Domestic terminal at Perth Airport. A car park shuttle runs to the two airport terminals every 15 minutes. Taxi services operate from both terminals. As a general guide, the taxi fare between the city and the airport is $30.00 upwards. All of Australia's major car rental companies operate out of both terminals.
The Perth Airport City Shuttle has several pick-up points located near hotels, motels and hostels in Perth, including Northbridge, the Central City, East Perth, West Perth, Mill Point Road and Great Eastern Highway.
At Terminal 1 (International), the Perth Airport City Shuttle meets every arrival within 45 minutes of customs clearance. This service is also available at the domestic terminals, with the Perth Airport City Shuttle meeting each domestic arrival within 30 minutes of luggage collection.
The Fremantle Airporter service is available for passengers requiring transport to and from Fremantle. The Scarborough Airport Shuttle is available for passengers requiring transport to Scarborough, and operates seven days a week. For more information about the Scarborough Airport Shuttle, please contact Sunset Coast Tours on +61 8 9307 4382.
Fremantle Airporter: Transperth operates a bus service to and from the Domestic Terminals at Perth Airport. Bus 37 runs weekday and weekend services from Kings Park to the domestic terminals, via Perth city. This service also connects with the Victoria Park Transfer Station and Belmont Forum Shopping Centre, allowing connections with other Transperth services. Please note that Transperth does not operate bus services to Terminal 1 (International) at Perth Airport.
Driving a motor vehicle is the easiest way to get around Perth. You can hire a car in all the major cities and towns. in western Australia, the speed limit on the open road is generally 110 kilometres per hour, with 50 or 60 kph in built up areas. In WA, a driver's licence from your home country or another Australian state will usually suffice for up to three months, as long as it has photo identification and it's for the same class of vehicle you intend to drive. If you're staying more than three months, you'll need to get a Western Australian drivers licence.
With widespread, quality roads and cycle paths stretching for kilometres, Perth is one of the best places to cycle in Australia to soak up the abundant sunshine and sweeping river, ocean and hilltop views. With the rise in petrol costs, obesity rates and a constant concern for our environment, it comes as no surprise the rapidly growing popularity of cycling all around the world.
Perth's weather, laid-back atmosphere and numerous flat scenic rides means that tourists of all ages and fitness levels can enjoy Perth's sandy beaches, vineyards, national parks and port city.