March 17th, 2006:
The science of meteorology has a term called "the urban heat effect". This term is used when describing the process whereby cities can get hotter than the surrounding countryside, due to concrete/tar/glass heating up and reflecting heat (more so than grass/soil) and various mechanical processes in the cities (cars/air-conditioning units/etc.) releasing additional heat into the mix.
Well, having been in Perth on a hot day, I can now state that the scientists got it wrong: they should have named it "the urban OVEN effect"(!) Walking through the high rise buildings in the CBD (central business district) I found myself wondering why the buildings weren't melting.
It was certainly easy to spot the visitors to the city due to the little puddles of sweat which formed around them whenever they stopped, as opposed to the unruffled, dry natives. Still, it was heartening to overhear two of these oven-dwellers proclaim that it was "a little bit warm today". Surely that must have been the understatement of the millenium... :)
Perth itself appears to be a well laid out city with many well-maintained parks dotted around and is serviced by a strong public transport system. Traffic moved freely through the streets and the pavements were clean, wide and easy to navigate through.
The city center had lots of shops but when compared with, for example, New York it was lacking in one area: many of New Yorks skyscrapers provide public observation decks at their summits enabling you to get a great view over the city (and you usually have to pay the building for the privilege), but I tried the top three skyscrapers in Perth and none of them provided such a facility :(
I was in the city on the 17th March and so the bars and restaurants were jammed with St. Patrick's day revelers and music groups "straight from the land of the shamrock" added a lively atmosphere to the city. I made sure to re-enforce the stereotype all foreigners seem to have about us Irish and tried out many beers in many pubs (using the ol' "need beer to cool down" excuse :)
In terms of things to do (before losing some of my senses), I didn't spot many tourist related activities. I didn't dig up any museums (although I wasn't looking very hard, and I'm sure they exist) nor did I spot many tourist related things to do. I did, however, visit the world's tallest musical instrument which is housed in a dramatic looking building near the city port and was provided by staff with the opportunity to ring a couple of the twelve 15th century bells.
As a city, it is well geared up for business, is lively and appears to be going places (and I nominate the inventor of air-conditioning for a Nobel prize :)