It’s a long way to Perth from, well, anywhere else in Australia. And when I get here, I’m usually thirsty as hell and ready to hit the town. Where to though? Perth is growing exponentially these days (apparently Perth has the highest concentration of UK-born residents of any Australian city), but you don’t have to go very far to experience much of what this city has to offer after dark… everything is pretty close. And if you want to wear uncomfortable shoes, don’t worry, everything moves a little slower in Perth, even the taxi meters.
I’m a snob when I travel, and I like to see good local music when I hit a new town. One of the best things about Australia’s west coast is the plethora of great original music coming out of the place. However, that isn’t for everyone, so here I’ve concocted a quick guide of places to hit in Perth post sunset if you’re looking for good music, or just a good time.
First up, there are basically two places to be seen in Perth after dark: Northbridge and Fremantle. Sort of a sister city to Perth located 30 minutes south by train, Freo is right on the water, and there are a few clubs of note down there.
Downtown Perth is pretty dead at night for the most part. One of the most important live venues in Perth is The Amplifier, but if you walk down Murray Street there are a few other pubs worth dropping into.
393 Murray St Perth, (08) 9321 7606
A huge venue where most of the bigger local bands play alongside visiting internationals. There are two main areas, one with a dance floor and stage; the other with heaps of seats and couches and a huge open-air area perfect for cooling off or conversation.
Just over the train station is Northbridge. Age old bastion of multiculturalism, this neighbourhood is still dotted with the best Chinese and Indian restaurants in town. You can walk here from the city or catch a five dollar cab, and literally crawl from place to place, they are packed so closely together. This is the epicentre of nightlife in Perth right now: every other building is a live music venue, nightclub, bar or brothel.
69-71 Aberdeen Street, Northbridge
This Australian woolshed-themed bar is a sprawling antidote to sobriety. Featuring everything from a sports bar to a huge beer garden and live music, it ain’t a bad place to find yourself and your friends, old and new.
209 William Street (cnr James and William), Northbridge
This huge old-fashioned bar complex has about 10 different bars. The courtyard seems to have been designed for wayward travellers, but the main bar is much more stylish with wood panelling and brass fittings.
133 Aberdeen St, Northbridge, (08) 9228 0077
Another great live venue, Black Betty’s hosts a backpacker night every week with live music and DJs until late in the morning. Prizes, contests and a great party atmosphere (and cheap drinks!) make this a perennial favourite with the jet set.
139 James Street, Northbridge, (08) 9226 0322
This huge house club conjures up early ’90s ecstasy-fueled nights. Featuring a stable of the state’s best DJs, this is where to go if you really want to sweat, or just listen to the best electronica in Perth of an evening. Bring your own glowsticks.
Corner Angove and Fitzgerald Streets, North Perth
Technically, this isn’t quite in Northbridge, but being one of the best live music venues in the state, we couldn’t leave this one out. From Wednesday night, you can catch the best touring bands in the country here, and the cream of the locals.
A short jaunt down the coast, Fremantle is kind of like Perth’s hippie little sister. There are heaps of great cafes and pizza joints here for earlier in the evening, and when it gets dark, entertainment for every taste… and all right next to the Indian Ocean with its gentle sea breeze cooling the pavements as the sun goes down.
237 Queen Victoria St, North Fremantle
On the way into Freo, Mojos has become another Perth musical touchstone. Devoted to rock and roll, Mojos is a great place to catch up and coming Australian acts stretching their legs and vocal chords. The bar is good and affordable too.
Little Creatures Brewery
40 Mews Rd, Fremantle
Okay, if you haven’t been here, you have to visit at least once. Built into an old riverside warehouse (someone told me it used to be an alligator farm, but…), this brewery features a great informal restaurant service, the best damn French fries you ever wrapped gnarled fingers around, and the beer is probably the best brew in Oz… just don’t tell them that in Victoria, they get bitter.
Fly By Night Musician’s Club
Parry St, Fremantle
This old hangar is a unique kind of club. All the money from admission goes back to members, who are bands and local music aficionados. Another classic live venue, this is a great place to catch live bands when you’re down in Freo, and one of the biggest venues.
58 South Terrace, (08) 9336 1880
Sort of the Freo version of Rise, Metropolis is a chic house music club catering to those who can at least carry a pair of black shoes with them. Great music, a good variety of party spaces and that ineffable feeling that you get at 4am when the wind comes off the ocean and you don’t feel the burn so bad.