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Discover Perth's History and Heritage While Playing Pokemon Go

Know your PokeStop. Take a heritage walk around Perth City and reward yourself with new found appreciation and knowledge of our City’s history, art and culture - all while catching Pokemon. Dozens of PokeStops are dotted across the CBD, placed at historical sites and heritage buildings, public artworks, statues, gardens and landmarks.

About the Author 

Ryan Northover is a marketer and writer for So Perth. 

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It’s well worth taking the time to acknowledge, appreciate and understand the interesting places you’re visiting.

While the app certainly gives you some great context to the various PokeStops, we thought we would delve into the history and details of these Perth icons. 

Perth Concert Hall

We start our City Heritage Pokemon Go journey on a sunny Saturday afternoon, at the Concert Hall.

Home of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, the Perth Concert Hall is renowned for hosting some of the finest acoustics of any concert facility in the world.

Designed by architects Jeffrey Howlett and Don Baily, it was constructed in 1971/72, and opened on Australia Day 1973.

Some of the world’s greatest performers have played here, including Ray Charles, Sting, KD Lang, PJ Harvey, the London, Chicago and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras, respectively, among many others.

Perth Concert Hall 1973

Perth Concert Hall, Opening Night, January 26, 1973. (Perth History Centre) 

Perth Concert Hall 2016

You’ll find two PokeStops at the Concert Hall. On the south side, you'll also find a Psyduck chilling out on the steps.

The PokeStop nearby will give you plenty of Poke Balls and Razz Berrys for the journey ahead.

On the north side; you might find a Horsea relaxing on the pavement, walk toward the façade of the Concert Hall building for another PokeStop.

Government House

We journey up St Georges Terrace, past some fellow Pokemon Go players, to another Pokestop on the way. This time outside Government House.

Built in the 1860s, Government House is the official residency of the Governor of Western Australia.

The two-storey mansion was build in a Jacobean Revival style and is surrounded by beautiful English gardens. A splendid sight to see.

As we passed, up popped a Rhyhorn Pokemon, basking in the August sun. After some coaxing we put him in the bag and continued down the Terrace.

St George's Cathedral

We safely navigate across St Georges Terrace to visit St George's Cathedral – there’s at least four Pokestops here, including at the incredible public artwork, Ascalon.

St George's Cathedral was build over an eight-year period and opened in 1888. It was constructed with handmade brick from clay from today’s Queen's Gardens in East Perth and limestone from South Fremantle.

The Cathedral is build in an English Victorian Gothic revival style. Extensive renovations took place ten years ago, restoring the building to its old glory. 

St Georges Cathedral 1956

St Georges Cathedral 2016

Since 2009, the glorious Ascalon sculpture has graced the frontage of St George's Cathedral.

The work, by artists Marcus Canning and Christian de Vietri, was commissioned by the Chapter of St George’s Cathedral, thanks to a donation by WA mining entrepreneur Mark Creasy.

Ascanlon

The artwork is inspired by the theme of Saint George and the Dragon.

The State Buildings

Next door at the renewed and refurbished historic State Buildings, you can stop in for lunch, snacks or a tipple at Petition Beer Corner.

These historic buildings were home to WA Government Treasury for years and had sat idle for decades, before a multi-year effort to refurbish.

Home to The Como Treastury Hotel and several retail and hospitality outlets, along with the new City Library and several other buildings surrounding, making up the Cathedral Square precinct.

At the front of St George's Cathedral we picked up a Grimer and a Voltorb in the space of a few moments.

The Pokemon fun doesn't end there. Onto the other side of this beautiful part of Perth City.

Council House

We cross at the lights on the corner of St Georges Terrace and Barrack Street, to reach Council House and the entry to Stirling Gardens.

Designed by architects Jeffrey Howlett and Donald Bailey, Council House - home to the City of Perth – was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth, in March 1963.

The 11-storey building has become an icon of Perth City and one of the best examples of modernist architecture in Perth.

Its LED illuminations at night have helped the building gain international recognition as one of Australia’s most unique and interesting landmarks, a civic emblem of Perth.

Council House 1962

Council House construction in 1962

Council House 2016

Council House is, of course, a PokeStop. Fuel up and head into Stirling Gardens for a bunch of Pokemon and, typically a number of lured up PokeStops in the park.

Stirling Gardens

At the gates of Stirling Gardens stands a statue of Alexander Forrest, in itself now a PokeStop.

Forrest was a surveyor of remote Western Australia, especially the Kimberley region.

He was the brother of John Forrest, the first Premier of WA.

Alexander was a member of Parliament himself for Kimberley, and was Mayor of Perth twice.

Stirling Gardens 1921

Relaxing in Stirling Gardens in 1921

Stirling Gardens 2016

The exact same spot, some 95 years on in 2016

The Stirling Gardens are Perth’s oldest Botanical Gardens, established in 1845 and home to some of Perth’s most beautiful landscaping.

On any given day, there are a number of Pokemon GO players hanging around the gardens, catching Spearow, Rattatas, Pidey and several other common Pokemon.

We also found a Koffing, a Slowpoke and Sandshrew and a Poliwag.

Most of the Pokestops around the gardens have been geared up with a lure, as literally dozens of players are seen coming and going every hour, making Stirling Gardens an even more inviting place to relax, on the cool grass or one of the park benches.

Supreme Court

Western Australia’s most powerful court, The Supreme Court was built in 1903 and designed by John Harry Grainge in an Australian Federation Academic Classical style that was common for buildings of the time.

Supreme Court 1938

Supreme Court 1936 & 2016

Supreme Court

The north front facade of the building is a Pokestop. While in the surrounding area, a number of Pokemon appeared in just a short while, helped on by several lures in play across the area.

Nearby toward Barrack Street, you’ll find ‘Memory Markers’ - five 3.5 metre high aluminium pen nibs.

The monument is a dedication to to Stirling Gardens’ designers and planners, commissioned by the City of Perth and created by artist Anne Neill.

Memory Markers

In 1898, The West Australian newspaper described Stirling Gardens as, “..lawns covered with soft spongy ward tempt the visitor to laxe luxuriously… (with) well-kept beds of flowers, divine is shape, brilliant in bloom, delicious in perfume and varying the more generally known forms with many that are rare and equally beautiful”. 

Not much has changed.

Memory Makers

Leaving Stirling Gardens, head up the hill on Barrack Street toward the old Perth Town Hall.

Perth Town Hall

Perth Town Hall

Town Hall Perth

The Perth Town Hall was built in 1886, using the labor of convicts. Designed by Richard Roach Jewell, the building took three years - two years over schedule.

The Town Hall’s architecture was inspired by a “Victorian Free Gothic Style, with strong medieval overtones” and 16th Century buildings in Italy, Germany and Britain.

The building has been in civic use ever since, and now hosts both public and private events, including weddings.

HMAS Perth

The HMAS Perth Memorial - a small felicitous plaque on the building, honoring those lost in the Second World War battle off the Western Australian coast - is a PokeStop.

Most passers by wouldn’t notice the memorial to those lost; take a moment to reflect amongst the bustle of Perth.

McNess Royal Arcade

McNess Royal Arcade

Across the way, on the Corner of Hay Street Mall and Barrack Street, is the McNess Royal Arcade building.

This building, standing since the 1890s was Perth’s first ever shopping mall.

More than just a PokeStop on a quick stroll around the malls, McNess Royal Arcade has a richer history than any passerby could imagine.

The building was designed by William Wolf, who was also the mastermind behind His Majesty’s Theatre.

The Arcade was the creation of Perth businessmen, tinsmith Charles McNess.

Before the Arcade, McNess had an operation on the same plot of land, providing equipment to locals.

When the goldrush of the 1890s kicked off, those passing through Perth to Kalgoorlie to find their fortune in the goldfields would stock up on mining equipment at the shop before heading east.

This made McNess a very successful businessman, investing in real estate across Perth.

McNess

McNess 2016

In 1897, today’s McNess Royal Arcade opened, providing Perth with its first mall and hosting up to 64 shops in its prime.

The Arcade made McNess extremely wealthy. The landlord became a philanthropist, funding welfare programs for those in need of housing and work during tough economic times across Western Australia, as well as hospitals and other charitable funds.

Percy Button

Percy Button

After a short stroll down the Hay Street Mall, you’ll hit the famous Percy Button statue, designed by Artists Charles Smith and Joan Walsh-Smith.

The monument commemorates the popular Perth street entertainer, active in the 1910s through to the 1950s.

The bronze statue depicts Percy doing a handstand, dresses in long tail coat and hat.

Percy Button would entertain crowds outside movie theatres and shows before and after, and became a cult like figure in the first half of the 20th Century in Perth.

Piccadilly Arcade

Piccadilly

A little down Hay Street, you'll find one of Perth’s most famous and historic malls - Piccadilly Arcade, painted in an iconic pink.

Opening in 1938, the arcade design was influenced by the era’s popular art deco style - it was designed by architect William T. Leighton for Perth mining entrepreneur Claude de Bernales.

Hay Street Piccadilly Arcade

The Arcade was most famous for its Piccadilly Cinema.

The cinema was a popular gathering place for Perthites for decades; in the first years, the foyers were decorated with beautiful red and gold roses, dahlias, pink gladioli.

Theatre attendants wore short black dresses and white gloves, according to Heritage Perth.

In 1984 the theatre and arcade underwent a refurbishment, winning awards from the Royal Australian Institute of Architecture.

The iconic Cinema closed in 2013, however the mall still thrives with dozens of small speciality shops.

Pokemon Piccadilly

A slightly bizarre artwork, The Green Man of Piccadilly Arcade, seen on the wall of the entrance above street level, is a PokeStop.

We didn’t find any Pokemon in the mall, but outside on Hay Street we caught a cheeky Krabby moving between shoppers.

Wesley Church  

On the corner of Hay Street and William Street is the old Wesley Church.

Designed by Richard Roach Jewell, the Church was constructed and completed in 1870.

Jewell was influenced by the fashionable Gothic revival style of the era, an icon of its time.

The Church was constructed with clay bricks and was built by Methodists, who arrived from England four decades earlier.

Wesley Church

The Church is a PokeStop and a number of Pokemon are in the surrounding area, so keep an eye out.

The Old Palace Hotel (at Bankwest Tower)

Palace Hotel Perth

The Palace Hotel (1970s)

Build during the goldrush of 1897, the Palace Hotel is an icon of St Georges Terrace and the City.

This building is one of the most important in the history of Perth, and was for decades an important destination for the City’s wheelers and dealers, business leaders and politicians.

At the time of its construction, the Palace Hotel was considered one of the finest and most opulent places in Australia.

In fact, in the 1970s the building was almost lost entirely to development, however it became part of the R&I Bank high-rise tower development in the 1980s (Bankwest Building today), ceasing as a hotel in 1986, to become a branch of the bank after the development finalised.

At the time, there was fierce political pressure to make sure the old building remained.

J.M. Freeland, a renowned Australian professor of architecture wrote at the time, “This is a most important building for the history of Australian architecture.. There were never many hotels of its standard in Australia and to my knowledge this is the last of them”.

Of course, the building is a Pokestop and an easy place to pick up a few items on the go.

Before you carry on playing Pokemon Go, make sure you take a moment to appreciate the history and heritage of the old Palace Hotel.

London Court

London Court Perth

“An ornament to the city” is how Western Australian Lieutenant Governor, Sir James Mitchell described London Court at the official opening in 1937. He wasn’t wrong.

This unique mall connecting St Goerges Terrace and Hay Street was built - as many of the more grandiose private development in Perth - by a mining entrepreneur.

Gold financier Claude de Bernales funded the construction of London Court during a prosperous period for Perth.

London Court

London Court in 1963

London Court 2016

London Court 2016 

Designed by Melbourne architect Bernard Evans, the arcade took 12 months to construct and opened to great fanfare.

The arcade was pitched as a splendid thoroughfare for Perthites to enjoy, as they walked between the Perth train station and the Esplanade to the Swan River.

London Court was opened to great fanfare for the people of Perth.

The West Australian newspaper reported at the time a grand event was held, attracting thousands of visitors.

Perthites were treated to the sight of volunteers dressed in Elizabethan style costumes and an evening celebration was held, honouring the old English yesteryear, including Folk dancing, dramatic plays and singalongs.

It sounds like it was quite a party!

The design of London Court is an imitation ‘Tudor’ style.

Wrought iron gates adorn the north and south entrances. London Court arcade walls feature memorable, lavish hand carvings, shields, masts, crests and wrought iron signs. A clock chimes every half hour.

In terms of Pokemon Go, we found a Poliwag hanging out right at the north entrance.

Perhaps channelling the good times of 1937, he was a tough one to catch.

The arcade is home to a couple of PokeStops, and some great coffee shops to duck into.

London Pic

The Route we took on Google Maps

To learn more about Perth’s Heritage, visit the City of Perth History Centre - Dedicated to collecting and preserving the City's history.

I would also like to acknowledge the original inhabitants and traditional custodians of the lands in Perth and surrounding regions, the Noongar people.

With thanks to the City of Perth History Centre.

You can purchase historic photographs, including those you’ve seen above, from the website.

Of course, as always, stay aware of your surroundings while playing.

We've recently combined the City of Perth website and the Visit Perth City website to help you explore everything Perth City has to offer.

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