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Eight Must Read Books About Perth

Take one of these eight books and find a cosy café where you can ponder as you read about the past history and the exciting future of Perth.

About the Author 

Myra Peggy Rose

Myra is Perth writer, explorer and adventurer. 

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I recommend taking a spot on the grass at Stirling Gardens, on the corner of St Georges Terrace and Barrack Street – the perfect venue for an afternoon of reading letters of British Colonists, or poems of the wetlands, Perth architecture, a story of a murderer or maybe you are interested in the history of our symbolic black swan. 

Related : Secrets of Perth - Hidden Parks, Cafes and Cool Places to Unwind in Perth City 

A faithful picture: the letters of Eliza and Thomas Brown at York in the Swan River Colony, 1841-1852 by Peter Cowan 1977

We are taught about our local history in school, and can read about it in books or online. But what if you could read letters, the innermost thoughts of life’s trials and errors, joys and disappointments, of the British colonists, between the years 1841 – 1852?

The letters start on October 1840 in London, where Eliza, her husband Thomas and two children, Kenneth 3 and Vernon 20 months, are waiting to board a ship to Western Australia.

Most of the letters are between Eliza and her father who lives in Oxfordshire, England; but there are other letters that all piece together the life this family had in our beautiful state.

Boomtown 2050: scenarios for a rapidly growing city by Richard Weller 2009

Boom Town Perth

Researchers from The University of Western Australia Landscape Architecture Program worked hard for two years and documented their work in this amazing book.

Brilliant photographs light up pages; old photographs of Perth streets, satellite photographs and a massive amount of imagery, graphs and tables providing information linking the old Perth to the future Perth.

This project, funded by the Australian Research Council, creates different urban scenarios for the future of Perth. Definitely an interesting read!

Swamp: walking the wetlands of the Swan Coastal Plain by Nandi Chinna 2014

Swamp Book

A book of poetry that feature some interesting photographs of Perth in the early 1900s.

In 2013, Nandi received her Doctor of Philosophy from Edith Cowan University, with her thesis being: SWAMP Walking the Wetlands of the Swan Coastal Plain.

The following year, a book of poetry by that name was published by Fremantle Press.

Nandi also has experience as a Research Consultant for parks, floral and wetlands; this is reflected in her poetry.

The shark net: memories and murder by Robert Drewe 2006


A six-year-old Robert moved from Melbourne to the sunny west coast, where he tells the story of his life in Perth where his path in life crossed with a murderer.

This book has won awards and has received high praise.

People of Perth will feel the similarities of their city written in the book, during the 50s and 60s, to the environment that we live in now and that our delightful isolated city causes us to cross paths with each other more often than we think.

Swanning around Perth: an exploration of the black swan in our city by Alex George and Charmaine Cave 2014

Swan Perth

Have you ever wondered how the beautiful black swan became the symbolic animal of Western Australia?

Anyone who is interested in the art and culture, and how the swan inspired local art, architecture, government, education and performing arts, will love this beautifully coloured illustrated book.

Take me to the river: the story of Perth’s foreshore by Julian Bolleter 2015

Take me the the river

Another wonderfully illustrated book with photographs displaying the past history of Perth, to moving forward to the Elizabeth Quay and the future plans.

“This book is concerned with the relationship of Europeans Australian culture to this ancient river system (Swan River). This historical narrative is viewed through the lens of schemes proposed for Perth’s foreshore, the city’s symbolic front garden.”

Perth Plants: a field guide to the bushland and coastal flora of Kings Park and Bold Park by Russell Barrett and Eng Pin Tay 2016

perth plants

Calling all garden loving people of Perth!

Develop your knowledge of the brilliant plants that make up our fascinating state, with this book.

For each plant, the book tells you where in the state you can find it, when it grows, how it grows, the flowers, the colour, the soil – with gorgeous photographs!

You could even make a day of it and head out to Kings Park or Bold Park and see how many plants you can identify!

Perth: a guide for the curious edited by Terri-Ann White 2016

perth book

A collection of social, culture and political insights from a range or different people, this books talks of living in Perth, the homeless, development and planning, buildings that make up Perth and many other interesting topics that starts with a foreword from our Lord Mayor, Lisa Scaffidi.

I found this book very interesting and insightful – my favourite being Chapter 6 on the brilliant buildings found in Perth.

I love architecture and Perth has an interesting architectural history.

Want to learn about Perth's diverse array of book stores? Read More: Inside the Wonderful World of Perth Book Shops