It always intrigued me as a boy that my uncle ventured from Scotland across the vastness of the oceans to set up a new life in the “Other Perth”.
After discovering Australia’s sunniest city as an adult, I can see exactly why he chose to move here.
The name, of course, hails from the Fair City on the banks of the Tay. Scotland is writ large in its history, too, with a litany of Scottish settlers playing major roles in its story and countless parts of the city whose names give the game away.
There is Applecross and Dalkeith, then also Kinross and Stirling.
This Perth is the most remote state capital in the world, set adrift thousands of miles from any other city across an epic sweep of desert and ocean.
I’m a huge fan of Scotland’s Perth, but its Aussie counterpart wins hands down on the balmy weather and the bountiful beaches.
We are talking 19 sweeping white-sand beaches set against a perfectly blue sky, where it’s not ducks in the Tay you are spotting but surfers frolicking offshore.
Bronzed lifeguards replace traffic wardens overlooking idyllic scenes.
There is a beach for everyone, from quiet little coves for families, through to bright and brash Cottesloe Beach, a real playground for the locals.
Even here you don’t have to wade off into the surf, but can just relax on a beach taking in the scene beneath the vaulting Norfolk Pines. If you’re in luck you may just see a whale cruise by. I’m not joking – it’s that sort of place.
Perth in Scotland is famous for its parks, which come with real royal heritage. The tradition continues Down Under with King’s Park one of the largest inner city parks in the world, stretching to over 1,000 acres. It is alive with wildlife, from possums on pathways to black swans and dolphins on the Swan River, with over 20,000 species of indigenous plants flourishing. More than 80 bird species call the park home.
Urban Perth is blossoming, too. When I was first here in the 1990s the city centre was a bit bland, the 1980s having seen a nest of skyscrapers bashed up with little thought of encouraging people to spend time there after work. I’m glad to report that a colossal urban regeneration project is making the core city more pedestrian friendly and bringing its historic buildings back to their best.
Inventive new industries are joining the old mining money, as are a new generation of cafes, bars and restaurants. The grid-like streets are now much more alive after the offices close as a result.
There are new hotels as part of this boom too.
Symbolic of this bright new face of Perth is COMO The Treasury.
This grand dame has been lovingly crafted around the historic State Buildings complex and strides out above the shops and eating outlets.
The lavish hotel boasts a 20m swimming pool with sweeping city views and Wildflower, a restaurant where the menu celebrates the half-dozen Aboriginal seasons as you take in the view.
My uncle, brought up in Dunoon, once told me about the “world’s happiest animal”, but he never got time to show me it before he passed away.
I resolved to find it and tracked it down to Rottnest, a glorious island lying temptingly offshore.
The wee creature in question is the quokka. A cheery relative of the kangaroo, for me it is far cuter than either that or the koala bear. Come to Rottnest and you will see lots of them as you tour the 63 beaches!
Celebs who have posted quokka selfies include Martin Clunes and Hugh Jackman. I understand the urge to take photos of Perth and its surrounds as it’s a corner of the world that could not be any different to its Scottish namesake, nor any more dramatic.
In fact, Perth is even more intriguing and beguiling than I’d ever dreamt of as a boy.
Emirates (emirates.com) fly from Glasgow and Edinburgh to Perth via Dubai.
Lonely Planet’s Western Australia guide includes a strong section on Perth.
Further tourist information via westernaustralia.com.
COMO The Treasury details via theluxuryholidaycompany.com