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The Jewel of Perth Elizabeth Quay’s Story

The Jewel of Perth: Elizabeth Quay’s Story

It’s no surprise to many that Perth is filled with amazing tourist attractions and destinations, such as Cottesloe Beach and Kings Park and Botanic Garden.

However, there is a new attraction in the city that has started to gain massive renown despite existing only for less than a decade.

Of course, I’m talking about the magnificent Elizabeth Quay. Located right in the heart of the city, this beautiful waterfront precinct is filled with amazing activities and beautiful scenery that are a sure hit with both residents and visitors to Perth.

Let’s discuss the story of Elizabeth Quay and why it became one of the city’s most well-known attractions.

What is the purpose of Elizabeth Quay?

The purpose of Elizabeth Quay is to connect the residents and visitors of Perth to the Swan River. 

Elizabeth Quay was intended to be a mixed-use development where people can enjoy a variety of cultural, commercial, and entertainment options.

The developers hoped that the waterfront precinct’s world-class entertainment and recreation features would encourage people to spend more time appreciating the beauty of our majestic river.

And you know what? I think it worked!

According to PerthNow, Elizabeth Quay attracted more than 6.7 million visitors in its first year alone. 

That’s more than the average yearly visitors to some world-famous landmarks like New York’s Empire State Building!

It’s not hard to see why Elizabeth Quay is such a big hit within a short time. First off, accessing it is totally free. 

Second, it offers a whole range of activities that you can enjoy alone or with your friends and family. A notable example of this is the BHP Water Park, which is filled with amazing fountains where kids can freely play.

Elizabeth Quay also has some amazing spots where you can relax and watch the beautiful Swan River. My favourite spot here is the Elizabeth Quay Bridge, which connects The Island to the Perth mainland.

Speaking of The Island, I highly recommend you reserve a dinner here during your visit to Perth. It’s filled with amazing dishes, like wagyu burgers and crab brioche rolls, that everyone should try at least once!

As I mentioned earlier, Elizabeth Quay was also intended to feature cultural attractions and works of art. One prime example of that is the 82.5-metre-high Swan Bell Tower located northeast of the waterfront precinct.

The tower is known for having the second-largest set of changing bells in the world!

Aside from Swan Bell Tower, Elizabeth Quay also features some amazing sculptures, like First Contact and Spanda.

Lastly, Elizabeth Quay actually serves as an important transportation hub in Perth. It has its own ferry terminal where you can ride to other famous locations in the city, like Freo and South Perth.

Hopefully, all this stuff has convinced you to spend an entire day here during your visit to Perth!

Pro tip: Elizabeth Quay has a couple of romantic-themed experiences you and your significant other can try out! A couple I highly recommend are the Gondolas on the Swan and Swan Bell Tower’s Romance package..

What did Elizabeth Quay used to be called?

The site where Elizabeth Quay currently stands was formerly referred to as The Esplanade Reserve. 

It might surprise you, but this land had a colourful history before it became the world-famous attraction we all know today.

Like most of Perth, The Esplanade Reserve was once part of the territories held by the native Noongar people. This nature reserve once served as a busy fishing spot for the indigenous people.

After the arrival of European settlers, the site became a part of the fledgling city of Perth. From 1880 to 2012, the fishing spot was one of the many recreational spaces in Perth.

Throughout the decades, this beautiful waterfront park was a venue for celebrations and monumental events in Perth. One important event held here was the 1881 Intercolonial Exhibition.

However, The Esplanade Reserve also became a hotbed for civil unrest during The Great Depression when Perthites gathered here to voice their concerns for the country’s rapidly worsening economy during that time.

Following decades of direct management under Perth’s city council, The Esplanade Reserve was finally placed under the administration of the state government for the purpose of constructing the Elizabeth Quay we all know and love today.

Did you know? The Esplanade Reserve was once home to several important structures, including a kiosk dedicated to the famous Perthite politician and women’s rights supporter Florence Hummerston.

You may now find the Florence Hummerston Kiosk on The Island, a manmade islet inside the quay..

Why is it called Elizabeth Quay?

The famous waterfront precinct of Perth was called Elizabeth Quay in honour of the late Queen Elizabeth II for her diamond jubilee. 

While official construction of the quay began on April 26, 2012, it was officially referred to as Elizabeth Quay on May 28, 2012, during the speech of former Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett.

It was opened to the public on January 29, 2016. Construction of the quay took almost four years, and the total cost reached $2.6 billion.

Interestingly, the queen had a calm and collected response upon first hearing of this colossal project. According to former premier Barnett, the queen responded to his proposal with “Oh, that would be nice. Thank you.”

The construction of Elizabeth Quay was deemed a success not only in celebrating the queen’s long rule but also in transforming Perth’s identity and recognition on the world stage.

It remains one of the city’s most visited attractions, and it has also drastically increased interest in water activities on the Swan River, like sailboating and scenic cruising.

Aside from Elizabeth Quay, Perth also did a couple more noteworthy things to celebrate the queen’s diamond jubilee. An example of this was the release of limited-edition diamond jubilee gold coins by the Perth Mint.

Did you know? The last official visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Perth was in October 2011. It was part of her royal visit to Australia where she visited other major Australian cities like Canberra and Melbourne.

While in Perth, she also attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

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