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Guide to Perth: How to do business in the Australian city

Name: Alix Burrell
Age: 48
Position: Head of department at APAC
Nationality: Scottish


01. How often do you travel to Perth and who do you fly with?
Once every three weeks during the summer months by Singapore Airlines. There are cheaper flights on Jetstar but Singapore Airlines had a good air miles programme which, until recently, covered the bulk of my trips for the last five years. Now it’s very difficult to get weekend trips on air miles at a bargain with Singapore Airlines, so I will have to look into Jetstar more seriously now. The great thing about Perth is that you can fly there Friday night, spend the weekend there and take the midnight redeye back to Singapore to be in the office for Monday morning. Flight time is around four-and-a-half hours.

02. One thing everyone ought to know about Perth?
Don’t make light-hearted remarks or crack jokes with anybody at immigration. Don’t bring wood products or even an apple from the airplane. The Australians take border security very seriously for good reason, and you don’t want to be welcomed into the country with a cavity search.

03. How quickly can you get a visa?
You can get a visa quickly online for around $20 or you can get one at the airport before departure for $50.

04. Fastest way into and around the city?
Taxis are around $60 into the city centre. Perth is nearly the length of Los Angeles at around 70km. Getting around is most practical by hire car, but there are buses and trains to main towns around Perth.

05. Good and bad times to visit?
Perth has weather of great extremes. In summer, the temperature can rise above 40 degrees. In winter, it can drop just below zero. In between, the weather is unpredictable. The best time to go is October to February, but there is a six-week window around December when the flies descend. These flies are not normal; they have sticky feet like geckos and no amount of swatting will discourage them from finding a nice sweaty landing place between your sunglasses and your eyes.

06. Hotels you recommend.
The Duxton is the only hotel I’ve stayed in. It has been converted from the old Perth tax office building. It still has the charm of old, but the location is very central to the business and shopping district.

07. What’s the dress code for meetings?
Jacket and tie.

08. Any cultural or business etiquette to be aware of?
Know your cricket, rugby, golf and Aussie Rules results, or you will be left behind in conversations.

09. You are taking a client to lunch or dinner, where do you go?
Balthazar (modern Australian) restaurant in central Perth, or Fraser’s restaurant (modern Australian) in Kings Park.

10. Casual bars to go for a drink with clients where you won’t get hassled?
Some of the best are scattered outside of the CBD. Two very popular ones are Little Creatures, a vibrant restaurant and micro-brewery in Fremantle, and Clancy’s in City Beach. Generally Perth people are early risers, so they shut around 10pm.

11. Any unsafe areas to avoid?
Perth is very safe. But the CBD tends to empty out in the early evening and I’ve been told it is not a recommended place to hang around late at night.

12. You’ve got some spare time, what’s the must-see?
Drag racing. Perth is full of petrol-heads and drag-racing events of all types are very popular. Watching nitro-methane-fuelled dragsters is an experience not to be missed and seeing some of the outstanding beards of the event-goers is an event in itself. There are monster truck events, motorbike events, classic car races and beards everywhere at all the major rallies. If you can’t go drag racing, then make sure you go to one of Fremantle’s many cafés and watch the incredible classic muscle cars cruising by.

13. Gifts to take home for family and friends?
How about a leather money pouch made from a kangaroo’s scrotum? These can be purchased at the airport.

14. How long before your flight do you really need to be at the airport?
Queues at immigration can be very long for evening flights where several flights leave at once. Be there at least one hour beforehand.

15. Tell us a personal anecdote from one of your trips to this city that will give readers a feel for staying there or doing business there.
Perth is a fantastic holiday destination if you have children. It’s full of beaches, wildlife, outdoor living and camping activities. We stayed with friends once at Karrinyup Waters Resort which has Australia’s Largest Bouncing Pillow. After a wonderful BBQ with fresh Perth produce and Margaret River wine, our respective children stood back in horror as the adults got onto the bouncing pillow and bounced away. More random adults joined us, more children were horrified, and we are definitely going back there soon.