There are several colossal buildings that dominate Perth’s skyline, but it’s the smaller Swan Bell Tower that steals the show. Standing at 82.5 metres it is ‘only’ a third the size of Perth’s tallest building, but the remarkable glass spire pierces the sky like no other. And its extraordinary collection of bells make the tower the loudest on Perth’s horizon. Without a doubt.
You reach the Swan Bell Tower after a beautiful drive along the Swan River, which it was named after. It is the masterpiece of local architectural firm Hames Sharley and was completed in 2001. The bell chamber spans all six floors of the 30-metre tower, enveloped by a glass exterior and copper sails. Its structure is made from strongly reinforced concrete to endure the ringing of the 9-tonne bells within, a force to be reckoned with.
The bells were a special gift to the people of Australia in 1988, celebrating the country’s bicentenary. Twelve of them are Royal bells from the St Martins in the Field Church – 18th century recasts of the 14th century originals. They are the only royal bells to have ever left England, and they saluted James Cook when he returned from discovering Australia. Of the six others, one was cast by the Australian government to celebrate the second millennium and gave momentum to the construction of the tower.
You can hear the monumental sound of the old bells every day between noon and 1pm in the tower. You won’t go deaf, soundproof barriers and doors control the volume and direction of the soundwaves. If you arrive before 12:30 you may even get a chance to join the change ringers, but be prepared for some serious exercise.
While the bells are the official attraction, a visit to the tower itself is worth it for the panoramic view over the riverside and adjacent parks. The Kings Park and its botanic gardens offer welcome shade and retreat in summer, but are also the best location for pictures of the Swan Bell Tower. The perfect showstopper for your next Instagram post.