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 makes 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 1 p.m. 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 p.m., 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 it's also the best location for pictures of the Swan Bell Tower. The perfect showstopper for your next Instagram post.
Next time you're in Johannesburg, South Africa, visit a UNESCO site. The Sterkfontein Caves site is the greatest journey back in time our planet could offer.
The 3,000-year-old Irish fort on a 100m cliff isn't much more than a pile of rocks, and it's difficult to get to. But you should visit the Galway Iron Age fort immediately.