The Bell Tower is one of Perth’s most recognisable buildings, but I’d never ventured inside. My son, seven-year-old Little Chef, was keen to check out the Barrack Square landmark during the school holidays.
The bells originate from the St. Martin-in-the-Fields church in London. If you’ve been to Trafalgar Square, chances are you’ve seen this historical church. These bells have been the first to ring to mark historic occasions over the last 600 years like the victories of world war two, the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 and Captain James Cook’s homecoming – Australia’s very own connection to the bells.
The bells became too heavy for the ancient church and were damaging its structure. They were due to be melted down before businessman and bell enthusiast Laith Reynolds stepped in with an idea to save the bells and bring them to WA. Now we can all enjoy these historic bells in Perth!
There are two admission types for entry to the Bell Tower. There’s general admission or for an extra charge, you and your family can enjoy the experience chiming the bells too! We just had to give that a go.
The chiming experiences begin at regular intervals. We took the stairs to level one where the bell ringing chamber is found. The Bell Tower also has a lift to all levels for easy access with strollers and there are toilets located on level three. We met our instructor at the ancient bell which is the oldest bell in Australia. It can’t be used as it’s cracked, but they do say it’s very good luck to rub the crack of a broken bell!
We stepped inside the bell ringing chamber where the ropes that are connected to the bells are hanging from the ceiling. Our guide first gave us a quick talk about the interesting history of the bells, Afterwards, anyone from young children to grandparents could try their hand at bell chiming.
The bells we got to chime are the smallest of the Swan Bells and I still found them pretty heavy! They are small in comparison to their largest bell “Zachariah” which weighs over 1.4 tonnes. As we were pulling the ropes, we could hear them ring and on a large TV monitor, we could see our bells moving up in the belfry.
On the next level is a gallery, where you’ll find an exhibition and collection of very old traditional bells from all around the world and the story and photos on how the Bell Tower was built.
The belfry is on level four. Here you can get up close to the St. Martin-in-the-Fields bells. You can view all eighteen bells through glass windows. I’d time this so that you’re there on the hour, so you’ll be able to watch the bells chime.
On level six is the observation deck. Here you have a 360-degree view of the Swan River, Elizabeth Quay and Perth city.
There is a coin-operated telescope overlooking the river and Kings Park. You can also walk on a steel walkway around the city side of the Bell Tower.
A lot of the view is a construction site at the moment, with the Ritz being constructed next door, but it’s fascinating to see the ever-changing face of our city and have a different perspective on Elizabeth Quay.
A very special 19th bell is being commissioned soon. The ANZAC “great bell” will weigh a whopping 6.5 tonne and make the Swan Bells one of the largest collection of bells in the world.
Back on the ground floor, we find the gift shop, where there are also some more displays of clocks and bells to look at. Little Chef loved the experience of chiming the bells and was pleased as punch to get a certificate too! It’s a great family experience. I’d allow about 45 minutes to an hour to visit the Bell Tower.
The Bell Tower is open daily from 10am. It can be found at Barrack Square, Riverside Drive, Perth.
Adult (15-59yrs) $9 ($18 with experience tour)
Child (5-14yrs) $7 ($9 with experience tour)
Senior (60yrs plus) $8 ($16 with experience tour)
Infant (0-4yrs) FREE
Family (2 Adult and 2 children) $25 ($44 with experience tour)
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