My Home : The Most Isolated City in the World
By road, I need to cross a dry, barren, tree-less, 200,000 square kilometer single piece of limestone, just to get to another city. Every journey I take, is epic. Perth, Western Australia. My home town. The most isolated city in the world. There’s a Wikipedia article entitled: “Extreme Points On Earth”. Yes, Perth is featured. The coastal city of Perth is the only city on the entire Western half of the Australia. We’re a long way from everywhere. Extreme, and sometimes brutal, isolation. Welcome, to my home.
Perth’s Isolated Locals Are Known as “Sand-Gropers”.
Sitting on the Indian Ocean, with a rapidly growing population approaching 1.8 million “Sand-Gropers” (as the locals are known), Perth isn’t exactly a small city, nor a large city. Living in Perth is like living in a huge house, where everybody knows everyone else, but there aren’t any neighbours. Geographically, we are a lonely city. This won’t be changing in any foreseeable future. Are you familiar with the phrase “the tyranny of distance”? I am.
For me, the isolation is a travel motivator. At roughly four times the size of Texas, there are truly enormous distances involved even with leaving my own state. Drive due East for a couple of days, via the longest straight road in the world, and you reach the closest city to Perth. Just getting to the city of Adelaide, South Australia, on the other side of the 1000km stretch known as “The Nullabor Plain”, is the stuff of legends. Translated, “Nullabor” means “no trees”. Laughably, despite having one of the highest automobile ownership rates on earth, most people in Perth have never driven to another city. No, I’m not making this stuff up.
Oh, Adelaide, the closest city to Perth, isn’t 1,000 km away. Adelaide, by road, is more than 2,500 km away.
West of The Most Isolated City in the World? Africa.
Due West from Perth, across the Indian Ocean, is Africa. It’s a long way away. Head in any other direction, it’s hot, dry, and deserted. Australia is an island, so wherever I travel to, I’m probably going to be flying. Whether my destination is Thailand, Norway, the United States, or Africa, everywhere on Earth seems close, compared to the drive just to get outside of my own state.
Perth. It really is a unique city, for many reasons. I feel lucky to have been born here – life is simple, people are friendly, and it’s a sunny, healthy, modern city to live in, with all the amenities you would expect. It’s easy for people to become complacent here, Australia isn’t called “the lucky country” for nothing. Using good fortune and isolation as a motivator, it’s incredibly easy to get out and explore the world. In any case, I spend a lot of time looking for the cheapest flights to anywhere.
Isolated Perth is As Australian as You Can Get
Hope you enjoyed a this little slice about my home town, and I hope I have helped you to understand Perth better. In my opinion, it’s the archetypal 21st century Australian city, and Western Australia is the single most under-rated travel destination there is. I read a lot of articles on travel blogs about Perth, and very few of them hit the mark. Perth is an enigma. It can’t be understood with a quick trip, or a single article.
Whilst Sydney, and to a lesser degree, Melbourne, have become truly “international” cities, Perth is the real deal. Completely Australian, and indeed, the world’s most isolated city. If you’re planning on visiting Australia, I would suggest making the journey to the West Coast.
* by some measures, Honolulu in Hawaii is the most isolated city in the world. Small Pacific islands aside – Perth, Western Australia, is the most isolated city on any continent, anywhere on Earth.
63 thoughts on “My Home : The Most Isolated City in the World”
Love this post! I have a college friend who is from and still lives in Perth. So when I do make it to Australia, I will definitely be hitting Perth up, since I’ll have a free place to stay.
That’s great! Perth can be quite an expensive city (understatement of the year), so not only will it be helpful to have a local contact, it will be much easier on your wallet …or purse ;)
I would have lost on Trivia night with this one. Good to know!
And the sunset pic above is crazy!
“Most people in Perth have never driven to another city.” Can’t imagine, but I get it.
Nice Post Nate!
Thanks Justin. The sunset photo was only tweaked slightly – it basically looked like that straight out of the camera! We do get some astounding sunsets here, on a regular basis. Also, I’m glad I demonstrated just how isolated Perth is, it’s a bit of a mind-bender – and good luck in your next Trivia night ;)
Awesome! We’ve never thought to do any in depth on Perth since it’s been a long time since we really lived there. It seems to keep booming and has the best sunsets in the world! When’s the last time you had an EB?
Looking forward to reading more about John’s hometown!
OH Andrea…don’t get me started on EB!!! They changed the recipe about 3 or 4 months back, I was once a drinker, but not anymore. It *was* my favourite WA beer. Yes, the boom seems to be never-ending in Perth! ..and, I will try an make John’s home town look good!
Great post! Can’t believe I missed out on Perth when I was in Aus :( x
Next time Jen, next time. It’s not like Perth is really far away from everywhere..oh hang on ;)
What an interesting post Nate! I knew about Perth, but didn’t realize it was *that* isolated, or that it was the only city on Western AU for that matter! Learned a lot today :)
Cheers Maria! I aim to educate as well as entertain ;)
Wow! I’m not sure if I could live in a place that isolated. Living on the East Coast of the United States, I’m never far from civilization. Even though I grew up in the “country,” I was only 45 minutes from my state capital. I’m glad you enjoy it though!
haha yes, it is “interesting” living in a city this isolated. For people that are considerating immigrating to Perth (there are many reasons to, our population is growing fast), I think it would be a decisive factor on whether or not they stayed long term. The distances are crazy!
I never knew Perth was as isolated as it was. I’ve always known it to be a state where a lot of great research has emerged. Beautiful photos!
Thanks Amberr..you are correct, there has been a great history of research in Perth, across many disciplines.
Lived in Perth for a while when I was little. Don’t remember it ( I was 4) but my mom still mentions it every once in a while. She really liked living there.
Hey Dastan..you should get your mom to check this post…refresh her memories…
I had a mere 24 hours in Perth (between getting off the train from Sydney – and getting back ON the train TO Sydney – loooong story), but despite this mere taste of the place, I loved the vibe, the people, and the landscapes. I hope to return to WA to have a better look, since I’m sure there’s so much more to the place than meets the eye.
Here’s my take on the place, for anyone interested:
Hey Nora, I read your article – that was a pretty good 24 hours… a great example of the huge advantage of having a local contact here in Perth. Hope you make it back one day!
We didn’t make it to Perth during our 2 mos in Australia but I would love to go!
Hi Leslie, next time! Feel free to ask me for any tips. PS. sorry about the slow reply, your comment when to spam for some silly reason.
I didn’t expected Perth to be such an isolated city! Do you love living there? I think I couldn’t stay in a city so far away from everything! I always lived in busy and crowded cities as London, Paris, New York, though a freind of mine is about to move to Perth for a few months! Iìll go visiting here, definitily, so taht I will have an idea of how Perth really is!
Hi Francy, yes, I love living here, I grew up with the geographical isolation, so really there isn’t too much to complain about. Life is very laid back, and easy, in a city like Perth. I hope you do get to visit your friend all the way down here…!
It’s great to meet another travel blogger from Perth! I’m a sand groper myself but now live in Brisbane. I do miss my home city a lot though.
How about that! I had no idea you were from Perth, Dean!
We were just explaining to a backpacker how far it is to WA and how many Australians had never been there. It didn’t occur to me that many from Perth have never been to another city either!! It’s certainly a goal of ours to travel there sometime in the next 5 years.
Tracey, if I’m around, you will have a personal tour guide! In any case, I can give you the low-down on what’s good. In fact, I’m sure I will cover some of the best tourist destinations in Perth and WA on here, sooner or later! Very exciting USA plans you guys have… you are my favourite travelling family (not enough travelling families in the world is my opinion)..and I enjoy following your progress.
I do hope you have a major airport in Perth to make traveling a little easier.
Hi Emme…yes we do have an airport, people will fly 2000km’s+, just to get to work. I’m not joking!
Looks like a beautiful place! I once sent a package to Perth :).. never knew where it was in Australia. Guess you would have to have an airport if you were so far out there!
That’s cool Derek, your package certainly travelled a long way. Yes, without an airport, I most likely would have left a long time ago – permanently!
I was talking to my father-in-law last night because he’s planning on taking a 3 month trip to Australia/New Zealand sometime next year.. I asked him if he was planning on going to Perth and said he wanted to. If he goes, hopefully my wife and I can make a 2 week vacation out of it. We have both always wanted to visit Australia and now knowing Perth is the most isolated city in the world.. would make the experience even better!
I hope you make it to Perth and Western Australia, Derek. Two weeks is a good amount of time to see some of the sights WA has to offer. Good luck!
Nate! Great post on Perth. I can’t help but think I might have inspired it [http://bit.ly/H0sMKM]. I’m writing up something short on Perth now, for an interview-style post. I think I’ll reference what you’ve got here, it’s good material.
Cheers Ian! Look forward to reading your post, shoot me a link on twitter…
We visited Perth 2x (2004, 2007). Ever since my husband Ed has been nagging me to emigrate there. He fell in love with the place.
In 2007 we travelled up the coast to Broome & Cape Leveque, returning to rainy Perth where everyone was so happy to have the rain.
Next time we hope to head south…
By the way, we’re heading for Flowerbud Bungalows at Balangan in 3 weeks time!
To recover from jetlag for a few days before visiting Ubud (Mawar Homestay, looks very friendly and low key kind of place)
Cheers and keep up the good blogs, Janneke (Netherlands)
Fantastic Janneke! That’s a really big journey you took through WA, several days driving at least. Hope you have a good time in Balangan, let me know how it goes! (secret: I will be in The Netherlands before too long, almost certainly in the next few months or so)
With (Perth’s) isolation, comes awesome, talented and creative people’s, such as your self. Great post.
I just stumbled upon your post. Thanks for writing it! I am from originally from Los Angeles, CA. I have just returned from a six month stay in Australia. It was quite an experience. Good and bad. Thanks to my Irish boyfriend and the Australian government we did farm work to extend our visas(I’m lucky enough to have US and UK passports.) We started in Darwin, made our way down to Katherine where we lived and worked for about two months(what a strange place!)then we traveled to the East coast where we had just enough money to get us as far down as Surfer’s Paradise before we had to return to a mining exploration job for my boyfriend in Mount Isa. What a place. Isolated and lonely. Definitely not my style. Now, I am preparing to return to Australia on a student visa and a new job for boyfriend in Perth. He has been to Perth, I have not. After all my experiences with the outback it has really made me anxious about a return down under. Call me a wimp, but I’m just not tough enough to love outback living. I need city, I need amenities, variety of food, live theatre, you know, urban jungle. I’ve been told Melbourne is the place for me, sadly, that is not where my guys jobs are. I’m not a crazy club gal but I do like city life. But I’m scared! Does Perth feel like a full on city with lots of things to do, see, shop, and eat? Thanks so much for any input!!
Yes, Perth is a City, but perhaps not a “full on city”.
It’s no LA, but it is comparable in size to Brisbane (sounds like you may gave visited there). There is a large variety of food, shopping, and other amenities. My on tip, is to live near the city centre. Really, apart from the isolation (which can be taken care of with a cheap/quick flight to any number of destinations in Asia, or the East Coast of Australia), there isn’t much to worry about. The weather is very similar to LA.
Perth is a fast growing city, so, even though it’s not “huge” as far as cities go, it always seems like there is something new popping up.
I honestly don’t think most people would notice a huge difference between living in Melbourne and Perth, on a day-to-day basis.
Any other questions, fire away!
I love this post! We’re planning on visiting Perth next February and of course I was aware that it was on the west coast, fairly remote etc… However, until I read this it hadn’t really sunk in that it takes DAYS to reach the nearest city by road and that the closest continent to the west is Africa, just crazy when you think about it. I’ve heard great things about your home town and can’t wait to visit.
Hi Maddie… one small note – in February – it’s HOT. The weather in Perth is basically perfect, as far as “city weather” goes, but if there is anything worthy of complaint, it’s how hot February can get. It’s a very “dry” heat, and if you’re from a cold climate, you might love it! Keep an eye on here, I will hopefully get some Perth tips up before I leave.
Great post. I’m born and bred in Perth and your description of our isolation still gave me goosebumps! I seldom stop to think about it. Living so far away from everything…you just kinda get used to it. But yeah, I’m cool with that :o)
Wow, thanks Frankie. Yeah, I don’t really think about it either, but it sure is there ;)
Like the picture with the guy on balcony. Seems he is on his mobile. It really gives the lonely, keeping in touch feeling. Makes you wonder who he is talking with.
Just found your blog, am enjoying it immensely, but had to laugh at your feeling of isolation. I moved to Geraldton 12 years ago, from Sydney via the NT, and now know true isolation. Living in regional WA makes Perth feel totally connected. But I love my beach lifestyle in the country to not want to give it up for any city – though I reckon I could live in NYC for a while!!
BTW, I love the nullarbor crossing, have done it at least five times, but that stretch between Broome and Hedland….. that’s unbelievably boring!
Hey Naoomi! Another Sandgroper…well, an honorary Sandgroper ;) Glad you’re enjoying the blog. Yes, I think regional WA had what must be amongst the most isolated towns, by any definition, on the entire planet. But, Gero? Come on, it’s only a 400km ride down the road to get to Perth ;)
I don’t personally feel isolated, gero’s a fun town to live in, but it’s more the sheer hassle of never being able to get connecting flights and having to add an entire extra day on both ends of a trip. Or being forced to do red eyes! 400km is indeed only just down the road but it might as well be 1000!
I thought Honolulu was the most isolated?
John – I did mention Honolulu in the article….
I saw your blog because it was shared by a friend who was into travelling. She loved to visit Indonesia after seeing your blog “Borubudor Sunrise Tour”
I’m from the Philippines by the way. :) And we are an archipelago. So I know the feeling of being isolated. I grow up in a small island in one of the island of Luzon (I can explain it but my comment will probably be too long, so it would be better if you will just Google earth it :) Masbate, Ticao Island. There! Try to find it in Google. Growing up we don’t have electricity. I was already in grade school when we had electricity. Though we visit Manila once in a while mostly during Christmas to visit some relatives. The only time I live in a big city was when I have to go to college. I am still living here in Manila. I love to travel the world mindlessly but I am still in the crossroad. Thinking where should I go, how can I afford to travel the world, how bout my job, family, and friends? Saying quit your job and jump to the where ever you want is not that easy. I’m still standing in my virtual crossroad. But I already have my pack in my shoulder so I’m more on like waiting for the bus. ..hahaha…
BTW I travel but still within my own country, and there are so many places to discover here. (send me an email if you will be going this way) Though I will get my passport this year coz my boyfriend and I are already planning to travel outside of the country. Wish us luck! And I would definitely follow your blog. Love it! Have a blast traveling the world!
Hey LJ, thanks so much for your considered comments. I have yet to visit the Philippines, but it is high up on my list for sure! Also, I understand what you are saying about it being hard to quit your job. To be honest, I am very aware that coming from Australia, I am very privileged, and fortunate. We have so much more than many other nationalities, and yet, there are so many people in my country that complain they have nothing, and that life is tough.
I’m happy to know that you get to see your own country, and I will make sure I send you an email when I get there (one day, sooner rather than later I hope).
I wish you all the best of luck with your life, and your future travels.
I really like what you guys tend to be up too. Such clever work and reporting!
Keep up the superb works guys I’ve incorporated you guys to my blogroll.
Sorry, but Honolulu is the remotest city on earth!
Hey Rob, no need for apologies… happy to accept that a city in on a small island in the middle of the largest ocean on the planet, is comparable in isolation to Perth.
I’ve lived in Adelaide for my whole life, and I’ve never been to Perth. I’ve been to Melbourne and Canberra. I’m taking a trip to Perth in a few weeks and I didn’t realise how far away it was. That explains why my parents never took me there when I was little. Perth is an interesting city, I’ve heard, and I’m lucky enough to have cousins who recently moved there so we can stay with them.
What a great post. I’m an islander and now live in Perth and it’s true what you say we like islanders here in Perth. I love the lifestyle here. Soooo much to explore!
Jodie | roadtowander.com
Regurgitating wiki facts that can be modify by any one is never a good idea…..
No it’s not the most isolated capital in the world, not ever when you try and go with a population greater than 1 million , Auckland NZ is 49km further than Adelaide, even if you reduce the numbers to 500k then it’s Hawaii.
From the page above: “by some measures, Honolulu in Hawaii is the most isolated city in the world”
FYI, Wellington is the capital city of New Zealand, it’s not that far from Auckland, relatively speaking.
But, all the best in Clown School, you’ll do great!
The author of this article talks about driving 1000K makes Perth “the most isolated city in the world.” I beg to disagree. Hey, at least you can drive to another state. If we Hawaiians could drive to Los Angeles (the closest city to us) our drive would be 4100 km long, Tokyo would be 6200 km and Sydney 8200 km. That’s isolated! As of 2020 Oahu’s population is 1 million.
From the article:
“by some measures, Honolulu in Hawaii is the most isolated city in the world”
“Adelaide, the closest city to Perth, isn’t 1,000 km away. Adelaide, by road, is more than 2,500 km away”
Thanks, and agree, Honolulu is more isolated – perhaps I should change this article to “most isolated MAINLAND city”
…but then again, I wouldn’t get all of these fun comments.
I’m from the US, with no hope of world travel any time soon, but, I love to Google places in Australia and then use the satellite map to see the sights. On my own I discovered that Perth is very far from everywhere! I was so surprised to discover this fact because I hear the city mentioned like any other city. I love your post, and have read through it. I like to imagine what it would be like to live in a place that is like an island on an island, where they speak English and live very much the way we live here. Daydreaming and learning about Australia is a great, fun, fascinating way for me to relax. All the better to learn from someone who actually lives there. May God bless you!!!
Thanks, glad you enjoyed the daydreaming!