Belltower. Unnatural Tendencies.

I’m a little apologetic about this Belltower post, as when I took this photo I was doing my best to make it look good. Sorry.


When the Belltower on the Swan River at Barrack Street was completed, I wrote to the then Premier Richard Court asking why he’d built what looked like an Asian dictator’s outhouse on our foreshore.

I’ve been having a little bit of a struggle with the Belltower ever since then, because deep down inside there’s an insistent little voice saying “Is it really that bad? Maybe it’s even a little interesting?” I think many Perth People have been resisting coming out of the same closet. We don’t want to admit to ourselves that we were only against it because that annoying weed Richard Court was for it. I wear a rubber band around my wrist. Everytime I feel I’m having unnatural Belltower loving feelings, I snap the band. “I am normal. I do not like the Belltower. Snap, snap, SNAP.

About AHC McDonald

Comedian, artist, photographer and critic. From 2007 to 2017 ran the culture and satire site The Worst of Perth
This entry was posted in worst architecture, worst public art and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Belltower. Unnatural Tendencies.

  1. meccano says:

    Unfortunayely I missed the bell tower on my recent visit, but your photo prompted me to wonder if the Carilion arcade was as magnificent as i remember it.


  2. lazyaussie says:

    Ah, the Carillion. Must get that. if I remember correctly, they were banned from ringing them. Will check to see if still extant.


  3. meccano says:

    yes they were banned, unfortunately not for crimes against design.


  4. Curi-Oz says:

    Could be why it is known as “Dicky’s Donger” (which I believe is a reference to a small shed frequently used by itinerant labourers) in our family?

    Goes with the Polly Pipe on the other side of the CBD …


  5. lazyaussie says:

    Curi, I’m sure that dicky has a much less impressive organ, and that it wouldn’t take half a dozen people to “ring it”.


  6. quog says:

    From some angles, it looks like a cockroach humping a praying mantis.


  7. schlub says:

    I actually quite like the Belltower… there wouldnt be much else down there without it (besides the fantastic river). The view up the top is quite good, and when you’re up there I like the way the copper sides arch over you with the glass tower rising above…

    Watching the bells in action (and the old ladies doing the rope pulling inside) is quite cool too

    It’s only $6 or something to get in, and if you go on the first Tuesday of the month it’s entry by donation (so you can go in free if you’re really stingy)


  8. lazyaussie says:

    Yeah schlub, now Dickie Court is out of the way, the veil has been lifted from my eyes. What about the Convention centre though?


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  10. crankynick says:

    I’ve always thought that I’d quite like it if they’d built it 3 times the size.

    It’s the mediocrity that shits me, to be honest.

    If they’d built it bloody enormous, and it dominated the Perth skyline, you could kind of relax into the ugliness and it would be fine.


  11. greg hoey says:

    My thoughts entirely crankynick. Should’ve tried to eclipse the thousand foot mark, then would’ve been impressive. Its a stingy mean weak little attempt at being visionary. Something we all expect from the sort of folk that run this state!

    Design itself cool enuf.


  12. Wortho says:

    Dick’s Erection. Built to satisfy the Brits after they had a whinge about the old bells they gave to Perth as a gift not being used, sitting in storage. State Libs bowed down and built this laugh to house the bells for use. However, not all the bells in the tower are those ancient British ones. New bells were made to accompany them, and Richard Court got his title and name engraved on one of them- possibly the worst case of graffiti by a politician.


  13. BFL6152 says:

    I actually like the belltower. Architecturally I think it’s great, but it didn’t do what it was supposed to do. It was supposed to be an international icon. A, it’s too small and B, it serves no daily functional purpose. Sydney has the opera house where you would go to see a world class performance, it’s big and bold, so you would remember it. No-body is going to the foreshore to hear a world class bell ringing. The bells are historically significant, but they could have been hung in the new belfry of the permanently unfinished St. Mary’s catholic cathedral.
    It was supposed to attract people to the foreshore. It might get the odd tourist who is still trying to figure out why it was exactly that they chose to come to Perth after there less than spectacular trip to the Pinnacles. But who would go out of their way to Barrack st Jetty when a. you don’t know if anything will still be open when you get there, b. the eight taxi’s in perth don’t go there, c. the cat busses and ferries stopped and it’s nowhere near the train station, and there is no chance of getting free parking close by.
    They should have just put a pub there with a huge outdoor beer garden that is open to 1am (heaven’s forbid), coz nobody lives close enough to shut the place down with 2 complaints of loud music.


  14. Some excellent crackpottery describing the Belltower as a centre of Freemason worship, and Perth itself as a freemason conspiracy.


    • shazza says:

      LA sorry for dragging up the past but this hiddenmysteries article has really got me thinking.

      Let me start by making a confession. I dont mind the Bell Tower, actually I quite like it. (intensely dislike the Convention centre)

      Anyway, I happen to come from a long line of Freemasons, and if this article is in fact correct, meaning that the Freemasons are Perth royalty, then perhaps I am the Princess of Perth?

      Furthermore I think we should start considering what other symbols around this city are likely to be a homage to Freemasonary. Is it possible that this explains the weird lower aspect of Observation City? My head is spinning!


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  16. Paul says:

    I came across this page while searching for the original design of the bell tower. I can’t remember what it looked like but I know it was better than what we got, thank you Dickhead Court. It’s such a pathetic attempt to make something in Perth iconic. Like people here have written, they could have at least made it MASSIVE to give it some sort of relevence. And the crackpot conspiracy theories…bloody hilarious!


  17. Andrew says:

    The design is not without interest, even if, from behind, it looks like a giant swan’s clacker.

    Like Paul, I came across this page while searching for the original design of the Bell Tower.

    Where IS the bloody thing?.

    And yes it should have been at least double the height.

    Once you get any sort of distance from the structure it looks like an isolated pinprick in a park.

    But of equal concern to me is the fact you never seem to be able to HEAR the BLOODY BELLS.

    It would seem the oh-so-Perth muffling of the “World’s Biggest Musical Instrument” – works a treat!.

    Even when the Queen was here for CHOGM and tens of thousands turned out for the Big Barbie the Bells still seemed relatively faint.

    I worry too about the Barnett Government’s re-jigged foreshore proposal.

    It doesn’t seem to incorporate enough water and clutters the proposed inlet with palm tree islets.

    It doesn’t seem people friendly enough at the ground level and has a disturbingly soulless quality for mine.

    And please no more cookie cutter Perth apartment towers. What a pox on architecture they are.

    I want a foreshore redevelopment, yes, but the one the current government is spruiking needs a serious rejig – ala the City-Vision people.


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