Reading Comprehension Text and Exercises


The City of Lights

The fourth-most populous city in Australia and the capital and largest city of the state of Western Australia, Perth is considered to be one of the world's best cities to live in, according to a range of different indicators of quality of life. With its successful business district, its proximity to natural beauty, and its location on the shores of the Indian Ocean, Perth is a growing destination for both trade and tourism.

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Founded in 1829, the city was named after the city of the same name in Scotland, due to the influence of Sir George Murray, who was the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies for the United Kingdom at the time of Perth's founding and who was the Member of Parliament for the Scottish city.


A Brief History of Perth

  • Archeological remains discovered in the Upper Swan neighborhood of modern-day Perth demonstrate that indigenous Australians have inhabited the area for at least 38,000 years. The Noongar people who have lived in the region for centuries named the settlement Boorloo before the arrival of British settlers.
  • The first written account of the region was made by the Dutch Captain Willem de Vlamingh and his crew, who made some observations of the area in 1697 but considered it unsuitable for settlement since the land was thought to be too inhospitable.

    It was not until the 1820s that western coast of Australia was settled by Europeans, with British launching their efforts to found a colony based on the desire to prevent the French from being able to do so.

    The "Swan River Colony" was founded on 4th June, 1829 by the crew of Captain James Stirling, with the city of Perth founded to act as its capital.
  • By 1850, Western Australia was opened to convicts (prisoners who were transported from Europe), who worked on the farms surrounding the city of Perth (which was granted city status by Queen Victoria in 1856).

    However, it was not until the discovery of gold at Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie in the 1890s that Perth (and Western Australia as a whole) experienced a massive population boom. Between 1891 and 1901, Western Australia's population tripled, while Perth was linked to other major cities across Australia by the development of the transcontinental railway line.
  • In 1962, Perth gained international fame when city residents all lit their house lights and streetlights at the exact moment that astronaut John Glenn was passing above the city while orbiting the earth on the spacecraft Friendship 7, creating an amazing sight.

    This impressive moment gained Perth the nickname "the City of Lights", and was repeated again in 1998 when Glenn traveled into space once more.
  • Since the 1960s, Perth has developed into one of Australia's wealthiest cities, largely thanks to the valuable mining industries which still dominate Western Australia's economy and which are managed from Perth.

King's Park

Located on the western edge of the central business district in Perth, King's Park spreads over 1,000 acres (4 square kilometers) and is home to over 324 species of plant as well as 80 bird species. Offering panoramic views of the Swan River and the nearby Darling Range mountains, the park is the most popular visitor destination in Western Australia, visited by over five million people each year.

Each September the park hosts Australia's largest wildflower show and exhibition, the King's Park Festival, as well as being the location of the State War Memorial, which is dedicated to the memories of all of those Western Australians who lost their lives fighting the First and Second World Wars. At the main entrance to the Park is the Edith Dircksey Cowan Memorial Clock, built in 1934 to commemorate the first woman elected to the Australian Parliament.

Swan Bells

This set of 18 bells is housed in the Swan Bell Tower, a 271 foot (82.5 meter) copper and glass structure overlooking the Swan River.

One of the largest sets of functional change ringing bells in the world, twelve of the set are historic bells which once rang in the St Martin-in-the-Fields Church in London's Trafalgar Square, which were donated to the State of Western Australia as part of the celebrations of Australia's bicentenary (its two hundredth birthday) in 1988.

Since opening in 2000, the bell tower, which cost over 5.5 million Australian dollars to construct, has quickly become one of Perth's most iconic sights.

St Mary's Cathedral

Officially known as the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St Mary's Cathedral is the main seat of the Roman Catholic Church in Perth. The church was built in three main phases, with the first phase completed in 1865 the introduction of a large new Perpendicular Gothic style begun in the 1920s.

After 70 years incomplete after building work was halted due to the Great Depression of the 1930s and the increasing costs of repairs, the cathedral was reopened after its extensive new renovations were completed in December 2009. The Cathedral is home to the oldest cathedral boys' choir in Australia, as well as housing the remains of Perth's first Bishop, John Brady.

WACA Ground

This famous sports stadium, which takes its name from the initials of the Western Australian Cricket Association, is the spiritual home of cricket in Western Australia.

Having hosted a range of local and regional cricket matches since the early 1890s, the ground became one of Australia's most beloved venues for international test cricket from 1970, with its pitch considered one of the quickest and bounciest in the world: making for especially exciting matches.

Although the WACA has been superseded by the new Perth Stadium as the largest cricket ground in the city, it is still used to host a range of different sporting, musical and cultural events every year, and has a large museum dedicated to the history of Australian cricket within its grounds which draws numerous visitors each year.

An Authentic Perth Dish

Perth is the perfect place to try one of Australia's most famous and beloved desserts, the Lamington. This sponge cake, coated in an outer layer of chocolate sauce and rolled in dried coconut flakes, is so popular that July 21st has been designated as National Lamington Day across Australia.

"Lamington Drives", where the cakes are made and sold in order to raise money for a range of different charitable causes, are a common feature of community life in Perth.

Comprehension Exercises

Vocabulary Questions

  1. What does "panoramic" mean?
    1. a flavor made from many different ingredients
    2. a sound which is made up of many different musical instruments
    3. a view which spreads across a complete landscape

  2. What does "dominate" mean?
    1. to bury or dig
    2. to make something smaller
    3. to lead or control something

  3. What does "orbiting" mean?
    1. circling or revolving around something
    2. traveling in a northerly direction
    3. moving in a straight line

  4. What does "inhospitable" mean?
    1. unhealthy or sick
    2. unwelcoming or difficult to live with
    3. unimpressive or dull

  5. What does "superseded" mean?
    1. hovered or floated
    2. planted quickly
    3. replaced or overtaken

Collocation Questions

  1. Residents of Perth ___________ a high standard of living, with easy access to the natural beauty of the Swan River Valley region.
    1. like
    2. enjoy
    3. appreciate

  2. The city was named ___________ the Scottish city of Perth due to the influence of Sir George Murray.
    1. beyond
    2. later
    3. after

  3. Dutch explorers ___________ the region in the late 17th century but decided not to settle there.
    1. exposed
    2. unearthed
    3. discovered

  4. Perth's population increased ___________ after the discovery of gold in the 1890s.
    1. dramatically
    2. melodramatically
    3. theatrically

  1. The people of Perth ___________ their lights on and off during John Glenn's space flight over the city in 1962.
    1. switched
    2. converted
    3. changed

  1. King's Park is the most ___________ attraction in the whole of Western Australia.
    1. attended
    2. visited
    3. stayed

  1. The Swan Bell Tower is over 270 feet ___________ and constructed from copper and glass.
    1. lofty
    2. long
    3. tall

  2. John Brady, the first Catholic Bishop of Perth, is ___________ at St Mary's Cathedral.
    1. buried
    2. concealed
    3. repressed

  3. Lamingtons are made by ___________ chocolate-covered sponge cakes in dried coconut flakes.
    1. tumbling
    2. dipping
    3. plunging

  4. The WACA is one of Australia's most ___________ sporting venues.
    1. religious
    2. saintly
    3. iconic

Wh Questions

  1. What happens each September at King's Park?
    1. The King's Park Festival
    2. The King's Park Funeral
    3. The King's Park Fantasy

  2. Why did the city of London donate a set of twelve bells to the State of Western Australia in 1988?
    1. To thank Perth for its support during the Second World War
    2. To celebrate Australia's bicentenary
    3. To apologize for confusing the city in Australia with its namesake in Scotland

  3. Where is the Edith Dircksey Cowan Memorial Clock?
    1. St Mary's Cathedral
    2. King's Park
    3. Swan Bell Tower

  4. How do Perth residents often raise money for charity?
    1. by hosting Lamington Drives
    2. by arranging sponsored Lamington-eating contests
    3. by organizing the Lamington Lottery

  1. When was the first International Test match held at the WACA?
    1. 1907
    2. 2000
    3. 1970

Evaluating Statements

  1. Based on the information in this lesson, which statement is true?
    1. Perth's main waterway is the Swan River.
    2. Perth's main waterway is the Goose River.

  2. Based on the information in this lesson, which statement is false?
    1. Swan Bell Tower cost over 5.5 million Australian dollars to complete.
    2. Swan Bell Tower cost over 6.5 million Australian dollars to complete.

True or False?

  1. Based on the information in this lesson, is the following statement true or false?

    "Western Australia banned convicts from arriving in the state in 1850."
    1. True
    2. False

  2. Based on the information in this lesson, is the following statement true or false?

    "Willem de Vlamingh and his crew were the first people to write about the region that later became known as Perth".
    1. True
    2. False

Answer Key

1. C| 2. C| 3. A| 4. B| 5. C| 6. B| 7. C| 8. C| 9. A| 10. A|11. B| 12. C| 13. A|14. B| 15. C| 16. A| 17. B| 18. B| 19. A| 20. C| 21. A| 22. B| 23. B| 24. A

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