Over the Easter long weekend, the Hidden Treasures program for ABC Saturday Breakfast discovered Mount Hawthorn. If you missed it, just look up ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast and look for the April 3 episode, scroll the sound bar to nearly the end and you’ll find me having a great chat with Roanna Edwards.
Just to the north of the CBD, Mount Hawthorn is a suburb with big streets full of big green trees and big wide laneways where kids have built their own skate ramps and bike jumps.
The attraction of Mount Hawthorn as a hidden treasure is not just that there’s a lot to discover, it’s that it’s successfully gone full circle. Like most old suburbs of Perth, it had a town centre feel about it when it was first established but over time it just became part of the rat race, an almost annoying need to slow down as you made your way along Scarborough Beach Road. Once again, it asks you to slow down like you would have done in the old days and discover the old and the new.
Let’s start in the green streets of Mount Hawthorn and discover some bus stops and a little cottage that was built in a day while a crowd cheered and provided food and drinks for the builders.
ANZAC Cottage in Kalgoorlie Street, was built in a day in 1916 by the local community for a returned serviceman from Gallipoli, Private John Porter. Work started at 3:30am on the 12th of February 2016 and at 5pm the final touch, raising a flag at the front of the house with the letters ANZAC embroidered on it, was achieved at 5pm.
On nearby ANZAC Road and up Kalgoorlie Street, have a look at the bus stops that have been transformed into tributes to the Vietnam War and the Gallipoli campaign, complete with murals and sandbags.
Now let’s take a tour along Scarborough Beach Road in Mount Hawthorn from Braithwaite Park on the western end of the suburb, to Axford Park on the eastern end of Mount Hawthorn’s retail heart.
Braithwaite Park is one of those parks that back in my day I would have called a theme park. In my day a playground had a stainless steel slide and an old milk crate for parents to sit on and watch you burn yourself on the slide. This park has Perth’s best version of a flying fox and it’s called the cable ride. It’s about 40m long and perfectly exciting for wide eyed children discovering the thrill of speed for the first time. There is a nature play area with rocks to scramble over and tunnels to run through and shady barbeque areas that make this one of the best known kids party locations.
Next stop is one of the reasons why traffic stops along this strip. With a quirky shop front on Scarb Beach Road and with an entrance up a little laneway is the Art Garage.
From its grimy and greasy past as a mechanics garage to its central role in supporting local artists, inspiring young minds and developing community spirit, the Art Garage hosts exhibitions, runs workshops including ones for these school holidays. Learn to draw, make soap, do some pottery, indoor plant design or turn up in your favourite 70’s outfit and learn how to do macrame. Over Easter, stop by and have a look at the wire sculptures by artist Jan O’Meara which include a full-size mare and her foal.
As you walk towards the shopping strip, keep an eye out for the street art and murals including my favourite, the wombat, which isn’t using his legs because he’s flying along with a pair of bat wings.
For anyone old enough to remember what main streets used to look like before malls and shopping centres, fill your nostalgic heart by looking up at the Tredways Shoes sign.
If your nostalgic heart is still beating from the Tredway Shoes sign you’ll find trestles of old vinyl records being sold out the front of a local shop that sells books and records inside.
The iconic Paddington Ale House is our next stop and is the beating and boisterous heart of Mount Hawthorn. From relying on a sports bar and those always after a big night, these days it’s more about meals for families, date nights and all of it in an environment of refurbished history.
Now we’ve reached Axford Park – Named after a World War 1 local soldier who won the Victoria Cross and lived in Mount Hawthorn. It’s a small park with a big heart. There is a memorial to those who have lost their lives in war and a wall of remembrance and twice a year the City of Vincent hosts an ANZAC Day service and a Remembrance Day service, supported by local schools who lay wreaths and sing the national anthems of Australia and New Zealand.
In summer, Axford park hosts food trucks on Friday nights and throughout the year in the adjacent carpark you can discover the Provedore Markets, Perth’s best market for imagining you’re in Italy.
So next time you’re wondering where to go for a day trip, give Mount Hawthorn a go. Lots of history, lots of activities, lots to eat and drink and a lot to like.