For Hidden Treasures on ABC Saturday Breakfast, Ro and I discussed Mirrabooka. While it was sad to have to phone in for the show, rather than the scheduled Outside Broadcast at Mirrabooka Square, it was a good opportunity to share with listeners just what a great community and range of activities, and food, can be found in Mirrabooka.
Mirrabooka is only around 12 kilometres north of the Perth CBD. At its core is a population that makes it one of Australia’s most culturally diverse areas with more than 50 nationalities calling Mirrabooka home.
Mirrabooka doesn’t have an iconic pub or historical landmark and there isn’t a drawcard that is likely to feature on a postcard but that’s not what a hidden treasure is. A hidden treasure is something you need to discover that you value and want others to value.
I haven’t spent enough time in Mirrabooka to know if cultural diversity is what best defines the community but I know from growing up in a small regional community and working in regional communities across Western Australia what to look for when I’m trying to find a heartbeat, searching for a soul and finding stuff to do.
Let me tell you a little story of a recent Mirrabooka experience. My son Tom and I visited a local treasure last weekend, the Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant. It’s run by a family and we met the father who greeted us and the daughter who served us and here’s the point; when we left an hour later we knew all about the family who worked in the restaurant, we knew that the restaurant is named after a town in Ethiopia that is renowned for its churches that are cut into the rocky ground and often joined by tunnels and trenches. We learnt about Ethiopia’s great coffee, the amazing national dish which is a bread called injera and filled with the health benefits Teff flour and we even had a discussion about Ethiopia’s former Emperor, Haile Selassie. Here was a family filled with passion for their homeland and their new land. That’s a hidden treasure.
Mirrabooka is part of the Bush Forever Project, that seeks to protect significant plant and animal populations in the Swan Coastal Plain. The Bush Forever Conservation Area in Mirrabooka is a beautiful 130 hectares of banksia and wallaby filled wilderness that you can walk through and feel connected to, even though it’s bordered by major roads, including Reid Highway. Like its famous cousin Kings Park though, it’s big enough to not hear the traffic and small enough that you won’t get lost.
Mirrabooka has a Harmony Art Trail that celebrates and is inspired by the different cultures that live in Mirrabooka.
Murals abound throughout the area including the Harmony Mural on the walls of this shopping centre, featuring Indian style Mandalas which traditionally signify unity and across the road from the shopping centre is the famous Shaping The Future mural, first painted by artist Steve Cross nearly 30 years ago and given a facelift just a few years ago. Shaping The Future features faces from many backgrounds, including Syrian, Filipino, Greek, Vietnamese and Aboriginal. The central character is the laughing face of local legend and Noongar Ballardong Elder Doolan-Leisha Eatts.
Mirrabooka is held together by a community that comes together and does stuff well. There are regular community markets but it’s more than a place to find some cheap toys for the kids or some plants for the garden. The stallholders are encouraged to participate in a program run by Mercycare and the City of Stirling to learn how to run a stall like a business; including customer service skills, hygiene when preparing and serving food and marketing what is being sold.
Finally, Mirrabooka has an ongoing program that has flourished since it was launched by the City of Stirling and the State Government. The Mirrabooka Library resources and the people who work there are treasured by the community. In 2017 the Mirrabooka Community Hub was launched with a range of services that focus on youth development, multicultural women’s health, craft clubs and newcomer tours but it’s the Innovations Lab I want to tell you about this morning.
The Innovations Lab is a space that provides resources for community members to explore new technologies, invent new technologies and make community connections through the exploration of ideas in the world of 3d printing, laser cutting, computer coding, making robots and opportunities through the use of Virtual Reality and using bananas to make keyboards and play tunes on it using an electronics kit called Makey Makey.
Visit Mirrabooka and enjoy a bushwalk, a cultural art trail walk, great local markets with lots of craft and food, great food from a range of very authentic and passionate cafes and restaurants and try out your skills in the Innovations Lab and keep an eye out with what’s always happening in the Mirrabooka Regional Open Space which has regular events that include lots of family activities including animal farms and you wouldn’t believe it … even more local food.
If Mirrabooka had one of those number plate slogans that regional communities love to have it would have to be, “A community thrives here” or maybe “We have lots of food”.