Gosnells … like peeling an orange, the segments of a vibrant and historic community are revealed.
There is a public art sculpture in the heart of Gosnells. The heart of Gosnells is very busy and as traffic belts along Albany Highway and the shops on its edges clamour for your attention, stop and look at this sculpture and watch it reveal itself and in so doing, reveal the suburb it represents.
It’s called ‘The Pioneers – The Peeled Orange’, and as the orange is peeled away the segments reveal the people who worked in the orchards which were so abundant in the area upon settlement as part of the Swan River Colony.
It’s an accurate reflection of the workers in the orchard but it’s also an accurate reflection of the many segments in Gosnells that come together to make it whole.
For Hidden Treasures let’s explore another of our suburbs that get driven through quickly and see if we can find some reasons to stop a while in a community that is enjoying the fruit of its labours in creating new spaces and places to sit a while.
Let’s start with a brisk walk through the Ellis Brook Valley Reserve where you’ll find yourself in the richest, most diverse wildflower location in the metropolitan area. There are a range of wilderness trails of varying difficulty and the Easy Walk Trail has very good wheelchair access and a great view of Perth. Just make sure you take enough water as there aren’t any water facilities in the Reserve.
The Mills Park Nature Play Space is the only play space in Perth where if a child, parent or carer, falls off the log path you’ll fall into wetlands. It’s a remarkable space that has a slightly elevated pathway over a wetland that is full of paperbark trees. With flying foxes, opportunities to make cubbies and lots of ways to get really dirty it’s a park with a real sense of adventure and activity.
For a bit of settler history and a great look at some old agricultural machinery and vintage motor cars have a look at the Wilkinson Homestead. When I was out there, local volunteers were dressed for the part for a visiting school group and the homestead, built in 1912, is fitted out with period furniture and displays that reflect the rural settler life of Gosnells. There’s even an outside dunny to scare the kids.
With the hustle and bustle of Albany Highway giving us most of our impression of Gosnells you might be surprised to learn there is a very quiet and most splendid wetland that is home and refuge to waterbirds, frogs and turtles.
The Mary Carroll Wetlands has walking trails alongside the two lake systems and is ringed by pristine bushland. It’s a great spot to enjoy a bit of nature and you can get involved with its protection by joining the Friends of Mary Carroll Wetlands and do some seed collection and revegetation activities.
The Centennial Pioneer Park sits between the Gosnells cbd and the Canning River, which is flowing like the Avon at the moment.
This park is overlooked by the impressive Spinning a Yarn sculpture and Aboriginal mosaic mural and the park features a tree top walk and an amphitheatre and playground. It is also where the naughty and noisy birds from the peaceful Mary Carroll wetlands are sent to. These are the birds who love to sing loudly and over the top of every other bird.
Hidden Treasures loves urban art. In the heart of Gosnells is a self-guided 40-minute walking tour of public artworks, including murals in little laneways and sculptures on street corners and overlooking the Canning River. Two of my favourites aren’t the biggest on the trail but they’re the two that made me smile the most, and pull out my camera.
Firstly, the Peeled Orange, that we’ve already mentioned, is a tip of the hat to the historical European settlement days when orange groves were seen throughout the area. The sculpture shows different people in the segments of the orange, including the farmer, his wife and the labourers who worked in the orchards. My second favourite is just a couple of big strides down the street where you’ll find a possum, turtle and lizard peeking from underneath a manhole cover and about to make a run for it along the footpath. It’s about the hope of the community for nature to live within the community.
The Gosnells Railway Markets are a regular weekend market so there’s no need to look up when they’re on next. There’s a steam train and diesel train to look at and lots of stalls selling local produce, including cheesecakes and cookies and a great stall that is full of one of life’s essentials, Russian dolls.
Now is probably a good time to duck into the most prominent building in Gosnells and home to lots of local events and celebrations or just a night out for good counter meal. The Gosnells Hotel is the only pub I’ve found in Perth that does a brisket sandwich. Brisket. It’s meat like my Nana used to cook and it’s glorious.
Do you like a bit of fright in your night? I don’t even like my motion sensor light going on outside. The Gosnells Ghost Walk is a tour that requires sturdy shoes and bravery. Now a little disclaimer, I haven’t done the tour yet but I’ve heard all about it from Miranda at the City of Gosnells who coordinates it and I’m booked and ready to go when they commence their next season under a full moon from February to April next year.
It’s a short season, the spirits can get a bit restless and it’s getting harder to find supernatural insurance cover. With local support and paranormal participants, the tour explores the old timber mill and railway bridge and discovers deadly love triangles.
Gosnells is a hidden treasure because it’s about discovering wetlands and flowing rivers you didn’t know were there, discovering tree top walks and singing birds, finding a brisket sandwich and finding culture and history through public art, historic homesteads and night time walks to encounter the spirits from our colonial past.