For Hidden Treasures, Ro and I discover West Perth. I think it’s Perth’s quietest weekend suburb and perfect for a walk from secret parks, historical buildings, old school fun and old school food!
West Perth is where you’ll find our seat of government and with a bit of cardboard you can also make a seat of your own and find more fun than anything you’ll find in the Upper or Lower Houses of Parliament.
But! This is a walk for Ro and her dad that has a lot of Western Australian brick and mortar significance and ends with the best name for a toastie in the world … a jaffle.
Before we get to buildings let’s start at a park that when you drive past along Wellington St you probably think is just a few trees and a bit of grass but is a lot more.
Harold Boas Park has little lakes, little bridges, little waterfalls and little rock cascades that are perfect for holding your own tin foil boat Avon Descent. There are trees that were planted in 1900, creating secret, shady gardens for picnics and it’s also a very popular spot for wedding photos.
I love this park because it can be a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle that surrounds it but can’t be seen or heard.
Parliament House is our next stop, about 10 minutes walk from Harold Boas Park. Do your thing out the front, sitting on the front steps, take in the view of the Barracks Arch and St Georges Terrace and the view out to the hills but it’s the back of Parliament House I want to take you to.
Our most familiar view of Parliament House is of the front that faces east, with its vertical square edged columns. It’s impressive, but it’s the western side, the original front of Parliament House, made from brick and tile materials sourced from Wadjemup and Donnybrook, that is beautiful. It’s particularly impressive right now, as there are some beautiful wildflower displays, including impressive kangaroo paws, in front of the western side.
The Constitution Centre of Western Australia is an impressive name to match a very impressive building. It’s a two minute walk from Parliament House and on the way you’ll pass the impressive Hale House where the Premier has his office.
The Constitution Centre provides all sorts of information and excursion opportunities for school groups or anyone interested in our systems of government. As we’re doing this walk on a Sunday, it’s not open but it’s a beautiful building worth looking at.
Fun Fact: Many years ago I worked for the Electoral Education Centre and used to run elections for kids on their favourite chocolate bars (Violet Crumble had mass appeal back in the day) and sometimes schools would invite me to run their school council elections to show students how the electoral system worked.
The Old Observatory is one our finest buildings that you’ve passed by a million times as you make your way to Kings Park or the CBD. It’s prominent but elegant and these days it’s the home of the National Trust and like the other buildings in this story, they aren’t open to the public on a Sunday but they don’t need to be. Enjoy how beautiful this building is from the outside and then get ready for a bit of fun that back in the day would have been frowned upon but these days even gets applause from a lone security guard doing his rounds.
Box sliding! I used to think the grassy slope near the river in East Perth was the best box sliding location in Perth but there is a new contender. Between the Old Observatory and Dumas House is a great slope of well-manicured grass that is perfect for some timeless fun that requires no tech, just a decent square of cardboard.
Just make sure you don’t slide into the impressive Japanese Friendship Garden at the bottom of the hill which has perfectly raked stones and delicately placed temples and tiles.
Our final historic brick and mortar site is the Edith Cowan Memorial Clock, made famous by Russell Woolf earlier this year when he campaigned for its renovation and for the clock to be fixed. It is fixed and impressive, though still requires a lot of looking both ways to get across to the roundabout it’s located on.
It’s a wonderful reminder of Edith Cowans importance as the first woman elected to any parliament in Australia. Looking at the clock, it’s also a wonderful reminder that it’s time to walk back into the heart of West Perth and grab something to eat.
Hay Street during the week is full of people and cars and heaving cafes and lunch bars but on a Sunday it’s like the main street of a country town which is perfect because there’s a café that stays open that has its roots in Geraldton.
Grab a coffee and a spag jaffle and debrief your West Perth adventure. Jaffles are Gods way of saying a toasted sandwich can be so much more if you work at it.
West Perth is a hidden treasure because particularly on the weekend it is quiet and easily walkable. It’s a treasure because not everywhere in the world allows such close access to important buildings when they’re closed on weekends. You can walk around them, touch them, sit on the front steps of Parliament House and look down St Georges Terrace and proclaim what you would do if you were the Premier.
It’s a hidden treasure because on the weekend it’s the eye of the storm. All of the activity is swirling around it at Kings Park and the CBD, while West Perth is gloriously quiet and lazy, until Monday comes around.