For Hidden Treasures on ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast: Western Australian books and their locations … and a Special Guest

One of our best ever Hidden Treasures stories of all time! With special guest star, global writing superstar Molly Schmidt, we explored local books and the use of local locations and how they inspire our travels.

Listen to our chat below and learn not just what our favourite Western Australian books are but how important those local locations can be:

Radio Melayu: Exploring Singapore and Sarawak with DJ Wan and special guest the Consul General of Malaysia, Mr Ahmad Fikri

Kuching murals are a great reason to walk around the city

Having just returned from Singapore and Sarawak I was given a great opportunity to talk fast and furiously with DJ Wan on Radio Melayu about my experiences.

We also had the Consul General of Malaysia, Mr Ahmad Fikri, come on the show and talk about his experiences of Sarawak and what we had spoken about together at a recent Tourism Malaysia event.

From some destinations in Singapore you might not be aware of to Sarawak, a land of constant activity by day and night, it was a wonderful opportunity to describe my adventures and encourage listeners to book their flights!

The Vagabond Club in Singapore is small in size but enormous in luxury and intrigue

As Published in Have A Go News: Discovering the Joy of Main Streets

The Main Street of York is full of history, cafes, books and lollies

Growing up in a country town, the main street was a great place to walk down on a Saturday morning to see who else was out and about.

Main Streets of Western Australia continue to define the life of their communities. It might just be to go to the butcher or grocer, pick up the newspaper (maybe a copy of Have A Go News!) or some rope from the trading post. Or it might be that you’re on a road trip and want to buy the best sausage roll in town or look through a local museum.

Main streets are great reasons to get out and explore regional communities at any time of year.

Below is a story I recently had published about some of the best main streets in WA, and the best reasons for a walk down them:

ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast: Sensational Sarawak!

A lot to see on the river, day and night

A few weeks ago, I spoke on the ABC about Sarawak, on the island of Borneo, and some of the tragic and heroic wartime history that connects Australia to Sarawak. Now, we’re going back to Sarawak to explore the streets of Kuching and discover the jungles, islands, wildlife and hopefully some food as well.

Enjoy listening to the audio file below, and maybe reading the words as well:

This is a part of the world that is adventurous and has that sought for wow factor of being remote and rugged but is also really easy to get to and get around once you’re there.

The story of Sarawak, just like the story of Australia, is about Indigenous tribes and culture going back thousands of years and learning to survive in their environment.

But we’re going to start in Singapore! It’s the 1840’s and let’s find out the connection to Sarawak, a land of blowpiping headhunters and pirates, to high collared and well-heeled English adventurers in the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. 

Imagine the Raffles Hotel at this time.  With stiff upper lips and trousers pulled too high, Englishmen drank too much and rallied each other with outrageous stories while surrounded by an odour of self-entitlement.

James Brooke was tiring of this game when he had a grand idea and bold plan all at once.  He would sail his ship, the Royalist, up the Sarawak River at Kuching and fight the pirates that had taken control of the South China Sea and threatening the Straits of Singapore and Malacca.

He fought the pirates, was asked by local tribes to become their leader and so he became the White Raj, Rajah Brooke, and his family took the mantle when he died and until World War II the Brookes ran Sarawak as their own kingdom. Sarawak prospered under the Brookes but the relationship was also fractured due to the colonial style rule that we are familiar with.

The best things to discover:

  • Bako National Park: Take a boat up a long winding river, dodging crocodiles and traditional fish traps, coming up against soaring cliffs and entering a jungle filled with pit vipers, pitcher plants, proboscis monkeys and scuttling through the mangroves are the horseshoe crabs.
Big nose, big belly, big ….
  • Santubong Wildlife Cruise & Satang Island: Spot Irrawaddy dolphins, more crocodiles, turtles, hornbills and enjoy snorkelling over pristine corals extending from remote tropical islands.
  • Kuching waterfront: My favourite city waterfront in the world!  Water displays, wild characters, steaming laksas and grilling satays. Maybe a cool glass of Cendol as well!
  • Kuching Sunset Cruise:  Nothing in this world, apart from my children’s love, is better than a Borneo sunset and add to that the joy of chugging along onboard the MV Equatorial. I’m only sad because while they let me in the wheelhouse, they wouldn’t let me take the wheel.
  • Cultural Village, brand new Sarawak Museum, Annah Rais Longhouse and Songket:  Explore the history and diversity of tribal life in Sarawak.  Different tribes, including the Dayaks, Ibans, Orangan Ulu and also the influence of Chinese and Malay culture.  Be mesmerised by traditional Songket silk weaving.
  • Orangutans surrounded by jungle without a fence in site!
  • Murals and Cat Statues: The best reason to walk the streets of Kuching day or night.
Walk the mural trail of Kuching
  • Secret Bars!  Actually, the real best reason to walk the streets at night! What are the tell-tale signs of a secret bar?
  • Food!  Rooftop open air restaurants full of heaving baskets of fresh seafood, street level markets with steaming cauldrons of laksa and fresh vegetables, including my favourite the Midin, which is a tangled mess of exotic green fern tops found in the jungle and steamed with wild garlic!
Glorious Midin
  • Rainforest Music Festival: Held each year and featuring music from Indigenous groups all over the world. More than gigs and concerts, there are workshops in creating music and traditional instruments.

Sarawak is a hidden treasure because it’s far enough off the beaten track that you’ll get the thrill of lots of people saying, ‘Where’s that?’

You’ll enjoy exploring rugged and remote wilderness without getting malaria and exploring old laneways for murals, music, laksas and secret bars while surrounded by a community that is interested in who you are and just like you, enjoys staying up late.

Can you see what’s in the centre of this pic?

ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast: Theme Parks from our past and present

Sharknado! Sunway in KL hosts this jawsome experience!

There are not many reasons better for a long day out, or a bucket list travel journey, than the fun to be had at a theme park.  The rides, the costumed characters, even the overpriced food and merchandise is an experience most of us will indulge in.

On ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast we had a wonderful discussion about our theme park experiences which, it must be said, included some embarrassing moments. Enjoy the audio file below and then below that, just a few words to help with your own memories of theme parks:

My tv childhood in a four-word nutshell was:  The Banana Splits Show

Even better than the cartoons and antics of The Banana Splits were the opening and closing credits, much of which showed them having fun at Six Flags Over Texas, a 1960’s era theme park still going strong today.  Lots of log rides into water and stomach heaving roller coasters. It was the first place I ever wanted to visit.

Theme Parks From Perth’s Past:

  1. Atlantis: King Neptune and his trident watching protectively over his leaping dolphins.
  2. Dizzy Lamb Park:  Bumper boats, creaking ferris wheels, a few worn out kangaroos and from the footage I’ve seen, plenty of piles of yellow sand to throw sand boondies.
  3. El Caballo Blanco:  White horses goose stepping, dancing and prancing to shouts of Ole!
  4. Wanneroo Lion Park: Ex-circus lions with a warning sign, “Trespassers will be eaten”.
  5. Armadale’s Pioneer Village: Every kid could get a wanted poster with their pic on it and tough old boiled lollies would last the journey between Armadale and Albany.

The Overseas Experience:

  1. Legoland: Lego themed rides and even a driving school and Lego boats.  The only Lego experience they haven’t perfected is the walking on a Lego brick experience.
  2. Disneyland:  If the Banana Splits opening credits didn’t inspire your first travel bucket list item then it was most likely Disneyland, particularly when once a week the Wonderful World of Disney would come on the telly (I said telly) and the opening credits would show clips of Disneyland, including the monorail that looked like Captain Nemo’s submarine (I had the lunchbox). Visiting Disneyland was completely wonderful, particularly rides like the Jungle Cruise. The classic Tea Cups continue to boggle my mind.  How do they spin and circle around on a turntable at the same time?
  3. Movie Inspired:  Sharknado!  Perhaps it’s age inappropriate that Tom’s favourite movies are the Sharknado series so an opportunity to visit Sunway in KL to experience Sharknado was too good to be true and unexpectantly scary and gory. Sunway is gloriously full of water slides and aquatic themed fun.
  4. Waterbom Park is an institution for many people who visit Bali.  I did a slide that I got stuck in and the pipe had to be opened to let me out.
  5. Haw Par Villa: I’m looking forward to describing this in more detail at a later date.  Let’s just say this is a theme park like no other. It’s been frightening Chinese children in Singapore since 1937.  Be Good! Or else!

Theme Parks are Hidden Treasures because … just like the Banana Splits theme says; you can have a “mess of fun and there’s lots of fun for everyone” and no doubt you’ll come home with an overpriced fridge magnet or coffee cup with your photo on it, to always remember a great day out.

Mickey, Tom and Minnie at Disneyland. I can’t pick who has the biggest smile.