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:
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!
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:
One of the wonderful things about any travel is the discovery. From a little café in your neighbouring suburb to being in the right place at the right time for an event while you’re overseas. All travel presents opportunities for excitement, it may even be on the pool lounge or restaurant table right next to you.
We thought for Hidden Treasures on ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast we’d talk about taking your travel experience to the next level by meeting someone famous. We also took calls from listeners on their encounters and tips on how to behave when you see or meet a famous person.
Our great leg spinner, Shane Warne, once said that he got irritated if he saw someone sneak a photo but he never said no to anyone who asked for a photo.
Have you ever had the courage to speak to someone famous?
When we did Hidden Treasures about the suburb of Highgate, I saw Dennis Cometti sitting in a café. I walked up to him and said from an appropriate distance, “Excuse me Mr Cometti, could I please have a minute of your time?”.
I explained who I was, abbreviating my life story and not mentioning Narrogin once, and asked if I could mention him on Hidden Treasures and perhaps take a pic. Maybe it was my approach, maybe it was his character, but it was a wonderful conversation which I really valued.
I’ve got a few examples of where I’ve met people and more than that, they’re examples of meeting people in different places.
Terry Alderman: On a flight to Bali and I shared my red frogs with him as his ears were playing up a bit. I played it cool and wanted to let him know how I felt in 1989 listening late at night on the radio as he took all those wickets in England but I didn’t, I just shared my lollies.
Visiting the Vatican and timing it as Pope John Paul II came out for a test drive of the new Pope-mobile. I was within three metres of one of the holiest men in the world and top of the pops for his religion. We didn’t talk but I didn’t expect when I went to Rome that I would see the Pope and have photos to prove it.
At a resort in Phuket over the course of a few days by the pool and the swim up bar I got chatty with footy players Tony Shaw and Heath Shaw who, as a big family group, were happy to chat. I found they were interested in my stories, it didn’t have to be about them. I think the trick with these sort of encounters is taking the opportunity to retrieve a badly thrown ball and throw it back accurately and be invited to join in.
I always tell my kids to use every minute and take every opportunity, like this one with Mark!
This is one of Tom’s greatest stories but he’s hearing the truth for the first time this morning. We were travelling together to report on the opening of one of Bali’s most incredible resorts as guests of the resort. It wasn’t busy so it was odd when a man sat on the pool lounge next to us, put together a steam punk cigar holder and started chuffing right next to us. What happened next was remarkable. It was Wouter Adrianus Van Loon from the Netherlands! If you want to know more you’ll need to send me a message!
For those of us who love London, there’s a lot to love. But. On a wintry day I was waiting to cross the road and remarked to my wife Rebecca, “It’s all so grey. The sky is grey. The buildings are grey. The road is grey.” I hear a noise of disgust, look across and see a look of disgust on the face of … Joanna Lumley. She wasn’t impressed with my observations.
Matilda and I were on the Abrolhos Islands and had just finished exploring the waters of Turtle Bay on East Wallabi Island. We were walking along the beach looking for flotsam and jetsam (remember what that is?) when we heard a call for help. We quickly made our way to where a couple of jet skis and their riders were stuck fast on the beach. Who was one of the riders and who allowed me to write about it in a story for the West Australian newspaper? It was the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop!
Whether it’s taking a selfie, having a chat or just having an encounter, famous people are a hidden and unexpected treasure because they create an experience you didn’t expect and give you a story to tell, embellished or just as it is.
The May issue of Just Urbane has just been published and inside you’ll find my story about a weekend in Singapore, just a weekend. Just Urbane is India’s leading lifestyle magazine with a print circulation of nearly 80,000 and online subscription readership of much more than that.
Perth isn’t that old is it? And our regional communities aren’t any older? While our Aboriginal culture is tens of thousands of years old, our oldest buildings are less than two hundred years old.
But that doesn’t stop many of them from sending a shiver up or down our spine and feeling that spirits from another time and another place are with us.
The ABC Facebook page was inundated with paranormal experiences across Western Australia. Callers to the show also spoke about regional haunted places.
Many of us swear to have seen ghosts or felt their presence in places and spaces so my sidekick Tom and I went to investigate some tales of the unexplained from right here in Perth.
The great thing about Scooby Doo is that it was always an old, grizzled fellow from an abandoned amusement park who was scaring people while wearing some ghoulish costume – and he would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t from those meddlin’ kids!
But the real thing is somewhat different. As I discovered, there’s tours telling ghost stories and buildings with ghosts in them, right here in our suburbs.
Gosnells Ghost Tours – Get in line with your ticket for their summer season at the end of this year. These tours encounter the spirits of timber workers from the 1860’s community of Orange Grove.
Over a five kilometre bush track walk from the Victoria Dam to Bickley Reservoir you’ll meet friendly ghosts who will share history of the area and colourful tales from convicts under the railway bridge. It’s dark, it’s spooky and it’s very entertaining!
Leederville Hotel – I climbed the stairs up to the dome on top of the hotel with my son Tom and staff member Isobel, although I quickly noticed Isabel was more than just a few steps behind! Isobel has, in her words ‘been completely creeped out’ and many of her staff refuse to go up there alone.
Apparently, a fellow named Kanga lived in the tower bedroom and died on the premises and although there’s no violent or tragic story to his life or demise, many people have come in contact with Kanga, particularly in the corridors of the old, original upstairs part of the hotel.
Isabel tells me that his strongest presence is felt on the on the stairs. She tells me this from the ground floor as Tom and I are making our way up the stairs. Tom you go first.
The Leederville alarm story must be told! Leaving a note to calm Kanga and the next morning the note was gone and the alarm that had been going off in the middle of the night for months never happened again.
The Alkimos – Stranded just north of Mindarie in 1963 it was while it sailed around the world that crew members reported a ghost on board, possibly a US soldier or German prisoner of war. There’s also been many reports for divers and snorkellers who claim to have seen Harry, a ghost in oil skins who loiters around the wreck and even on the shore.
Kenwick Cemetery – Alongside the Albany Highway, most people who drive past would never know this little final resting place for early settlers was there. Built by convicts, most of the graves have no headstones and speaking of heads, many people have reported seeing in the area a man riding a horse, holding his own head.
Woodman Point Quarantine Station – If ever there was a ‘creep you out’ destination, this is it. It’s a reminder that before Covid, there were other pandemics.
This station was used to isolate bubonic plague patients, smallpox, Spanish flu and leprosy. Over 300 people died there, and most would have been isolated from loved ones and in great pain.
There are walking tours you can take through the buildings, including the crematorium where it is believed by many that orbs of light floating through the crematorium is the spirit of the final smallpox victim who was cremated there.
Others include the Fremantle Arts Centre (Fremantle Lunatic Asylum), Midland Town Hall (the ghost of Daria Mulawa, brutally murdered on its steps in 1955), Rose & Crown Guildford (oldest hotel in WA and more paranormal encounters than an episode of Scooby Doo.
Regional haunts include the story of the Coolgardie Cat, the Israelite Bay telegraph station, Gwalia and Kookynie in the Goldfields are well known for the restless spirits of prospectors and railway workers.
Spooky spaces and places are hidden treasures because they provide a sense of adventure and also provide a link to the past, creating a way to learn about a buildings history and often a communities history.
Just send your sidekick up the stairs first. That’s what sidekicks are for.
One of the ways we really get on a roll is when we talk about a topic that includes a roadtrip. We both love a roadtrip and a reason to see something that requires time spent driving is good time spent.
Some of the stories we’ve done that have been linked to roadtrips include hometowns and lakes, country destinations including Dryandra and the Avon Valley and where you can find Aboriginal tourism experiences.
We’ve also sought to slow you down and ask you to explore a suburb. Rather than just race through on your way to work, come back on a weekend and make it your destination. Explore Mount Hawthorn or Bull Creek, Karrinyup or Bassendean.
Tips for a good roadtrip:
Make it about what’s on the way, not just what’s at the end. Be prepared to stop if anyone in the car wants to.
With the point above in mind, plan your trip based on time for stops not the kilometres you’re travelling. By distance it should always take me less than two hours to get to Narrogin but we stop to climb up Sullivan Rock, stop at Williams Woolshed for a sausage roll and if we go through Wandering we stop to look at bulls and sometimes horses. It’s a 2-3 hour trip.
Do a bit of research. You may have a clear destination but what’s around the corner from your destination?
Find something to buy. Local jams, local art, find something that is a reminder of a great day out … like a talc rock from Three Springs!
Who’s on the bench? If something is closed, how are you going to use your time without heading straight back home. Who’s coming off the bench to save the day?
Road travels are hidden treasures because they can be easily planned, easily budgeted for, can be any length you want and is the best reason you’ll ever have to create a new playlist.
When we started Hidden Treasures on ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast in 2021, it was intended that I would speak every couple of weeks. After a few months of fortnightly discussions, I was asked to come in every week.
Well, we’ve reached a milestone. This is our 50th episode of Hidden Treasures. To mark this achievement we’ve got a special guest lined up to contribute to our discussion about some of our favourite hidden treasures over the past 50 episodes.
We’re lifting our bat for the half century.
While we’ve travelled regionally and even gone overseas, this show is grounded in the discoveries you can make in Perth.
A little city hanging on to the edge of a continent that has so much to offer for staycations or day trips with destinations motivated by sport, culture, hunger or just because you want to hit the road for an afternoon and see what’s out there.
Fun Fact! Half of our episodes have featured a suburb of Perth.
Fun Fact! In nearly half of our episodes I’ve found a way to mention that I grew up in Narrogin.
Fun Fact! One episode inspired you to travel to a long lost theme park.
One of our best hidden treasures is discovering sport around Perth that you might not have known about or maybe always known about but never gone to.
One of our favourite stories last year was when we talked about WAFL grounds and what it’s like to attend a WAFL match.
The support from WAFL clubs who let me hang out at their Members Bar and to the mighty South Fremantle Bulldogs who let me hangout with the team after a big win. To talk about the footy, footy food and tribalism was great fun.
On the day of the AFL Grand Final we also did a story about different sports you could watch or have a go at in Perth.
Bring on Clint Wheeldon from ABC Sport!
We asked Clint where he’s travelled for sport and why is sport such a great reason to travel.
We talked about what we have stolen from a sporting ground. For me, I’ve taken grass from Lords and the MCG.
Travelling for sport sometimes has to be done at all costs. My wife allowed me to spend a fortune to see the Socceroos v Uraguay in 2002. I was like a Roman Emperor in the Southern Stand of the MCG.
Travelling for sport can also be a pilgrimage or a party. Sometimes it’s just about seeing the ground even if there’s no game being played. Sometimes it is about travelling with friends or a tour group and seeing your favourite sport.
So after 50 episodes what have we learnt? What makes Hidden Treasures a hidden treasure? Because we have fun and the reason we have fun is because there’s so much out there and all you need is a reason to find it.
Reconnect with a hometown, stop for a while in a suburb you normally just commute through or find hidden treasure in known treasure, like we did on Wadjemup, or take a break in Perth like we did in Innaloo and Karrinyup as part of staycation homework for Molly, or take the advice of my man Tom and get to a regional show.
Get out there and find a rite of passage like Ebonnie’s trip to Busselton Jetty or find any jetty, like we did with Ben Carlish from Recfishwest. Find a new sport like Padel, or find a fishburger or laneway mural.
Why is travelling for sport a Hidden Treasure? You don’t have to play it to enjoy it? Take a road trip to a country footy match and honk your horn, or just take a walk down to your suburban ground.
Sport is yet another reason to get out and about. It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight and it’s the thrill of finding something new to do and finding a new tribe to enjoy it with.
It was Ro’s idea that we do a Hidden Treasure show about travelling for a special occasion or milestone. She had just returned from yet another trip to the Kimberley, this time for the birthday of a favourite aunty.
On Hidden Treasures we often find ourselves focused, or more accurately – distracted – by the reasons for travel. We’ve talked recently about rites of passage and hometowns, and we started thinking about other reasons why we head to a destination.
Sometimes it’s for the bucket list, sometimes it’s to get a tan. What about when it’s for an occasion? Have you travelled to attend a wedding? Have you travelled for a birthday celebration, or perhaps conspired with your partner to secretly elope?
This weekend on Hidden Treasures, we’re exploring the travels we’ve done to mark a special occasion. Where’s the furthest you’ve been for a wedding, a birthday, a funeral, a wedding anniversary, or another occasion you might like to tell us about.
Did you still have to buy a present or was attending a far flung destination considered a good enough gift?
The first time my wife Rebecca and I travelled overseas was for a wedding. In his grooms speech, in front of a setting Tuscan sun, Simon remarked quite accurately that the wedding was an excuse for most guests to have a broader European experience.
Affordable luxury for a large group is also a motivating factor in travel for an occasion. My friend Annie got married in Bali because she wanted a luxury experience for all of her guests that in her hometown was going to be difficult to accomplish.
I’ve been to Broken Hill for a wedding and I doubt I would have ever visited Broken Hill if not for the invitation to attend a wedding.
That’s the point isn’t it. It’s the destinations you got to go to that you may not have ever gone to without an event to attend.
It’s not just weddings, birthdays and other occasions, I’m also interested in those life milestones that inspire travel, like Josh getting his P plates a couple of weeks ago. For his first time driving solo, where did Josh go? Did he play The Triffids ‘Wide Open Road’ as he took off?
One of the best pre-Covid travel opportunities to mark special occasions was in the cruising industry where as many as 50% of passengers list a special occasion as the reason for travel.
On ‘The Love Boat’ it always seemed to be someone’s wedding anniversary or birthday. Captain Stubing always seemed to have a plate of cake in his hand.
We love talking about reasons to travel because sometimes it has to be more than a holiday that gets us somewhere. Traveling for an occasion is a hidden treasure because it can get us somewhere we might not otherwise have thought about going to and just like those words from Simon about the “broader European experience”, once you’re there you can go anywhere.
Ro indulged me recently in a show about hometowns. I was allowed to talk about Narrogin in great detail and we only heard a little bit about Ro’s hometowns. So, I set out on a secret roadtrip to visit one of her hometowns and then turn it into a Hidden Treasures story.
What is it that drives us to drive? What is it that makes us want to hit the road less travelled? For me it might be that I’ve never been there before. It might be because my daughter needs to log some hours on her L plates. Or it might be because it’s come up in conversation and it’s sparked a curiosity to see it for yourself. So here is Three Springs.
Three Springs is north of Perth, north of Moora, north of Coorow and Carnamah and east of Eneabba. It’s a good day trip. Not for the faint hearted who struggle to get over the escarpment on a road trip. It’s over three hours away and a bit longer if the L Plater doesn’t want to get above 80, which isn’t for the faint hearted either.
Here’s a few things you’ll see all year long, not just when the wildflowers make this one of the great destinations in Western Australia:
Yarra Yarra Lake Conservation Park is a shimmering salt lake in summer but the Lakes Lookout has amazing views that is pink in summer and deep blue through the wet months and filled as far as the eye can see with birds!
Dookanooka Nature Reserve is brilliant for wildflowers but even in summer is a great expanse of mallee against blue skies.
The Historic Well is one of the original three springs that give the town its name.
The Talc Mine started in 1948 and digs out 250,000 tonnes of talc a year. From white to dark green talc, this mine has a wonderful lookout that shows off the mine and the surrounding landscape.
Take a look at the pink lakes on the Perenjori-Three Springs Road on the way to the talc mine.
The dominant wheat silos in the middle of the town are emblematic of the reason for the towns existence, surrounded by wheat.
The main street is broad and straight with most of the towns services lined up for you.
Rossiter & Co Butchers is where Glen still makes his famous sausages.
The Commercial Hotel is a big old pub on the main street.
One of our callers to the show, Simon, told us about his visits from the farm to the town as a kid growing up near Eneabba. He remarked that coming to Three Springs was like a metropolis and a great day out to play at the wheat silos and hang out at the shops in the main street.
Three Springs is a Hidden Treasure because it’s on the road less travelled if you want to explore the north on a roadtrip from Perth. It’s also a great destination outside the wildflower season because it’s a town that’s small enough to discover quickly, surrounded by land that’s big enough to take your breath away. Importantly, you can also imagine little Ro standing outside the butchers on the main street munching on her slice of polony.