ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast finds that serenity and Bonnie Doon is all around us

How’s the serenity?  That question has a special place in Australian culture as a great line from the movie, The Castle.  The Kerrigan’s serenity was getting away to Bonnie Doon. It’s more than a great line though.  It’s an important part of life. We all need to seek out opportunities to experience the serenity and this morning on Hidden Treasure we want to know where you go to find serenity.  Where’s your Bonnie Doon?

Can we start with why serenity is a hidden treasure?

Serenity is a hidden treasure because it recharges us.  Serenity is what we all crave, either at that little café around the corner after peak hour, the park bench at the top of the hill at sunrise or sunset, the path around your local lake or an annual escape to a camping ground where flannel shirts and smoky green wood rule supreme.

Serenity in the Avon Valley

My Godfather, Uncle Mike, always says he wasn’t born in the Kimberley but when he’s there he feels home.  Serenity can be a sense of place as well as a sense of rest.

For me, the Dryandra Woodlands are an opportunity to let everyone sleep in while I watch the world wake up with a cup of tea and a gingernut biscuit, seeing how long it takes the rising sun to melt the frost on the grass in front of the woodcutters cottage.

Being on a boat always gets me as well.  Being on the water feels removed from the problems on land.  When I’m on travel jobs I always request opportunities to get on a boat; an old fishing boat, a ferry, a barge, it doesn’t matter.  I might tell my client it’s about providing a great description for my story but really, it’s just about me loving the serenity I feel for being on the water.   

Let’s look at some ways people find serenity:

Go small; local cafes and parks.

Go large; being overseas to escape the weather (poolside lounges and day spas).

Getting out of the city; this one time, in the Kimberley.

Camping; slow down the routine, slow down the heart rate.

Bushwalks; breathe deeper and rest awhile.

Being away from people

Sunrises and sunsets

Proving to Tom that the sun comes up every day and gives us a chance at a fresh start

I took my mate Dennis out in my dad’s boat once.  The mighty Red Witch.  I remember we caught fish, we caught the salty spray in our faces but what I remember most was the filling of the soul, the filling of the tank to get back into the fight to tackle the noisiness of life on land.  

Find your Bonnie Doon and you’ve found hidden treasure.

ABC Saturday Breakfast: Markets here at home and further away

For ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast we’re talking about markets.  From craft markets, organic markets, wet markets and community markets, we’re sure we’ll find something for you to seek out this whenever your next weekend drive is planned.  

What’s more of a sensory overload wherever you are in the world than a good market?  We’re going to provide some good options throughout Perth but I want to start with some international market experiences as well. 

When we decided to explore markets, I was taken back through the humid mists of time to a market north of Khao Lak in Thailand. 

My kids were drawn by aisles of backpacks and shirts but all of a sudden we were slipping and sliding our way through the wet market which had all sorts of animal fluids on the concrete floor and the smells and sights of a different cultures cuts of meat opened my kids eyes wider than the cows eyes rolling around on the table.

If you get the chance to visit Kuala Lumper then a visit to Chow Kit and Jalan Alor will give you a night out you will never forget, full of tightly packed stalls with seafood ready to be grilled to order, high piles of rambutans, jackfruit and stinky durian. 

Jalan Alor in Kuala Lumpur

These are markets where the locals eat and buy their produce to eat at home.  These are markets that bring outsiders in and that’s what makes a good market anywhere in the world or anywhere in our suburbs; it attracts the locals and the outsiders.

In Hong Kong, Tom and I went to Cat Street which is full to the brim with curios which just happens to be one of my favourite words!  Curios!  Tables filled with piles of watches, Mao Tse Tung statuettes, brooches and badges.  It was a great market for that feeling that you have to dig to find the treasure. (Tom’s story about the dragon pocket watch).

Tom in Hong Kong at Cat Street Market

Here in Perth we have so many markets in Perth that I have come up with a collective noun for markets.

We have a Mooch of Markets in Perth.

Rockingham Rotary Sunday Market:  A Rotary Club run market and your donation when you enter the markets helps fund community projects. This is one of the great car boot style markets.  Handmade goods and crafts are on sale as well, as well as trestles groaning under the weight of piles of action figures and hot wheels cars  and soft toys. Tom is a collector of Garfield so he’s an expert rummager at these markets.

Vic Park Community Market:  Let’s go fly a kite in Vic Park!  A broad expanse of grass with kite flying for the kids and lots of backyard grown veges of interesting shapes and sizes and local music to tap your feet to while you have a fresh donut and coffee.

Perth Upmarket at UWA (every 3 months):  Handmade crafts and artists are what the Upmarkets are known for and these are probably the markets with the best atmosphere, being in the hallowed grounds of the university. 

Kyilla Community Farmers Market:  Each Saturday by Kyilla Primary School as an opportunity to make the school community part of the local community.  Stalls focus on healthy living options, the line for bread always winds its way through the stalls. Proceeds from the stall fees go to the school for resources and learning projects.

Provedore Markets:  If you’re pandemic shy about travelling but longing for Europe, head to the Provedore Markets in Mount Hawthorn for a bit of Italy. Cheeses, meats, wines, gelato, pizza and pasta and those Italian soft drinks in the little bottles and music and long communal tables to enjoy your culinary loot alongside new friends.

Scarborough Sunset Market:  The sunset winter markets are held on Saturday nights and with the sounds of local DJs and a cold winter sea breeze at your back, enjoy  hot spicy foods and a hot chocolate with extra marshmallows. 

Mirrabooka Community Markets:  Finished for now but look out for when this one resumes. It’s a brilliant market that is probably Perth’s most culturally diverse and make sure you skip breakfast as there’s a lot of food from around the world to try.

Kalamunda Artisan Market:  More than a market, it’s a tourism destination on our beautiful escarpment.  Typically over 150 stalls and is a great reason to head to the hills for a day out, buying some local ceramics or artworks and getting enough fresh produce to make a picnic in the nearby parks and bushland. 

Mount Claremont Farmers Market:  Every Saturday morning and is full to the fence with stalls of seasonal fruit and veges, cheeses, pastries and flowers and when nectarines come out at the end of the year get in line as quick you can.

City Farm:  Real gardens to explore like something out of Mr McGregor’s garden in Peter Rabbit and lots of organic opportunities not just to eat but to spray on things you’re growing to eat.  The only thing you’ll find that’s sweeter than the honey for sale are maybe an ABC Presenter and Producer grabbing themselves a coffee before the start of Hidden Treasures. Get there by train and get off at Claisebrook Station.

Moorditj Markets (Sunday at the footy): Honey, seedlings, art, clothes, jewellery and deadly denim shopping bags

Markets are Hidden Treasures because it’s not just about being cheap and cheerful it’s about the fabric of a community that’s on display.  When we’re overseas we’re fascinated by trestles of cows heads and odd fruits. While culture can sometimes be confronting in a market, particularly overseas, here in our suburbs and even at the footy,  they show us what we grow and what we make and they are a honeypot for getting us outside and bringing us together and that’s what hidden treasure is all about. 

What’s your worst travel experience? Come on, can you beat a few of mine?

On ABC Saturday Breakfast we like to keep things inspiring and exciting but sometimes to do that we have to remember those moments that were less than perfect.

There’s certainly been a lot of excitement about being able to travel again.  It might be time to reunite with loved ones, use that voucher for travel that was cancelled because of the pandemic or maybe it’s the first family trip overseas?

There’s a lot to be excited about but on Hidden Treasures we thought we’d look at some of the experiences that have become great stories but at the time might have caused a bit of anxiety or discomfort.  Have you been stuck in an airport sleeping on a plastic chair because of delayed flights?  Have you been bitten by something?  Have you had non-stop rain or got bogged with a rising tide on the beach?

Think about it!  What story are you more interested in?  The glistening toilet in a six-star resort suite or a bucket on a barge, one night on the border between Malaysia and Thailand.

I love any good story and I think some of the best stories in the world are survival stories.  Surviving storm tossed seas, stumbling over endless dunes in the Sahara, being attacked and left for dead by a bear!

But there are also those survival stories, those horrible tales that are told when we’re home safe and sound from our travels.

Having to sleep on a plastic chair in a busy airport with one eye open to guard your luggage.  Having to sleep on a plastic chair in a busy airport while they try and find your luggage.

To help us along I’ve come up with four categories:

Bureaucracy:

Travelling with my daughter and being detained in South Africa due to bureaucracy around child slavery laws.

Being stuck in an airport in the middle of the night with a toddler.

Events:

Attending the Indian festival of Deepavali in a far away land and feeling even further away after being hit in the head by a street lit firework that was aimed at my head.

Critters:

Being attacked by a flesh-eating spider in Borneo and forgetting my bedroom was split level.

Just like the scene in Memphis Belle when they’re panicking over whose blood is all over the cockpit, my scenario was in a tinny, deep in the jungles of Perak in Northern Malaysia.  Leeches!

Accommodation:

Hotels in Rome are less hit and miss these days but I definitely got the miss on my first visit.  The pillow slip had been made in Ancient Roman times and barely held the mouldy pieces of foam where I was expected to rest my head. Nothing worse than a bad bed.

Houseboats.  For me, a category on their own.  I’ve stayed on a barge in the jungle with hygiene the Dark Ages would have been proud of and with a toileting task that required me to move my movements from the toilet on one side of the boat to the other. With a soup ladle.  I wasn’t eating anything that came out of that kitchen.

I’ve also stayed on what could only be described as a non airconditioned donger with floats, with two sets of my greatest friends who by the end of the trip were close to being my greatest enemies.  Tempers flared as temperatures rose. Lost items overboard. Bird sized mosquitoes.

Traditional Longhouse in Borneo.  Not so bad as a cultural experience but when you’ve had a few Tiger beers and you’re at the end of the longhouse and getting up for a wee in the middle of the night means walking on creaking bamboo slats that wakes everyone up it’s embarrassing and means you can’t get up again.

Motels by the side of highways.  If it’s not roadtrains going past it’s the the Peters Ice Cream truck parked outside with the genny on the truck running to stop the drumsticks from melting.  All night long …DRDRDRDRDRRDR.

Worst travel experiences are Hidden Treasures because as long as you’ve survived, you’ve got a great story and maybe a photo as well. Worst travel moments are hidden treasures because they’re character building.  God! I sound like my mother!

Picnic Spots for Mother’s Day, or any day really

For ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast we saw the need to take mum, or the aunties, out for Mother’s Day, or any day. While we could go to some of her favourite picnic spots, like Kings Park, Whiteman Park, Heathcote or the Cottesloe foreshore, we thought we’d keep her guessing and take her somewhere else.

We’ve decided to take mum to somewhere she’s never been.  We’ve decided to take mum on a picnic to a lesser known but no less beautiful spot to lay a rug down and open a sumptuous basket of goodies.

Enjoy listening to the discussion in the link below and reading the list below that:

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/perth/programs/saturdaybreakfast/hidden-treasures-picnic-spots/13872014

Smiths Lake:

In North Perth and the baby brother of Hyde Park, Lake Monger and Herdsman Lake.  There’s grass, bbqs, little paths, little boardwalks and the best trees for climbing in Perth for little kids thanks to nearly horizontal branches close to the ground. 

Mardalup Park:

In East Perth between Claisebrook Cove and the Graham Farmer Freeway Bridge.  Picnic facilities and a tiny little beach and little jetty.

Bicton Baths Reserve:

BBQs, playground and next to the famous Bicton Baths which has one of the best jetties in Perth!  One of the best riverside picnic spots that might be fairly easy to get a car spot on Sunday.

Harold Boas Park:

Remember we discovered this park when we explored West Perth?  This is a wonderful park for Mother’s Day because it’s got secluded areas, noisy playground areas, water features that are shallow and great for toes and splashing and there’s lots of shady or sunny grass for the rug. 

Picnic Cove Park:

On the southwestern edge of Lake Joondalup is this great park that has the awesome criteria of being ‘out of the way’ and there are better known lakeside parks that get inundated on days like tomorrow. BBQ’s playground facilities and paths that are perfect for a bike ride to burn off the picnic feast you’ve made for mum.

Lake Jackadder:

In Woodlands, this is one of my favourite lakes and the slightly bigger brother of Smiths Lake but smaller than nearby Herdsman Lake.  This ticks all the boxes with shops and cafes if you haven’t got a picnic basket.  There’s a wonderful playground and lots of bbqs and swans and other birdlife and for Mother’s Day tomorrow I’m tipping the remote-controlled sailing club will hold a regatta for families who want to watch some clever sailing, just on a smaller scale.

Alkimos Playground:

We’re doing this for Mother’s Day but this picnic spot qualifies for lots of other reasons, including the Treasure Island Adventure Playground that is quirky, challenging and exciting.  Maybe this one is for mum to enjoy a nearby café brekky and multiple coffees while the kids spend some time in the playground.

Minnawarra Park:

This a wonderful park located in the historic precinct of Armadale.  It plays host to lots of community events and has plenty of grassed areas, picnic areas and a great little footbridge to trip trap over the Neerigen Brook, perfect perhaps for a Mother’s Day family photo.

Sullivan Rock:

About 30-40 minutes from Armadale on the Albany Highway.  There’s a nice little rest spot with table and bench seat on one side of the highway and a little brook to explore and is a great sport to hunt for taddys.  On the other side of the highway, crossing safely, is Sullivan Rock which is dog free and has a beautiful three-minute track through the bush to the rock which is easy to walk up, taking about 10 minutes though a bit quicker if you’re scared by scuttering lizards.  There are normally little rock pools on the top with beautiful reflections and there’s a great view over the top of the forest and out to Mount Cooke.

Get on the river:

With Nautipicnics you can drive your own boat without a Skippers Ticket and have a picnic on the boat, or the riverbank, or let someone else drive the boat with the Little Ferry Company and enjoy watching the life of the river.

Tomato Lake:

This great lake in Kewdale gets the award for the best named park.  There’s grass, water, playground, bbqs, trees, cafe and a one mile walk that includes a boardwalk, elevated over the lake that leads you to a gazebo. 

Picnic spots are hidden treasures because the environment around you plays the role of a stage in a play.  It’s just a setting for you to perform the way your family likes to, creating memories of a great day out.  It might be about the trees or the lake or the sweeping views, but most likely, it’s about time spent together with your family’s member of the most amazing club in the world, mums.

Smiths Lake … not as cool a name as Tomato Lake but one of my favourite spots.

ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast: Have you met someone famous on your travels?

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!

Matilda, Tom and Mark enjoying a day at the beach
  • 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, the Netherlands greatest scammer! 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.
  • 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. 

Naza and I met with the Sultan of Johor in Fremantle having missed our meeting with him while we were in Johor
I think in this pic it’s clear that my shirt is the celebrity

ANZAC Day and the ANZAC Day long weekend: It can be about memorials, and maybe a bit more.

There’s a lot to think about on ANZAC Day and the ANZAC Day long weekend.  We thought for Hidden Treasures on ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast we would look at some of the sites around Perth and Western Australia that you can visit to remind you of the ANZAC story.

If you’re going to an ANZAC Day Service and want to experience a little more later in the day, or if you can’t get to a service but want to visit a site that is connected to our ANZAC history, we’ve put together a list of significant places you can visit to make silent contemplation your offering or perhaps find an adventure that helps tell you a story.

I grew up with men and women in my community who had been soldiers and nurses at Gallipoli and the Western Front in World War One.  They had been Prisoners of War on the Thai Burma Railway and they had dropped supplies to the soldiers on the Kokoda Track.  I knew their stories and felt connected to them because they lived in the streets around me.

There were also bunkers just out of town that had been built during World War 2 to store supplies and where we used to go for school holidays there were lots of adventures to be had exploring Point Peron which was a wartime observation post.

There are lots of places around Perth and Western Australia where you can find tangible reminders of our wartime past and the contribution made by our men, women and our communities. 

Some of the places in Perth and around the state include:

  • Point Peron/Leighton Tunnels/Oliver Hill: Observation posts, gun emplacements and storage bunkers.  Amazing to think these weren’t built as a tourist attraction.  These were designed to spot enemy ships attacking Fremantle Harbour.  They provide a view that lets you imagine what it must have been like to look out to sea with a pair of binoculars and having real fear that enemy ships might appear on the horizon.
Tunnel Tours at Rottnest and Leighton
  • Mount Hawthorn Bus Stops:  Gallipoli and Vietnam themed, complete with sandbags.
Bus Stops on Kalgoorlie St and Anzac Rd
  • ANZAC Cottage in Mount Hawthorn.  Built in a day!  In 1916, they started work at 3:30am and before the going down of the sun, a community finished building a house for John Porter and his family. John was with the 11th Battalion and landed at Gallipoli.
  • Broome Flying Boats: On 3 March 1942, Japanese fighters strafed Broome, including dozens of flying boats filled with refugees from Java, to escape the war.  At low tide in Roebuck Bay you can see up to 15 flying boat wrecks of PBY Catalina’s and Dutch Dorniers. Many refugees, including women and children, were killed either by gunfire or drowning and as you walk around these wrecks they are a physical reminder of when war came to our shores. 
  • Wireless Hill Station:  During World War 1 the navy took control of the Applecross Wireless Station and this is where a signal was received from the Cocos Islands that reported the position of the German Cruiser Emden which was then sunk by the HMAS Sydney. The navy again took over the station during World War 2 and communicated with ships off the coast using a mast over 100m tall.
  • HMAS Ovens: I asked Tom to research this for his ANZAC education and school holiday counter to boredom. This is what he came up with:
    • One of six 90m Oberon class submarines
    • Entered service in 1969, decommissioned in 1995
    • Crew size 63
  • ANZAC Centre Albany: Located on Mount Clarence this is one of the greatest interactive and immersive museum experiences in the world.  It looks out over the waters of Albany where many of the troopships left from. Follow the story of a service man or woman through the museum, not knowing if they survived the war until you finish your journey through the exhibits.
  • Merredin and Cunderdin: Major bunker complexes and airfields located throughout the wheatbelt and around Merredin and Cunderdin. There are still old aircraft hangers you can find and the remains of a World War 2 army hospital and a radar hut and concrete ammunition bunkers.  There’s also a museum located in Merredin that contains a lot of displays and memorabilia from all Australian conflicts.
  • Yanchep Bunkers: Walk up the Yanchep Rose Trail off Indian Ocean Drive.  In recent years these RAAF radar bunkers have been decorated by a local school with murals that are bright and discourage vandalism and tagging.
  • Corunna Downs Airfield: Just south of Marble Bar is one of World War 2’s greatest secrets. This is where B-24 Liberator bombers took off from runways over two kilometres long to attack Japanese bases from Singapore to Borneo, Java and other islands. You can still see the runways, bunkers, revetments and bits of rusted metal lying about the place. Also Nookanbah near Fitzroy Crossing,
  • Newcastle Gaol in Toodyay: Tells the story of the Toodyay connection to Prisoners of War in World War II.  Alma Beard trained at Royal Perth Hospital and was an army nurse, and four local men; Herb, Gordon and Tom Dorizzi and Reg Ferguson, were all killed after they’d been taken prisoner.  Alma was alongside Vivian Bullwinkle in the shores of Banka Island south of Singapore and the men were in the jungles of Borneo, west of the town of Sandakan.

Visiting sites that connect you to our wartime history is just as important as visiting a memorial site.  You can acquire knowledge and pay your respects to all of those who have served, particularly to those who died.

As Lord Byron wrote, “There are deeds that should not pass away, and names that must not be forgotten.”

Community Art Centres & Collectives in Perth and in the Regions

One of our favourite discoveries in Hidden Treasures on ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast are the secrets of the suburbs; what’s off the main drag, what’s in the heart of the suburb and what is the heart of a suburb?

Enjoy listening to the audio file below and reading a few notes as well:

While our public art is easy to see, and sculptures and murals continue to be popular and prominent, have you ever wondered where you can do an art class or where you might be able to see art on display from artists who live in your community, or a community just down the road?

Community art centres and art collectives are one of the best reasons to do something as a family or justify a weekend drive and activity.

Let’s get into some our suburbs and regional communities and discover how easy it is to put a bit of art in your heart.

  • Let’s start at the Midland Junction Arts Centre!  This is an old school site and the corridors and classrooms make excellent spaces for exhibitions, workshops and classes.  I took Tom and his mate Nick away from their tower of consoles last year to see an exhibition that was all blue and included a blue slushy machine.  You could pour yourself a slushy while you considered the art on display. There is a year-round program of community led classes and some of the ones coming up are dance classes for over 55’s, experimental arts sessions where the audience give feedback and the good old life drawing class!
Slushies and Art … Perfect for the Kids
  • From one edge of the city to the other, let’s go out to Scarborough where the beautiful Scarborough Art Space Collective runs every day on the energy of Mo, Evie and Otis Maslin and the whole space honours their character traits of inclusiveness, peace and fun.  They have so many classes, particularly for children, like making clay echidnas but they also do some adult stuff like macrame making and evening drawing sessions (if you know what I mean).  Macrame and evening drawing is sounding a bit like you leave your keys in a bowl but I’m assured this is just one of the most beautiful spaces in Perth to breathe and try something new.
  • This criss crossing is making me dizzy! Let’s head back eastwards but stop in Mount Hawthorn at the Little Arthouse Collective that is as eclectic as it is exciting.  There are often local artists exhibiting and even more often they have their famous soap making classes and indoor plant design courses.
  • Let’s go regional to a little art space called East End that you’ll find in Beverley.  There’s a lot of art and rusty metal to see and they describe themselves as motorcycle friendly with lots of sofas to take a rest from the ride and throw your jacket and helmet onto.  They’ll give you tea, coffee and chocolate for taking the effort to ride out there and they will even clean the visor on your helmet!
  • Other regional arts centres to get immersed in:
    • East Pilbara Arts Centre in Newman is a big space and a beautiful collaboration of the local shire and the even more local Martumili artists, linking the community in events requiring participation and a colourful, striped bar code style design on the building that means, “This is a big thing!”
    • Roebourne Art Group welcomes everyone to their exhibition space to learn local culture from more than 70 local artists.
    • Gwoonwardu Mia is in Carnarvon and has story telling interactive exhibitions from local Aboriginal groups and all this week they’ve run cultural easter hunts looking for the Bigurda, which is a kangaroo in Yinggarda language. 
  • Other art collectives to explore:
    • Ellenbrook Arts HQ was established 20 years ago by the Ellenbrook Cultural Foundation to create a diverse, healthy community that participates in arts and cultural experiences.  It’s a great place to get to know how art is valued by different cultures and brings us all together.
    • Atwell House works hard at social connectivity in the Melville area.  Great classes coming up like Chinese Brush Painting of a Rooster which if that isn’t the greatest name for a workshop than surely Sip Paint Repeat is!
    • Others include Liddelow Homestead in Kenwick (lectures as well as workshops), look for the reopening of the Rockingham Arts Centre after it’s refurbishment, Laverton Art Centre for displays and workshops by the Wongi people and the Mowanjum Aboriginal Art and Cultural Centre just out of Derby holds workshops, exhibitions and the famous Mowanjum Festival each year in early July.

Big Tip!  When you see something you like, buy it.  I regret not buying a painting of honey ants in Laverton, I regret not buying Tom a clay model of the face hugger from the movie Alien that was in the Art Garage at Mount Hawthorn but I’m really glad I bought a metal fish skeleton, mounted on corrugated iron and surrounded by driftwood from Esperance.

Community arts centres are hidden treasures because they provide one of the best ripple effects in our community. They connect you to the creativity in your community, inspire you to participate and explore your talent and lack of talent and give you a reason to make a discovery on your weekend. 

As Published in Just Ubane (May): Singapore in a Hurry

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.

Enjoy my story in the file above but to read all my stories in Just Urbane, every month, take out a subscription with Just Urbane by clicking on: https://www.justurbane.com/subscribe-justurbane

Lau Pa Sat satays are the best in the world (sorry mum!)

Spooky Spaces & Places on ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast

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!

Friendly and full of fact ghosts on the Gosnells Ghost Tour
  • 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. 

Is that Kanga the ghost of Tom my sidekick?

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.

Creeeeek!

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.

And I Took The Road Less Travelled. What About You?

Perth! What’s your favourite street and how do you like to travel?

Enjoy listening to the audio from ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast that included a very special guest, Perth’s famous traffic reporter, Bernie D!

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.

The Main Street of Bassendean

Tips for a good roadtrip:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Do a bit of research.  You may have a clear destination but what’s around the corner from your destination?
  4. 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!
  5. 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.