It’s a Love Story

For Hidden Treasures on ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast we made the big decision to travel further than we have ever done before. If ever there was a short four word sentence dominating water cooler conversations more than any other, it has to be, ‘Our borders are opening.’

While the anxieties are obvious, so too are the growing opportunities.  While it may take a bit more planning, this could be the first time in a while that you are thinking about travel.  So, dust off the cover of your passport, check that it hasn’t expired and groan at that passport photo because to mark the borders coming down, Hidden Treasures is going international.

Puglia

This is a love story.  This is a story about Puglia, a land with towns that a much loved young reviewer of my work described as, ‘Being full of towns with funny names’. Puglia does have lots of towns with names you just want to keep on saying, not just for the memories, but for the mood it puts you in. Feel the linguistic seduction as you pronounce Locorotondo, Alberobello, Ostuni and Polignano A Mare.  I am besotted.

You probably think Italy is well discovered and all of its roads well-travelled by tourists and only leading to Rome.  Let me take you to an ancient city that you can visit and not see groups of tourists pouring out of buses.  Let me take you to an ancient city where evening walks after dinner are quiet and the light has the flickering softness of a medieval village.

Italy is often described as looking like a boot.  I’m going to take you to Puglia which is just above the ankle of the boot.  Where a cowboy might have his spurs.  Puglia is largely an agricultural region and you’ll find rows of olive trees that are hundreds of years old, towns perched on cliffs overlooking the Adriatic Sea and peculiar cone shaped stone huts that can only be found in this region of Italy.

Matera

Matera is one of the oldest, continually habited cities in the world and features in the latest James Bond movie, No Time To Die. Just like James Bond, I have an appetite for adventure but, unlike James Bond, my appetite for gelato is stronger than his.  He can keep his Walther PPK, I’m armed with a pistachio gelato!

This is a destination that demands you experience it in daylight and in the evening.  Matera is like having a lunchtime picnic with your girlfriend and going to a gala ball with her in the evening. Both are enjoyable experiences and she is beautiful no matter what the occasion but Matera by night has a glow and a softness that is seeing her at her absolute best.

Matera

Polignano A Mare

A little town perched on cliffs overlooking the Adriatic Sea.  Famous for the little inlet; Cala Porto, little wine shops, restaurants in cliffside caves and the home of Domenico Modugno.

Cala Porto

Domenico Modugno

As a former cabaret singer of absolutely no repute this is my Holy Grail. Overlooking the sea is a statue of Domenico Modugno. This wonderful singer performed Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu in the 1958 Eurovision Song Contest. While I’m there, I am doing some work for an Italian TV travel show and we encourage the crowd to sing the song with me.

Grotta Palazzese

In a cave on a cliff, overlooking the Adriatic Sea, the atmosphere is just magical. After a few hours of wine, grilled octopus, olive oils and breads, it’s time for me to find my way out of town.  I stop in a little shop called La Nicchia selling olive oil and wine, and then swagger, sway and sing my back to the train station where I head to Alberobello.

Grotto Palazzese

Alberobello

A small town that is famous for its trulli huts that have held UNESCO heritage status since 1996. Each circular trulli is built without mortar with overlapping stone and a conical roof.

Trekking Slowly

The best way to discover Puglia is on a walking tour, with an occasional little train ride.  This way you travel slowly and see more. You have time to sit in the shade of an olive grove, picking grapes to snack on and even stop for a swim at the beach.  If you see a horse stick its head over an ancient old stone wall in an olive grove, you can stop and create your own experience, rubbing its nose and giving him a real vine ripened tomato.

Why is Puglia a hidden treasure?

Italy can be a bit like the Chevy Chase European Vacation style bucket list; get a photo to prove you were there and move on to the next attraction.  Puglia puts its arms around you and sits you down to slow you down, even though your heart is bursting.

I know why I feel this way. It’s love. Just like taking your girlfriend home to meet mum and dad for the first time, sharing Puglia with you is something I am so proud of. Puglia is a hidden treasure because it is an undiscovered land in a well discovered country and the quicker you get there, the quicker you will fall in love too.

And, with thanks to the lyrics of that special song, ‘No wonder my happy heart sings, your love has given me wings’.

ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast: Hometowns … it’s not about being a hometown hero, it’s about having a place to go

We’re all from somewhere.  Some of us are from towns and suburbs, some of us might be from remote pastoral properties or communities.

Wherever you’re from do you still live there?  If you’ve moved away from where you grew up do you ever go back?  Why do you go back?  Why do you think people should experience your hometown?

For Hidden Treasures on ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast, Ro and I explored hometowns and took lots of calls and messages from listeners keen to share stories about their hometown. Christina told a great story about Kalgoorlie and Lorraine called to say she grew up in Narrogin and had memories of butchers giving her little red sausages as a treat (I remember the slice of polony from Spanswicks Butchers).

For the first time in a long, long time I couldn’t be in the ABC studio and the audio software didn’t work as well as we had hoped so when you’re listening to the file below, please forgive me. It does get better after a few minutes I promise!

What do you love most or miss most about your hometown?

Some things that might make your hometown special include:

  • Entry statements that capture an identity … big sheep (big anything), quirky statues or signs
  • Prominent buildings like town halls, pubs and memorials
  • Iconic shops like deli’s and toy shops
  • Big events like regional shows and festivals (Dad’s favourite tshirt was pink and emblazoned with the Agrolympics logo)
  • Making your own fun in a creek or vacant block, perhaps building a bike jump
  • Being a member of local service clubs and sporting associations
  • Local lookouts and hangouts
  • Rivalries with neighbouring towns and districts

A lot of us find ourselves away from where we’ve come from. To travel back to where we’ve come from is one of the greatest reasons to travel.

I’d like to introduce you to my hometown.  It’s not far down the road. I’m proud not just to grow up there but to have heritage there. If you’ve known me for five minutes, you know I’m from Narrogin.

Recently, my daughter Matilda turned 18 and she and her friends blew the party bar tab at a Perth pub in 15 minutes, by ordering cocktails.

I thought back to when I turned 18 and my Dad, the now passed but forever beautiful Dr John Parry, took me to the Narrogin Club to have a middy of Super.  No cocktails, no guava flavoured vodka concoctions.  Super. 

Dad and I sat at the bar and solved a few of the worlds problems and his mates came and went, sharing the days events from down the main street to what was happening in the paddocks.

With Dad’s passing I stopped renewing my membership at the Narrogin Club but with Matilda becoming an adult I contacted the President, Wayne Francis, who hastily convened a committee meeting where it was unanimously voted to allow Matilda and I to come along last Saturday night. 

Just a dad and his daughter

Wayne welcomed us, served us and shared stories of the town and people that were enthralling for me and a bit bemusing for Matilda. 

She struggled her way through her first beer and this is where my dad and I diverge.  He let me struggle to drink my first beer whereas I allowed Matilda to call it quits and order something else.

We could talk more about how my hometown has a townhall, great counter meals at the local pub, an annual regional show you can still sneak into for free behind the race track and how kids get out onto vacant blocks and build bike jumps with treacherous pits for those kids who don’t pedal fast enough.

Bike jumps or Gallipoli trenches?

We could talk about the three primary schools, the senior high school, the strength of its service clubs and sporting associations. We could talk about the Tucker Box Deli and Steve’s Deli (still called that even though Steve hasn’t owned it for more than a quarter of a century).

It’s a town that hasn’t stood still since I last lived there but in my mind, as we drive around and I see houses where my friends lived, I think they’re still there and all I have to do to get those times back is throw my bike down on their front lawn and knock on the door.

Why are hometowns hidden treasures?

My hometown is a hidden treasure because it’s not far down the road and it welcomes me every time with its view into the valley as you come over the hill. 

Coming into town … no flame trees but you know what I mean

Hometowns are hidden treasures because they remind us of the importance of having a sense of place and the importance of having a sense of community. To have a place to go to, to mark milestones and tell old stories and make new ones is the greatest treasure of all.

ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast: Getting back to our program roots by discovering a suburb!

When Hidden Treasures started over a year ago, the idea was to explore suburbs and find ways to do more than just drive past them or through them.

This year we’ve enjoyed expanding the program to explore topics like our lakes, movie location sites and rites of passage.

Now we’re getting back to our roots.  I was sent out to a suburb that is well known for its searing summer heat and a road that is probably our most spectacular.

Heading up to the hills from Perth is always spectacular, not just to explore the bush around you, but to look out across the escarpment and see our little city hanging on to the edge of this big, wide, mysterious land.

We have a lot of suburbs in the hills that are worth exploring and with our recent run of 40+ days, there is a suburb that was hotter than most and decided it was worthy of a family day trip … Gooseberry Hill!

More steep driveways than any other suburb in WA

Here’s just a few of the reasons to get you up to Gooseberry Hill:

  • Zig Zag Scenic Drive: Bit like the bumper cars, it’s one-way drivers, one way only!
  • Lookouts: Lots of safe places to pull over to stare out as far as the eye can see.
  • The Quarry: When you fly into Perth you’ve probably noticed the old quarry but do you know what the stone was used for and what the quarry is used for now?
  • Rocky Pool: 5km walking trail that is harder than easy and is a beautiful swimming hole.
  • Walking Trails in Gooseberry Hill National Parks: Lots of looping walks through jarrah and redgum and granite boulders bigger than your house.  Comfortable walks and uncomfortable walks.  Check the Trails WA website.
  • The Railway Heritage Trail and memorial to the Blue Goose, an aircraft that crashed in 1945.
  • Driveways – Gooseberry Hill has the most number of steep driveways in Western Australia.
  • Patsy Durack’s Rose Gardens in Archbishops Holiday House – March, April, May and Devonshire Tea, wheelchair accessible. Part entry fee goes to the Cancer Council.
  • Restaurants and pubs and a cake shop serving … Neapolitan Cheesecake!
  • Little signs selling stuff in the driveways and backyards.  Right now it’s fig season!

Gooseberry Hill is a Hidden Treasure because it reminds us that hidden treasures we’ve explored before, where you’ve got a little suburb next to bigger, better known suburbs, like Highgate sandwiched between the city and Mount Lawley.  Gooseberry Hill’s next door neighbour is Kalamunda with its art galleries, cultural centre, even a main street!  But Gooseberry Hill has the attractions we’ve spoken about and a feeling we haven’t.  A feeling of being away from it all but being part of something. 

There’s a song called ‘Good Light in Broome’ but there’s also good light in Gooseberry Hill, and you might not be up there to stare at the moon but you’ll find lots to do and lots of opportunities to stare out at our little city from the best views the hills have to offer.

ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast Discovers Our Rites of Passage

As we grow up and find our way in our street, in our town and our state, there are experiences we have that aren’t connected to bucket lists or wish lists.  They might be things that our parents have done and now think we’re old enough for, or places they took you to that you now take your kids to.

Let’s start with the jousting knights in the clock at London Court.  This was the thrill in my day of coming to the city.  The following day at school, my hand would shoot up to tell my news to the class and I’d describe how the knights would pass each other as the clock bells rang out and then one of the jousting poles would knock a knight backwards on his horse.

This for me is a rite of passage.  It’s something that might not have Lara Bingle in front of it asking where you are, but it means something to you.  I want to be clear that this isn’t the rite of passage experience like going overseas and visiting Gallipoli or sitting on Cable Beach at sunset or riding a bike on Rottnest for the first time.

Our rites of passage might be defined as unknown to anyone outside your family, or maybe even outside your town.  One of my rites of passage was the ride in the trailer from the Narrogin tip back to the main road.  It might not be appropriate these days but when we were old enough to hang on, it was a great adventure. ABC legend Brad McCahon was just as inappropriate as me, sharing his Boulder and Kalgoorlie rite of passage that involved a pub crawl up the length of Hannan Street.

Inspiration for rites of passage can be seen in our discussion a few weeks ago about exercise spots.  I was surprised that Ro and Ebonnie had never climbed the DNA Tower because I think it qualifies as a rite of passage as exercise or even a date destination.

Rites of passage that are hidden treasures you can be inspired by to make your own include:

  • Climbing the DNA Tower
  • Safely walking the sandbar to Penguin Island
  • Swimming to the Cottesloe Pylon and maybe even diving off it
  • Riding a train
When did you first catch a train?
  • Picnic at Kings Park and Fish & Chips on the beach
  • Roadtrips to anywhere
  • Swan River Ferry from Elizabeth Quay to Mends Street Jetty
  • Crabbing with a scoop net in your oldest sneakers
Were you scared when you caught your first big blue manna crab?
  • Catching gilgies from a creek or, with permission, a farmers dam.
Have you ever caught a gilgy?
  • Do a bombie off Palm Beach Jetty, Coogee Jetty or jumping off Blackwall Reach (be careful, be safe).

I love rites of passage as a hidden treasure because they sit alongside bucket lists as an inspiration or motivation for a travel experience but may not be as flashy.  A bucket list item might be wading in the Dead Sea but a rite of passage might be wading in the Mandurah Estuary with a scoop net. One is worthy of a slide night, the other is worthy of family stories for years to come about nipped toes, stingray terror and dropped torches.

ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast looks at the art, wildlife and wild rides to be had on lakes

Whether they’ve got water in them or are just a salty plain, lakes are opportunities not just for our wildlife but for all of us.

They’ve been used for land and water speed records and they’ve been used for sculptures.

You’ll find lakes where you can sit and watch birdlife, you’ll find lakes you can walk around and you’ll find lakes you didn’t know existed all over Western Australia. 

I think all of us have enjoyed a lake at one time or another.  Whether it’s been for the peace and quiet, a sweaty run or watching wildlife from a bird hide or a kayak, our lakes are found throughout our metropolitan area and Western Australia. 

Some are well known, like Champion Lakes, Lake Monger, Lake Joondalup, Herdsman Lake and Black Diamond Lake.  They are iconic attractions but there are many others you should experience and thanks to a caller last week who mentioned Lake Lescenaultia, that’s why we decided to make this weekends Hidden Treasure all about lakes.

  • Lake Dumbleyung:  I think the first lake I heard about was this one.  Famous for Donald Campbells 1964 world speed water record in the hydroplane boat called the Bluebird.
  • Lake Magic: If you’re out for a surf at Wave Rock near Hyden, head just about a kilometre away and discover WA’s own circular version of the Dead Sea.
  • Lake Leschenaultia: under an hour away from Perth towards Chidlow in the east. You can hire canoes for much of the year and there’s a good walking train and barbeque facilities.
  • Lake Ballard: Home of the largest outdoor art gallery on Earth and also an art loving population of flies who will keep you company as you walk from statue to statue.
Lake Ballard is home to the worlds biggest outdoor art gallery
  • The Spectacles: We spoke about these wetland lakes when we discovered Kwinana last year. The Spectacles Wetlands is named for its aerial view which shows two circular lakes joined by a narrow drain, making it look like a pair of spectacles.  The Spectacles is 360 hectares and part of the wider Beeliar Regional Park and has great Noongar interpretative signage along a 5km heritage walk trail and explains the perspective and special importance of the area to Noongar Elder Joe Walley. As well as the Aboriginal Heritage Walk Trail, there’s a boardwalk over the wetlands which feature a paperbark forest and lead you to the Biara Lookout which is the perfect location to sit quietly and watch the lakes resident birdlife.
  • Lake Richmond:  Now this is my big hidden treasure for this show.  We’ve talked about Lake Clifton and it’s fish burgers and thrombolites but did you know that down at Rockingham there’s a lake that is a world heritage site, is one of our deepest and mysterious lakes, and is home to an ancient population of thrombolites which can be viewed from an elevated walkway.
  • Lake Gwelup: Lake Gwelup featured in our story last year on Karrinyup and Gwelup and this is one of the best lakes in Perth to view the rainbow bee-eater which flies down from Papua New Guinea and Indonesia to make a love nest in the surrounding trees.  If this tree is rocking, don’t bother knocking!
Lake Gwelup’s elevated boardwalk
  • Lake Jackadder: This is in Woodlands just behind the Innaloo Cinemas and one of my favourite lakes because it’s got a regular turnout each weekend of remote-control sailors who are members of the Perth Radio Sailing Club.  They squint and have lopsided Greek fisherman’s hats and toggle their controls to race each other around marker buoys in the lake.
  • Mary Carroll Park:  A bit like The Spectacles in Kwinana, this two-lake system is in the heart of the Gosnells area. It’s a Bush Forever Site and you can join a local volunteer group who do community awareness, weed control and rehabilitation.
  • Goegrup Lake and Yalbanberup Pool: This is part of the Serpentine River and accessible from Mandjoogoordap Drive and it’s about where the Kwinana Freeway becomes the Forrest Highway.  Great for kayakers and there’s lots of little tributary canals and streams that branch off from each of these lakes.
  • Smiths Lake formerly known as Three Island Lake and even more formerly as Danjanberup.  It’s my little hidden treasure for this show. It’s one of Perth’s smallest lakes and is the remnant of a much bigger long lost lake.
Smiths Lake is very small and very pretty

Lakes are hidden treasures because there’s likely one close to where you live that you’ve never walked around or has wildlife you’ve never seen or activities you didn’t know about.

Whether it’s a lake in our goldfields or a lake in our suburbs, they are more than a blue shape on your street map, they are opportunities to explore and have adventures or just sit quietly and watch the life of your local lake.

ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast Gets Fit

It’s normally around now that we remember the New Years Resolution’s that we made nearly a month ago.  It’s normally around now that reality kicks in as you realise that work outfits seem just a bit tighter than the singlets and bathers you might have been getting around in all summer.

It’s time to combine that spirit of adventure with the reality of getting a bit fitter.

For ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast, to help you find some fitness, I was sent to find some locations around Perth and WA that will inspire you and maybe just take you back a notch on your belt.

I think the collective noun for cargo shorts is a ‘lazy’.  It’s what I’ve been living in this summer but I can’t get away with it for much longer.  It’s time to start wearing some real pants and I need to get some exercise that is also outdoors and inspiring.

  • DNA Tower: This is like Classic Coke.  You can mess around with new lookouts and treetop walks but this is the true classic. Just over 100 spiralling steps with a plaque on the top showing distances to different locations.  Interestingly it’s 3km from Pelican Point and 26km to Rottnest.
  • Kokoda Track Memorial Walk: Located at the Kennedy Fountain on Mounts Bay Road, this is a great place to practise your pre-trek routine and break in new boots.  I used to piggyback Matilda up these steps when I was training to do the Sandakan Death March. The 150 steps are uneven and odd distances apart so it’s hard to get into a stepping routine. There are park benches and plaques along the way, naming different Kokoda battles that allow you to reflect on the Kokoda campaign and the soldiers known as, ‘The men who saved Australia.”
Kokoka steps at Kings Park
  • Jacobs Ladder: This is probably our most popular exercise spot in Perth.  Located at Cliff Street in West Perth with just over 240 steps up a 40 metre ascent, this is one for those who have good active wear and it can get a bit serious at times, particularly if groups are running up and down it. 
  • Around the Bridges:  The loop from the Narrows to the Causeway is more my style, and the style for all ages who can walk, ride a bike, ride a scooter, ride anything, just remember to keep to the left and ding your bell if you’re passing anyone.  A good 10km walk with plenty of opportunities to just sit and marvel at what a beautiful part of the world we live in. 
  • Whitfords Nodes Health and Wellbeing Hub: This is just up from Hillarys. As well as lots of nature play and climbing equipment there is the new 145 stairway up a coastal dune with the reward of great views of the metropolitan coastline.
  • Joyce Park Steps in Scarborough:  Probably our least known exercise spot, it has a strong local following of step climbers who then head off to the beach for a swim. 
  • Munda Biddi Trail: Stretching 1000km’s from Mundaring to Albany this is an off-road cycling track that is the longest off-road cycle trail in the world.  You don’t need to ride the full length.  Have a day out and try a level of difficulty that’s suitable to your ability. White or green circles are nice and easy whereas if you find yourself on a double black diamond it suggests you’ll probably fall off your bike any second.
  • Collie Trails: The area around Collie has some of the newest off-road cycling tracks in the state and have been designed by some of the worlds best riders.  As part of a trails strategy, Collie is becoming the trail hub of the world with amazing cycling trails, horse trails and walking trails that are well designed for all sorts of abilities.
  • Cape to Cape:  For those who don’t mind logistics and are looking for a longer challenge, the 123km Cape to Cape walk (from Cape Naturalist to Cape Leeuwin) can be done on your own or with an organised tour group over varying distances but you need to work out how you’ll return to your vehicle, what supplies you need to carry but it’s all worth it when you’re walking along cliffs, through forest and on remote shores.
  • The Hike Collective: We’ve touched on these guys before and for good reason. They offer a range of walks that can end with champagne and a sunset and providing for mental health is just as important as physical health.  They have a new program.  It’s often said that yoga is mentally grounding.  This new yoga is undergrounding, in a cave.  In the Cabaret Cave in Yanchep, enjoy yoga and meditation and maybe some fresh cold-pressed juice afterwards.
Yoga in a Cave by The Hike Collective
  • Ask your local council what they have for free outdoor exercise opportunities, like the ‘Get Active Outdoors Guide’ by the City of Armadale, City of Gosnells and Shire of Serpentine-Jarrahdale.  They have a well coordinated program of sessions in parks including walks, runs, yoga, bike riding and even have maps for where you can find a new place to walk your dog.

Exercise can be a Hidden Treasure because we live in the best place on Earth for getting outdoors and doing stuff.  Exercise doesn’t have to be a resolution, let it be a discovery.

Climb a hill, ride a bike through challenging switchbacks, walk around a couple of bridges or lakes.  Hidden Treasures is about discovering what is close by and doing it in new ways.  Don’t just drive past, get out and walk around for a bit. 

ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast: Visiting the sites of your favourite tv shows and movies

Have you ever sat in the cinema, watching the latest blockbuster with your favourite stars and with glee realised that the action is happening somewhere you have been?

Have you travelled the backroads of Bali like Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love?  Have you done your best James Bond pose in Thailand at James Bond Island?

Did you know that throughout Western Australia, particularly in Perth, there have been hundreds of movies and tv series filmed in Perth, using locations from apartment blocks to jetties, from corner stores to iconic beaches.

For ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast we had great fun hearing from listeners who gave us their experiences of being in tv show and movies filmed around Western Australia.

Listen to the audio below or just read on …

As a child, my love of travel and describing travel was inspired by seeing places on the screen I wanted to go to.  In 1980, sitting in the Narrogin Town Hall watching The Gods Must Be Crazy inspired me to get to Africa and Alby Mangels World Safari series inspired me to explore my own backyard – but in slightly longer shorts.

It’s more than just the thrill of seeing on the screen somewhere you’ve been to. It’s the glory of the gloat!

Just recently I sat in the cinema with my family and watched the latest James Bond movie and turned to tell them that he was racing through the streets of Matera in his Aston Martin and that I had spent time in Matera a couple of years ago. 

In Perth we have our own tv and movie sites and we have an army of people who have been in these productions. 

I get to tell the true story that I was in a movie with Russell Crowe.  I wasn’t a gladiator, I was a horny teenage boy in Love in Limbo.

Let’s work our way through some productions that you might have seen from the comfort of your sofa or with a choc-top at the movies or maybe have been in!

  • Ship to Shore (1993-1996):  Lots of recognisable locations around Point Peron that look back to Garden Island to give the show the feel that it was set on an island.  Walk the Point Peron trails and you’ll feel like you’re going to stumble into the bumbling Hermes.
  • Clowning Around (1992): Public Transport Station was used for some scenes in this quirky movie about a kid who dreams of becoming a clown.
Perth Transport Centre. Bit weird then. Still weird now. Clowning Around filmed scenes here in 1992.
  • Love in Limbo (1993): You might be distracted by me on the screen but look past the sparkling eyes and you’ll find Mount Lawley Senior High School, the carparks of Cottesloe Beach, including Van Eileens.
  • Wind (1992): Nobody puts baby in a corner but she will stand outside the gates of the Fremantle Sailing Club. Jennifer Grey starred in this America’s Cup movie.
  • The Shark Net (2003): Lots of Kings Park scenes and locations around Cottesloe tell the story of Robert Drewe and the time and place that was the setting for Eric Edgar Cooke’s murderous mayhem.
  • Bran Nue Dae (2009): The old west end of Fremantle was used for quite a few location shots as well as Clontarf Aboriginal College in Waterford but Broome gets most of the action with Sunset Pictures, Chinatown, Matso’s Brewery and the famous condom tree out at Roebuck Plains Station.
This Cliff Street facade in Fremantle featured in Bran Nue Dae
  • Cloud Street (2011): Lots of river locations in Cloud Street and I’d be interested to hear what jetty listeners think Fish Lamb jumped off.
  • Paper Planes (2014): Make some paper planes and fly them around the Aviation Heritage Museum, just pick them up afterwards!
  • H is For Happiness (2019): If you’re travelling to Albany to escape the summer heat, give the City of Albany a call and they can provide you with a list of locations where this great movie was filmed, from shops and cafes in the main street, little boat yards, quirky houses and the local high school.
  • The Heights (2019): This is my favourite Perth show to find the sites for.  It’s a great walking tour through locations in Northbridge and East Perth.
Ton Sian Groceries is the neighbourhood store in ABC tv show, The Heights

TV show and movie location sites are a great hidden treasure to discover in Perth because they get you out on a pop culture treasure hunt. 

Everyone can look at the site and say, “Oh! I always thought it would be bigger!” and stand on the spot and pretend to be Fish Lamb from Cloud Street, Uncle Max or Pav from The Heights, fly a paper plane at the Aviation Heritage Museum like Dylan, sing like Jessica Mauboy in Bran Nue Day or buy nude drawings like Chris Parry in Love in Limbo.

Dogs. ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast finds Hidden Treasure for man’s best friend.

Hidden Treasure has found a lot for us to do over the past year and a bit.  There have been quirky museums, good places to eat, main streets to shop in and lots of urban art.

Our next Hidden Treasure is for someone in the family who loves us unconditionally even when we sometimes can’t take them out and about on family adventures.

Dogs.  It must be tough for a dog sticking its head out of the window and seeing signs with red lines crossed through images of dogs.  Sometimes the sign is of a dog walking, sometimes it’s that most vulnerable of positions, the hunch that requires you to carry a little bag, or in the case of my Molly, a large bag.

I live a minutes walk from Charles Veryard Reserve in North Perth, a huge swathe of grass that is an off-lead area for dogs as long as organised sport isn’t being played.   

Molly strains at the lead on the walk there and it’s awful to see her shoulders slump when she sees a cricket match is on. Because it’s close and convenient I haven’t really thought much about taking her somewhere else.

On my Hidden Treasure travels I’ve realised I come across a lot of parks and beaches where dogs are allowed that I didn’t know existed.  Some beaches even have free stick libraries for the dogs and there’s even an adventure in Perth to get your pooch onto the water.

Some great beaches in our Metropolitan area for dog include:

  • Shoalwater Bay at the end of Boundary Road.  Parking is right on the steps down to the beach and it’s a family friendly beach.  It’s a great digging beach for some reason.  I always see dogs digging great holes and spraying sand from between their back legs.
  • South Fremantle – great beach with a big grassed area and a very comprehensive stick library for the most discerning of dogs.
South Fremantle Beach Stick Library
  • South Cottesloe – Allows you to visit an iconic beach location in WA with your dog and it’s probably the best dog beach to swim at for humans.
  • North Beach – like Mettam’s Pool is between Scarborough and Trigg and is Perth’s smallest dog beach, just 500m long and at the bottom of some steep steps.  One for the young dogs, not the old dogs, including me.
  • Mrs Herbert’s Park in Claremont is a lovely Swan River Beach for your pooch.  Find the Claremont Freshwater Bay Museum and you’ll be in the right place. 
  • For an adventure on the river, if you haven’t got a boat of your own but love a picnic and love your dog, hire a Nautipicnics electric boat and head from Maylands up to Guildford.  Molly was amazed at the cormorants with extended wings on protruding branches, she barked at kayakers and barked at kids fishing on jetties.
Molly-Plum loved her boating adventure almost as much as I did

For a non-aquatic dog adventure try the following walks and parks:

Noble Falls Walk Trail up at Gidgegannup :  Dogs are allowed off leash on this trail of just over three and a half kilometres and of course there’s the Noble Falls Tavern that does a great steak sandwich to share with your four-legged mate.

Regionally, The City of Geraldton has recently opened some fully fenced dog parks at the Leonard T Green Memorial Park that are grassed and particularly good for little dogs who can sometimes get a bit intimidated at the beaches.  There’s also dog training classes available at these locations but don’t tell your dog you’re taking them to school. 

Karlkurla Park is a wonderful on leash bushland area to walk with your pet in Kalgoorlie and halfway back to Perth near Corrigin on the Brookton Highway is the beautiful Dog Cemetery with heartfelt messages on plaques to many much loved companions.

Back in Perth, possibly the biggest dog park is Whiteman Park which as well as the human attractions, has 2 ½ hectare dog park with special agility training equipment, lots of water bowls and grassed areas and bush to explore.

Why are dog parks and beaches a hidden treasure?

Dog parks, dog beaches and experiences with dogs are hidden treasures because whether it’s a short walk or even a day trip, time with your dog is always well spent for their physical and mental health and your own. 

The simple pleasure of throwing a stick or a ball means so much to them and unlike my kids, they don’t mind getting up early and heading out with me to see what’s out there.  As long as they can stick their head out of the window.

Dogs need places to play as much as little and big humans do

ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast: Back for 2022 and Let’s Start Underwater!

One of the best things about Christmas and summer is the opportunity to try out those summer Christmas presents to get you to the beach.  From scoop nets to wet suits, boogies boards to sandcastle buckets and masks and snorkels.

In 2021 Hidden Treasures went to a few beaches but didn’t seem to go in the water much.  There were fish burgers on Preston Beach and a very friendly surf lifesaving club at Secret Harbour but we didn’t really get wet.

For our launch of Hidden Treasures for 2022, let’s find some summer fun beneath the waves!

Darling it’s better, down where it’s wetter!

When I was a kid there was nothing better than a new pair of flippers and a mask and snorkel.  No rinsing them off with the garden hose and leaving them on the lawn to dry, I’d be polishing the mask glass with Dad’s turtle wax and drying it with every tea towel in the house and removing every speck of sand from the snorkel mouthpiece by using the bathroom sink and someone’s toothbrush.

What I love about snorkelling is entering another world.  It’s not diving but you can dive down and see things up close and even catch things if you want to.

Perth has some amazing snorkelling experiences and I hope from our following list there’s a place you haven’t heard of or maybe you just haven’t been there for a while.

Omeo, Coogee: Not much more than 20 metres from shore, the Omeo forms part of the Coogee Maritime Trail.  As well as the thrill of being above a real shipwreck, the trail features underwater sculptures and even a bit of underwater education with plaques about the aquatic life and local maritime history.

Mettam’s Pool, Trigg: Between the iconic beaches of Scarborough and Trigg is this little beach with one of the best snorkel experiences for complete beginners to absolute experts.  Get the tides right and there are channels of reef to wind your way through and going the other way will be darting, silver schools of herring and big old cod slowing everyone down as they try to work out what way they’re going.

Falcon Bay, Mandurah: This is probably the least known of our Hidden Treasure snorkelling spots and I apologise to the locals for revealing it.  It’s a beautiful, calm bay protected from the southerly winds with an area of reef that is great for exploring and watching big skippy and tailor watch you.

Yanchep Lagoon, Yanchep: The great thing about the Yanchep Lagoon is that unlike Atlantis, it’s still there.  The reef shape creates a nice lagoon that protects it from the wind and the reef is great to swim along and wave at lots of small fish and maybe even a resident crayfish or two.

Point Peron, Rockingham:  I never snorkelled here as a kid and I’m not sure why but it’s one of my favourite spots now and the kids like bringing their friends along and after an exhausting few hours exploring the reefs there’s usually Mr Whippy in the carpark to soothe sore lips from the snorkel. For a bigger adventure just offshore for those with good swimming strength, see if you can find the population of hammerhead sharks that live out there.

Swim with the Dolphins, Rockingham:  One of the great wildlife experiences anywhere in the world is right here in Cockburn Sound.  Safe and easy for all ages, form a floating line in the water and let the dolphins interact with you if they want to.  Sometimes they come close, other times they’ll swirl and twirl underneath you and roll and look you in the eye and it’s a genuine and beautiful encounter.

The Basin, Rottnest:  It doesn’t get much more iconic than this does it?  If you’re looking for the best place to put your face underwater for the first time in your life, make it at The Basin. I remember snorkelling with my daughter Matilda and she was making that exited underwater noise in her snorkel as she pointed at the fish.  Little striped fish doing spirals up and down, flashes of silver from bream and skippy and lazy cod doing lazy turns just to make sure they’re not being followed.

The Basin

Abrolhos, 70km west of Geraldton: I’m fortunate to have been to the Abrolhos a couple of times and the last time was with my daughter Matilda and we flew out and landed on East Wallabi Island before walking to Turtle Bay which is one of my all-time best snorkelling locations.  Fed by the nutrient rich Leeuwin Current the corals are vivid and the fish form a palette of colours that explode in front of your mask.  For a break from the water of Turtle Bay, we went for a walk to the far end of the beach and we ended up rescuing Julie Bishop who was marooned on the island!

Always Happy To Rescue A Foreign Minister In Distress

Snorkelling is a hidden treasure because it’s a lot like a staycation, you don’t have to do much or go far to find yourself immersed in another world.  I love that it is accessible to all ages and abilities and is an affordable adventure for all of us.

ABC Saturday Breakfast welcomes Santa Claus!

For the final program for 2021, Hidden Treasures on ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast went further than we’ve ever been before and brought in the biggest guest (sorry Ben Carlish) we’ve ever had … Santa Claus!

Santa left the studio very quickly when he heard the reindeers on the roof getting restless. In fact, he left so quickly that he left behind his notes about why the North Pole is a hidden treasure. It makes some interesting reading…

  • Mrs Claus’ Roadside Diner:

Come and do the all-you-can-eat buffet, Covid safe of course, with free iceberg slushies or marvel at Mrs Claus’ special menu low calorie oat milk eggnog and brown rice sushi that I’ll be tucking into on Christmas Day because Santa needs to get down a notch or two on his belt. 

  • Polar Bear Safari:

Fun Fact! Sir David Attenborough told me this one. Do you know why the polar bear won’t attack an Emperor penguin? Because the polar bear lives in the North Pole and Emperor penguin lives in the South Pole! Come aboard a Tundra Buggy which is like a donga on big wheels and gets up close and safely to these bears that sometimes put snow on their noses to let them sneak up to seals, or Santa Claus, and go ‘Boo!’.

  • World’s Best Disco:

The Northern Lights, or as my Elf Chief Scientist likes to remind me, the Aurora Borealis.  These are a spectacular natural phenomenon that science says are particles from the sun striking atoms in the atmosphere blah, blah, blah, but the Ancient Greeks say and that they are made by Aurora, the sister of Helios and Seline (the sun and the moon) and she is racing across the sky in her multi coloured chariot alerting her lazy siblings to get up for the new day!

  • Reindeer Ranch:

Just down the road from my village is where you’ll find the Reindeer Ranch, including the Reindeer Top Gun flying school and after their flight debriefing they like to come out and meet people and do hoof print autographs for a small fee of one fresh carrot.

  • Santa’s Workshop:

Come and do the workshop tour that is very reasonably priced and comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by the Elf-In-Chief. This is my official residence and assembly line for all the toys that the elves still manufacture, although many are now outsourced to parents with wonderfully small font instructions in many languages, on how to assemble them in only 4-6 hours.

The North Pole is a hidden treasure because while the biggest land predator on Earth might be stalking you at any moment with teeth like the saw of a timber mill, there is vibrant and mesmerising colour in the sky better than any kaleidoscope you’ll get in your stocking and there is the most wonderful magic and spirit you’ll find in the world, the magic and spirit of Christmas!

Ro and I were so excited to meet Santa. Merry Christmas! Let’s do it all again in 2022, after a little rest.