With just over 2000 residents and an area less than half a square kilometre, you might be forgiven for thinking there couldn’t be a lot to see in our next Hidden Treasure on ABC Saturday Breakfast.
Like some of our other Hidden Treasures, our next discovery sits quietly alongside some bigger neighbours but doesn’t rely on their crumbs to survive.
With a strong community, an iconic park and exciting laneways behind cafes and bakeries bulging with donuts, let’s take a walk through what is very possibly Perth’s smallest suburb and find out what one of Perth’s most loved treasures likes about this hidden treasure
By absolute coincidence, our Hidden Treasure this weekend shares a lot in common with last week’s Hidden Treasure, where we discovered South Fremantle.
There is a backbone, or artery that is the focal point for activity for locals and visitors. Where South Fremantle has South Tce, Highgate has Beaufort Street. Where South Freo has South Beach, Highgate has Hyde Park. And where South Fremantle has a big neighbour in Fremantle, Highgate has Perth City and Mount Lawley.
But when I visited South Fremantle I found iconic history with the Mills and Ware biscuits but in Highgate I found a living icon, a living treasure, who, more than just loving a quiet coffee in Highgate, loves the ABC and he loves Hidden Treasure … Dennis Cometti!
For Mr Cometti, Dennis to me, Highgate cafes are just a bit quieter than the cafes up the road in Mount Lawley and he looks for one with lots of tables so he can sprawl out a newspaper.
Let’s take a walk around Hyde Park in glorious Kambarang sunshine. Hyde Park is always filled with walkers, kids birthday parties, turtles and birds and is full of big Moreton Bay Fig Trees with massive buttress roots, perfect hiding spots during Hide and Seek.
As well as its current appeal for picnics and birdwatching and festivals and food trucks, Hyde Park is a significant historical site for Whajuk Noongar People who loved living by what was then more of a wetland area.
Facilities include benches, barbeques, water playgrounds, stages, fitness equipment and lots of grass and walking paths.
Across the road from Hyde Park heading east is Perth’s darkest street, Mary Street. Completely enveloped by the canopies of huge trees, this street is more like a scene out of Harry Potter than a Perth suburb. It’s gloriously dark and cool and leads straight through to Beaufort Street.
As you walk down Mary Street and just before you hit Beaufort Street, look for Mereny Lane which is completely muralised on both sides of the road. Follow the laneway and enjoy the colours and opportunities for all those insta worthy pics.
A bit further along Beaufort Street on the Highgate end, keep a look out for a little accessway that links Mereny Lane with Beaufort Street that has some tech urban art. Little pictures on muralised walls that have QR codes that when opened on your phone play music and tell you more about the artwork and interact with it beyond just looking at it.
If you know Highgate or have just driven through, you’d probably be aware of the huge landmark on Lincoln Street, the ventilation stack. Built in 1935 as a sewer vent it’s a 38-metre art deco vent and the second tallest poo chimney in Australia (biggest is 40 metres in Sydney).
Next to the big vent is the Police Museum is on Lincoln Street and only open a couple of days a week on Tuesdays and Fridays but the old Highgate Police Station has old uniforms, handcuffs and batons and tactical response armoured cars and old motorcycles and speed cameras and an interesting history as a secret wireless station during World War II.
Given the stereotype that police love donuts, it’s probably not a coincidence that the police museum has been set up in a suburb that is the donut capital of Australia with more bakeries and cafes selling donuts per resident than any other suburb in Australia.
Highgate is a hidden treasure because there are layers and spaces between your destinations in this suburb that need exploring.
Highgate proves that being small and having big neighbours doesn’t mean you only get the crumbs, you can bake the bread as well.
Have fun with a camera in arty laneways. Have fun with your phone by hovering it over techy urban art and see what happens. There’s Perth’s darkest street and one of Perth’s most loved parks.
In Highgate you can have your donut and eat it too, all in a space that’s more like a little country town than a suburb so close to the heart of the city.