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.

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.

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 Saturday Breakfast: The Best Of Hidden Treasure

Hidden Treasures has been a journey of local discoveries that has led us to urban art trails, suburban museums, jetties, lakes, parks and so much more.

In this penultimate edition of Hidden Treasures for 2021, we’re doing a year in review, we’re naming names, we’re handing out gongs and we’re doing it quicker than the Brownlow. Listen to the audio file below or keep reading, or do both!

What I’ve loved about Hidden Treasures is more than making the discovery, it’s been about sharing the discovery.  Just like returning from those overseas destinations, I have found joy in describing for you Bull Creek and Mirrabooka, Two Rocks and Kwinana and many more of our suburbs.  My Top Ten Hidden Treasures for 2021:

Best Suburban Museum:

2nd Bassendean Railway Museum: Tells a great story of the railways in WA.

1st Bull Creek Aviation Heritage Museum: Spitfires, Lancasters, rockets and roaring engines.

Spitfires, Lancasters, Catalina’s and more, at the Bull Creek Aviation Heritage Museum

Best Sport:

2nd WAFL: Great standard of suburban tribalism in sport and community.  

1st Padel:  Never heard of it before we did Hidden Sports Treasures.

Come for a Padel, stay for a tapas

Best Food:

A tie for 2nd – Cray Dog at the Lane Café on Wadjemup and Curry Puff at Bull Creek Oriental Supplies.

1st – Fish Burger at Preston Beach General Store.

Best fish burger in the world

Best Aboriginal Experience:

2nd Deadly Divas – Wildflower Walkabout and Campfire Stories run by ladies for the ladies.

1st Yagan Square Nyumbi – Friday evenings, hopefully back for 2022.

Best View:

2nd Kwinana Chalk Hill – a worthy winner of hidden treasure views.

1st HALO at Perth Stadium – Don’t just be a spectator, have an adventure.

Best Main Street:

2nd North Fremantle – a great street to walk and mooch

1st Bassendean – a main street that in the best traditions of main streets, reminds me of all the country towns I’ve lived in and driven through.

Best Walk:

2nd Hike Collective – making a good walk as much about mental health as physical health.

1st West Perth – a middle of the city walk that gives you a great park (Harold Boas), the seat of government, a seat on sliding grass and jaffles.

Best Urban Art:

2nd Joondalup Urban Art Trail – Including a sculpture that’s a love shack for moths and the worlds biggest periodic table

1st Mirrabooka Mural – Shaping the Future is about loving the diversity in the place you live by showing local faces from many backgrounds.

Urban art is one of Perth’s great hidden treasures

Best Free Tour:

2nd Coogee Common Garden Tour – feel like Peter Rabbit in Mr McGregors garden (without the terror).

1st Sunset Coast Explorer – Feel like a tourist as you sit back in a double decker bus up the coast from Scarborough.

Best Surprise:

2nd Community Gardens – Discover where communities come together to grow vegetables, make compost, look after chickens, teach sustainability and just relax while you potter about.

1st  Staycations – You really can relax just 15 minutes from home.

The pandemic might have been the inspiration for Hidden Treasures but don’t let travel restrictions be the reason to turn your gaze towards exploration at home, make exploration at home a part of your travel life, a regular outing or roadtrip or staycation somewhere in your city that you haven’t been to. 

It’s there and it always will be if we support it.

As Published in Have A Go News Newspaper … There’s Hidden Treasure on Wadjemup Island!

Enjoy the story above, published in the summer edition of Have A Go News Newspaper. Have A Go News has a circulation of more than 80,000 copies around Western Australia and is also available online and on your favourite social media platforms.

This story features a weekend adventure with my son Tom to do the stuff you might not know about. Some of it has always been there and some of it is new.

Next time you’re on this amazing island, do what you always like to do and do something new as well.

That’s a whale and seal watching face, and a slightly drenched face as well!

ABC Saturday Breakfast Rides the River

Whether it’s to try out a new Christmas present, a family day out, being a tourist for the day or showing off our city to a visiting friend, there is one place that is guaranteed to make it special, one place that is our most treasured place.  It’s not hidden, but there are hidden treasures to be found on it.  Where are we going?  The Derbarl Yerrigan.  The Swan River.  Our river.

Some of our Hidden Treasure stories have included elements of the Swan River.  It was when I looked around Bassendean that I first thought about a river story. 

We talked about the confluence of the Helena River and Swan River and the thrill of watching people fall off stand-up paddleboards and I watched kids swinging on a rope and tyre tied to a gnarly old tree sticking out of the bank on the Guildford side.

Our Hidden Treasure this morning is for all of us who love the river, love getting on it, but don’t have a boat. Here’s a few things you can do to get you on the water on one of the world’s great city waterways.

We’ve already mentioned stand up paddleboards as a spectator sport and tyres on a rope as an age-old pastime on the river but let’s get to my list of ten things for riding on the river if you haven’t got your own boat.

Surfcats:  I can remember as a kid watching cricket on tv and the camera would pan across to people on the river in surfcats and they would sometimes blow over when the Freo Doctor was in and then you’d see people stand up.  I also remember Tony Greig baiting Bill Lawry about going out on a surfcat, knowing Bill couldn’t swim. These days the surfcats are stronger and a family of four can enjoy sailing and imagining they’re winning the America’s Cup.

Transperth Ferries:  This is probably the best way to see the city, the river and all of the activity on it. For just a couple of dollars you can hop on at the Mends Street Jetty in South Perth or ferry terminal at Elizabeth Quay.  At both ends of a ten-minute journey you’ll find ice cream shops and cafes, or something finer if you like.  You can open the windows and have your head out in the breeze, watch cormorants on the navigation markers with their wings spread wide, drying them in the sun.

Electric Ferry: For a different type of ferry, a tesla on water, try the Little Electric Ferry Company which also operates from Elizabeth Quay.  This little fleet is fully electric and looks like something Gatsby would go boating in.  They travel up to Claisebrook and tie up in the inlet and give you enough time to duck into the pub for a beer before heading back down the river and sometimes they stop off at the pontoon wharf outside Perth Stadium, just up from Matagarup Bridge.

Zipline: Also up from Matagarup Bridge, literally, is the recently opened zipline which launches you from the bridge and across to the east bank.  It’s a great way to fly like a bird, scream like a banshee and land like James Bond.

Nautipicnics: Staying with the electric theme on water, if you want to get your dog on the water and have a go at being a skipper for a day, even without your Skippers Ticket, you can take out the groovy little Nautipicnics boats. 

Nautipicnics … no Skippers Ticket needed … but watch where you’re going!

Perfect for exploring the banks around Maylands and Bayswater, chugging alongside a pelican as it’s taking off like some 1930’s flying boat.  They’re set up with a central table and a shady bimini so you can glide around the river and graze your way through a cheese platter with cheese of a better quality than my days working for Boat Torque.

Water Wanderers: These guys do sunset tours, wetlands tours and Leonie will find little spots to pull into and give you amazing desserts served in Mason Jars, designed to top up your energy levels for your adventure.  I did a tour with Leonie as a Father’s Day adventure with my kids and my brother Jamie.  Matilda and I would line up Jamie and Tom and yell ‘Ramming Speed’ and then bump against Tom who would get cross with his Uncle Jamie for not avoiding us while Leonie would just laugh, mostly.

Try ‘Ramming Speed!’ with the Water Wanderers

Water Bikes: For a completely different way of being on the water, how about riding a bike on the water.  These are the only bikes you don’t need to wear a helmet for. Tom and I recently headed down to the little beach near the Narrows Bridge on the South Perth side and took a couple of these out with Penny and Nev and while they know their history and can answer lots of your questions we were happy just to watch Tom look up as we pedalled under the Narrows Bridge, hearing from underneath all that frantic and rumbling activity of north and south bound traffic and trains.  The bikes have two pontoons and are lightweight and easy to move through the water although my little legged companion started to get a bit weary as we turned for home so Nev tucked his pontoons under Toms bike and did the pedalling for both of them.  These guys can do the taste test style experience or longer up the river and sunset tours.

Waterbikes … no helmet required

Swan River Seaplanes: Just around the corner on the South Perth side you’ll find the opportunity to take off from the river in a real seaplane.  Taxiing across the water, picking up speed and bouncing into the air is exciting and not something you can do every day.  Their destinations range from up and down the coast, across to Rottnest or back on the river for a picnic. Check out their website, http://www.swanriverseaplanes.com.au, for more information on taking to the skies above Perth and along our amazing coastline.

What a way to roar across the river! Take off in a seaplane this summer!

Pedal Boards: Jeff operates from near the jetty at Point Walter and let’s firstly take a look at his pedal boards.  These are a cross between a stand-up paddle board and a penguin.  While you stand on a board with handlebars, there’s two little flippers under the board that do their best impression of Happy Feet and send you along in whatever direction you steer.

Swans: Swans on the Swan.  How can life get can any better than pedalling a swan on the Swan this summer? Forget the tube of sunscreen, you’re going to need a big tube of Voltaren the following day but honestly, it’s not because they’re hard to pedal, it’s just that those muscles aren’t working out enough each day. Jeff is busy launching and retrieving his swan pedal boats and pedal boards but still has time to show me his pride and joy, a recently painted black swan that is ready to be launched this summer.  I think he needs a red swan because as we all know, red means it goes faster.

Swan Pedal Boats. Fun doesn’t get much funner!

The Swan River is a hidden treasure because of these activities.  I bet there are things on this list you’ve never heard of and I bet there are some on the list you’ve heard of and never done.  The Swan River is more than a glorious view to drive past or walk along. 

Get on it and feel the treasure.      

ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast: Snake pits to sunsets in Scarborough. There’s so much to see before you get to the sea.

Scarborough?  Why is Scarborough a Hidden Treasure?  It’s got one of the most famous beaches in WA and Australia stretching along our coastline.  For locals and tourists alike, Scarborough provides relief from the summer heat and for generations has been the place to go. 

Whether you’re a widgie or a bodgie, a skater or a surfer, a bruncher or a luncher, Scarborough is the beach precinct we pack out every summer.  So, I was set the challenge of finding Hidden Treasure in a known treasure and this is what he found. Enjoy the audio link below and enjoy a bit of reading as well:

Scarborough.  What I found was that you can enjoy Scarborough without getting the sand between your toes or anywhere else, or that pesky saltwater stinging your eyes.

There are buses, there is Aboriginal urban art, there are walking tours to clear the mind, lookouts to blow your mind and snake pits and whale skeletons to explore. 

There’s even a hill just for watching the dying of the days light. And there’s enough burgers or fish and chips or ice cream for before or after all that activity.

Let’s start with Saturday Morning on the foreshore promenade where you’ll find Perth’s newest market. 

You might be familiar with the iconic Sunset Markets but if you’re up and about early you can try the Scarborough Beach Farmers Markets full of healthy local fresh fruit and veges and breads and brightly coloured vans and stalls selling cookies and crème brulees and deep fried cheesecake!

Put some headphones on and listen to ABC Saturday Breakfast as you explore the Beach Farmers Markets on the Scarborough foreshore.

Before we come back to the foreshore, let’s walk off some of the mornings treats with Bush, Beach and Bubbles!

Fun Fact!  The sand dunes in the Trigg area (we’re calling it Scarborough today) are parabolic. Try a walking tour with the Hike Collective which is as much about mental health as it is about just a little bit of physical exercise.

So, back to the foreshore and still keeping our toes away from the sand and water and not giving the lifeguards anything to do, let’s have a walk through the giant Whale Playground which is great reminder of just how big whales are and just how much fun we can all have in a playground.

The Whale Skeleton Playground

The playground flows into the grassy Sunset Hill and some really cool Climbing Walls and of course the iconic, notorious and infamous Snake Pit where my mum use to trek to Scarborough from Midland to dance as a widgie and then cool off with a swim and a malt milkshake that hopefully some boy would buy her. 

These days the Snake Pit is for skaters, scooters and even little bikes if it’s not too busy.  Tip that beanie back on your head, put a scowl on your face and if I’ve got my skater lingo right, “fill your dives to 3.5 metres and hit the ramps, rails and banks.”

Ssssssssnake Pit!

Around the foreshore, take some time to follow the Tjunta Trail, an urban art trail that tells the story about how a spirit woman finds a group of children who go missing.  There are five locations around the foreshore that tell the story although when the markets are on you might find them hard to see.

Tjunta Trail

Is that enough walking about for a while?  Let’s hop on the newest tourist experience in Perth that ….. drumroll please …. is free!  It’s free!

It’s so free that queues are starting to form as word gets around of the double decker bus, the Sunset Coast Explorer, that makes its way from the Scarborough Pool and winds its away along the sunset coast. 

The Sunset Coast Explorer … wave at the locals and their lattes

The bus has a crew of conductors to answer questions and tell you to sit down if you’re clowning around up the top in the fresh air.  It’s a hop on hop off service and is running all summer every Saturday and Sunday.  Be a tourist, have some fun and wave at the locals at the all the cafes.

Watch the local wildlife in their natural habitat

One of Perth’s best hidden treasure museums has to be the Mount Flora Museum.  We’ve spoken previously about museums that only survive because of volunteers and Local Government support.  This is one of the best if you’re interested in the social history of the area.  Exhibitions feature ‘windows into the past’. Check online for when they’re open or call the City of Stirling.

On top of the museum is one of Perth’s best lookouts and we really are going to have to do a Hidden Treasure on views of Perth because it’s little wonder this lookout on top of the museum used to be an observation post during World War II.  The lookout also has a really vivid mural that encircles you in a complete 360 degree burst of colour and representation of Australian wildlife.

A brilliant and joyous, vibrant lookout with no smell of wee, old ciggy butts and beer cans

Scarborough is a hidden treasure because there’s a lot to do and see before you get to the sea.  Places to walk, places to sit, markets to explore, bus rides to whoop for joy and wave at the locals, local and ancient history, lookouts with views to forever all make Scarborough a staycation destination that I’ll tell you a more about next week.  But that’s a story for another day.