On the Weekend Explorer for ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast, I recently explored space and rediscovered my memories of Skylab and discovered observatories, big dishes, astrotourism towns, astronauts in Carnarvon, emus in the sky and starlapse wonder by local photographer, Dan Paris.
Listen to the link below to learn more about Astrotourism and some really good music but really bad space jokes:
One of our best ever Hidden Treasures stories of all time! With special guest star, global writing superstar Molly Schmidt, we explored local books and the use of local locations and how they inspire our travels.
Listen to our chat below and learn not just what our favourite Western Australian books are but how important those local locations can be:
Growing up in a country town, the main street was a great place to walk down on a Saturday morning to see who else was out and about.
Main Streets of Western Australia continue to define the life of their communities. It might just be to go to the butcher or grocer, pick up the newspaper (maybe a copy of Have A Go News!) or some rope from the trading post. Or it might be that you’re on a road trip and want to buy the best sausage roll in town or look through a local museum.
Main streets are great reasons to get out and explore regional communities at any time of year.
Below is a story I recently had published about some of the best main streets in WA, and the best reasons for a walk down them:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Perth isn’t that old is it? And our regional communities aren’t any older? While our Aboriginal culture is tens of thousands of years old, our oldest buildings are less than two hundred years old.
But that doesn’t stop many of them from sending a shiver up or down our spine and feeling that spirits from another time and another place are with us.
The ABC Facebook page was inundated with paranormal experiences across Western Australia. Callers to the show also spoke about regional haunted places.
Many of us swear to have seen ghosts or felt their presence in places and spaces so my sidekick Tom and I went to investigate some tales of the unexplained from right here in Perth.
The great thing about Scooby Doo is that it was always an old, grizzled fellow from an abandoned amusement park who was scaring people while wearing some ghoulish costume – and he would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t from those meddlin’ kids!
But the real thing is somewhat different. As I discovered, there’s tours telling ghost stories and buildings with ghosts in them, right here in our suburbs.
Gosnells Ghost Tours – Get in line with your ticket for their summer season at the end of this year. These tours encounter the spirits of timber workers from the 1860’s community of Orange Grove.
Over a five kilometre bush track walk from the Victoria Dam to Bickley Reservoir you’ll meet friendly ghosts who will share history of the area and colourful tales from convicts under the railway bridge. It’s dark, it’s spooky and it’s very entertaining!
Leederville Hotel – I climbed the stairs up to the dome on top of the hotel with my son Tom and staff member Isobel, although I quickly noticed Isabel was more than just a few steps behind! Isobel has, in her words ‘been completely creeped out’ and many of her staff refuse to go up there alone.
Apparently, a fellow named Kanga lived in the tower bedroom and died on the premises and although there’s no violent or tragic story to his life or demise, many people have come in contact with Kanga, particularly in the corridors of the old, original upstairs part of the hotel.
Isabel tells me that his strongest presence is felt on the on the stairs. She tells me this from the ground floor as Tom and I are making our way up the stairs. Tom you go first.
The Leederville alarm story must be told! Leaving a note to calm Kanga and the next morning the note was gone and the alarm that had been going off in the middle of the night for months never happened again.
The Alkimos – Stranded just north of Mindarie in 1963 it was while it sailed around the world that crew members reported a ghost on board, possibly a US soldier or German prisoner of war. There’s also been many reports for divers and snorkellers who claim to have seen Harry, a ghost in oil skins who loiters around the wreck and even on the shore.
Kenwick Cemetery – Alongside the Albany Highway, most people who drive past would never know this little final resting place for early settlers was there. Built by convicts, most of the graves have no headstones and speaking of heads, many people have reported seeing in the area a man riding a horse, holding his own head.
Woodman Point Quarantine Station – If ever there was a ‘creep you out’ destination, this is it. It’s a reminder that before Covid, there were other pandemics.
This station was used to isolate bubonic plague patients, smallpox, Spanish flu and leprosy. Over 300 people died there, and most would have been isolated from loved ones and in great pain.
There are walking tours you can take through the buildings, including the crematorium where it is believed by many that orbs of light floating through the crematorium is the spirit of the final smallpox victim who was cremated there.
Others include the Fremantle Arts Centre (Fremantle Lunatic Asylum), Midland Town Hall (the ghost of Daria Mulawa, brutally murdered on its steps in 1955), Rose & Crown Guildford (oldest hotel in WA and more paranormal encounters than an episode of Scooby Doo.
Regional haunts include the story of the Coolgardie Cat, the Israelite Bay telegraph station, Gwalia and Kookynie in the Goldfields are well known for the restless spirits of prospectors and railway workers.
Spooky spaces and places are hidden treasures because they provide a sense of adventure and also provide a link to the past, creating a way to learn about a buildings history and often a communities history.
Just send your sidekick up the stairs first. That’s what sidekicks are for.
I’ve always loved a lake. From Dad’s stories of the Bluebird on Lake Dumbleyung, to watching my kids leap into the sunset at the not so pink lake in Esperance, they are a great reason to travel close to home or further afield.
Enjoy reading the story above or even better, grab your own hardcopy of Have A Go News, a real newspaper. There’s 80,000 copies around Western Australia every month.
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
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
Catching gilgies from a creek or, with permission, a farmers dam.
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.