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 under 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: 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 Saturday Breakfast Discovers Karrinyup and Gwelup

Last week for Hidden Treasure I explored Scarborough and promised something more about the area that make it a hidden treasure and perhaps the opportunity of a staycation to enjoy the sunset coast for longer than a day trip.

Earlier this year, Molly gave me some homework, made me read a book, and I think I met the challenge of studying about staycations and just how close they could be to home when we explored Innaloo as a Hidden Treasure.

I think she gave me a B+ on my assignment so I’m seeking permission to resubmit my assessment in the hope of attaining my first ever A.

Karrinyup and Gwelup.  Enjoy the audio link below, reading the story and looking at a few pics as well.

These are suburbs that many of us are familiar with.  Gwelup is a suburb you might travel through on the way to Karrinyup which has a shopping centre that was always big and has just emerged from a cocoon of scaffolding and is now even bigger and even has a mini golf course and bumper cars. 

The Only Lego Store in Western Australia

But while the shopping centre is Karrinyup’s known treasure there is hidden treasure in both Karrinyup and Gwelup.

There’s a place to stay in Karrinyup called Karrinyup Waters Resort that until a few weeks ago I’d never heard of and is where you go when you’re on L plates for camping and caravanning. There are very comfortable chalets if you don’t like the idea of reversing your caravan while every grown-up, child and resident duck watches you but that’s what staying here is all about. It’s like walking through an Anaconda catalogue. 

Karrinyup Waters Resort, a Camping World in our City

Wherever you look there’s sparkling off-road rigs and camper vans and 4WDs and tongs being flourished for bbqs that have the look and gleam of King Arthurs sword Excalibur.  This is where people come to learn how to reverse, set up and pack up all of this wonderful equipment before they venture into the world of regional Western Australia.

Plenty of Room for Every Size of Vehicle and Van

There are resort style pools that are as good as any of those we’re dreaming about when we can return to Bali and beyond and designed to be the reward for setting up camp successfully.  There’s a café that even locals sneak into for breakfast because the mushrooms they serve are as big as my hand and the range for pizzas is great for everyone in the family.

A Bit of Bali in Karrinyup

Careiniup Reserve runs alongside the Karrinyup Waters Resort and you can walk along the edge of the Reserve and there’s a little grassed area and gazebo on the western side that’s wonderful to sit and watch the bird life and because there’s a bit of water from a local brook, there are great photographic opportunities in a small reserve that is genuinely a little green oasis in the middle of suburbia.

Now Molly has been wanting to me to try and do a Hidden Treasure on flower vans and I haven’t quite got around to it but I did recently visit The Karrinyup Flower Shed is an operating vegetable and flower farm that is a reminder of what these suburbs once were, full of operating farms, many by migrant families, growing all sorts of produce. 

The Karrinyup Flower Shed is one of the few remaining small farms in the metropolitan area and as well as growing and selling more than 10,000 sunflowers every year they also sell the most bizarre multicolour flowers that are more like a kaleidoscope than a flower. 

A Sunflower Hours Away From Opening

Lake Gwelup has a boardwalk that winds its way over a mangrove style environment and you can spot tortoises and all sorts of birds, including perhaps the Rainbow Bee-Eater. 

Rainbow Bee-Eaters at Lake Gwelup

This migratory bird flies down from the highlands of Papua New Guinea just to breed at Lake Gwelup, although if there’s no room at the inn and all the sexy nests have the sign up that says ‘If This Nest Is Rockin’ Don’t Bother Knockin’ sign they will find another lake elsewhere in Perth to get down to business. 

Lake Gwelup also has a great trail around the lake that is about 2.5km and takes you past suburban cricket grounds with suburban champions at their best and through the wetlands.

Lake Gwelup Boardwalk

There’s also another trail that’s just a kilometre in length that makes its way through the native bushland in the north of the reserve and if driving to our regional areas to find wildflowers is all a bit hard then this patch of bushland always has a great range of wildflowers.

Jackson Wilding is a really good, simple park that is just full of logs and branches. I love this park because it’s a small and safe space with a very random feel to it. There’s no colourful slides or swings, just logs to climb and clamber over and branches to mount up into piles or make patterns in the dirt with.  It’s a park designed to let you get a bit dusty and maybe even a scratch or two if you’re a bit uncoordinated like me.

Now for sport, the Lake Karrinyup Country Club is on the other side of the road from the Karrinyup Waters Resort and if you are a member of an affiliated club or get special permission, you can relax on one of the great courses not just in Western Australia but in Australia. There’s even some resident and very judgemental big grey spectators!   

Karrinyup and Gwelup is a worthy Hidden Treasure of Perth because you can find yourself part of a camping community you might not have experienced before that is not far from home and get you thinking about familiar destinations as a traveller does, with fresh eyes for adventure.  

Always remember that what you spend on holidays, even a staycation, is outside your normal budget, it’s holiday spending. Karrinyup and Gwelup are also floral hidden treasures with a flower farm and natural bushland to explore. Do I get an A?

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.

ABC Saturday Breakfast: Exploring and Reminiscing About North Fremantle

What a fantastic discussion with Ro and Molly! Crowded houses, Greek cliffs, dingoes, Frida Kahlo and stubborn cottages surrounded by an industrial tetris like world. Enjoy listening to the audio and reading a few words as well:

The dingo.  It’s a landmark.  The flour mill is heritage listed and the famous logo was first painted on the side in 1940 and famously repainted by a young Alan Bond. 

Do you ever think to yourself, I wish Perth had a giant Frida Kahlo mural?  Well now it does!  Once you’ve taken your pics of the big red dingo, step across the road and fill your camera lens with the joyous colours of the Plata Bonito mural of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.  She doesn’t smile much but you will once you get inside the building. I came away with giant brightly coloured rosary beads that for a non-catholic I’m still wondering what I should do with them.

The Biggest Frida Kahlo Mural in the World

At Rocky Bay there is deep water which means you get a lot of party boats dropping anchor to let people jump off into the deep, protected waters of the bay.  There’s also a really interesting clifftop walk with beautiful views of the bay and river traffic coming and going and also a very cool tree that is perched on the cliff and grown sideways, making a great cubby spot for kids. There’s also an old tunnel from the days of the soap factory and an even older cave from the days of the wagyl.

Molly says the Rocky Bay Cliffs Remind Her of Greece

It doesn’t get much quieter than Gilbert Fraser Reserve on the banks of the Swan and where a little grandstand, in fact so small it has been referred to as a pavilion, but it’s spectator architecture at its best. Sit up in the stand and you can watch cricket and beyond the match just over the boundary rope are the lapping waters of the river with sometimes bigger lappings as the big boats chug past.

A Baby Grandstand

Mojos is famous in my family and will be famous for generations of music lovers to come.  Not only has it been a North Fremantle institution for live music for 50 years and modestly claims to be the best live music venue in the world, it is where Matilda first performed as lead singer of Dog Food, an all-girl band formed through a great music program called Girls Rock WA and that’s what sets Mojos feet firmly in their community.  It’s not just the biggest acts that attract an audience, it’s about new acts and opportunities.

Mojos

The North Fremantle war memorial reminds us of the contribution and sacrifice of our small communities.  North Fremantle had so many of its players killed and injured during World War I, including at Gallipoli, that they relinquished their WAFL licence.

North Fremantle had a WAFL Team, before World War I

“I wasn’t keen on letting my house go – I’d worked for it” is a wonderful quote from an ABC story a couple of years ago, by Carmel Mullally.

Here is a cottage that is more Castle than The Castle.

As they say in The Castle, “It’s not a house. It’s a home.”

There’s not a lot of serenity in a land dominated by a Tetris-like skyline of sea containers and rumbling trucks and bustling forklifts competing for who can be the loudest but it does feel quintessentially Australian that no only is life from another time hanging on in an industrial jungle but that it has also been allowed to survive and hasn’t just been squashed by dropping a sea container on it.

It’s not a house. It’s a home.

Over 800,000 sea containers were handled at Fremantle Harbour in the past year and if you’re not buying local for your Christmas presents I’d be getting those online orders in quickly.  I’m not into train spotting but I do like a bit of big industry spotting.  Here are logistics in action; shifting, lifting, scraping and storing. 

Fremantle Harbour is One Big Tetris Game

Why is the North Mole Lighthouse Red? It’s over 115 years old and is a great spot for some big rod fishing or quiet sitting at sunset.

Port Beach has reopened after the horrific shark attack last weekend.  I was down there and saw the incredible efforts of police and rescue agencies to use every resource they had.  If you’re not sure about getting back into the water, it’s a beautiful beach for sitting on the sand or in the waterfront café which looks out to a view that extends to South Africa.

North Fremantle offers you the opportunity to immerse yourself in an experience of sea, river, music and mooching.  It’s definitely worth an afternoon wander that perhaps turns into sitting on Port Beach or standing at the North Mole Lighthouse to watch the sun go down before watching the lights comes up at a live venue for an act that, if you’re lucky, might be my daughter!

Leopards and Lifesavers on ABC Saturday Breakfast

On ABC Saturday Breakfast we discovered Port Kennedy and Secret Harbour. There’s no port and there’s no harbour. But there’s still a lot to do and for us to talk about.

When I was a boy, the area was wild and the only inhabitants were an odd collective of shack owners and my girlfriends family had a holiday shack at what was then known as Long Point and the sandy track needed a real four drive to get out there.

I tried desperately to reach her in my Ford Escort and failed miserably.  Merrilee’s dad had to come and rescue the little Escort from a sandy grave.

These days there are boat ramps, golf courses and a golf pro shop that is unique in Australia as the only golf pro shop to sell pies and sausage rolls.  They’re not made by Titleist or Callaway, these are freshly delivered by the Pinjarra Bakery!  You can buy a few new tees for your golf bag and sneak a sausage roll into the side pocket. Just don’t drop your crumbs on the green.

Port Kennedy has a Leopard tank!  Nearly 10 metres long and 42 tonnes of steel tracks, turret and gun barrel.  A bunch of these steel behemoths were gifted to communities across WA and expect to see them on your travels through our towns, including Esperance, Geraldton and Bunbury but this is a great stop during your trip to Port Kennedy and Secret Harbour and I know it’s not quite a battleship but sitting on the barrel like Cher makes a great photo.

The tanks never left our shores, never fired a shot in anger and were used to train army personnel and feature in exciting tv recruitment advertisements.   

Scientific Park sits alongside the sea from Long Point and extends down to Secret Harbour.  From a science perspective the area provides a record of sea level and shoreline changes going back 7,000 years and from a visitor perspective the park is one of the Bush Forever sites that we last talked about when we discussed Mirrabooka so low impact recreation is allowed, like walking on paths and not running up and down the dunes.

Our good friend and activity, geocaching, is also on offer in the Scientific Park.  Download a geocaching app and see what you can find in Scientific Park and also in nearby Lagoon Park where you can also usually find some black swans hanging around.

Remember when playgrounds were just at the corner of ovals and featured a steel slide that even in winter had families using them as barbeques?

There are lots of good playgrounds around Perth but this summer, for a daytrip with your kids or the grandkids, the day can kick off with a bang at the Harbour Playground.  There are big things to climb up, jump off, scramble through and swing down and has an underwater theme with seaweed ropes, whirlpool nets and a giant octopus guarding its lair.

It’s a very accessible playground for kids with disability and the interpretive signage is also written in braille. It’s great to see councils investing in playgrounds that capture inclusiveness as well as imagination.

It is a great warm up act before walking through the dunes to the beach less than a minute’s walk away.

Would you like to meet the surf lifesaving crew with the biggest smiles in Perth?  The Secret Harbour Surf Life Saving Club.

Very smiley lifesavers

One of the reasons is that one of their members is 81-year-old Alan who joined as a young ‘un when he was 73.  Rebecca runs the Nippers down there and is famous for training her up and coming lifesavers to never stop smiling, even when people are doing the wrong thing on a beach that is famous for always having waves. Thanks for calling into the show Rebecca!

Secret Harbour is renowned for having the only beach in Perth that has waves all year round that is perfect for skim boarders, boogie boarders, beginner and professional surfers.  It’s a very popular beach on Boxing Day for debuting for all those Christmas present boogie boards.

It’s a wide beach that’s nearly 6 kilometres long so plenty of room for everyone to relax, paddle, splash and smash without getting in the way of other people.

Port Kennedy and Secret Harbour have Rockingham to the north and Mandurah to the south.  Both of those destinations are loved by Western Australians for the fishing and other aquatic activities from boats, jetties and beaches.

Utes, boats and jet ski’s are Port Kennedy institutions

Port Kennedy and Secret Harbour are a Hidden Treasure because  if you spend some time there this summer, between the two bordering tourist hot spots of Rockingham and Mandurah, you’ll find a quieter spot and you’ll find a car spot closer to the beach and playgrounds and you’ll also find a great pie from a golf pro shop, just don’t walk in there with sandy feet.

As published in Have A Go News newspaper and online … don’t let the players on the field have all the fun when you visit Optus Stadium

The Romans knew the value of a good stadium didn’t they?  Can you imagine doing a tour of the Colosseum when it was at its peak?  Game day at the Colosseum may have had more on the line for most of the participants but just to have walked through the service tunnels and holding cells and then maybe walking around the top, seeing up close the linen sails that extended outwards on elaborate rope and pulley systems to provide shade for the audience, would have been amazing.

Having zipped up my Ozone ‘Ghostbuster’ jumpsuit and climbed into my harness and adjusted my straps, I walk with the other members of our merry band through the bowels of Optus Stadium, past crates of plates and all sorts of things destined for what is above. There are no lions, gladiators, Roman centurions or terracotta amphorae filled with wine, but there’s still a lot going on.

But we’re going higher than those who are sitting in the seats and corporate boxes, we’re even going higher than the stadium’s halo roof, a continuous fabric cantilevered structure that circles the stadium, providing valuable shade and spectacular lighting displays.

Listen and lean

We’re heading more than 40 metres off the ground to a small row of seats where harnesses keep you safe but can’t restrain your excitement as you watch a match unfold from a perspective even Roman Emperors couldn’t dream about.

This is what amplifying your experience is all about when you come to Optus Stadium. Getting as much out of your experience as possible and being a part of the narrative of your adventure, not just relying on the teams playing on the field below you to provide all of the drama and excitement.

If the height and the view is not quite enough of a challenge then you can always do the lean out, relying on your tour leaders’ instructions and your harness to prevent your fall.  With your back to the field, you inch your way backwards, right to the very edge, and hold your harness line and then lean out and let go of your harness.

As good as I get at handballing

A few photos will be taken that show you holding your arms out or pretending to handball a footy.  I’ve already decided to do the tour again because I want to do the lean out and pretend I’ve gone up for a big mark of the footy. 

This experience is all about levels.  Literally and metaphorically.  You literally go up to the highest level of the stadium to reach your seat.  You ride a lift, climb 78 steps, emerge through hatches and at each level the view gets better and better. On a catwalk alongside the stadium lights, you walk around the stadium until you’re at the eastern end.

This is where you’ll find your seat, the highest seats in the house and if you think it can’t get any better that’s when you can take it to the next level and lean out over the edge. 

From a sporting perspective I enjoy my footy but have mates who love it more.  I couldn’t help thinking of my mates, not just for the excitement of the experience, but for the perspective you have with an aerial view. 

Every twitch of a player, the transfers of play, the switches and flow of the game is entrancing.  It’s like watching the coach’s magnet board come to life!

Don’t drop your chewy

As a precinct, get ready to do more than watch some great sport when you come to Optus Stadium. Get ready to participate.  Get ready to lean out off the edge of the most beautiful stadium in the world and let rip with a huge scream. 

With the HALO experience, Matagarup Bridge climb and soon to be launched 400m zipline, plus Aboriginal cultural tours and stadium behind the scenes tours, there’s so much you can do with your time when you visit Optus Stadium.

There doesn’t even need to be a game on.  Optus Stadium is more than a beautiful sporting arena, it’s already got history and atmosphere and even though it’s new, it has that rite of passage feeling about it that means you want visit it, whether you’re visiting Perth or looking for a day out if you live in Perth.

Want to Know More?

The Ozone booking office and merchandise store is located at the western end of Optus Stadium and their website is www.theozone.com.au.

Verdict

With only a moderate level of fitness you can do the game day rooftop experience all year long, or on a quiet weekday with no sport. The HALO experience will meet your need for an awesome view and level of excitement with great staff and great harnesses. And you get a free cap!