ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast: Mr McGregor in our suburbs … it’s actually not scary at all.

Outside Broadcast, live from City Farm

Community gardens are thriving in our urban areas.  Some are inspired by a commercial opportunity to support a business, some are designed to teach kids how to get dirt under their fingernails and others are designed to be opportunities to make connections with people in your community who just want to grow some food or make better use of unused spaces.

The ABC is currently running a wonderful campaign to provide new books for kids who may never have held a new book.  I’m very lucky that growing up I was given many new books and one of my favourites was Peter Rabbit. 

As a kid in a country town I was a lot like Peter, sneaking into backyards with fig, loquat, and mulberry trees, brushing away the fruit flies for a sneaky snack.

There were some people though who didn’t like kids pinching their fruit and were after me to put me in a pie just like nasty Mr McGregor wanted to do with Peter. Those illustrations in Peter Rabbit that show him being chased through the neat rows of vegetables and little tool sheds remind me very much of my childhood.

Throughout Perth there are some amazing and inspiring examples of commercial gardens, local government coordinated gardens and community gardens organised by and for the community.

Forget Broome Time, come and enjoy some City Farm time.  Within a half hectare of space are rows of little plants, little sheds, wandering chickens and free range kids and opportunities to get noisy and dirty or just quietly wander around with your hands behind your back, leaning in occasionally to study the leaves of a plant and think about what you could do at home with a packet of seeds.

Overlooked by the urban world, community gardens are still thriving

I love the constant change of City Farm. Every time you come in here it’s different.  Things have grown or been pulled out to grow new things.  The markets can have odd shaped vegetables and flour bag pants and the following weekend have bee workshops and odd shaped fruit. 

It’s not hippy but it is hip. I feel like I can let Tom wander off on his own and he’s not going to come back dressed like John Butler but he may have a story to tell about a chicken he chased, or how he wants to grow some oddly shaped vegetables at home.

Further south you’ll find a garden you’re allowed to wander and explore called the Coogee Common.  It’s run by Scott and his gardens supply the restaurant that’s part of the premises, the old Coogee Hotel. Not only will you see the staff wandering around the garden snipping and picking bits and pieces for your brunch or lunch but you can get a tour with Scott once he’s finished making your meal.

Kale stalks at Coogee Common (according to Jo Trilling we blanch them)

He helped Tom overcome his fear of bees by showing him their hives, nestled in amongst a row of olive trees and rosemary bushes.  He showed us barrels of olives, stalks of kale, the fruit of the prickly pear and so many rows of vegetables and piles of little terracotta pots that once again I started having visions of Peter Rabbit running for his life.

Let’s get up to North Perth for a trio of community garden experiences.  Let’s start with the Kyilla Community Farmers Market.  Every Saturday morning this little market sets up camp at the Kyilla Primary School with farm direct and locally made produce, and the stalls are constantly changing to reflect what’s being grown.  Last weekend it was oyster mushrooms.  As a country boy familiar with walking the paddocks with a bucket and a knife and filling it up with field mushrooms the size of dinner plates, I scoff at these more elegant fungi but nevertheless they are delicious on a piece of heavily buttered toast in the morning.

Just around the corner in North Perth, on the rather aptly named Farmer Street, is the North Perth Community Garden that is growing community support as diverse as its produce, including the Warrigal Greens, an Australian and New Zealand native plant that’s a bit like spinach. It’s a quieter space than City Farm.  Nobody is going to ssssh you if you talk loudly but it does feel more contemplative and slower, as you plant or prune or toss some compost over the fence to stir up the neighbours who happen to be a Mens Shed who are helping make this area a precinct of peaceful activity for locals.

How cool is the North Perth area for community gardens and there’s more!  The City of Vincent has been featured on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia for its Edible Verges program which allows locals to make use of their verge spaces by allowing vegetable and herb gardens to be cultivated by residents.  If you find yourself driving through the suburbs of Vincent, take a moment to duck into some of the residential streets and check out just how many verges have replaced paving with crops.

Finally, let’s head over the Causeway to Victoria Park.  The Victoria Park Community Garden has been going for more than ten years and is a space that allows for the leasing of small allotments as well as communal spaces for an orchard and a frog pond that is popular with kids and reminded me of another Beatrix Potter classic, Jeremy Fisher, riding the river on his lily pad leaf and the illustration of the trout coming up from below.

The Victoria Park Community Garden uses a quote from Audrey Hepburn to inspire those who participate and visit, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow” and with the high participation of young people at this garden there’s a lot to be hopeful for.

Community Gardens are Hidden Treasures because they remind us what being in a community is all about and the importance of good old fashioned busy bees to keep people involved and the great thing about a busy bee is the drink at the end of the day in the company of grimy, dirty people just like you. Community Gardens have stacks of pots, lots of rakes and shovels and rows of odd shaped plants and I’m still reminded of Mr McGregor’s garden but I’m not afraid anymore.

Live on air in the fresh air

A Wheatbelt Weekender

There’s some bias to be declared. I’m a Narrogin boy.  I haven’t lived there since 1988 but it’s still where I call home and my kids love getting back there every year to see where I went to school, got into fights, played sport (sometimes well, sometimes not) and the houses I lived in.

For this trip we’re doing some different bush walks and we’re also going out onto a farm to drive across paddocks and throw nets into a dam and catch some yabbies which can be called coonacs, gilgies and I’m still not sure what the difference is.

Having checked in to the local motel we grab our coats and trekking poles and head off to Foxes Lair, a local woodland full of trails of varying lengths.

We take the Granite Walk which is only just over a kilometre but has what we’re looking for; lots of granite boulders to scramble up and over and the Old Rifle Range where we successfully fossick for bullets embedded in the old mound behind where the targets would have been placed.

Having secured in the Parry annals our somewhat surprisingly successful archaeological experience, it’s time to make our way out of town to try our luck at catching some yabbies.

Driving across the paddocks to get to the dam attracts the attention of the sheep who all thought we’re there to feed them and they watch every move we make.

We pulled in hundreds of yabbies using nets and we also tried the old way of meat on a string being slowing pulled in.  Slowly, Tom.  Slowly.

We were on a strict catch and release experience but if we were catching what we caught it would have been a feast for the ages.

Speaking of dinner, the sun was getting low in the sky and the glow of a slow burning tree stump reminded us it was getting late and it was time to think about dinner.

A chicken parmy at the pub for dinner, the venerable Duke of York, was the one request of the kids and I half succeeded.  In the world of Covid19 we couldn’t eat at the pub but they happily cooked up a parmy storm and delivered it to our motel room on the top of the hill.

The following day is spent slowing winding our way north through small towns and slightly bigger than small towns; Cuballing, Popanyinning, Pingelly, Brookton, Beverley and York.  Beverley in particular was thriving with art galleries and cafes open to all and lots of murals on the walls of shops in the main street.

We take some time on the way back west to Perth to explore the Wambyn Nature Reserve, a gentle woodland with easy tracks that is a nice diversion from the heavy traffic heading back into Perth.

That’s it.  A weekender with plenty of time exploring the outdoors and plenty of time in the car exploring each our Spotify playlists.  Something for everyone, the perfect roadtrip.

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Above: Foxes Lair, Granite Walk

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Above:  Whether you call them yabbies, coonacs, gilgies or marron…they’re great fun to catch and eat.

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Above: A few of the local lads.

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Above: The gorgeous Narrogin Town Hall

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Above: Down a little laneway in York

With Russ and Nadia on ABC Breakfast Radio: What have you taken from a hotel room? Be honest now.

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Wonderful discussion on the ABC Breakfast Show with some very funny talkback callers confessing to all sorts of things that have just ended up in their bags.

Do we leave our values and compliance with rules at home when we check in to a hotel?  As the hotel card is pushed down to activate the lights do you scan for what you can put in your bags?  Pens? Notepads? Body Lotion? Do Not Disturb Sign? Lamps? Batteries from the tv remote?

I’m a pen guy.  Love them.

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Above: My favourite hotel pen from The Palace of the Lost City in Sun City, South Africa.  If you’re reading this Sun City it was my daughter Matilda who put the pen in my bag.

My son Tom is still worried the Narrogin Police are chasing after him for taking the complimentary biscuits in the room at the Narrogin Albert Facey Motel.

The Top 10 items taken from hotel rooms:

  1. Pens and notepads
  2. Do Not Disturb signs
  3. Shower Gel, body lotion, shampoo
  4. Box of tissues
  5. Coathangers
  6. Globes
  7. Batteries
  8. Towels
  9. Slippers
  10. Robes

Things you will likely be charged for include:

  1. Robes and linen
  2. Emergency torch
  3. Kettle
  4. Hair dryers
  5. Art work
  6. Wheels on the bottom of the bed

Pocket a pen, squirrel away the toiletries and maybe take a few tissues if you need them but try and leave everything else for the next guest.

You’ve paid for the room, you haven’t paid for its contents.

 

ABC Perth Breakfast Show: Dark tourism popularity continues to rise

On the ABC Perth Radio Breakfast Show we recently discussed the continued popularity of dark tourism.

It doesn’t have to be morbid but it does have to involve death in wars, disasters, murders, terrorism or assassinations.

The darker side of history has meat on the bone and the gristle as well.  We try to put ourselves in the shoes of the fallen and maybe sometimes in the shoes of those responsible.

It’s about confirming our fears, confronting the reality of the history books we grew up with and perhaps providing closure on those images we’ve seen on tv’s in our own lounge room, like that Paris tunnel in 1997 or the New York City skyline in 2001.

The rise in tourist numbers at destinations such as Chernobyl, Fukushima, the concentration camps of World War II, prisoner of war camps in Sandakan and Ranau and the killing fields of Cambodia are all examples of a phenomenon that is attracting those seeking a broader understanding of the events that took place at those sites.

In Australia, many events and sites may be seen as dark tourism.  Off the Western Australian coast on the Abrolhos Islands in 1629 the Dutch East India Company ship Batavia ran aground and the ensuing mutiny saw 125 men, women and children brutally slaughtered. The islands can be visited for an understanding of these events and there are also museum exhibitions in Geraldton and Fremantle, displaying grisly skulls marked with the slashes of the mutineers swords.

In Snowtown, South Australia, the little bank where the bodies in the barrels were discovered in the late 1990’s is a popular stop for people wanting to take a quick pic.

Most issues in our lives have a line that we decide we will or won’t cross.  Dark tourism has many lines that cross in different directions, challenging our sense of morbidity, appropriateness and thresholds of respect.

It’s a great topic for publication and radio and sure to get you thinking about your own dark tourism bucket list.

6PR Radio: Kids Travel Bucket Lists … And Just A Little Bit of Toilet Humour.

 

 

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What a rollicking chat about travel toilets, kids travel bucket lists and we even found time to talk about some day trip options from Perth.

Kids travel bucket lists is a wonderful topic.  When I was a kid I always wanted to visit India because of Rudyard Kiplings story, Rikki Tikki Tavi, the story of a mongoose and his fight with some evil cobras.

We had a wonderful caller, Eloise, who described how she wanted to go to Hawaii because of the travel shows she had seen and some influences from social media as well.

Kids have travel dreams, just like grown ups.  I was able to take my daughter to Sun City in South Africa and on safari at Sanctuary Retreats Makanyane Safari Lodge because of her love for the romcom movie, Blended which featured South Africa and in particular Sun City Resort.

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ABOVE: SUN CITY WHERE MUCH OF THE ROMANTIC COMEDY MOVIE, BLENDED, WAS FILMED.

Books, movies, social media posts by celebrities and even sporting events inspire our destinations.  What a great way to decide where you’re going to go next!

As Published in Have A Go News: Top Ten No Tech Travel Accessories

Have A Go News newspaper recently published my list of the Top Ten No Tech Travel Accessories that you should have on every trip.  They’re also all lightweight and easy to store.

Aquatabs are as close as I get to panic prep packing but because they are easy to tuck in your toiletries bag with other medications they’re worth having if you ever doubt the safety of the water you’re drinking.

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Have a Go News is distributed throughout Western Australia to nearly 2000 community centres, recreation centres, supermarkets and more.

So, my Top 10, in no particular order but I must admit the first thing in any of my bags is a pen . . .

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Radio Melayu: Lets begin the winter fightback! Get packing!

I recently spent a brilliant evening on Radio Melayu chatting about my recent adventures and how we all need to find a way to get packing and escape winter by getting overseas or embracing winter and snuggling into a gorgeous resort down south.

The link below features descriptions for a few of my new favourite things, including Bali’s spectacular new resort the Apurva Kempinski Bali, Hong Kong Star Ferries and markets, Hong Kong Disneyland, Pullman Bunker Bay Resort and amazing airlines for travelling with children, including Malindo Air, Batik Air and Cathay Pacific.

 

 

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Top 10 Travel Essentials for Back in the Day … and Today.

Some of those golden rules about travel are still gold standard today.  The featured image for this story comes courtesy of my son Tom who took the photo while I was trying antigravity yoga at Four Seasons Jimbaran, a very safe and very luxurious resort in Bali.

Travel should increase your sense of daring but not heighten your sense of stupidity.  When we travel we should do things outside our comfort zone but not at the risk of needing a helicopter medical evacuation.

Similar to the choices we make when we travel, we need to consider what we travel with.  These days it’s the SIM cards, power banks, cables and chords to provide the life support systems for your phone which carries the apps, emails and photos of everything you need.  Or does it?

Back in the day, but still for me today, I have a standard list of ten things ready to go in my favourite bag.  I know they’re there if I need them and none of them need charging.

  1. Pen – Even if it’s just to complete the arrival card while you’re flying, it’s worth it.
  2. Alcohol swab – not to suck on if the bar prices are too high but for any scratch you get, particularly if you’re doing a bit of trekking.  Light to carry and easy to store in a pocket or wallet, just a quick wipe and you know that you’ve cleaned your little wound.  Also handy if you really need to touch a dodgy tap or door handle.
  3. Bags – Little zip lock bags and scrunched up shopping bags may be frowned upon these days but they have endless valuable uses when you travel.  They’re a quick and easy sick bag, storage for a phone if you’re heading near water, you can store wet clothes and unexpected things you’ve bought and you can safely store those stolen buffet breakfast items.
  4. Aquatabs – This is as close as I get to doomsday prepping when I travel but given they are light and easy to store it’s not like I’m stocking up on cartons of tomato soup for a nuclear winter.  If you get caught without a safe water supply these little tablets can save you and whoever you are travelling with.  In not much more time than it takes to dissolve, they turn a dodgy water source into a lifesaver.
  5. Safety Pin – This will make you look more presentable if you bust a button or zip and you can use it to carefully scratch at a splinter.
  6. Hard copy – Yes you’ve got all your passport copies, itineraries and bookings in your phone but what happens if the phone can’t save you because it’s broken or stolen? Save yourself by having copies (in a zip lock bag of course) and put them in the bottom of your bag hopefully never to be needed but they won’t take up any weight or space.  Countries like South Africa will want to see hard copies of travel documents, particularly if you’re travelling with a child.
  7. Tissues – Remember Elaine in Seinfeld being caught in a toilet with no paper and the lady in the next cubicle saying, “I haven’t got a square to spare.”  Last year in Italy I found myself in a cubicle with no paper and lets just say it was too late to back out of that situation.  Thankfully I remembered that in my little day bag I have a couple of tissues (in a zip lock bag of course) for that unexpected sneeze …. or worse.
  8. Spare glasses – If you need glasses you need to take a spare pair.  Why travel to see the sights if you can’t see the sights?
  9. Cut up photos in envelopes – This isn’t a dad joke bit it is the dad traveller in me. When tech fails and there’s a flight delay or other unexpected period of boredom, a few envelopes that have got cut up photocopies of photos make great jigsaw puzzles and keep young minds occupied for precious minutes.  Again, they’re light and easy to store.
  10. Repack – Not an item but a travel procedure.  Make time in your travels to repack and refamiliarize yourself with your belongings and where they are located in your bags.  Work out what you need for the next day and whether you need to keep the bundle of receipts from the days shopping. Is there anything you now realize you don’t need that you can donate to a local charity or post back home?

That’s my ten.  I like to think I’m a good traveller and that I cover bases for myself and those I travel with.  Remember it’s not just about what you’re prepared for but what those you’re with are prepared for.

The picture below is an example of where I possibly didn’t consider the wants of my travelling companion.

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Sorry mate.

 

 

Travel that throws you back

In the 1984 comedy movie, Top Secret, the French resistance group has a member whose name is De Ja Vu.  There is a scene in the movie where he is introduced to another character and he looks at him suspiciously and says, “Haven’t I met you somewhere before?”

Like deja vu, the sense of nostalgia can be triggered by an experience we are having.  I was reminded of this recently when I saw an Instagram post of a Sydney ferry.  Immediately I was taken back to 1983, pressing play on my red Sharp QT-12 cassette recorder to listen to Reckless by Aussie Crawl.  The line in the song about the Manly ferry cutting its way through to Circular Quay came straight back to me just looking at the Instagram post of a Sydney Ferry.

It reminded me of how our senses are heightened when we travel.  It works both ways as well.  When I travelled through South Africa with my daughter we noticed the Jacaranda trees in glorious purple bloom and it reminded us of the streets around our home in Perth.  Now when I see Jacaranda trees around Perth I’m reminded of travelling through South Africa with my daughter.

There’s so many other ways this can happen.  Like the Instagram photo, I read a travel article the other day that included a photo of Polignano A Mare in Pulia, Italy.  The photo was of a particular part of Polignano A Mare that I swam at, ruining many tourists photos.  It’s one of the great joys of travelling; the years afterwards when you see the places you have been to in movies and the news or read descriptions of them in stories.

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Ah!  Cream buns.  For me the sight and the smell reminds me of the Rottnest Bakery on a summers day.  Perhaps it triggers a memory for you of the Dunsborough Bakery or the bakery in your local town.

The sights and smells of our travels throw us back in time and similarly, the joy of travel will be triggered for the rest of your life  as you smell a cream bun or pad thai, check your friends social media posts or watch the latest blockbuster at the movies.  Revel in it!  Enjoy what travel can do to your senses and your memories!