What’s your worst travel experience? Come on, can you beat a few of mine?

On ABC Saturday Breakfast we like to keep things inspiring and exciting but sometimes to do that we have to remember those moments that were less than perfect.

There’s certainly been a lot of excitement about being able to travel again.  It might be time to reunite with loved ones, use that voucher for travel that was cancelled because of the pandemic or maybe it’s the first family trip overseas?

There’s a lot to be excited about but on Hidden Treasures we thought we’d look at some of the experiences that have become great stories but at the time might have caused a bit of anxiety or discomfort.  Have you been stuck in an airport sleeping on a plastic chair because of delayed flights?  Have you been bitten by something?  Have you had non-stop rain or got bogged with a rising tide on the beach?

Think about it!  What story are you more interested in?  The glistening toilet in a six-star resort suite or a bucket on a barge, one night on the border between Malaysia and Thailand.

I love any good story and I think some of the best stories in the world are survival stories.  Surviving storm tossed seas, stumbling over endless dunes in the Sahara, being attacked and left for dead by a bear!

But there are also those survival stories, those horrible tales that are told when we’re home safe and sound from our travels.

Having to sleep on a plastic chair in a busy airport with one eye open to guard your luggage.  Having to sleep on a plastic chair in a busy airport while they try and find your luggage.

To help us along I’ve come up with four categories:

Bureaucracy:

Travelling with my daughter and being detained in South Africa due to bureaucracy around child slavery laws.

Being stuck in an airport in the middle of the night with a toddler.

Events:

Attending the Indian festival of Deepavali in a far away land and feeling even further away after being hit in the head by a street lit firework that was aimed at my head.

Critters:

Being attacked by a flesh-eating spider in Borneo and forgetting my bedroom was split level.

Just like the scene in Memphis Belle when they’re panicking over whose blood is all over the cockpit, my scenario was in a tinny, deep in the jungles of Perak in Northern Malaysia.  Leeches!

Accommodation:

Hotels in Rome are less hit and miss these days but I definitely got the miss on my first visit.  The pillow slip had been made in Ancient Roman times and barely held the mouldy pieces of foam where I was expected to rest my head. Nothing worse than a bad bed.

Houseboats.  For me, a category on their own.  I’ve stayed on a barge in the jungle with hygiene the Dark Ages would have been proud of and with a toileting task that required me to move my movements from the toilet on one side of the boat to the other. With a soup ladle.  I wasn’t eating anything that came out of that kitchen.

I’ve also stayed on what could only be described as a non airconditioned donger with floats, with two sets of my greatest friends who by the end of the trip were close to being my greatest enemies.  Tempers flared as temperatures rose. Lost items overboard. Bird sized mosquitoes.

Traditional Longhouse in Borneo.  Not so bad as a cultural experience but when you’ve had a few Tiger beers and you’re at the end of the longhouse and getting up for a wee in the middle of the night means walking on creaking bamboo slats that wakes everyone up it’s embarrassing and means you can’t get up again.

Motels by the side of highways.  If it’s not roadtrains going past it’s the the Peters Ice Cream truck parked outside with the genny on the truck running to stop the drumsticks from melting.  All night long …DRDRDRDRDRRDR.

Worst travel experiences are Hidden Treasures because as long as you’ve survived, you’ve got a great story and maybe a photo as well. Worst travel moments are hidden treasures because they’re character building.  God! I sound like my mother!

As Published in Just Ubane (May): Singapore in a Hurry

The May issue of Just Urbane has just been published and inside you’ll find my story about a weekend in Singapore, just a weekend. Just Urbane is India’s leading lifestyle magazine with a print circulation of nearly 80,000 and online subscription readership of much more than that.

Enjoy my story in the file above but to read all my stories in Just Urbane, every month, take out a subscription with Just Urbane by clicking on: https://www.justurbane.com/subscribe-justurbane

Lau Pa Sat satays are the best in the world (sorry mum!)

Have You Travelled for a Special Milestone or Occasion?

It was Ro’s idea that we do a Hidden Treasure show about travelling for a special occasion or milestone. She had just returned from yet another trip to the Kimberley, this time for the birthday of a favourite aunty.

Landing in Broome … again

On Hidden Treasures we often find ourselves focused, or more accurately – distracted – by the reasons for travel.  We’ve talked recently about rites of passage and hometowns, and we started thinking about other reasons why we head to a destination.

Sometimes it’s for the bucket list, sometimes it’s to get a tan.  What about when it’s for an occasion?  Have you travelled to attend a wedding? Have you travelled for a birthday celebration, or perhaps conspired with your partner to secretly elope?

This weekend on Hidden Treasures, we’re exploring the travels we’ve done to mark a special occasion.  Where’s the furthest you’ve been for a wedding, a birthday, a funeral, a wedding anniversary, or another occasion you might like to tell us about.

Did you still have to buy a present or was attending a far flung destination considered a good enough gift?

The first time my wife Rebecca and I travelled overseas was for a wedding.  In his grooms speech, in front of a setting Tuscan sun, Simon remarked quite accurately that the wedding was an excuse for most guests to have a broader European experience. 

A wedding in Tuscany was actually part of a ‘broader European experience’

Affordable luxury for a large group is also a motivating factor in travel for an occasion. My friend Annie got married in Bali because she wanted a luxury experience for all of her guests that in her hometown was going to be difficult to accomplish.

I’ve been to Broken Hill for a wedding and I doubt I would have ever visited Broken Hill if not for the invitation to attend a wedding. 

That’s the point isn’t it.  It’s the destinations you got to go to that you may not have ever gone to without an event to attend.

It’s not just weddings, birthdays and other occasions, I’m also interested in those life milestones that inspire travel, like Josh getting his P plates a couple of weeks ago.  For his first time driving solo, where did Josh go? Did he play The Triffids ‘Wide Open Road’ as he took off?

One of the best pre-Covid travel opportunities to mark special occasions was in the cruising industry where as many as 50% of passengers list a special occasion as the reason for travel. 

On ‘The Love Boat’ it always seemed to be someone’s wedding anniversary or birthday.  Captain Stubing always seemed to have a plate of cake in his hand.

We love talking about reasons to travel because sometimes it has to be more than a holiday that gets us somewhere.  Traveling for an occasion is a hidden treasure because it can get us somewhere we might not otherwise have thought about going to and just like those words from Simon about the “broader European experience”,  once you’re there you can go anywhere. 

ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast: Visiting the sites of your favourite tv shows and movies

Have you ever sat in the cinema, watching the latest blockbuster with your favourite stars and with glee realised that the action is happening somewhere you have been?

Have you travelled the backroads of Bali like Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love?  Have you done your best James Bond pose in Thailand at James Bond Island?

Did you know that throughout Western Australia, particularly in Perth, there have been hundreds of movies and tv series filmed in Perth, using locations from apartment blocks to jetties, from corner stores to iconic beaches.

For ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast we had great fun hearing from listeners who gave us their experiences of being in tv show and movies filmed around Western Australia.

Listen to the audio below or just read on …

As a child, my love of travel and describing travel was inspired by seeing places on the screen I wanted to go to.  In 1980, sitting in the Narrogin Town Hall watching The Gods Must Be Crazy inspired me to get to Africa and Alby Mangels World Safari series inspired me to explore my own backyard – but in slightly longer shorts.

It’s more than just the thrill of seeing on the screen somewhere you’ve been to. It’s the glory of the gloat!

Just recently I sat in the cinema with my family and watched the latest James Bond movie and turned to tell them that he was racing through the streets of Matera in his Aston Martin and that I had spent time in Matera a couple of years ago. 

In Perth we have our own tv and movie sites and we have an army of people who have been in these productions. 

I get to tell the true story that I was in a movie with Russell Crowe.  I wasn’t a gladiator, I was a horny teenage boy in Love in Limbo.

Let’s work our way through some productions that you might have seen from the comfort of your sofa or with a choc-top at the movies or maybe have been in!

  • Ship to Shore (1993-1996):  Lots of recognisable locations around Point Peron that look back to Garden Island to give the show the feel that it was set on an island.  Walk the Point Peron trails and you’ll feel like you’re going to stumble into the bumbling Hermes.
  • Clowning Around (1992): Public Transport Station was used for some scenes in this quirky movie about a kid who dreams of becoming a clown.
Perth Transport Centre. Bit weird then. Still weird now. Clowning Around filmed scenes here in 1992.
  • Love in Limbo (1993): You might be distracted by me on the screen but look past the sparkling eyes and you’ll find Mount Lawley Senior High School, the carparks of Cottesloe Beach, including Van Eileens.
  • Wind (1992): Nobody puts baby in a corner but she will stand outside the gates of the Fremantle Sailing Club. Jennifer Grey starred in this America’s Cup movie.
  • The Shark Net (2003): Lots of Kings Park scenes and locations around Cottesloe tell the story of Robert Drewe and the time and place that was the setting for Eric Edgar Cooke’s murderous mayhem.
  • Bran Nue Dae (2009): The old west end of Fremantle was used for quite a few location shots as well as Clontarf Aboriginal College in Waterford but Broome gets most of the action with Sunset Pictures, Chinatown, Matso’s Brewery and the famous condom tree out at Roebuck Plains Station.
This Cliff Street facade in Fremantle featured in Bran Nue Dae
  • Cloud Street (2011): Lots of river locations in Cloud Street and I’d be interested to hear what jetty listeners think Fish Lamb jumped off.
  • Paper Planes (2014): Make some paper planes and fly them around the Aviation Heritage Museum, just pick them up afterwards!
  • H is For Happiness (2019): If you’re travelling to Albany to escape the summer heat, give the City of Albany a call and they can provide you with a list of locations where this great movie was filmed, from shops and cafes in the main street, little boat yards, quirky houses and the local high school.
  • The Heights (2019): This is my favourite Perth show to find the sites for.  It’s a great walking tour through locations in Northbridge and East Perth.
Ton Sian Groceries is the neighbourhood store in ABC tv show, The Heights

TV show and movie location sites are a great hidden treasure to discover in Perth because they get you out on a pop culture treasure hunt. 

Everyone can look at the site and say, “Oh! I always thought it would be bigger!” and stand on the spot and pretend to be Fish Lamb from Cloud Street, Uncle Max or Pav from The Heights, fly a paper plane at the Aviation Heritage Museum like Dylan, sing like Jessica Mauboy in Bran Nue Day or buy nude drawings like Chris Parry in Love in Limbo.

ABC Saturday Breakfast welcomes Santa Claus!

For the final program for 2021, Hidden Treasures on ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast went further than we’ve ever been before and brought in the biggest guest (sorry Ben Carlish) we’ve ever had … Santa Claus!

Santa left the studio very quickly when he heard the reindeers on the roof getting restless. In fact, he left so quickly that he left behind his notes about why the North Pole is a hidden treasure. It makes some interesting reading…

  • Mrs Claus’ Roadside Diner:

Come and do the all-you-can-eat buffet, Covid safe of course, with free iceberg slushies or marvel at Mrs Claus’ special menu low calorie oat milk eggnog and brown rice sushi that I’ll be tucking into on Christmas Day because Santa needs to get down a notch or two on his belt. 

  • Polar Bear Safari:

Fun Fact! Sir David Attenborough told me this one. Do you know why the polar bear won’t attack an Emperor penguin? Because the polar bear lives in the North Pole and Emperor penguin lives in the South Pole! Come aboard a Tundra Buggy which is like a donga on big wheels and gets up close and safely to these bears that sometimes put snow on their noses to let them sneak up to seals, or Santa Claus, and go ‘Boo!’.

  • World’s Best Disco:

The Northern Lights, or as my Elf Chief Scientist likes to remind me, the Aurora Borealis.  These are a spectacular natural phenomenon that science says are particles from the sun striking atoms in the atmosphere blah, blah, blah, but the Ancient Greeks say and that they are made by Aurora, the sister of Helios and Seline (the sun and the moon) and she is racing across the sky in her multi coloured chariot alerting her lazy siblings to get up for the new day!

  • Reindeer Ranch:

Just down the road from my village is where you’ll find the Reindeer Ranch, including the Reindeer Top Gun flying school and after their flight debriefing they like to come out and meet people and do hoof print autographs for a small fee of one fresh carrot.

  • Santa’s Workshop:

Come and do the workshop tour that is very reasonably priced and comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by the Elf-In-Chief. This is my official residence and assembly line for all the toys that the elves still manufacture, although many are now outsourced to parents with wonderfully small font instructions in many languages, on how to assemble them in only 4-6 hours.

The North Pole is a hidden treasure because while the biggest land predator on Earth might be stalking you at any moment with teeth like the saw of a timber mill, there is vibrant and mesmerising colour in the sky better than any kaleidoscope you’ll get in your stocking and there is the most wonderful magic and spirit you’ll find in the world, the magic and spirit of Christmas!

Ro and I were so excited to meet Santa. Merry Christmas! Let’s do it all again in 2022, after a little rest.

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!

As published in Just Urbane … Mount Agung … twice!

Enjoy the link below to my story in Just Urbane about climbing Mount Agung in Bali. About six hours up and let’s say about seven hours coming down.

This active volcano is visible from anywhere on the island of Bali. While it may be a while before we can get back to this amazing island there is nothing wrong with dreaming about it and doing a little bit of planning.

Just because it’s Bali, don’t think this is easy

As published in the West Australian … Ramming Speed!

Originally published by the West Australian newspaper and on http://www.waterwanderers.com.au

Chris Parry and family enjoy a wander along the river on a kayaking tour.

Have you noticed the blue sky that is finally above us?

As I paddled my way up the Swan River in a Water Wanderers kayak, I was reminded of a career a long time ago, singing and serving on the wine cruise boats that made their way up to Mulberry Farm and other Swan Valley destinations.

Leonie Cockman from the Water Wanderers has an easier job than I did when I worked on the river. She doesn’t have to put on a cabaret act while making sure sozzled people don’t jump overboard. She also provides a better lunch than the cheese cubes sweating on yellow serviettes in cane baskets that I used to serve.

My Water Wanderers tour of Ascot Waters started out as a Fathers’ Day prize and Leonie offered to take the whole family on the water. A late change in the line-up saw my brother Jamie step in and he was partnered with Tom, while my kayak partner was Matilda.

After a briefing on the correct paddling technique, we forgot everything Leonie taught us and launched the kayaks at Adachi Park in Maylands, setting off up river. Both kayaks were sea-going and equipped with rudders controlled by the paddler at the back. I quickly got the hang of lining up Jamie and Tom amidships and calling out to Matilda, “Ramming speed!” Tom would holler in horror and then berate his Uncle Jamie for not avoiding the collision. I was happy to then withdraw our bow, paddle away and leave my brother to deal with my son’s protestations.

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Ramming speed! Picture: Chris Parry

While not strictly encouraging this behaviour, Leonie was laughing, which is all the encouragement I need. She was in her own kayak and would skim around us, pointing out the features of the riverbank and cautioning us when craft bigger than ours — and they were all bigger — came cruising past.

We threaded our way through the moored array of boats at the Maylands Amateur Boatbuilding Yard, which is just 4km from the centre of Perth and provides a place for boat builders to plane and hammer their days away, dreaming of tight hulls and firm decks.

WA has a great history of boatbuilding and it was an important indicator of the early success of our colony that boatbuilding was been established on the Swan River, utilising local timbers.

Just a little way up the river is Tranby House, one of the colony’s oldest surviving buildings and the site of one its first farms. Built in 1839, it was the third house to be built on what was known as Peninsula Farm.

These days, Tranby House and Peninsula Tea Gardens cater to weddings and events, and are open for high tea every day of the week, serving tea in Royal Albert china.

As we continued upriver, we stayed close to the banks to make sure we got a good look at the birdlife along the way, including eastern great egrets, white-faced heron, pelicans and black swans.

Being in a kayak provided a real sense of being part of the environment around us. I felt I was more observant and was hearing more than I ever had on any of the motorised adventures I’ve had on the river.

As we paddled into Bayswater waters, Leonie pointed out the bat boxes attached to the shoreline trees in the Baigup Wetland.

Designed to attract bats looking for a home, this project aims to reduce mosquito populations. One bat may consume over 1000 mosquitoes in an evening and they are considered an effective and ecological alternative to chemical spraying to reduce mosquito numbers on the river.

Just before the Garratt Road Bridge, we crossed to the other side of the river and made our way through the wetlands to find a suitable landing for our sturdy craft. Leonie pulled out chairs and baskets from the kayaks’ storage holes and very quickly we’d set up a picnic camp.

From one basket, Leonie produced bottles filled with homemade lemonade. The sprig of mint within each bottle was a touch of genius, although as it was treated with great suspicion by my six year old lad. “A stick with leaves is in my drink!”

Leonie had made an absolute feast for our group and we each had a favourite. For Jamie, it was the vegetable quiche. For Matilda, it was the banana jam with coconut sprinkled on top, and for me, it was the homemade bread. Tom devoured a glass jar with peanut, caramel and pretzel chocolate cheesecake in hypnotic silence, save for the sound of the little metal spoon scraping the inside of the jar.

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After lunch, we returned our craft to the water and made our way through the wetlands before emerging back into the river proper, where we hit the sort of wind I can imagine drove the early Dutch sailors crashing into our shores. Paddles dug deep and fortitude dug deeper. I realised that as I dug my paddle into the water I was pushing my feet forward on the rudder pedals, causing the rudder to shift to the left and then to the right with each desperate paddle thrust. This caused us to lurch to port then lurch to starboard, unsettling Matilda, who was convinced we were about to be introduced to Davy Jones somewhere deep below — or, at the very least, fall among the big, brown jellyfish that surrounded our pitching vessel.

It was a short trial by wind — perhaps 500m, maybe a bit less. As our kayaks ground on the shore we’d departed from just hours earlier, we unzipped our life jackets and dropped our paddles with relief and regret. Relief to be off the water, away from the wind, and regret to be off the water, away from our adventure.

The Water Wanderers operate throughout the year and have a range of different river tours available, including a spectacular sunset tour. The Ascot Waters tour is available Wednesdays and Saturdays. No experience is necessary and, as Tom and Jamie proved, age is no barrier. Now how’s that for getting in a dig at an older brother?

Want to know more?

See waterwanderers.com.au.

For ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast … don’t be bashful, don’t be shy, step on up and have a try! Enjoy a showcation by getting to a regional show.

For Hidden Treasures on ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast, Ro and I were joined by my good mate Tom, who coincidentally is my son.  Tom gave some wonderful descriptions about his favourite showbags, rides and why reggae bananas aren’t a very good prize.

Listen to our chat in the link below and read below about the things we love most about regional shows in the notes below:

Whether you follow the traditional seasons or the cultural seasons, it’s nice to know that we’re headed for some sunshine.  But there is another season upon us and it’s one that should have us checking our tyre pressures, making a new roadtrip playlist and filling up the tank for a big day out or maybe even a weekend away. 

This is the season for regional agricultural shows. The smell of hot donuts is in the air! It’s time for a showcation!

Could there be a better reason to go for a drive?

Could there be a better reason to visit a town you haven’t explored?

Could there be a better reason to go down the road less travelled?

Could there be a better reason to make up a new Spotify playlist that caters for all ages in the car as long as they like Lindsay Buckingham’s Holiday Road and John Denver’s Country Roads.

Have a look at the Agricultural Society website and you can search by date or town and see what’s coming up.  We can’t mention every show but let’s give a shout out to a great little bunch of shows coming up that are just a couple of hours away:

  1. YORK 4 September
  2. MOORA 18 September
  3. TOODYAY 9 October
  4. KATANNING 23 October
  5. NARROGIN 16 OCTOBER – Best poultry shed in the southern hemisphere.
  6. GIDGEGANNUP 30 October – 75th Anniversary and Gordon the Show President says that all his volunteers live with the creed, “Put a country show on the city doorstep.”  This year the Gidgy Show will feature a sheep dog guiding sheep through the actual show pavilions and stalls.  Not a paddock, but through the actual show.

Agricultural shows are really important to country communities.  It’s a time for volunteers, it’s a time to show off local art and crafts, jams and chutneys, biscuits and cakes and collections of bottles and barbed wire and for Mayors to award blue ribbons.  There are deals to be made over the purchase of a new tractor and decisions to be made over which rooster has the plumiest feathers and which ram has the biggest marble bag.

Make an offer at a regional show.

There are also some other important decisions to be made and that’s why I need the help of Tom who fills me with joy and empties my wallet.

The season of agricultural shows brings together at least two of Tom’s loves …. Roadtrips and the Narrogin Show.

  • There is no better indicator of character type … what showbag do you buy and when do you buy it, at the start of the show or the end?
  • Showbag memories … Mills and Ware suitcase, Schweppes Bicep Challenge and the best ‘In my day’ reference you can make ….. the Bertie Beetle.
  • Lost Dad Tents are proof that everyone is catered for.
  • Miracle Gadgets! A new way of peeling, grating, slicing and dicing vegetables or a magic cloth that washes and dries your car all by itself!
  • Enjoy the spruikers and their calls to get your participation to drop a ping pong ball down a clowns mouth. Calls like; 
    • “Every player wins a prize!” and “Don’t be bashful! Don’t be shy! Step on up and have a try! 
    • And the bumper car calls accompanied by a Bon Jovi soundtrack, “Left hand down!  Left hand only!” and “One way ‘round drivers, one way only!”
Left hand down drivers! Left hand down only!

Regional agricultural shows are hidden treasures because they provide the lure to get you out there.  To see a town you love or have never been to.  To see a community come together. To see big tractors and big sheep.  To self-proclaim yourself the best bumper car driver and eat food that is good for you, as long as it’s only once a year.

For me it’s about spending time with my best mate.  The Royal Show is just 20 minutes drive from my house but the Narrogin Show, The Gidgy Show and so many others, are a bit further away and that time together is real treasure.

Every player wins a prize….even if it’s just a reggae banana

ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast: Why Gosnells is like peeling an orange.

Gosnells … like peeling an orange, the segments of a vibrant and historic community are revealed.

There is a public art sculpture in the heart of Gosnells.  The heart of Gosnells is very busy and as traffic belts along Albany Highway and the shops on its edges clamour for your attention, stop and look at this sculpture and watch it reveal itself and in so doing, reveal the suburb it represents.

It’s called ‘The Pioneers – The Peeled Orange’, and as the orange is peeled away the segments reveal the people who worked in the orchards which were so abundant in the area upon settlement as part of the Swan River Colony.

It’s an accurate reflection of the workers in the orchard but it’s also an accurate reflection of the many segments in Gosnells that come together to make it whole. 

For Hidden Treasures let’s explore another of our suburbs that get driven through quickly and see if we can find some reasons to stop a while in a community that is enjoying the fruit of its labours in creating new spaces and places to sit a while.

Let’s start with a brisk walk through the Ellis Brook Valley Reserve where you’ll find yourself in the richest, most diverse wildflower location in the metropolitan area.  There are a range of wilderness trails of varying difficulty and the Easy Walk Trail has very good wheelchair access and a great view of Perth.  Just make sure you take enough water as there aren’t any water facilities in the Reserve.

The Mills Park Nature Play Space is the only play space in Perth where if a child, parent or carer, falls off the log path you’ll fall into wetlands.  It’s a remarkable space that has a slightly elevated pathway over a wetland that is full of paperbark trees.  With flying foxes, opportunities to make cubbies and lots of ways to get really dirty it’s a park with a real sense of adventure and activity.

Mills Park Nature Play … enjoy falling in!

For a bit of settler history and a great look at some old agricultural machinery and vintage motor cars have a look at the Wilkinson Homestead. When I was out there, local volunteers were dressed for the part for a visiting school group and the homestead, built in 1912, is fitted out with period furniture and displays that reflect the rural settler life of Gosnells.  There’s even an outside dunny to scare the kids.

Wilkinson Homestead

With the hustle and bustle of Albany Highway giving us most of our impression of Gosnells you might be surprised to learn there is a very quiet and most splendid wetland that is home and refuge to waterbirds, frogs and turtles.

The Mary Carroll Wetlands has walking trails alongside the two lake systems and is ringed by pristine bushland. It’s a great spot to enjoy a bit of nature and you can get involved with its protection by joining the Friends of Mary Carroll Wetlands and do some seed collection and revegetation activities.

Mary Carroll Wetlands

The Centennial Pioneer Park sits between the Gosnells cbd and the Canning River, which is flowing like the Avon at the moment. 

This park is overlooked by the impressive Spinning a Yarn sculpture and Aboriginal mosaic mural and the park features a tree top walk and an amphitheatre and playground. It is also where the naughty and noisy birds from the peaceful Mary Carroll wetlands are sent to. These are the birds who love to sing loudly and over the top of every other bird.

Hidden Treasures loves urban art. In the heart of Gosnells is a self-guided 40-minute walking tour of public artworks, including murals in little laneways and sculptures on street corners and overlooking the Canning River.  Two of my favourites aren’t the biggest on the trail but they’re the two that made me smile the most, and pull out my camera. 

The Peeled Orange

Firstly, the Peeled Orange, that we’ve already mentioned, is a tip of the hat to the historical European settlement days when orange groves were seen throughout the area.  The sculpture shows different people in the segments of the orange, including the farmer, his wife and the labourers who worked in the orchards.  My second favourite is just a couple of big strides down the street where you’ll find a possum, turtle and lizard peeking from underneath a manhole cover and about to make a run for it along the footpath.  It’s about the hope of the community for nature to live within the community.

The Gosnells Railway Markets are a regular weekend market so there’s no need to look up when they’re on next.  There’s a steam train and diesel train to look at and lots of stalls selling local produce, including cheesecakes and cookies and a great stall that is full of one of life’s essentials, Russian dolls. 

Lots of colour to be found at the Gosnells Markets

Now is probably a good time to duck into the most prominent building in Gosnells and home to lots of local events and celebrations or just a night out for good counter meal.  The Gosnells Hotel is the only pub I’ve found in Perth that does a brisket sandwich.  Brisket.  It’s meat like my Nana used to cook and it’s glorious.  

Inside … there is a brisket sandwich. Brisket.

Do you like a bit of fright in your night?  I don’t even like my motion sensor light going on outside. The Gosnells Ghost Walk is a tour that requires sturdy shoes and bravery. Now a little disclaimer, I haven’t done the tour yet but I’ve heard all about it from Miranda at the City of Gosnells who coordinates it and I’m booked and ready to go when they commence their next season under a full moon from February to April next year.

It’s a short season, the spirits can get a bit restless and it’s getting harder to find supernatural insurance cover.  With local support and paranormal participants, the tour explores the old timber mill and railway bridge and discovers deadly love triangles.

Are you up for the Gosnells Ghost Walk?

Gosnells is a hidden treasure because it’s about discovering wetlands and flowing rivers you didn’t know were there, discovering tree top walks and singing birds, finding a brisket sandwich and finding culture and history through public art, historic homesteads and night time walks to encounter the spirits from our colonial past.