ANZAC Day and the ANZAC Day long weekend: It can be about memorials, and maybe a bit more.

There’s a lot to think about on ANZAC Day and the ANZAC Day long weekend.  We thought for Hidden Treasures on ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast we would look at some of the sites around Perth and Western Australia that you can visit to remind you of the ANZAC story.

If you’re going to an ANZAC Day Service and want to experience a little more later in the day, or if you can’t get to a service but want to visit a site that is connected to our ANZAC history, we’ve put together a list of significant places you can visit to make silent contemplation your offering or perhaps find an adventure that helps tell you a story.

I grew up with men and women in my community who had been soldiers and nurses at Gallipoli and the Western Front in World War One.  They had been Prisoners of War on the Thai Burma Railway and they had dropped supplies to the soldiers on the Kokoda Track.  I knew their stories and felt connected to them because they lived in the streets around me.

There were also bunkers just out of town that had been built during World War 2 to store supplies and where we used to go for school holidays there were lots of adventures to be had exploring Point Peron which was a wartime observation post.

There are lots of places around Perth and Western Australia where you can find tangible reminders of our wartime past and the contribution made by our men, women and our communities. 

Some of the places in Perth and around the state include:

  • Point Peron/Leighton Tunnels/Oliver Hill: Observation posts, gun emplacements and storage bunkers.  Amazing to think these weren’t built as a tourist attraction.  These were designed to spot enemy ships attacking Fremantle Harbour.  They provide a view that lets you imagine what it must have been like to look out to sea with a pair of binoculars and having real fear that enemy ships might appear on the horizon.
Tunnel Tours at Rottnest and Leighton
  • Mount Hawthorn Bus Stops:  Gallipoli and Vietnam themed, complete with sandbags.
Bus Stops on Kalgoorlie St and Anzac Rd
  • ANZAC Cottage in Mount Hawthorn.  Built in a day!  In 1916, they started work at 3:30am and before the going down of the sun, a community finished building a house for John Porter and his family. John was with the 11th Battalion and landed at Gallipoli.
  • Broome Flying Boats: On 3 March 1942, Japanese fighters strafed Broome, including dozens of flying boats filled with refugees from Java, to escape the war.  At low tide in Roebuck Bay you can see up to 15 flying boat wrecks of PBY Catalina’s and Dutch Dorniers. Many refugees, including women and children, were killed either by gunfire or drowning and as you walk around these wrecks they are a physical reminder of when war came to our shores. 
  • Wireless Hill Station:  During World War 1 the navy took control of the Applecross Wireless Station and this is where a signal was received from the Cocos Islands that reported the position of the German Cruiser Emden which was then sunk by the HMAS Sydney. The navy again took over the station during World War 2 and communicated with ships off the coast using a mast over 100m tall.
  • HMAS Ovens: I asked Tom to research this for his ANZAC education and school holiday counter to boredom. This is what he came up with:
    • One of six 90m Oberon class submarines
    • Entered service in 1969, decommissioned in 1995
    • Crew size 63
  • ANZAC Centre Albany: Located on Mount Clarence this is one of the greatest interactive and immersive museum experiences in the world.  It looks out over the waters of Albany where many of the troopships left from. Follow the story of a service man or woman through the museum, not knowing if they survived the war until you finish your journey through the exhibits.
  • Merredin and Cunderdin: Major bunker complexes and airfields located throughout the wheatbelt and around Merredin and Cunderdin. There are still old aircraft hangers you can find and the remains of a World War 2 army hospital and a radar hut and concrete ammunition bunkers.  There’s also a museum located in Merredin that contains a lot of displays and memorabilia from all Australian conflicts.
  • Yanchep Bunkers: Walk up the Yanchep Rose Trail off Indian Ocean Drive.  In recent years these RAAF radar bunkers have been decorated by a local school with murals that are bright and discourage vandalism and tagging.
  • Corunna Downs Airfield: Just south of Marble Bar is one of World War 2’s greatest secrets. This is where B-24 Liberator bombers took off from runways over two kilometres long to attack Japanese bases from Singapore to Borneo, Java and other islands. You can still see the runways, bunkers, revetments and bits of rusted metal lying about the place. Also Nookanbah near Fitzroy Crossing,
  • Newcastle Gaol in Toodyay: Tells the story of the Toodyay connection to Prisoners of War in World War II.  Alma Beard trained at Royal Perth Hospital and was an army nurse, and four local men; Herb, Gordon and Tom Dorizzi and Reg Ferguson, were all killed after they’d been taken prisoner.  Alma was alongside Vivian Bullwinkle in the shores of Banka Island south of Singapore and the men were in the jungles of Borneo, west of the town of Sandakan.

Visiting sites that connect you to our wartime history is just as important as visiting a memorial site.  You can acquire knowledge and pay your respects to all of those who have served, particularly to those who died.

As Lord Byron wrote, “There are deeds that should not pass away, and names that must not be forgotten.”

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. 

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 Discovers Hidden Treasure in Bassendean

Hidden Treasures is coming off an amazing exploration last weekend of jetties around Western Australia and this weekend we thought we might slow down the pace of things.

A bit like when you’re on the country highways and hit those little towns that require you to slow down from 110 to 60, our next Hidden Treasure is about swinging in off a busy road and slowing down to the pace of life in a suburb that might remind you of growing up, or perhaps just visiting, a favourite country town.

Like those big entry statements that our country towns love, let’s give you a big ‘Welcome to Bassendean’!

Let’s start at the outskirts of Bassendean where you’ll find more trains than a Thomas the Tank Engine book. And carriages as well!

The Railway Museum in Bassendean is on the north side of the tracks and is as much about restoration as it is exhibition and is open every Wednesday and Sunday afternoon.

There are steam engines like the beautiful Katie, that began her service in 1881 on the Fremantle to Guildford line and big old diesel engines and carriages in various states of restoration and all with dreams of hauling people and cargo once more.

Katie

This year has been very important to the museum as it marks 150 years of railways in Western Australia when the first track was built in 1871 down near Busselton.

Just like so many heritage museums and sites around Western Australia, the Railway Museum would just be a scrapyard without volunteers to light the place up with enthusiasm and skill and the work they put into making the museum interesting to kids is wonderful, particularly the birthday parties in an old 1947 dining carriage.

Crossing over to the south side of the tracks, it’s just a short drive along Guildford Road to the intersection with Old Perth Road which is where you will find the main street of Bassendean.

I’ve been told to move on from banging on about jetties so I’ve picked a new subject to get all misty eyed about … main streets.

Bassendean is like a country town for lots of reasons but right up there at the top is its main street.  While the old Bassendean Hotel is still finishing its renovation there are shops and urban art on this street that are really enjoyable to explore and mooch your way through. 

The main street of Bassendean is just like the main street of country towns.  Last week I spoke about jetties being the first opportunities for independence, being allowed to be on a jetty without my parents, armed with a tackle box and a couple of handlines.

Old Perth Road, the main street of Bassendean

Main streets are the same.  I was allowed to walk down my hometown main street, looking at the book exchange, newsagency and ask the butcher for a slice of polony. As Sue and I had an earlier chat about, her kids could walk into the shops of the main street in her town and they were known as her kids, just as she is known as her parents youngest daughter even now when she goes home.

Last weekend I walked down the Bassendean main street.  There were cafes that serve polite conversation.  Really.  The sign out the front advertises coffee, food and polite conversation. There was a butcher, a book exchange, gift shops selling gorgeous local products, including the weirdest candles I’ve ever seen and will not be drawn to describe them further!

Polite Conversation

There’s urban art that is turning those unattractive bits of our environment into something more as part of the Whimsical Art Project, adding life and colour to street poles, drains and broken paving.

For some great outdoor areas in Bassendean head down to the river and if the river isn’t enough for you to enjoy then here are three reserves on its banks. Beach Reserve has a couple of small beaches perfect for kids and are also popular launching spots for stand-up paddle boarders. Just up from Beach Reserve are the native bush expanses of Bindaring Park and around the corner, near the bridge that leads to Guildford is Swan Reserve which has some great mosaic sculptures in a bush setting, it also overlooks two rivers (Fun Fact: it’s called a confluence) and there’s a group of geese that will hiss and lower their heads at you but still take your bread crumbs.

Geese at Swan Reserve (alternative title ‘Old Ducks Surrounded by Geese’)

It is so good of me to find time to mention Bassendean Oval.  Although they are the home to an average footy club, the ground is well above average.

Like all good WAFL grounds, it’s open to run onto and enjoy a kick to kick with a mate or your kids or just to walk a few laps around and look at the beautifully maintained heritage of two of Perth’s greatest grandstands, the Bill Walker Stand and MacDonald Stand.

The Heritage Gates to Bassendean Oval

Bassendean is a Hidden Treasure because it’s a reminder to me of everything I love about regional Western Australia and ‘savouring familiar sights’

Little shops with staff who love to talk, people sitting on park benches watching the world go by, houses with verandas, streets with kids playing cricket, bush to explore and a footy oval close by, a main street close by and a community close by and not closed off.

As published in the West Australian, “Courtesy & Lovely Customs”

https://thewest.com.au/news/world/courtesy-and-lovely-customs-ng-ya-133501

For two families, comprising four adults and four children, our holiday to Bali has been much anticipated.

This is my family’s second visit to Pan Pacific Nirwana in Tabanan and on arrival I’m met by Riske, a member of the concierge team we met last year.

I tell her the kids are in the Sunset Lounge and she heads straight there. Before I catch up I hear the cheers and then I see the hugs.

There are not many places you stay where hospitality becomes friendship and these are the only places I return to.

Pan Pacific Nirwana Conceirge

Our days at the resort are defined by as much time by the pool as possible.

My plan for today

I’m there one morning with my daughter Matilda when general manager Guy Owen and staff member Romy Mansoer come over to introduce themselves. Matilda’s drawing of a turtle has been chosen as a logo for the Pan Pacific turtle conservation program and poster that appears around the resort.

Matilda’s turtle design, adopted by Pan Pacific Nirwana

They invite us to be blessed at the Tanah Lot temple so we dress traditionally and are given an offering of flowers and food to take. Tanah Lot attracts hundreds of locals and tourists each day, many drawn by the sunset.

Crossing at low tide, hopping between rock pools, we climb the steps to the temple which perches on the top of the island. We sit down, facing the main temple. After a blessing with holy water, we receive rice for our forehead. Rice is the seed of life and signifies a blessing by a priest for happiness and prosperity.

We’ve promised our friends a visit to Bali Treetop Adventure Park in Bedugul, in the north of the island, where the fun includes zip lines, rickety bridges, spider nets, flying foxes and Tarzan ropes suitable for all skill levels.

The quiet up in the jungle canopy is remarkable and is only pierced occasionally by an excited squeal.

After a couple of hours, we head to a hilltop overlooking Lake Bratan to enjoy a picnic lunch.

On the way back to the resort, we visit Melanting Waterfall and spend time looking at Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple, on the edge of Lake Bratan.

There are horseriding adventures a short drive from Pan Pacific Nirwana and Matilda and my friend’s son Fallon enjoy a sunset ride at Yeh Gangga Beach, just to the north of Tanah Lot. The two younger kids, Tom and Saoirse, have a pony ride at the Bali Equestrian Centre and then get to brush and feed the animals.

Not far away, Splash Water Park at Canggu Club is a good alternative to Waterbom Park in Kuta. It’s not as big and there are no queues but there are plenty of rides and a lazy river, just right for a couple of hours with the kids. The club also has a Bounce Trampoline Centre, tenpin bowling and a day spa where a dripping dad and daughter got themselves metallic temporary tattoos. Unfortunately, mine didn’t make it through the day but Matilda’s gold tree of life motif lasted several days.

One of the encounters I’m most fond of on this holiday is the walk with the kids to the nearby Pop Mart for the necessities of life; chocolates, chips and toys.

Walking back along the resort entrance road, we’re hailed by a trio of travellers on a golf cart. Inviting us aboard, Tom and Matilda are up on the seat before I can even make a comment about accepting a lift from strangers. As it turns out, two of the buggy’s occupants, Eza and Umer, are getting married at the resort.

The resort hosts about 50 weddings each year, with a quarter being Australian couples. In 1998, Rebecca and I thought the Left Bank in Fremantle was very special for our wedding reception but if I had my time again a balmy Tanah Lot sunset and a village gamelan orchestra would be hard to beat.

That night I arrange for a small gift and note to be delivered to their room as a thankyou for letting us ride with them and wishing them all the best for their life together. The next day there is reciprocation when delivered to our room is a lovely letter and two packs for the kids filled with an assortment of treats.

A Tanah Lot sunset

Isn’t it wonderful how friendships are made? This has been everyone’s holiday and it has been a bit more. It’s been about friendship; travelling with friends, staying with friends and making friends.

On our last morning one of the staff, Paramitha, comes over to see Tom. She has been so attentive of Tom, making sure he is always happy. She has a gift for him, a substantially sized Barong statue. This knocks him over like nothing I’ve seen before. He knows he has a friend and gives her a big hug, forgetting he’s climbed out of the pool and is dripping wet.

Other holidays have opened my eyes to more history, adventure and spectacle, it is friendship that has made this one the best of all.

ABC Saturday Breakfast: Joondalup … it’s no longer at the end of the line

With Jo Trilling on Hidden Treasures for ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast, we took what used to be a trek but is now a hop and a skip up the road to Joondalup. Have a listen to the link below, or read on, or do both:

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/perth/programs/saturdaybreakfast/hidden-treasures-joondalup/13485714

While you would never admit it to your kids or grandkids, there’s something that happens when your first-born child or grandchild arrives.  It just seems to be imprinted on the memory a bit more.  You remember every detail about their birth and those that come after aren’t remembered less fondly, they’re just not as well remembered.

Joondalup is Perth’s first planned city, built from scratch, born from the bush.

We can remember when we first travelled there. To be honest, we probably made sure we filled up the petrol tank.

When you arrived, you wondered why there were such wide streets and fancy paving.  Who was ever going to love this baby and look after it and nurture it?

Joondalup is a big local government area but let’s focus on our traditional Hidden Treasure objective, exploring a suburb.

I’ve mentioned in the past the longing to get back to Bali.  I’m really missing a swim that isn’t really a swim, just walking slowing through the middle of a big resort pool with a big hat on.  Well you can do that in the suburbs, at the Joondalup Resort.  It’s got a big resort pool that would completely remind you of being in Asia if it wasn’t for the singing of the magpies and laughing of the kookaburras as someone slices badly on the fairway of the resort golf course.  Maybe the golfer was put off by the kangaroos that lie around the fairways.  Currently the resort occupants are only visiting AFL teams. For the ladies, keep on eye on the resort calendar because in August they host a Ladies Night Market full of stuff…for ladies.

Time to move into the heartland of the suburb and take a look at Edith Cowan University.  When I attended the campus you could look out the window and see kangaroos boxing in the bush.  You still see the kangaroos but they’re now hopping through a very established campus, including hopping past the biggest periodic table in the world on the Science Building.  It reminded me of the great pick-up lines for elements, “Forget Hydrogen, you’re my number one element.” and “Are you carbon because I’d like to date you?”

The biggest Periodic Table in the world

I think Edith Cowan herself would have wanted a mural of those pick-up lines on the science building somewhere.

Next up the road is the HBF Arena, home to the Cardi’s.  I’m not going to say they’re mighty but they have put down very strong WAFL roots into the ground and like all WAFL grounds, it’s close to the heart of the suburb and easy to get to and watch some great footy.

Let’s head to the top of the suburb to Nanika Park to check out a mural.  Murals and other public art are important to Joondalup because it doesn’t have an architecture yet that reflects the culture of its community, it’s simply not old enough yet. 

Together is a Beautiful Place to Be

So public art is a standout feature in this suburb because local artists are used and they consult with local schools and community groups to visually create what is important to them. The mural at Nanika Park is a great example of this.  Local artist Hayley Welsh worked with Joondalup Primary School to create the whimsical, ‘Together is a Beautiful Place to Be’.

Let’s duck across to Yellagonga Regional Park which is a great stretch of wetland and pristine bush, full of walking trails and opportunities to sit quietly and watch an amazing assortment of birds that live in the area and migrate to the area. There’s even a jetty!

Lake Joondalup

There’s a walk trail that starts at Lake Joondalup and makes its way for 28 kms up to Yanchep National Park called the Yaberoo Budjara Heritage Trail. It follows the movement track of the local Aboriginal people and was later used by settlers as a stock route.

The track starts at Neil Hawkins park which is nestled against Lake Joondalup and features some more examples of Joondalup public art that acknowledge the Aboriginal contribution and connection to the land through the Bibbulmun Yorga sculpture and the very cool Flight of the Black Cockatoo Table Tennis Table, available to play on all year long.

Flight of the Black Cockatoo in Neil Hawkins Park

Next to the war memorial is the Two Up Brewery, a brilliant spot to try local onsite brews and they’re building a great reputation for creating products that also tell wonderful wartime stories about the role of service men and women, children and families.

Great beers, great service and great stories at the Two Up Brewery

Making our way into the cbd streets of Joondalup, there are murals and sculptures including the bizarre ‘Interlace’ that senses your presence and squirts water.

Joondalup’s love of public art continues into the evening with visual light display murals on the library and a remarkable sculpture called ‘Love Motels for Insects’ that lights up at night to attract horny insects who want a big night out on the town. Dirty bugs!

There are 1000 ceramic medallions with depictions by community groups, laid into the paving so watch where you’re walking because there’s a lot to see, including the Walk of Fame!

The Walk of Fame features name plaques of famous locals. There is a problem however because the Walk of Fame is missing Joondalup’s own hidden treasure, an 80’s and 90’s Perth rock god, now employed in the heart of Joondalup at the City of Joondalup.  The lead singer of The Marigolds and The Neptunes, the one and only Jamie Parry, my big brother.

It’s a Hidden Treasure because you can enjoy getting there, particularly by train, and you can enjoy the luxury of a resort, parks, bushland and lakes, the tribalism of local footy and the defining of a maturing and connected community through its telling of stories in artwork on the ground and on the walls throughout the day and the night.

Joondalup is a hidden treasure because just like that first born, you’re always just a bit more interested to see what it becomes.  You want to tell it, “I remember when you were just a twinkle in an Urban Planner’s eye!”

ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast: Spitfires, Curry Puffs, Sculptures & Logs Over Creeks … Welcome to Bull Creek

On ABC Hidden Treasures we’ve recently been doing some special issues, like WAFL footy and Aboriginal Tourism. It’s time to get back to the idea of hidden treasures in our suburbs.

Some adventures require a lot of planning, other adventures are looked forward to with anticipation and excitement. 

Other adventures are opportunistic moments to explore new ground and dare I say it, as just a reason to spend some time with the kids and get out of the house.

Not quite a road trip but more than a trip to your local café around the corner.

Welcome to Bull Creek. 

Let’s start with a coffee and something to eat at the Little Parry Café.

When little Tom stands in front of a café that is named for his stature and his surname it is a remarkable photo opportunity to have him stand in front of it and an even better opportunity to try and work out why a dish simply called Waffle could appeal to an eleven year old boy. 

No wordy review needed from Tom, just a thumbs up as the other hand wipes maple syrup from his chin.

This a little café that also doubles as a little art gallery and there some great local paintings and drawings in this little space.

Little Parry at Little Parry

You won’t wear off the waffles in the short walk from the café to one of Bull Creek’s most treasured shops, Bull Creek Oriental Supplies.  This is a store that has been run by the  gorgeously cheeky Li Ling for more than 20 years and as well as all those spices and flavours of Asia that you can stock up on you can also fossick for utensils and bits and pieces you won’t find anywhere else plus all the chips and chocolates you might be used to buying when you’re in Bali and other parts of Asia.  Plus, I can assure you that their curry puffs are the best in Perth.  Light and fluffy with a generous vegetable filling and my only regret was not buying the lot. Great to eat as you leave the shop and you do these quick exhales of breath because they’re nice and hot.

Pork Floss! Lemon Water! So Much More and Don’t Leave Without A Bag of Curry Puffs

A few years ago I wrote about the Aviation Heritage Museum in a story about all of the things alongside the freeway that you should have a look at.  I rate this museum, firmly and proudly in Bull Creek and run by volunteers as an absolute treasure in this state and you don’t need to be an aviation buff to get a buzz from hearing a very real and very loud Rolls Royce Merlin engine from a Spitfire being started or crouch your way through the fuselage of an Avro Lancaster bomber or look at Catalina Flying Boat and imagine what it was like seeing these take off and land on the Swan River during their famous double sunrise flights during World War II.

The Awesome PBY Catalina Flying Boat

What I love most about this museum is that you’re not guided in a particular direction.  My kids ran one way and I ran the other.  We’d call out, “You’ve got to see this!” Admittedly there can also be a bit of “Where are you?” and “Tom, get off that aeroplane wing!” but the staff, who are volunteers and filled with stories to compliment the more than 30 aircraft on display, mostly just smile so long as you’re not trying to spin the propellors or sitting in cockpits pretending you’re Biggles.

There’s a dam down south and a few wheat silos with murals but the Stockland Shopping Centre in Bull Creek mural has to be one of the biggest in Perth and displays the Noongar seasons and local birds. It’s on the south side of the shopping centre.

An absolute highlight of Bull Creek is a sculpture in Centennial Park called the Pilgrim, by Western Australian artist Russell Sheridan  and was part of Sculptures By The Sea about four or five years ago. 

I spoke to the artist about this piece and it’s inspired by his love of Michael Leunig cartoons and the resemblance of the man featured in the sculpture to the main character in Leunig cartoons is very evident.  Russell Sheridan explained to me that the dog is the passive observer to the burdens of life that we all carry, whether it be regret or being bullied or being discriminated against.  It sounds a bit grim and heavy but just like a Leunig cartoon there is that element of inspirational whimsy that will lift you up and keep you in the fight!

The Pilgrim

While not the Nile, I was inspired by the Pilgrim to find the source of Bull Creek.  In a glorious remnant piece of Bull Creek Park, next to Brockman Park and the playground, is the source of Bull Creek.  There’s a small and steady flow of water that meanders through some of the most extraordinary bushland you’ll find on Perth. 

In Mid-Summer Nights Dream, Shakespeare describes a character as “though she be but small she is fierce”.  This is like Bull Creek Park.  As Bull Creek flows towards the Canning River, it is surrounded by a small piece of bushland.  There’s a log over the creek to walk across and a great path that requires you to push ferns out of the way and there’s bird life and enough green canopy to block out the noise of the busy city roads nearby. Interestingly, it’s very well protected by the City of Melville and you’re required to scrub and wash your boots before you enter to prevent dieback entering this small but fierce bit of bush.

Where Bull Creek Begins

Bull Creek flows into the Bull Creek Inlet which Noongar people called Gabbilju.  The inlet has some good interpretive signage about the creek catchment area and an excellent walking trail that will take you from Gabbilju right around the river to the Riverton Bridge.  But that’s a suburb and a story for another day.

Where Bull Creek Ends

Bull Creek is a Hidden Treasure because it will surprise you.  A little walk on the wild side by a little creek, Spitfires, curry puffs, local art and inspirational sculptures make this your afternoon out when you’re too tired for a road trip but never too tired to have some fun with your kids.

ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast: Aboriginal Tourism around Perth and a bit further.

Beyond stories, Aboriginal tourism is about tangible opportunities to feel ochre on your face, touch kangaroo skins, dance and have some fun.

For ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast, Ro and I thought that we should do something to be a part of NAIDOC Week, which celebrates the culture and contribution of Aboriginal people in Western Australia. Below is a link to our discussion about Aboriginal tourism experiences in Perth and down the road.

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/perth/programs/saturdaybreakfast/naidoc-hidden-treasures/13449400

I thought we’d look at just a few of the immersive experiences that are available to learn and understand more about Aboriginal culture and just to enjoy and have fun.

As a local, it’s a great time to be exploring tourism opportunities.  Without the international tourists crowding the scene our world is our oyster and our world has the oldest and most remarkable living culture in the world. 

Whether you’re after education or entertainment the opportunities to immerse yourself in an Aboriginal Tour and Experience aren’t just limited to the great red dirt northern expanses of the state, they’re right here in your backyard and in your neighbour’s backyard.

They’re even increasingly around where you’ve always walked and cycled or gone to the footy.  Keep a look out for signage, statues and sculptures at your favourite spots, particularly for interpretive signs giving new life and understanding about where we live and who has lived here before us.

Here are a few of my favourite Aboriginal Tours and Experiences that are here in Perth and just a couple that are a little bit down the road.

All of them are accredited tour operators and are members of the WA Indigenous Tourism Operators Council who have the coolest corporate values you’ll find; 1) Connection to Country 2) Welcome to Country 3) Have Corroborees … to share and learn!

No buzz words.  They’re real words.

Let’s start in Mandurah and welcome you to Mandjoogoordap Dreaming. Anyone who has taken the Freeway and Forrest Highway down south has seen the longest name sign Main Roads has ever had to install.  The ‘Mandjoo’ means ‘meeting place’ and the ‘goordap’ means ‘of the heart’.  George at Mandjoogoordap Dreaming will teach you how to make bush twine and forage for bush tucker and learn the bushcraft of the region during walks along the Mandurah foreshore and estuary and a little bit on a bus for little legs and older legs.

Let’s keep going a bit further down the road but only as far Bunker Bay just to the west of Dunsborough.  Pullman Bunker Bay have partnered with local Elders to give guests the opportunity to do a Six Seasons Tour by exploring the gardens at the resort.  When I did the tour with my kids, Elder Nina Webb showed them the plants that could be eaten, used for medicine, and showed me what ones just look good as a bouquet for.  We found frogs behind leaves and lizards on rocks. 

This is one tour that showcases not just the flora and fauna but also the culture and language of the local Wardandi people and are showing how to work alongside a modern hospitality experience to include some authentic culture in your resort getaway.

Wardandi Elder Nina Webb takes resort guests at Pullman Bunker Bay on a tour of what is right before their eyes … and opens them!

We’ll stay south for another experience but head east to Kojonup to the Kodja Place.  It’s with great sadness that my friend and local legend Jack Cox passed away in March and I wish to thank his family for letting me mention his name today.  Jack used to greet visitors with a bush tea that was actually bought at the Kojonup IGA and he used to tell international visitors that he needed their help to find lost sheep in the gardens surrounding Kodja Place. The Kodja Place will continue to tell stories about his remarkable life and his family who lived in the area.  If you are putting together a bucket list of Western Australian cultural travel experiences, make sure the Kodja Place in Kojonup is on it because it’s a complete tapestry of stories from Noongar life to settler life in the area.

On our way back up to Perth let’s stop near Narrogin and go into Dryandra to meet my friends Ross Storey and Marcelle Riley.  As part of the Narrogin Noongar Ranger Tours and Experiences these guys tell beautiful stories through the use of dollmaking and in bush walks. I grew up with Ross and if you’ve ever wondered if anyone can talk more than me then just listen Ross talk about his country.

Ross Storey, based in Narrogin and telling stories about the Wheatbelt
Ross makes sure that all ages can participate, learn and have a lot of fun

Back in Perth let’s look at some tours that will be so immersive you’ll no longer see the land around you as a city landscape, you’ll see and feel the land the way it was.  Go Cultural Aboriginal Tours and Experiences will walk you around the city, the river, and even on Wadjemup and get you singing songs, touching kangaroo skins, using tapping sticks and smelling ochre and crushed leaves in your fingers.  This is storytelling with knowledge, passion and fun and have you smiling all the way home.

Deadly Diva Experiences for Women is an experience I wish they’d let me participate in.  Tahn tells campfire stories and does wildflower walkabouts and it’s all for the ladies. It’s inspiring and intriguing and let’s use my favourite word of the day … immersive.  She is now looking at a once a year tour for the curious fellas so watch this space very carefully.

Get up to Kings Park as a family and participate in the Kings Park special events program that focuses on local Aboriginal culture and takes kids into the world of Kings Park before roads and playgrounds.

Finally, get to the Yagan Square Nyumbi where at 5:30pm every Friday you watch and participate in a smoking ceremony and dance.  The performers change each week.  Some Fridays it’s an Elders group and other times it’s the kids getting up and sharing stories with an audience that includes tourists, office workers and passers-by who never walk by when they see what’s going on. They also love a photo at the end of the performance and some of those kids will give you some cheeky feedback on your own dancing skills.

These are experiences for our community to be proud of and enjoy. Aboriginal tours and experiences are hidden treasures because they’re immersive and substantial on so many levels but most importantly, you can discover, learn, and have fun while you’re doing it.

ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast: Hidden Treasures Visits Coogee

The Coogee Hotel … now the Coogee Common

Coogee was a great suburb to explore and discuss on Hidden Treasures for ABC Saturday Breakfast. Ro and I flicked back and forth between the then and the now and it’s what I love most about Coogee because what was once horrible is now wonderful.

ABC Saturday Breakfast with Roanna Edwards

Coogee is a coastal suburb just to south of Fremantle and north of Kwinana and is very small for suburban Perth, just over 3sqm which makes it smaller than its northern coastal strip suburban cousin, Cottesloe.

If you’d been driving through Coogee on Cockburn Road in the 1970’s and even the 1980’s and someone in the car had said, “You know, all this will be a hidden treasure one day”, you most likely would have laughed and said they were crazy. 

Driving along Cockburn Road in 2021 and it’s a very different story.  From shipwrecks to colonial remnants this is a suburb that has gone from the need to quickly wind up your car window (remember those?!) to block the smell of Robbs Jetty and the skin drying sheds, to walking through fragrant vegetable gardens and olive trees and being welcomed by bees more interested in pollinating carrot and caper bush flowers than angrily protecting their domain.

Let’s start with the best shed in Perth. Technically it’s in neighbouring Munster but its such a great place to start and is just off Stock Road.  It’s called Barn Finds and is a big rusty shed full of everything old you ever imagined could ever have been made.  From a huge World War Two floating mine, to kids tricycles, cool drink signs, tools and toys it is packed and time here to explore and rummage is recommended along with the consideration of a tetanus booster but we’re all used to a jab to protect us these days!

Barn Finds in Munster, just off Stock Road

Lake Coogee between Stock Road and Cockburn Road has good walking tracks around the lake and there are also some interesting remnants of two Pensioner Guards cottages and a well, from where many of the Pensioner Guards settled around 1876 after their service to their colony.

Sticking with the remnant part historic Coogee are the limestone kilns on Cockburn Road that were built around 1900 when the thriving industry of extracting lime for building and agriculture purposes was good work for most men in the district.

Lake Coogee
Historic Lime Kilns

The Coogee coast has always been pristine and from Woodman Point right up to the border with South Fremantle where the old power station is, you’ll find great beach fishing, great picnic facilities and tuck shops, jetty’s for jumping off, a shipwreck called the Omeo and the adjacent snorkelling trail that is just a twenty meters off shore and Perth’s best and most accessible snorkelling attraction, and a stretch of brilliant white beach and calm water that is perfect for a day of sunbathing or swimming until the sun goes down behind Garden Island on the horizon.

Steps to the Omeo, just 20 metres offshore

Just a couple of minutes walk from the Omeo is the marina with a series of boardwalk style cafes where you can sit and play, “I’d have that one” as you point at a boat you like the most.

The Coogee lookout has one of the best vantage points in Perth and on the clear day that I was there recently I could see Rottnest, Carnac and Garden Island, down to Rockingham, across to the hills of the escarpment, up to the Perth CBD and across to the harbour cranes of Fremantle.

Finally, I want to take you to the Coogee Hotel, built and completed in the early 1900’s and from being a local watering hole it later became a orphanage before lying derelict for the second half of the 20th Century.

It’s now heritage listed and been renovated and operates as the proud, beating heart of Coogee, the Coogee Common.

There’s a restaurant and lounge bar and private dining rooms that are decorated in the style of days gone by but it’s the gardens that are the star of Coogee Common.  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 wander the gardens or if you’re lucky, get a tour with Scott the owner. 

He showed me rows of veges and creeping caper bushes, 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 me barrels of olives, stalks of kale, the fruit of the prickly pear which I remember fondly from trips to Puglia in Italy and he showed me a loofah which I just thought was a bath sponge but is a species of cucumber.  He gave Tom some seeds so as well as Toms passion for companion planting he can now grow his own bath sponges which I’m hoping may encourage him to bathe more often.

Coogee Common garden
The garden is full of hard workers
Wherever you look there is produce ready for your plate

Coogee Common is one of those places that during it, you’re already planning your next visit.

Vegetarian options are the standout meals because of the fresh produce from the garden but being presented with Fremantle sardines and the option of fish of the day caught off Rottnest earlier in the morning just puts a smile on your face.

So there you have it.  What was once a horror drive through smells and sights that aren’t easily forgotten have been beaten into submission by the new smells and sights of Coogee. 

I also learnt from Tom, who must have learnt it from Scott at Coogee Common about companion planting.  Evidently there are good planting companions like apples and chives or sunflowers and cucumbers but there are also bad companions like wormwood which doesn’t like all other plants.

So Coogee makes it as one of my favourite hidden treasures because it has transformed itself and I want to go back with family and friends and do it all again.