On the Weekend Explorer for ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast, I recently explored space and rediscovered my memories of Skylab and discovered observatories, big dishes, astrotourism towns, astronauts in Carnarvon, emus in the sky and starlapse wonder by local photographer, Dan Paris.
Listen to the link below to learn more about Astrotourism and some really good music but really bad space jokes:
One of our best ever Hidden Treasures stories of all time! With special guest star, global writing superstar Molly Schmidt, we explored local books and the use of local locations and how they inspire our travels.
Listen to our chat below and learn not just what our favourite Western Australian books are but how important those local locations can be:
Growing up in a country town, the main street was a great place to walk down on a Saturday morning to see who else was out and about.
Main Streets of Western Australia continue to define the life of their communities. It might just be to go to the butcher or grocer, pick up the newspaper (maybe a copy of Have A Go News!) or some rope from the trading post. Or it might be that you’re on a road trip and want to buy the best sausage roll in town or look through a local museum.
Main streets are great reasons to get out and explore regional communities at any time of year.
Below is a story I recently had published about some of the best main streets in WA, and the best reasons for a walk down them:
How’s the serenity? That question has a special place in Australian culture as a great line from the movie, The Castle. The Kerrigan’s serenity was getting away to Bonnie Doon. It’s more than a great line though. It’s an important part of life. We all need to seek out opportunities to experience the serenity and this morning on Hidden Treasure we want to know where you go to find serenity. Where’s your Bonnie Doon?
Can we start with why serenity is a hidden treasure?
Serenity is a hidden treasure because it recharges us. Serenity is what we all crave, either at that little café around the corner after peak hour, the park bench at the top of the hill at sunrise or sunset, the path around your local lake or an annual escape to a camping ground where flannel shirts and smoky green wood rule supreme.
My Godfather, Uncle Mike, always says he wasn’t born in the Kimberley but when he’s there he feels home. Serenity can be a sense of place as well as a sense of rest.
For me, the Dryandra Woodlands are an opportunity to let everyone sleep in while I watch the world wake up with a cup of tea and a gingernut biscuit, seeing how long it takes the rising sun to melt the frost on the grass in front of the woodcutters cottage.
Being on a boat always gets me as well. Being on the water feels removed from the problems on land. When I’m on travel jobs I always request opportunities to get on a boat; an old fishing boat, a ferry, a barge, it doesn’t matter. I might tell my client it’s about providing a great description for my story but really, it’s just about me loving the serenity I feel for being on the water.
Let’s look at some ways people find serenity:
Go small; local cafes and parks.
Go large; being overseas to escape the weather (poolside lounges and day spas).
Getting out of the city; this one time, in the Kimberley.
Camping; slow down the routine, slow down the heart rate.
Bushwalks; breathe deeper and rest awhile.
Being away from people
Sunrises and sunsets
I took my mate Dennis out in my dad’s boat once. The mighty Red Witch. I remember we caught fish, we caught the salty spray in our faces but what I remember most was the filling of the soul, the filling of the tank to get back into the fight to tackle the noisiness of life on land.
Find your Bonnie Doon and you’ve found hidden treasure.
For ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast we saw the need to take mum, or the aunties, out for Mother’s Day, or any day. While we could go to some of her favourite picnic spots, like Kings Park, Whiteman Park, Heathcote or the Cottesloe foreshore, we thought we’d keep her guessing and take her somewhere else.
We’ve decided to take mum to somewhere she’s never been. We’ve decided to take mum on a picnic to a lesser known but no less beautiful spot to lay a rug down and open a sumptuous basket of goodies.
Enjoy listening to the discussion in the link below and reading the list below that:
In North Perth and the baby brother of Hyde Park, Lake Monger and Herdsman Lake. There’s grass, bbqs, little paths, little boardwalks and the best trees for climbing in Perth for little kids thanks to nearly horizontal branches close to the ground.
In East Perth between Claisebrook Cove and the Graham Farmer Freeway Bridge. Picnic facilities and a tiny little beach and little jetty.
Bicton Baths Reserve:
BBQs, playground and next to the famous Bicton Baths which has one of the best jetties in Perth! One of the best riverside picnic spots that might be fairly easy to get a car spot on Sunday.
Harold Boas Park:
Remember we discovered this park when we explored West Perth? This is a wonderful park for Mother’s Day because it’s got secluded areas, noisy playground areas, water features that are shallow and great for toes and splashing and there’s lots of shady or sunny grass for the rug.
Picnic Cove Park:
On the southwestern edge of Lake Joondalup is this great park that has the awesome criteria of being ‘out of the way’ and there are better known lakeside parks that get inundated on days like tomorrow. BBQ’s playground facilities and paths that are perfect for a bike ride to burn off the picnic feast you’ve made for mum.
In Woodlands, this is one of my favourite lakes and the slightly bigger brother of Smiths Lake but smaller than nearby Herdsman Lake. This ticks all the boxes with shops and cafes if you haven’t got a picnic basket. There’s a wonderful playground and lots of bbqs and swans and other birdlife and for Mother’s Day tomorrow I’m tipping the remote-controlled sailing club will hold a regatta for families who want to watch some clever sailing, just on a smaller scale.
We’re doing this for Mother’s Day but this picnic spot qualifies for lots of other reasons, including the Treasure Island Adventure Playground that is quirky, challenging and exciting. Maybe this one is for mum to enjoy a nearby café brekky and multiple coffees while the kids spend some time in the playground.
This a wonderful park located in the historic precinct of Armadale. It plays host to lots of community events and has plenty of grassed areas, picnic areas and a great little footbridge to trip trap over the Neerigen Brook, perfect perhaps for a Mother’s Day family photo.
About 30-40 minutes from Armadale on the Albany Highway. There’s a nice little rest spot with table and bench seat on one side of the highway and a little brook to explore and is a great sport to hunt for taddys. On the other side of the highway, crossing safely, is Sullivan Rock which is dog free and has a beautiful three-minute track through the bush to the rock which is easy to walk up, taking about 10 minutes though a bit quicker if you’re scared by scuttering lizards. There are normally little rock pools on the top with beautiful reflections and there’s a great view over the top of the forest and out to Mount Cooke.
Get on the river:
With Nautipicnics you can drive your own boat without a Skippers Ticket and have a picnic on the boat, or the riverbank, or let someone else drive the boat with the Little Ferry Company and enjoy watching the life of the river.
This great lake in Kewdale gets the award for the best named park. There’s grass, water, playground, bbqs, trees, cafe and a one mile walk that includes a boardwalk, elevated over the lake that leads you to a gazebo.
Picnic spots are hidden treasures because the environment around you plays the role of a stage in a play. It’s just a setting for you to perform the way your family likes to, creating memories of a great day out. It might be about the trees or the lake or the sweeping views, but most likely, it’s about time spent together with your family’s member of the most amazing club in the world, mums.
One of the wonderful things about any travel is the discovery. From a little café in your neighbouring suburb to being in the right place at the right time for an event while you’re overseas. All travel presents opportunities for excitement, it may even be on the pool lounge or restaurant table right next to you.
We thought for Hidden Treasures on ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast we’d talk about taking your travel experience to the next level by meeting someone famous. We also took calls from listeners on their encounters and tips on how to behave when you see or meet a famous person.
Our great leg spinner, Shane Warne, once said that he got irritated if he saw someone sneak a photo but he never said no to anyone who asked for a photo.
Have you ever had the courage to speak to someone famous?
When we did Hidden Treasures about the suburb of Highgate, I saw Dennis Cometti sitting in a café. I walked up to him and said from an appropriate distance, “Excuse me Mr Cometti, could I please have a minute of your time?”.
I explained who I was, abbreviating my life story and not mentioning Narrogin once, and asked if I could mention him on Hidden Treasures and perhaps take a pic. Maybe it was my approach, maybe it was his character, but it was a wonderful conversation which I really valued.
I’ve got a few examples of where I’ve met people and more than that, they’re examples of meeting people in different places.
Terry Alderman: On a flight to Bali and I shared my red frogs with him as his ears were playing up a bit. I played it cool and wanted to let him know how I felt in 1989 listening late at night on the radio as he took all those wickets in England but I didn’t, I just shared my lollies.
Visiting the Vatican and timing it as Pope John Paul II came out for a test drive of the new Pope-mobile. I was within three metres of one of the holiest men in the world and top of the pops for his religion. We didn’t talk but I didn’t expect when I went to Rome that I would see the Pope and have photos to prove it.
At a resort in Phuket over the course of a few days by the pool and the swim up bar I got chatty with footy players Tony Shaw and Heath Shaw who, as a big family group, were happy to chat. I found they were interested in my stories, it didn’t have to be about them. I think the trick with these sort of encounters is taking the opportunity to retrieve a badly thrown ball and throw it back accurately and be invited to join in.
I always tell my kids to use every minute and take every opportunity, like this one with Mark!
This is one of Tom’s greatest stories but he’s hearing the truth for the first time this morning. We were travelling together to report on the opening of one of Bali’s most incredible resorts as guests of the resort. It wasn’t busy so it was odd when a man sat on the pool lounge next to us, put together a steam punk cigar holder and started chuffing right next to us. What happened next was remarkable. It was Wouter Adrianus Van Loon from the Netherlands! If you want to know more you’ll need to send me a message!
For those of us who love London, there’s a lot to love. But. On a wintry day I was waiting to cross the road and remarked to my wife Rebecca, “It’s all so grey. The sky is grey. The buildings are grey. The road is grey.” I hear a noise of disgust, look across and see a look of disgust on the face of … Joanna Lumley. She wasn’t impressed with my observations.
Matilda and I were on the Abrolhos Islands and had just finished exploring the waters of Turtle Bay on East Wallabi Island. We were walking along the beach looking for flotsam and jetsam (remember what that is?) when we heard a call for help. We quickly made our way to where a couple of jet skis and their riders were stuck fast on the beach. Who was one of the riders and who allowed me to write about it in a story for the West Australian newspaper? It was the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop!
Whether it’s taking a selfie, having a chat or just having an encounter, famous people are a hidden and unexpected treasure because they create an experience you didn’t expect and give you a story to tell, embellished or just as it is.
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.
Mount Hawthorn Bus Stops: Gallipoli and Vietnam themed, complete with sandbags.
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.”
Ro indulged me recently in a show about hometowns. I was allowed to talk about Narrogin in great detail and we only heard a little bit about Ro’s hometowns. So, I set out on a secret roadtrip to visit one of her hometowns and then turn it into a Hidden Treasures story.
What is it that drives us to drive? What is it that makes us want to hit the road less travelled? For me it might be that I’ve never been there before. It might be because my daughter needs to log some hours on her L plates. Or it might be because it’s come up in conversation and it’s sparked a curiosity to see it for yourself. So here is Three Springs.
Three Springs is north of Perth, north of Moora, north of Coorow and Carnamah and east of Eneabba. It’s a good day trip. Not for the faint hearted who struggle to get over the escarpment on a road trip. It’s over three hours away and a bit longer if the L Plater doesn’t want to get above 80, which isn’t for the faint hearted either.
Here’s a few things you’ll see all year long, not just when the wildflowers make this one of the great destinations in Western Australia:
Yarra Yarra Lake Conservation Park is a shimmering salt lake in summer but the Lakes Lookout has amazing views that is pink in summer and deep blue through the wet months and filled as far as the eye can see with birds!
Dookanooka Nature Reserve is brilliant for wildflowers but even in summer is a great expanse of mallee against blue skies.
The Historic Well is one of the original three springs that give the town its name.
The Talc Mine started in 1948 and digs out 250,000 tonnes of talc a year. From white to dark green talc, this mine has a wonderful lookout that shows off the mine and the surrounding landscape.
Take a look at the pink lakes on the Perenjori-Three Springs Road on the way to the talc mine.
The dominant wheat silos in the middle of the town are emblematic of the reason for the towns existence, surrounded by wheat.
The main street is broad and straight with most of the towns services lined up for you.
Rossiter & Co Butchers is where Glen still makes his famous sausages.
The Commercial Hotel is a big old pub on the main street.
One of our callers to the show, Simon, told us about his visits from the farm to the town as a kid growing up near Eneabba. He remarked that coming to Three Springs was like a metropolis and a great day out to play at the wheat silos and hang out at the shops in the main street.
Three Springs is a Hidden Treasure because it’s on the road less travelled if you want to explore the north on a roadtrip from Perth. It’s also a great destination outside the wildflower season because it’s a town that’s small enough to discover quickly, surrounded by land that’s big enough to take your breath away. Importantly, you can also imagine little Ro standing outside the butchers on the main street munching on her slice of polony.