ABC Saturday Breakfast discovers the wonderful world of jetties

We’ve discovered on Hidden Treasures that when I’m set a challenge there are familiar themes that come up. 

I try to please Ro by finding a sporting venue and I love a roadtrip and love a good fish burger.

There’s something else though that is regularly described in Hidden Treasures and we’ve put together a big Hidden Treasure program to talk about this one. 

To talk about walking on them, jumping off them, photographing them and catching things from them we brought in regular guest Ben Carlish from RecFish to help out, as we explore … jetties of Western Australia!

Where are they?  Why do we love them? Can we ever get me to stop talking about them?

Short or long, there’s more than 4300 of them in WA

Firstly, to my research and networks who have provided me with a number of how many jetties are in WA … approximately.  We could run this as a competition but I think I’m too excited about this number and just want to reveal it. 4300 jetties in WA!

For me, my school holidays in Rockingham are where my love of jetties began and it was two jetties in particular.  A jetty that is gone now but was just about one hundred metres west of the current jetty that serves the yacht club and dolphin cruise charters.  My brother Michael and I used to spend time throwing crab nets into the water and it was a well-lit jetty and we could look down and watch the crabs scuttle slowly across the bottom and into our nets.

The other jetty which was the original Palm Beach Jetty was as brilliant for fishing off as it was jumping off, sometimes not of your own choosing if the local bogans wouldn’t let you go past and there was only one way back to land.

Wherever I travel to if there’s a jetty I have to see what’s being caught and if I’m prepared, like I was on Wadjemup a few weeks ago, I’ll pack a squid line and see what’s in the depths off the end of the jetty.

I leave walking on a jetty when no one is on it and seeing the evidence of mighty fights with squid ink sprayed about the place.

The blue boatshed in Crawley is world famous for its insta worthiness and the Busselton jetty is also a very well-known tourism icon for Western Australia. 

I love the Point Walter jetty and I’m sure Ben knows more about this than me, but, in the river, how far out of the water our jetties sit depends on the tide and I’ve seen the Point Walter jetty barely visible and it’s great to walk on and feel like you’re walking on water.

What’s down there I wonder?

There is a great jetty at the Bicton baths that goes right around the swimming area.

Remember the main jetty and the nearby fueling jetty over on Wadjemup.  At night time on the island these are great places to bring in a giant kraken as it squirts ink on the luxury boats moored around you. 

Fueling Jetty at Wadjemup

A rite of passage for little kids is to swim out the few metres out to the Matilda Bay jetty and jump off the end, crowning the achievement if you land on a big brown jelly.

Coogee Jetty is brilliant for jumping off and because it’s t-shaped you’ve got a few different areas to jump off with less risk of landing on anyone.

The Penguin Island jetty is creating great memories as a great hangout for Tom and I to catch squid at night and it’s where we have manly chats and childish farts in the darkness. 

Jetties are hidden treasures because you can do so much from them. You can be as active as life gets by hurling yourself off them. You can sit quietly and cast a line. You can solve the problems of the world with a mate or you can just walk out to see what’s at the end. Hidden treasure doesn’t get much better than a jetty.

The surging, muddy tide under the Derby Jetty

ABC Saturday Breakfast Explores Perth’s Smallest Suburb

With just over 2000 residents and an area less than half a square kilometre, you might be forgiven for thinking there couldn’t be a lot to see in our next Hidden Treasure on ABC Saturday Breakfast.

Like some of our other Hidden Treasures, our next discovery sits quietly alongside some bigger neighbours but doesn’t rely on their crumbs to survive. 

With a strong community, an iconic park and exciting laneways behind cafes and bakeries bulging with donuts, let’s take a walk through what is very possibly Perth’s smallest suburb and find out what one of Perth’s most loved treasures likes about this hidden treasure

Highgate!

By absolute coincidence, our Hidden Treasure this weekend shares a lot in common with last week’s Hidden Treasure, where we discovered South Fremantle.

There is a backbone, or artery that is the focal point for activity for locals and visitors.  Where South Fremantle has South Tce, Highgate has Beaufort Street.  Where South Freo has South Beach, Highgate has Hyde Park.  And where South Fremantle has a big neighbour in Fremantle, Highgate has Perth City and Mount Lawley.

But when I visited South Fremantle I found iconic history with the Mills and Ware biscuits but in Highgate I found a living icon, a living treasure, who, more than just loving a quiet coffee in Highgate, loves the ABC and he loves Hidden Treasure … Dennis Cometti!

Mr Cometti loves the ABC and Highgate

For Mr Cometti, Dennis to me, Highgate cafes are just a bit quieter than the cafes up the road in Mount Lawley and he looks for one with lots of tables so he can sprawl out a newspaper.

Let’s take a walk around Hyde Park in glorious Kambarang sunshine.  Hyde Park is always filled with walkers, kids birthday parties, turtles and birds and is full of big Moreton Bay Fig Trees with massive buttress roots, perfect hiding spots during Hide and Seek.

As well as its current appeal for picnics and birdwatching and festivals and food trucks, Hyde Park is a significant historical site for Whajuk Noongar People who loved living by what was then more of a wetland area.

Facilities include benches, barbeques, water playgrounds, stages, fitness equipment and lots of grass and walking paths. 

Hyde Park

Across the road from Hyde Park heading east is Perth’s darkest street, Mary Street.  Completely enveloped by the canopies of huge trees, this street is more like a scene out of Harry Potter than a Perth suburb.  It’s gloriously dark and cool and leads straight through to Beaufort Street.

As you walk down Mary Street and just before you hit Beaufort Street, look for Mereny Lane which is completely muralised on both sides of the road.  Follow the laneway and enjoy the colours and opportunities for all those insta worthy pics. 

Highgate laneways are full of urban art

A bit further along Beaufort Street on the Highgate end, keep a look out for a little accessway that links Mereny Lane with Beaufort Street that has some tech urban art.  Little pictures on muralised walls that have QR codes that when opened on your phone play music and tell you more about the artwork and interact with it beyond just looking at it. 

Highgate high tech urban art

If you know Highgate or have just driven through, you’d probably be aware of the huge landmark on Lincoln Street, the ventilation stack.  Built in 1935 as a sewer vent it’s a 38-metre art deco vent and the second tallest poo chimney in Australia (biggest is 40 metres in Sydney). 

The big vent

Next to the big vent is the Police Museum is on Lincoln Street and only open a couple of days a week on Tuesdays and Fridays but the old Highgate Police Station has old uniforms, handcuffs and batons and tactical response armoured cars and old motorcycles and speed cameras and an interesting history as a secret wireless station during World War II.

Given the stereotype that police love donuts, it’s probably not a coincidence that the police museum has been set up in a suburb that is the donut capital of Australia with more bakeries and cafes selling donuts per resident than any other suburb in Australia.

Highgate is a hidden treasure because there are layers and spaces between your destinations in this suburb that need exploring.

Highgate proves that being small and having big neighbours doesn’t mean you only get the crumbs, you can bake the bread as well.

Have fun with a camera in arty laneways. Have fun with your phone by hovering it over techy urban art and see what happens.  There’s Perth’s darkest street and one of Perth’s most loved parks. 

In Highgate you can have your donut and eat it too, all in a space that’s more like a little country town than a suburb so close to the heart of the city.

Highgate urban art … walk the suburb and find your colours

ABC Saturday Breakfast Discovers Biscuits, Bulldogs, Bare Feet & Jam Tarts!

For ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast we discovered one of our smallest suburbs is walkable and adorable.

If I was to tell you that you could walk or drive down the main drag of this suburb and stop and chat to adults lying on the verge in hammocks and other variations of swing chairs, what suburb comes to mind?

No caption needed

Our next hidden treasure was once famous for its biscuits and its bulldogs but these days there’s a few other reasons to make your way to a suburb worth wandering about and taking it easy.  Maybe take a hammock.

South Fremantle. 

This is a suburb that I used to visit every Sunday to listen to the Jam Tarts back in the day at the Seaview Hotel.  Rockabilly pop was so cool and the Jam Tarts were the coolest. 

Exploring South Fremantle reminded me of those days because I have a daughter who is soon to be a world famous musician and I like sending her photos of things that would make great album covers and that’s another reason to enjoy a gentle suburban exploration of  South Fremantle because it is full of album cover worthy scenery.

South Fremantle by coincidence more than design has the layout of a fish skeleton.  There is a big backbone that has most of the weight and then the ribs coming off the backbone are smaller and lighter and filled with cottages with more geraniums than my nana’s concrete swans.  For South Fremantle the backbone is South Terrace which begins further north in Fremantle and then flows through the heart of South Fremantle.

Park your car somewhere along South Terrace and start looking around.  A bit like how the green cactus in Forrest Place is a meeting point in the CBD, the zebra mural is a good meeting point for South Fremantle locals or visitors to the area.  

The two zebras face each other with all the colours of a kaleidoscope and written above them is ‘Ootong and Lincoln’ which may be the names of the two zebra but also happens to be the name of the premises the mural is painted on and inside you’ll find everything to fill your retro heart; colourful 1980’s phones stuck on the wall, old trikes and my nana’s dining table and chairs; glorious Laminex in pale greens, blues and pinks and plenty of space to sit with your kids or a Zoom meeting on your laptop.

Hello! Chris speaking!

That’s what South Fremantle is all about, people who get out of their houses and meet up on South Terrace.

Outside Ootong and Lincoln, take a jump to the left or jump to right, avoiding fellas reclining in hammocks and swing chairs,  and you’ll find small boutiques with racks of vintage clothes and that’s another important feature of South Fremantle, lots of small shops.  Small shops doing big things for locals and visitors.

Small shops where there’s lots to be discovered

It used to be the opposite.  South Fremantle used to be about being a big employer with big factories, including the Mills and Ware Biscuit Factory – home of the little suitcase full of biscuits that you’d buy at your local show.

Mills and Ware was the biggest supplier of biscuits in Western Australia and the South Fremantle factory, barely off South Terrace, opened in 1899 and closed in 1992.

The biscuit factory are now apartments but there’s a park and there’s enough of the original factory structure to make it a pilgrimage for those that remember their favourite biscuit.  Biscuit.  Not cookie.

Big biscuits

To please the pilgrims there are large sculptures of biscuits in the park and you can try and remember the names of your favourite biscuit.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find a representation of a gingernut biscuit. The king of biscuits.

Back on South Terrace there are fresh seafood shops and seafood cafes with fresh prawn tacos that remind us of the fishing boat harbour not more than a fishing rods cast away.  These days the fishing boat fleet is smaller but any walk around boats and jetties is always interesting and watching hulls being scraped and masts being rigged in the shipyards is a day out any day of the week.

My next stop is probably the number one reason to come to South Fremantle, particularly as the sun starts to warm us all up.

The South Beach Recreation Reserve is the end of the line for the suburb and throws all of its eggs into a basket of summer fun for everyone.  It starts with a dog beach and playground at the northern end of this little precinct and then opens up into sprawling lawns with lots of shade and a perfect beach for all ages, looking out to Wadjemup, Carnac and Garden Islands.

There’s a café that your kids can walk into barefeet for a drumstick and in summer there are night time markets on Saturday nights that are described as being community based for young and old and lovers and friends and when you walk through South Fremantle, everyone won’t be a lover but everyone will be your friend.

South Fremantle is a hidden treasure because it’s completely walkable in thongs, down streets with sleepy men in hammocks to retro cafes and vintage shops with laughing barefoot kids.

There are nostalgic memories of old biscuits, old phones and old bands playing in old pubs and swimming and markets on balmy summer nights. 

The only thing it doesn’t have is a 2021 Premiership WAFL team, but there’s always next year.

Big biscuits

ABC Perth visits Kwinana … still a bit of industry but there’s a lot more to take a look at.

For ABC Saturday Breakfast, Hidden Treasures often finds itself in the job of discovering suburbs we normally just drive through on the way to somewhere else, or suburbs that just seem to be too suburban to be of interest.

Our next Hidden Treasure is a lot more.  Our next Hidden Treasure challenges a perception that’s been around since the 1970’s.  Our next Hidden Treasure challenges you to stop awhile in a part of Perth that’s far from suburbia but still part of the metropolitan area.

When I was a kid, I’d listen to the stories my dad and his mates would tell on the veranda of our little holiday house in Shoalwater Bay.  From Japanese Army Helmets found on the end of Garden Island to giant sharks off Woodman Point, these stories always seemed to be something they’d overheard on the boat ramp.

Fun Fact: Boat ramps were the internet of the day.

One of the stories I remember hearing, when I was dragging a Jatz cracker through the French Onion dip, was how fish caught in Cockburn Sound would arc when cooked in microwave ovens because of the metal content caused by industry pollutants.

Irrespective of the truth and accuracy of this story, it’s a bit metaphoric for how we felt about Cockburn Sound in the 1970’s, and the area we know as … Kwinana.

Well, most of the industry is still there but there’s also a lot more in Kwinana, including a strong sense of community that is proud of new facilities, old heritage and even older culture.

Let’s start with a remarkable wetland and bush walk experience that is ridiculously close to the Kwinana Freeway but you wouldn’t know it.

The Spectacles Wetlands is named for its aerial view which shows two circular lakes joined by a narrow drain, making it look like a pair of spectacles. 

The Spectacles are spectacular

The Spectacles is 360 hectares and part of the wider Beeliar Regional Park and has great Noongar interpretative signage along a 5km heritage walk trail and explains the perspective and special importance of the area to Noongar Elder Joe Walley.

As well as the Aboriginal Heritage Walk Trail, there’s a boardwalk over the wetlands which feature a paperbark forest and lead you to the Biara Lookout which is the perfect location to sit quietly and watch the lakes resident birdlife.

Aboriginal Heritage Walk Trail signage

This is the reason why I’d do a day out in Kwinana.  Come to the Spectacles and then do the other things we’re going to talk about but come for the trails and boardwalk, the wetlands, Aboriginal stories and big spiders in big webs and a paperbark forest partly submerged in wetlands that provide amazing reflections from the still water.

Chalk Hill has a panoramic view to Rockingham, Wadjemup and the Darling Escarpment. It’s also where local Aboriginal people who worked at the nearby refineries used to live because prior to the 1967 Referendum, Aboriginal people didn’t qualify for housing. Going further back in time the hill was used by local Aboriginal groups to light signal fires. It’s a nice steep walk up a sealed path and short dirt track.

Sitting at the bottom of Chalk Hill is Smirk Cottage. This small, two bedroom cottage built in the 1900’s, cared for by the Kwinana Heritage Group and around the grounds are lots of examples of old agricultural machinery and equipment and who doesn’t love sitting on an old tractor.

Just four years ago the Adventure Park won best park in Australia.  It’s got boardwalks, flying foxes, climbing nets, a tree maze, water play, squirting pelicans, great birthday party facilities that you can hire, including one with a kitchen! If you’ve got a kid that is too cool for playgrounds there’s a huge skate park next door.

Adventure Park, Kwinana

For walkers and cyclists and with multiple entry and exit points along the 21 kilometre route try the Kwinana Loop Trail.  Look for the Aboriginal heritage signs along the route to get a better understanding and connection with the bushland you’re travelling through.

Amongst the smoke stacks, desalination plant and refineries is a pristine beach for horses. In summer there can be dozens of good looking horses splashing about, lying back on a blanket reading the form guide or playing volleyball like Tom Cruise in Top Gun.  On my visit I met a champion of WA trotting, Mighty Conqueror.  It may sound like an ambitious name but he’s got the wins and the prize money to make him worthy of the name.

Kwinana Horse Beach, where all the good looking horses hang out

The SS Kwinana shipwreck is a big cargo and passenger steamship that ran aground in the 1920’s onto what we now call Kwinana Beach. In the 1960’s, inspired by South Fremantle Oval, it was filled with concrete.  It’s good to walk the length of an old ship and imagine where the bow was and the bridge and the boilers, and on the sides you can still see rusty steel plates and rivets. 

For a day trip feast, whether you like it greasy by the beach or grilled at a table there are plenty of great fish and chip shops in Kwinana.

Kwinana is a hidden treasure not because it’s reinvented itself but because its learned to live with itself and tell a bigger, better story. 

The industry is still there but look closer and you’ll find ancient stories, wetlands, views, shipwrecks, beaches for long legged champions and adventure parks for little legged champions.

Lots of adventures to be found and enjoyed in Kwinana

ABC on Grand Final Weekend! Sports! Let’s look for some sporting hidden treasure … you never know what you might find.

For Hidden Treasures on ABC Saturday Breakfast I’m rising up, I’m back on the street, did my time, took my chances, went the distance now I’m back on my feet, just a man and his will to survive.

Listen to audio below of my discussion with Ro for ABC Saturday Breakfast and also enjoy reading the story below …

That’s what it’s all about!  Having the eye of the tiger! Having the guts to get out there!

What’s the great quote from Hawthorn coach John Kennedy? “Don’t think! Do! Do something.”

That’s our hidden treasures mantra, don’t think about it, get out there and do something.

For Hidden Treasure Sport, it is about participation without white line fever and being a weekend warrior.

Some of it is also about connecting with your community and being part of a tribe. Just sitting on the sidelines, or high up in an old grandstand or at the bar with people you don’t know but whose company you enjoy.

Our love of watching sport or playing sport is there to be found all over WA.  Sometimes it’s big, like historic WAFL grounds, sometimes it’s visible from the air, like Champion Lakes, and sometimes you just come across it on a good walk around your suburb, like the water polo competition that is run alongside the river in Bicton. 

I bet our list of sports includes at least one you’ve never heard of and at least one you can’t believe is a sport.

The Wadjemup Cup!  You might think the footy season has all dried up but there is another opportunity! You can watch a carnival of WA’s best young Aboriginal players from Clontarf.  The Wadjemup Cup is on Saturday 6 of November and features over 120 Aboriginal boys from Carnarvon all the way down to Esperance and across to the Goldfields. Get across to Wadjemup and pick a team to support.  The boys will be doing a cultural experience tour that is the same tour all visitors to the island can experience.

The Wadjemup Cup combines great sport with great culture on our favourite island destination

Kabaddi is an ancient Indian martial arts sport that works in teams to protect and defend each other and is about strategy as much as it is about strength.  They have tournaments attracting 1500 people.  (This sport is the worst nightmare for those who don’t like workplace team building exercises).

Get to Lake Monger Primary School on a Sunday morning with your flagon with a dragon and cheer on knights of olde at the Barony of Aneala, described as Perth’s largest medieval group. Combat archery sees participants wear their finest armour in what is described as medieval paint ball…with arrows.

With thanks to the very combative ex-Docker player Antoni Grover, let’s get some people into some bruising encounters with combat sports.  In October and November, Muay Thai tournaments will be held at Curtin Stadium, HBF Stadium and the Perth Convention Centre. This is a sport that relies on stand-up physical strength and much like the Grand Final tonight, is all about attrition.  Last the longest and you win. 

Combat Sports, like Muay Thai, draw big crowds across Perth

Table Tennis but not just ‘table tennis’.  This is table tennis in Mirrabooka with Vietnamese Senior Citizens.  This was a story broken by Molly during the Mirrabooka special a few months ago.  Molly discovered that the Vietnamese Citizens Group needed something active and competitive to participate in, and found that table tennis formed friendships and rivalry. Molly even risked the wrath of the local champion by pulling her away from a winning lead to do an interview. 

There are nine croquet clubs tucked away in Perth on quiet streets with quiet participants who enjoy the clink of wooden mallets gently caressing wooden balls through little hoops.  It’s a sport that is best undertaken if you enjoy making conversation because it’s a gentle sport without a lot of controversy to generate discussion. For a try before you buy experience, contact the Forrest Park club in Mount Lawley who have some introductory courses available in October.

Petanque! It’s French for ‘feet together’ and is similar to lawn bowls and normally played on sandy ground with very shiny, metal balls.  There are five clubs in WA, all petanquing with all ages and an emphasis on supporting players with disability.

Padel is like the creative offspring of tennis and squash this is huge sport in Spain that has been launched in Perth by two Spanish twin sisters and courts are available at Reabold Tennis Club in Floreat.  The social side to Padel is so important that there is a coffee shop on site, alongside the courts.  Literally, you can sip and serve!

In the Pilbara, a Dragon Boat carnival is being held at the historic old port town of Cossak, just a rock of iron ores throw away from Roebourne.  There are boats still looking to fill crews so if you like a high pressure paddle in a sport that began in southern China over 2000 years ago get into it.

Dragon boat racing is taking off in the Pilbara

A big thank you to the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries for helping me pull this story together.

We sometimes limit ourselves to just following what is easily seen on tv.  Sport is more than that. It’s also about connecting with a tribe. Forget the fitness and health stuff, sport in our suburbs is a hidden treasure because it connects us to other people and is another reason to see what’s out there. It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight.  And it’s the thrill of finding something new to do in our suburbs.

ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast … Sunday afternoon in the seat of parliament, in the suburbs.

For Hidden Treasures, Ro and I discover West Perth. I think it’s Perth’s quietest weekend suburb and perfect for a walk from secret parks, historical buildings, old school fun and old school food!

West Perth is where you’ll find our seat of government and with a bit of cardboard you can also make a seat of your own and find more fun than anything you’ll find in the Upper or Lower Houses of Parliament.

But!  This is a walk for Ro and her dad that has a lot of Western Australian brick and mortar significance and ends with the best name for a toastie in the world … a jaffle. 

Before we get to buildings let’s start at a park that when you drive past along Wellington St you probably think is just a few trees and a bit of grass but is a lot more.

Harold Boas Park has little lakes, little bridges, little waterfalls and little rock cascades that are perfect for holding your own tin foil boat Avon Descent.  There are trees that were planted in 1900, creating secret, shady gardens for picnics and it’s also a very popular spot for wedding photos.

Little bridges, little waterfalls, little rapids… Harold Boas Park is a real suburban hidden treasure

I love this park because it can be a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle that surrounds it but can’t be seen or heard.

Parliament House is our next stop, about 10 minutes walk from Harold Boas Park.  Do your thing out the front, sitting on the front steps, take in the view of the Barracks Arch and St Georges Terrace and the view out to the hills but it’s the back of Parliament House I want to take you to. 

Premier Tom Parry at the eastern side of Parliament House

Our most familiar view of Parliament House is of the front that faces east, with its vertical square edged columns.  It’s impressive, but it’s the western side, the original front of Parliament House, made from brick and tile materials sourced from Wadjemup and Donnybrook, that is beautiful.  It’s particularly impressive right now, as there are some beautiful wildflower displays, including impressive kangaroo paws, in front of the western side.  

The Constitution Centre of Western Australia is an impressive name to match a very impressive building.  It’s a two minute walk from Parliament House and on the way you’ll pass the impressive Hale House where the Premier has his office. 

The Constitution Centre provides all sorts of information and excursion opportunities for school groups or anyone interested in our systems of government.  As we’re doing this walk on a Sunday, it’s not open but it’s a beautiful building worth looking at.

Fun Fact: Many years ago I worked for the Electoral Education Centre and used to run elections for kids on their favourite chocolate bars (Violet Crumble had mass appeal back in the day) and sometimes schools would invite me to run their school council elections to show students how the electoral system worked.

The Old Observatory is one our finest buildings that you’ve passed by a million times as you make your way to Kings Park or the CBD.  It’s prominent but elegant and these days it’s the home of the National Trust and like the other buildings in this story, they aren’t open to the public on a Sunday but they don’t need to be.  Enjoy how beautiful this building is from the outside and then get ready for a bit of fun that back in the day would have been frowned upon but these days even gets applause from a lone security guard doing his rounds. 

Box sliding!  I used to think the grassy slope near the river in East Perth was the best box sliding location in Perth but there is a new contender.  Between the Old Observatory and Dumas House is a great slope of well-manicured grass that is perfect for some timeless fun that requires no tech, just a decent square of cardboard. 

A piece of cardboard and down you go!

Just make sure you don’t slide into the impressive Japanese Friendship Garden at the bottom of the hill which has perfectly raked stones and delicately placed temples and tiles. 

The Japanese Friendship Garden

Our final historic brick and mortar site is the Edith Cowan Memorial Clock, made famous by Russell Woolf earlier this year when he campaigned for its renovation and for the clock to be fixed.  It is fixed and impressive, though still requires a lot of looking both ways to get across to the roundabout it’s located on. 

It’s a wonderful reminder of Edith Cowans importance as the first woman elected to any parliament in Australia.  Looking at the clock, it’s also a wonderful reminder that it’s time to walk back into the heart of West Perth and grab something to eat.

Edith Cowan Memorial Clock … it works and it’s wonderful.

Hay Street during the week is full of people and cars and heaving cafes and lunch bars but on a Sunday it’s like the main street of a country town which is perfect because there’s a café that stays open that has its roots in Geraldton.

The Jaffle Shack in West Perth. Open on a Sunday afternoon for jaffles! And coffee! And jaffles! Jaffles!

Grab a coffee and a spag jaffle and debrief your West Perth adventure.  Jaffles are Gods way of saying a toasted sandwich can be so much more if you work at it.  

West Perth is a hidden treasure because particularly on the weekend it is quiet and easily walkable.  It’s a treasure because not everywhere in the world allows such close access to important buildings when they’re closed on weekends.  You can walk around them, touch them, sit on the front steps of Parliament House and look down St Georges Terrace and proclaim what you would do if you were the Premier. 

It’s a hidden treasure because on the weekend it’s the eye of the storm.  All of the activity is swirling around it at Kings Park and the CBD, while West Perth is gloriously quiet and lazy, until Monday comes around.

ABC Saturday Breakfast … discovering hidden treasure on our most treasured destination

While our Hidden Treasures are traditionally within areas that maybe you haven’t considered visiting before, our next Hidden Treasure is all about what you might not know, or have experienced, at one of our most treasured destinations.

It’s not Broome, it’s not Margaret River and it’s not Three Springs or Narrogin.

It’s Wadjemup! 

Enjoy listening to the broadcast – live from Wadjemup – on the link below and enjoy reading below, about a couple of days on Wadjemup with my Producer, Tom Parry.

I’ve done a few stories on Wadjemup over the years, including a rite of passage visit with Matilda which was all about snorkelling at the Basin, getting a cream bun and a choc milk from the bakery and riding a bike and only stopping for quokkas, dugites and Ashton Agar.

I’ve covered the island’s remarkable ANZAC Day Dawn service and more recently Tom and I jumped across to the island in a seaplane, lifting off from the Swan River and spending time on the island to help Tom find his spirit quokka.

This sand-in-your-toes destination has the effect on West Australians that I described in last weekends staycation discussion.  You know you’re going to have fun but it’s the ability to relax and take on a pace of life far removed from your normal city life that is so appealing to us.

If you haven’t been to the island before you will typically hit the Basin, Geordie Bay, cycle around the island, hit the bakery three times a day and try desperately to remember what your Maths teacher taught you about angles when trying to capture a selfie with a quokka.

Interestingly, if you have been to the island before, you’ll probably still just do those same activities and experiences.  As Jerry Seinfeld would say, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” but as I would say, “Let’s see what treasure is still to be discovered on our favourite island in the sun.”

Let’s discover a few of the experiences that those who work on Wadjemup wish visitors spent some time doing … just for fun and just for a bit of understanding.

A cultural tour is where a Wadjemup rite of passage should begin.  Before you put the flippers on or hop on a bike, put your cultural curiosity into gear.  

Enjoy a walking tour of the island that’s much more than a tour, it’s an experience that enriches your understanding of the island from an Aboriginal perspective.

Some of it is devastating and notorious but there’s also the beauty of a dreamtime story that describes how important the west end of the island is to Aboriginal people. There are traditional songs and a very special sand ceremony that reminds you of a time when Wadjemup was connected to the mainland.

The Wadjemup Museum has been recently renovated and full of new displays and new stories and ways of interpreting old stories through touchscreens and audio experiences.  Also, out the front is a new engaging space with a mini amphitheatre and installation of sculptures with interpretations of the island. 

New sculptures at the Wadjemup Museum

A military maze of tunnels that take you underground and give you an understanding of the importance of Wadjemup during World War II.  You descend down steep stairs into the bowels of Wadjemup and from there the artillery shells for the big guns on Oliver Hill were stored and plotting rooms calculated the required trajectory of the big guns that protected the sea lane approaches to Fremantle. Make sure you ask lots of questions because your guides know more than Google. It’s a well paced tour with lots of opportunities to learn and even more opportunities to go ‘Wow!’.

Into the bowels of Wadjemup we go

If you don’t have a boat when you’re at Wadjemup there are a few ways to get on the water and see the island from a different perspective. This summer there are fishing trips for kids to catch some herring and whiting and there are whale watching tours which mean you’re right in the middle of the action rather than departing from the mainland. If you don’t mind getting completely drenched, try the Rottnest Express Adventure Tour which races around the island but slows down and gives way to seals and whales.

Whales, seals and a good drenching

Wadjemup sits in the middle of the Leeuwin Current and this explains why the waters around Wadjemup are always a bit warmer. As I said to Tom, “You can’t blame the seals for the water being warm.”

The Thompson Bay Jetty is perfect for catching a squid in the evening. Cast a line with your mate, hold the torch light on the jig as it floats in the water looking like a prawn on its way to a nightclub and wait for a Kraken from the deep to slide its tentacles over the jig and then pull him in and try and avoid the spray of black ink as he leaves the water.

Herring, whiting, stingrays and squid … there’s a lot going on at the end of Main Jetty

Geocaching is modern day treasure hunting that gets kids outside while using their devices!  How cool is that?  Across more than 190 countries there are more than 3 million geocaches and a sneaky number of these little hidden stores are on Wadjemup. 

As part of your geochaching expedition, or to see Quokkas in the wild and not just outside the shops or inside your cottage, try one of the walking trails that criss-cross the island. The trails are a favourite hangout for the rangers who love sitting quietly and seeing what Quokkas do when they’re aren’t cake crumbs around.  

The path well-travelled on Wadjemup inevitably leads to the bakery. While the bakery is a wonderful rite of passage in its own right and eating a cream bun in the shade of a big old Moreton Bay Fig tree is a real treat, try a road less travelled and grab a felafel wrap loaded with jalepenos from the Lane Café, on the other side of the mall. Actually, even better than the felafel wrap is the Cray Dog. I’m no food reviewer but I know the words to use; succulent, dreamy, fresh, indulgent and joyful.

Cray Dogs. That’s right. Cray Dogs.

Wadjemup is a hidden treasure because there are tours and opportunities to get a better understanding of the Aboriginal experience and stories of Wadjemup … and because you can still snorkel and ride your bike but there’s time to explore bunkers and tunnels … and you can still have a cream bun and a choc milk but you can enjoy a felafel wrap as well. Or a Cray Dog. Or two. 

So next time you’re on Wadjemup, think about how you can discover some hidden treasure.

Wadjemup sunset from the Bathurst Lighthouse

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.

ABC Saturday Breakfast … a great dad joke is at the heart of a great staycation

For Hidden Treasures on ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast, Ro and I finessed and found that the art of a good dad joke is at the heart of a good staycation.

Listen to our chat on the link below and read a few words below the link!

Staycations aren’t new but staycations are definitely increasing in popularity.  Have you ever thought about staying for a weekend at a place not far from home?  Have you ever wondered if it would be worth the trouble and the expense?

How far do you have to travel before you can say you’ve been somewhere, or that you went away for the weekend?

For Hidden Treasures this Saturday, Chris is handing in his homework after being set the task by Molly to study up on the art of being a traveller at home and whether it’s a waste of time or the best use of time.

Let’s not kid ourselves that the staycation is a construct of the pandemic. They aren’t that original but they have had a makeover.  I sometimes wonder if my school holidays in Shoalwater Bay would now be seen as a staycation because we’re all so used to flinging ourselves all over the planet these days. 

From Narrogin to Shoalwater Bay in 1980 was a bit like that first trip to London when people would come to the airport to see you off.  The neighbours would line up along Grant Street and wave as the Toyota Crown made its way down the street and out of town. Messages would be left with friends about when we would be returning and jobs allocated for the collection of mail and watering the garden.

Let’s start by defining the staycation.  Is it in your state, your city or town, or in your backyard?

A staycation has to be close.  It doesn’t have to be cheap but it should be simpler to arrange than the itinerary of 10 days in Europe or 3 families convening at a resort in Bali.

A staycation should be about finding a different layer. If you’re having a staycation in the Perth CBD don’t just shop, go to a live comedy show or a secret bar, if you’re going to Rottnest don’t just snorkel at the Basin, participate in an Aboriginal Cultural Tour, if you’re going to Fremantle don’t just do the markets, see a footy match.

So, let’s find a staycation hidden treasure that is a very well-known weekend destination.

Innaloo.  Now, this is for Tom who loves a good dad joke….. “I’d rather be Innaloo than Upper Swan.”

Innaloo is 15 minutes from my home.  I’m familiar with it. I know it and sometimes it’s a destination, sometimes I’m just driving through it.

For a staycation the key is not to do too much and keep the ingredients simple:

Accommodation:  

Stay there …. this isn’t a daytrip!

Quest Apartments is an interesting accommodation option because while it is perfectly located for an Innaloo staycation and has the level of friendliness at reception and comfort in your room to put you in a holiday mood, importantly it’s offering more than a splash of weekend luxury.

Very comfortable, lots of room and a view with the CBD on the horizon

Up the road is the Osborne Park Hospital and Quest provides wheelchair accessible apartments for those on waiting for treatment and there’s a nearby medical facility that has clients travelling regularly from as far away as Albany.

They also have a program called ‘You Can Stay’ for young regional people who are diagnosed with cancer.  If you live more than 100 kilometres from your hospital treatment they will provide you with free accommodation.

Dining:

There are restaurants and cafes within walking distance of your accommodation and Quest has charge back facilities with quite a few of the local establishments but not with Tom’s number one dining bucket list. While we did eat out at some great restaurants and try some quirky bubble tea, we did frequent, on two occasions, the IKEA restaurant.  As part of his dining experience we got to see behind the door where your dining tray goes when you put it on that conveyor belt. 

Oh, Tom!

Leisure:

Movies (don’t take your packet of twisties in a bag, buy a choctop!)

Shopping (buy something outrageous)

Parks, (City of Stirling Civic Gardens and Lake Jackadder)

A short walk from the Quest Apartments (burn off that choctop and popcorn)

And remember that if you see someone you know, act with amazement that they happen to be at this same place on the planet as you and ask them where they’re staying.

Innaloo is a Hidden Treasure because of the opportunity to stay there.  It’s what makes the difference between the combat of finding a car bay on the weekend and feeling like you’re on holiday by walking from your room to the shops or the movies and back again.

I expected we would have fun. What I didn’t expect was how quickly we would relax and detach ourselves from being a local to feeling like a tourist.

Innaloo is a Hidden Treasure if you stay there.  It loses its sense of urgency and gives you a sense of indulgence.  You spend money on things that you wouldn’t do normally but that’s ok because you’re on a holiday budget, not a home budget.

I hope Molly likes my staycation assignment.  It’s not too long, it covers the requirements of the set task, and I think, just like Innaloo, it’s got A+ written all over it!

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