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:
There are not many reasons better for a long day out, or a bucket list travel journey, than the fun to be had at a theme park. The rides, the costumed characters, even the overpriced food and merchandise is an experience most of us will indulge in.
On ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast we had a wonderful discussion about our theme park experiences which, it must be said, included some embarrassing moments. Enjoy the audio file below and then below that, just a few words to help with your own memories of theme parks:
My tv childhood in a four-word nutshell was: The Banana Splits Show
Even better than the cartoons and antics of The Banana Splits were the opening and closing credits, much of which showed them having fun at Six Flags Over Texas, a 1960’s era theme park still going strong today. Lots of log rides into water and stomach heaving roller coasters. It was the first place I ever wanted to visit.
Theme Parks From Perth’s Past:
Atlantis: King Neptune and his trident watching protectively over his leaping dolphins.
Dizzy Lamb Park: Bumper boats, creaking ferris wheels, a few worn out kangaroos and from the footage I’ve seen, plenty of piles of yellow sand to throw sand boondies.
El Caballo Blanco: White horses goose stepping, dancing and prancing to shouts of Ole!
Wanneroo Lion Park: Ex-circus lions with a warning sign, “Trespassers will be eaten”.
Armadale’s Pioneer Village: Every kid could get a wanted poster with their pic on it and tough old boiled lollies would last the journey between Armadale and Albany.
The Overseas Experience:
Legoland: Lego themed rides and even a driving school and Lego boats. The only Lego experience they haven’t perfected is the walking on a Lego brick experience.
Disneyland: If the Banana Splits opening credits didn’t inspire your first travel bucket list item then it was most likely Disneyland, particularly when once a week the Wonderful World of Disney would come on the telly (I said telly) and the opening credits would show clips of Disneyland, including the monorail that looked like Captain Nemo’s submarine (I had the lunchbox). Visiting Disneyland was completely wonderful, particularly rides like the Jungle Cruise. The classic Tea Cups continue to boggle my mind. How do they spin and circle around on a turntable at the same time?
Movie Inspired: Sharknado! Perhaps it’s age inappropriate that Tom’s favourite movies are the Sharknado series so an opportunity to visit Sunway in KL to experience Sharknado was too good to be true and unexpectantly scary and gory. Sunway is gloriously full of water slides and aquatic themed fun.
Waterbom Park is an institution for many people who visit Bali. I did a slide that I got stuck in and the pipe had to be opened to let me out.
Haw Par Villa: I’m looking forward to describing this in more detail at a later date. Let’s just say this is a theme park like no other. It’s been frightening Chinese children in Singapore since 1937. Be Good! Or else!
Theme Parks are Hidden Treasures because … just like the Banana Splits theme says; you can have a “mess of fun and there’s lots of fun for everyone” and no doubt you’ll come home with an overpriced fridge magnet or coffee cup with your photo on it, to always remember a great day out.
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’re talking about markets. From craft markets, organic markets, wet markets and community markets, we’re sure we’ll find something for you to seek out this whenever your next weekend drive is planned.
What’s more of a sensory overload wherever you are in the world than a good market? We’re going to provide some good options throughout Perth but I want to start with some international market experiences as well.
When we decided to explore markets, I was taken back through the humid mists of time to a market north of Khao Lak in Thailand.
My kids were drawn by aisles of backpacks and shirts but all of a sudden we were slipping and sliding our way through the wet market which had all sorts of animal fluids on the concrete floor and the smells and sights of a different cultures cuts of meat opened my kids eyes wider than the cows eyes rolling around on the table.
If you get the chance to visit Kuala Lumper then a visit to Chow Kit and Jalan Alor will give you a night out you will never forget, full of tightly packed stalls with seafood ready to be grilled to order, high piles of rambutans, jackfruit and stinky durian.
These are markets where the locals eat and buy their produce to eat at home. These are markets that bring outsiders in and that’s what makes a good market anywhere in the world or anywhere in our suburbs; it attracts the locals and the outsiders.
In Hong Kong, Tom and I went to Cat Street which is full to the brim with curios which just happens to be one of my favourite words! Curios! Tables filled with piles of watches, Mao Tse Tung statuettes, brooches and badges. It was a great market for that feeling that you have to dig to find the treasure. (Tom’s story about the dragon pocket watch).
Here in Perth we have so many markets in Perth that I have come up with a collective noun for markets.
We have a Mooch of Markets in Perth.
Rockingham Rotary Sunday Market: A Rotary Club run market and your donation when you enter the markets helps fund community projects. This is one of the great car boot style markets. Handmade goods and crafts are on sale as well, as well as trestles groaning under the weight of piles of action figures and hot wheels cars and soft toys. Tom is a collector of Garfield so he’s an expert rummager at these markets.
Vic Park Community Market: Let’s go fly a kite in Vic Park! A broad expanse of grass with kite flying for the kids and lots of backyard grown veges of interesting shapes and sizes and local music to tap your feet to while you have a fresh donut and coffee.
Perth Upmarket at UWA (every 3 months): Handmade crafts and artists are what the Upmarkets are known for and these are probably the markets with the best atmosphere, being in the hallowed grounds of the university.
Kyilla Community Farmers Market: Each Saturday by Kyilla Primary School as an opportunity to make the school community part of the local community. Stalls focus on healthy living options, the line for bread always winds its way through the stalls. Proceeds from the stall fees go to the school for resources and learning projects.
Provedore Markets: If you’re pandemic shy about travelling but longing for Europe, head to the Provedore Markets in Mount Hawthorn for a bit of Italy. Cheeses, meats, wines, gelato, pizza and pasta and those Italian soft drinks in the little bottles and music and long communal tables to enjoy your culinary loot alongside new friends.
Scarborough Sunset Market: The sunset winter markets are held on Saturday nights and with the sounds of local DJs and a cold winter sea breeze at your back, enjoy hot spicy foods and a hot chocolate with extra marshmallows.
Mirrabooka Community Markets: Finished for now but look out for when this one resumes. It’s a brilliant market that is probably Perth’s most culturally diverse and make sure you skip breakfast as there’s a lot of food from around the world to try.
Kalamunda Artisan Market: More than a market, it’s a tourism destination on our beautiful escarpment. Typically over 150 stalls and is a great reason to head to the hills for a day out, buying some local ceramics or artworks and getting enough fresh produce to make a picnic in the nearby parks and bushland.
Mount Claremont Farmers Market: Every Saturday morning and is full to the fence with stalls of seasonal fruit and veges, cheeses, pastries and flowers and when nectarines come out at the end of the year get in line as quick you can.
City Farm: Real gardens to explore like something out of Mr McGregor’s garden in Peter Rabbit and lots of organic opportunities not just to eat but to spray on things you’re growing to eat. The only thing you’ll find that’s sweeter than the honey for sale are maybe an ABC Presenter and Producer grabbing themselves a coffee before the start of Hidden Treasures. Get there by train and get off at Claisebrook Station.
Moorditj Markets (Sunday at the footy): Honey, seedlings, art, clothes, jewellery and deadly denim shopping bags
Markets are Hidden Treasures because it’s not just about being cheap and cheerful it’s about the fabric of a community that’s on display. When we’re overseas we’re fascinated by trestles of cows heads and odd fruits. While culture can sometimes be confronting in a market, particularly overseas, here in our suburbs and even at the footy, they show us what we grow and what we make and they are a honeypot for getting us outside and bringing us together and that’s what hidden treasure is all about.
On ABC Saturday Breakfast we like to keep things inspiring and exciting but sometimes to do that we have to remember those moments that were less than perfect.
There’s certainly been a lot of excitement about being able to travel again. It might be time to reunite with loved ones, use that voucher for travel that was cancelled because of the pandemic or maybe it’s the first family trip overseas?
There’s a lot to be excited about but on Hidden Treasures we thought we’d look at some of the experiences that have become great stories but at the time might have caused a bit of anxiety or discomfort. Have you been stuck in an airport sleeping on a plastic chair because of delayed flights? Have you been bitten by something? Have you had non-stop rain or got bogged with a rising tide on the beach?
Think about it! What story are you more interested in? The glistening toilet in a six-star resort suite or a bucket on a barge, one night on the border between Malaysia and Thailand.
I love any good story and I think some of the best stories in the world are survival stories. Surviving storm tossed seas, stumbling over endless dunes in the Sahara, being attacked and left for dead by a bear!
But there are also those survival stories, those horrible tales that are told when we’re home safe and sound from our travels.
Having to sleep on a plastic chair in a busy airport with one eye open to guard your luggage. Having to sleep on a plastic chair in a busy airport while they try and find your luggage.
To help us along I’ve come up with four categories:
Travelling with my daughter and being detained in South Africa due to bureaucracy around child slavery laws.
Being stuck in an airport in the middle of the night with a toddler.
Attending the Indian festival of Deepavali in a far away land and feeling even further away after being hit in the head by a street lit firework that was aimed at my head.
Being attacked by a flesh-eating spider in Borneo and forgetting my bedroom was split level.
Leeches! Just like the scene in Memphis Belle when they’re panicking over whose blood is all over the cockpit, my scenario was in a dinghy, deep in the jungles of Perak in Northern Malaysia. We were wondering whose blood was sloshing around the bottom of the boat. It was all of us!
Hotels in Rome are less hit and miss these days but I definitely got the miss on my first visit. The pillow slip had been made in Ancient Roman times and barely held the mouldy pieces of foam where I was expected to rest my head. Nothing worse than a bad bed.
Houseboats. For me, a category on their own. I’ve stayed on a barge in the jungle with hygiene the Dark Ages would have been proud of and with a toileting task that required me to move my movements from the toilet on one side of the boat to the other. With a soup ladle. I wasn’t eating anything that came out of that kitchen.
I’ve also stayed on what could only be described as a non airconditioned donger with floats, with two sets of my greatest friends who by the end of the trip were close to being my greatest enemies. Tempers flared as temperatures rose. Lost items overboard. Bird sized mosquitoes.
Traditional Longhouse in Borneo. Not so bad as a cultural experience but when you’ve had a few Tiger beers and you’re at the end of the longhouse and getting up for a wee in the middle of the night means walking on creaking bamboo slats that wakes everyone up it’s embarrassing and means you can’t get up again.
Motels by the side of highways. If it’s not roadtrains going past it’s the the Peters Ice Cream truck parked outside with the genny on the truck running to stop the drumsticks from melting. All night long …DRDRDRDRDRRDR.
Worst travel experiences are Hidden Treasures because as long as you’ve survived, you’ve got a great story and maybe a photo as well. Worst travel moments are hidden treasures because they’re character building. God! I sound like my mother!