ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast looks at the art, wildlife and wild rides to be had on lakes

Whether they’ve got water in them or are just a salty plain, lakes are opportunities not just for our wildlife but for all of us.

They’ve been used for land and water speed records and they’ve been used for sculptures.

You’ll find lakes where you can sit and watch birdlife, you’ll find lakes you can walk around and you’ll find lakes you didn’t know existed all over Western Australia. 

I think all of us have enjoyed a lake at one time or another.  Whether it’s been for the peace and quiet, a sweaty run or watching wildlife from a bird hide or a kayak, our lakes are found throughout our metropolitan area and Western Australia. 

Some are well known, like Champion Lakes, Lake Monger, Lake Joondalup, Herdsman Lake and Black Diamond Lake.  They are iconic attractions but there are many others you should experience and thanks to a caller last week who mentioned Lake Lescenaultia, that’s why we decided to make this weekends Hidden Treasure all about lakes.

  • Lake Dumbleyung:  I think the first lake I heard about was this one.  Famous for Donald Campbells 1964 world speed water record in the hydroplane boat called the Bluebird.
  • Lake Magic: If you’re out for a surf at Wave Rock near Hyden, head just about a kilometre away and discover WA’s own circular version of the Dead Sea.
  • Lake Leschenaultia: under an hour away from Perth towards Chidlow in the east. You can hire canoes for much of the year and there’s a good walking train and barbeque facilities.
  • Lake Ballard: Home of the largest outdoor art gallery on Earth and also an art loving population of flies who will keep you company as you walk from statue to statue.
Lake Ballard is home to the worlds biggest outdoor art gallery
  • The Spectacles: We spoke about these wetland lakes when we discovered Kwinana last year. 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 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.
  • Lake Richmond:  Now this is my big hidden treasure for this show.  We’ve talked about Lake Clifton and it’s fish burgers and thrombolites but did you know that down at Rockingham there’s a lake that is a world heritage site, is one of our deepest and mysterious lakes, and is home to an ancient population of thrombolites which can be viewed from an elevated walkway.
  • Lake Gwelup: Lake Gwelup featured in our story last year on Karrinyup and Gwelup and this is one of the best lakes in Perth to view the rainbow bee-eater which flies down from Papua New Guinea and Indonesia to make a love nest in the surrounding trees.  If this tree is rocking, don’t bother knocking!
Lake Gwelup’s elevated boardwalk
  • Lake Jackadder: This is in Woodlands just behind the Innaloo Cinemas and one of my favourite lakes because it’s got a regular turnout each weekend of remote-control sailors who are members of the Perth Radio Sailing Club.  They squint and have lopsided Greek fisherman’s hats and toggle their controls to race each other around marker buoys in the lake.
  • Mary Carroll Park:  A bit like The Spectacles in Kwinana, this two-lake system is in the heart of the Gosnells area. It’s a Bush Forever Site and you can join a local volunteer group who do community awareness, weed control and rehabilitation.
  • Goegrup Lake and Yalbanberup Pool: This is part of the Serpentine River and accessible from Mandjoogoordap Drive and it’s about where the Kwinana Freeway becomes the Forrest Highway.  Great for kayakers and there’s lots of little tributary canals and streams that branch off from each of these lakes.
  • Smiths Lake formerly known as Three Island Lake and even more formerly as Danjanberup.  It’s my little hidden treasure for this show. It’s one of Perth’s smallest lakes and is the remnant of a much bigger long lost lake.
Smiths Lake is very small and very pretty

Lakes are hidden treasures because there’s likely one close to where you live that you’ve never walked around or has wildlife you’ve never seen or activities you didn’t know about.

Whether it’s a lake in our goldfields or a lake in our suburbs, they are more than a blue shape on your street map, they are opportunities to explore and have adventures or just sit quietly and watch the life of your local lake.

ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast Gets Fit

It’s normally around now that we remember the New Years Resolution’s that we made nearly a month ago.  It’s normally around now that reality kicks in as you realise that work outfits seem just a bit tighter than the singlets and bathers you might have been getting around in all summer.

It’s time to combine that spirit of adventure with the reality of getting a bit fitter.

For ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast, to help you find some fitness, I was sent to find some locations around Perth and WA that will inspire you and maybe just take you back a notch on your belt.

I think the collective noun for cargo shorts is a ‘lazy’.  It’s what I’ve been living in this summer but I can’t get away with it for much longer.  It’s time to start wearing some real pants and I need to get some exercise that is also outdoors and inspiring.

  • DNA Tower: This is like Classic Coke.  You can mess around with new lookouts and treetop walks but this is the true classic. Just over 100 spiralling steps with a plaque on the top showing distances to different locations.  Interestingly it’s 3km from Pelican Point and 26km to Rottnest.
  • Kokoda Track Memorial Walk: Located at the Kennedy Fountain on Mounts Bay Road, this is a great place to practise your pre-trek routine and break in new boots.  I used to piggyback Matilda up these steps when I was training to do the Sandakan Death March. The 150 steps are uneven and odd distances apart so it’s hard to get into a stepping routine. There are park benches and plaques along the way, naming different Kokoda battles that allow you to reflect on the Kokoda campaign and the soldiers known as, ‘The men who saved Australia.”
Kokoka steps at Kings Park
  • Jacobs Ladder: This is probably our most popular exercise spot in Perth.  Located at Cliff Street in West Perth with just over 240 steps up a 40 metre ascent, this is one for those who have good active wear and it can get a bit serious at times, particularly if groups are running up and down it. 
  • Around the Bridges:  The loop from the Narrows to the Causeway is more my style, and the style for all ages who can walk, ride a bike, ride a scooter, ride anything, just remember to keep to the left and ding your bell if you’re passing anyone.  A good 10km walk with plenty of opportunities to just sit and marvel at what a beautiful part of the world we live in. 
  • Whitfords Nodes Health and Wellbeing Hub: This is just up from Hillarys. As well as lots of nature play and climbing equipment there is the new 145 stairway up a coastal dune with the reward of great views of the metropolitan coastline.
  • Joyce Park Steps in Scarborough:  Probably our least known exercise spot, it has a strong local following of step climbers who then head off to the beach for a swim. 
  • Munda Biddi Trail: Stretching 1000km’s from Mundaring to Albany this is an off-road cycling track that is the longest off-road cycle trail in the world.  You don’t need to ride the full length.  Have a day out and try a level of difficulty that’s suitable to your ability. White or green circles are nice and easy whereas if you find yourself on a double black diamond it suggests you’ll probably fall off your bike any second.
  • Collie Trails: The area around Collie has some of the newest off-road cycling tracks in the state and have been designed by some of the worlds best riders.  As part of a trails strategy, Collie is becoming the trail hub of the world with amazing cycling trails, horse trails and walking trails that are well designed for all sorts of abilities.
  • Cape to Cape:  For those who don’t mind logistics and are looking for a longer challenge, the 123km Cape to Cape walk (from Cape Naturalist to Cape Leeuwin) can be done on your own or with an organised tour group over varying distances but you need to work out how you’ll return to your vehicle, what supplies you need to carry but it’s all worth it when you’re walking along cliffs, through forest and on remote shores.
  • The Hike Collective: We’ve touched on these guys before and for good reason. They offer a range of walks that can end with champagne and a sunset and providing for mental health is just as important as physical health.  They have a new program.  It’s often said that yoga is mentally grounding.  This new yoga is undergrounding, in a cave.  In the Cabaret Cave in Yanchep, enjoy yoga and meditation and maybe some fresh cold-pressed juice afterwards.
Yoga in a Cave by The Hike Collective
  • Ask your local council what they have for free outdoor exercise opportunities, like the ‘Get Active Outdoors Guide’ by the City of Armadale, City of Gosnells and Shire of Serpentine-Jarrahdale.  They have a well coordinated program of sessions in parks including walks, runs, yoga, bike riding and even have maps for where you can find a new place to walk your dog.

Exercise can be a Hidden Treasure because we live in the best place on Earth for getting outdoors and doing stuff.  Exercise doesn’t have to be a resolution, let it be a discovery.

Climb a hill, ride a bike through challenging switchbacks, walk around a couple of bridges or lakes.  Hidden Treasures is about discovering what is close by and doing it in new ways.  Don’t just drive past, get out and walk around for a bit. 

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to the audio below or just read on …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dogs. ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast finds Hidden Treasure for man’s best friend.

Hidden Treasure has found a lot for us to do over the past year and a bit.  There have been quirky museums, good places to eat, main streets to shop in and lots of urban art.

Our next Hidden Treasure is for someone in the family who loves us unconditionally even when we sometimes can’t take them out and about on family adventures.

Dogs.  It must be tough for a dog sticking its head out of the window and seeing signs with red lines crossed through images of dogs.  Sometimes the sign is of a dog walking, sometimes it’s that most vulnerable of positions, the hunch that requires you to carry a little bag, or in the case of my Molly, a large bag.

I live a minutes walk from Charles Veryard Reserve in North Perth, a huge swathe of grass that is an off-lead area for dogs as long as organised sport isn’t being played.   

Molly strains at the lead on the walk there and it’s awful to see her shoulders slump when she sees a cricket match is on. Because it’s close and convenient I haven’t really thought much about taking her somewhere else.

On my Hidden Treasure travels I’ve realised I come across a lot of parks and beaches where dogs are allowed that I didn’t know existed.  Some beaches even have free stick libraries for the dogs and there’s even an adventure in Perth to get your pooch onto the water.

Some great beaches in our Metropolitan area for dog include:

  • Shoalwater Bay at the end of Boundary Road.  Parking is right on the steps down to the beach and it’s a family friendly beach.  It’s a great digging beach for some reason.  I always see dogs digging great holes and spraying sand from between their back legs.
  • South Fremantle – great beach with a big grassed area and a very comprehensive stick library for the most discerning of dogs.
South Fremantle Beach Stick Library
  • South Cottesloe – Allows you to visit an iconic beach location in WA with your dog and it’s probably the best dog beach to swim at for humans.
  • North Beach – like Mettam’s Pool is between Scarborough and Trigg and is Perth’s smallest dog beach, just 500m long and at the bottom of some steep steps.  One for the young dogs, not the old dogs, including me.
  • Mrs Herbert’s Park in Claremont is a lovely Swan River Beach for your pooch.  Find the Claremont Freshwater Bay Museum and you’ll be in the right place. 
  • For an adventure on the river, if you haven’t got a boat of your own but love a picnic and love your dog, hire a Nautipicnics electric boat and head from Maylands up to Guildford.  Molly was amazed at the cormorants with extended wings on protruding branches, she barked at kayakers and barked at kids fishing on jetties.
Molly-Plum loved her boating adventure almost as much as I did

For a non-aquatic dog adventure try the following walks and parks:

Noble Falls Walk Trail up at Gidgegannup :  Dogs are allowed off leash on this trail of just over three and a half kilometres and of course there’s the Noble Falls Tavern that does a great steak sandwich to share with your four-legged mate.

Regionally, The City of Geraldton has recently opened some fully fenced dog parks at the Leonard T Green Memorial Park that are grassed and particularly good for little dogs who can sometimes get a bit intimidated at the beaches.  There’s also dog training classes available at these locations but don’t tell your dog you’re taking them to school. 

Karlkurla Park is a wonderful on leash bushland area to walk with your pet in Kalgoorlie and halfway back to Perth near Corrigin on the Brookton Highway is the beautiful Dog Cemetery with heartfelt messages on plaques to many much loved companions.

Back in Perth, possibly the biggest dog park is Whiteman Park which as well as the human attractions, has 2 ½ hectare dog park with special agility training equipment, lots of water bowls and grassed areas and bush to explore.

Why are dog parks and beaches a hidden treasure?

Dog parks, dog beaches and experiences with dogs are hidden treasures because whether it’s a short walk or even a day trip, time with your dog is always well spent for their physical and mental health and your own. 

The simple pleasure of throwing a stick or a ball means so much to them and unlike my kids, they don’t mind getting up early and heading out with me to see what’s out there.  As long as they can stick their head out of the window.

Dogs need places to play as much as little and big humans do

ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast: Back for 2022 and Let’s Start Underwater!

One of the best things about Christmas and summer is the opportunity to try out those summer Christmas presents to get you to the beach.  From scoop nets to wet suits, boogies boards to sandcastle buckets and masks and snorkels.

In 2021 Hidden Treasures went to a few beaches but didn’t seem to go in the water much.  There were fish burgers on Preston Beach and a very friendly surf lifesaving club at Secret Harbour but we didn’t really get wet.

For our launch of Hidden Treasures for 2022, let’s find some summer fun beneath the waves!

Darling it’s better, down where it’s wetter!

When I was a kid there was nothing better than a new pair of flippers and a mask and snorkel.  No rinsing them off with the garden hose and leaving them on the lawn to dry, I’d be polishing the mask glass with Dad’s turtle wax and drying it with every tea towel in the house and removing every speck of sand from the snorkel mouthpiece by using the bathroom sink and someone’s toothbrush.

What I love about snorkelling is entering another world.  It’s not diving but you can dive down and see things up close and even catch things if you want to.

Perth has some amazing snorkelling experiences and I hope from our following list there’s a place you haven’t heard of or maybe you just haven’t been there for a while.

Omeo, Coogee: Not much more than 20 metres from shore, the Omeo forms part of the Coogee Maritime Trail.  As well as the thrill of being above a real shipwreck, the trail features underwater sculptures and even a bit of underwater education with plaques about the aquatic life and local maritime history.

Mettam’s Pool, Trigg: Between the iconic beaches of Scarborough and Trigg is this little beach with one of the best snorkel experiences for complete beginners to absolute experts.  Get the tides right and there are channels of reef to wind your way through and going the other way will be darting, silver schools of herring and big old cod slowing everyone down as they try to work out what way they’re going.

Falcon Bay, Mandurah: This is probably the least known of our Hidden Treasure snorkelling spots and I apologise to the locals for revealing it.  It’s a beautiful, calm bay protected from the southerly winds with an area of reef that is great for exploring and watching big skippy and tailor watch you.

Yanchep Lagoon, Yanchep: The great thing about the Yanchep Lagoon is that unlike Atlantis, it’s still there.  The reef shape creates a nice lagoon that protects it from the wind and the reef is great to swim along and wave at lots of small fish and maybe even a resident crayfish or two.

Point Peron, Rockingham:  I never snorkelled here as a kid and I’m not sure why but it’s one of my favourite spots now and the kids like bringing their friends along and after an exhausting few hours exploring the reefs there’s usually Mr Whippy in the carpark to soothe sore lips from the snorkel. For a bigger adventure just offshore for those with good swimming strength, see if you can find the population of hammerhead sharks that live out there.

Swim with the Dolphins, Rockingham:  One of the great wildlife experiences anywhere in the world is right here in Cockburn Sound.  Safe and easy for all ages, form a floating line in the water and let the dolphins interact with you if they want to.  Sometimes they come close, other times they’ll swirl and twirl underneath you and roll and look you in the eye and it’s a genuine and beautiful encounter.

The Basin, Rottnest:  It doesn’t get much more iconic than this does it?  If you’re looking for the best place to put your face underwater for the first time in your life, make it at The Basin. I remember snorkelling with my daughter Matilda and she was making that exited underwater noise in her snorkel as she pointed at the fish.  Little striped fish doing spirals up and down, flashes of silver from bream and skippy and lazy cod doing lazy turns just to make sure they’re not being followed.

The Basin

Abrolhos, 70km west of Geraldton: I’m fortunate to have been to the Abrolhos a couple of times and the last time was with my daughter Matilda and we flew out and landed on East Wallabi Island before walking to Turtle Bay which is one of my all-time best snorkelling locations.  Fed by the nutrient rich Leeuwin Current the corals are vivid and the fish form a palette of colours that explode in front of your mask.  For a break from the water of Turtle Bay, we went for a walk to the far end of the beach and we ended up rescuing Julie Bishop who was marooned on the island!

Always Happy To Rescue A Foreign Minister In Distress

Snorkelling is a hidden treasure because it’s a lot like a staycation, you don’t have to do much or go far to find yourself immersed in another world.  I love that it is accessible to all ages and abilities and is an affordable adventure for all of us.

ABC Saturday Breakfast welcomes Santa Claus!

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

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

  • Mrs Claus’ Roadside Diner:

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

  • Polar Bear Safari:

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

  • World’s Best Disco:

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

  • Reindeer Ranch:

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

  • Santa’s Workshop:

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

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

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

ABC Saturday Breakfast: The Best Of Hidden Treasure

Hidden Treasures has been a journey of local discoveries that has led us to urban art trails, suburban museums, jetties, lakes, parks and so much more.

In this penultimate edition of Hidden Treasures for 2021, we’re doing a year in review, we’re naming names, we’re handing out gongs and we’re doing it quicker than the Brownlow. Listen to the audio file below or keep reading, or do both!

What I’ve loved about Hidden Treasures is more than making the discovery, it’s been about sharing the discovery.  Just like returning from those overseas destinations, I have found joy in describing for you Bull Creek and Mirrabooka, Two Rocks and Kwinana and many more of our suburbs.  My Top Ten Hidden Treasures for 2021:

Best Suburban Museum:

2nd Bassendean Railway Museum: Tells a great story of the railways in WA.

1st Bull Creek Aviation Heritage Museum: Spitfires, Lancasters, rockets and roaring engines.

Spitfires, Lancasters, Catalina’s and more, at the Bull Creek Aviation Heritage Museum

Best Sport:

2nd WAFL: Great standard of suburban tribalism in sport and community.  

1st Padel:  Never heard of it before we did Hidden Sports Treasures.

Come for a Padel, stay for a tapas

Best Food:

A tie for 2nd – Cray Dog at the Lane Café on Wadjemup and Curry Puff at Bull Creek Oriental Supplies.

1st – Fish Burger at Preston Beach General Store.

Best fish burger in the world

Best Aboriginal Experience:

2nd Deadly Divas – Wildflower Walkabout and Campfire Stories run by ladies for the ladies.

1st Yagan Square Nyumbi – Friday evenings, hopefully back for 2022.

Best View:

2nd Kwinana Chalk Hill – a worthy winner of hidden treasure views.

1st HALO at Perth Stadium – Don’t just be a spectator, have an adventure.

Best Main Street:

2nd North Fremantle – a great street to walk and mooch

1st Bassendean – a main street that in the best traditions of main streets, reminds me of all the country towns I’ve lived in and driven through.

Best Walk:

2nd Hike Collective – making a good walk as much about mental health as physical health.

1st West Perth – a middle of the city walk that gives you a great park (Harold Boas), the seat of government, a seat on sliding grass and jaffles.

Best Urban Art:

2nd Joondalup Urban Art Trail – Including a sculpture that’s a love shack for moths and the worlds biggest periodic table

1st Mirrabooka Mural – Shaping the Future is about loving the diversity in the place you live by showing local faces from many backgrounds.

Urban art is one of Perth’s great hidden treasures

Best Free Tour:

2nd Coogee Common Garden Tour – feel like Peter Rabbit in Mr McGregors garden (without the terror).

1st Sunset Coast Explorer – Feel like a tourist as you sit back in a double decker bus up the coast from Scarborough.

Best Surprise:

2nd Community Gardens – Discover where communities come together to grow vegetables, make compost, look after chickens, teach sustainability and just relax while you potter about.

1st  Staycations – You really can relax just 15 minutes from home.

The pandemic might have been the inspiration for Hidden Treasures but don’t let travel restrictions be the reason to turn your gaze towards exploration at home, make exploration at home a part of your travel life, a regular outing or roadtrip or staycation somewhere in your city that you haven’t been to. 

It’s there and it always will be if we support it.

ABC Saturday Breakfast Rides the River

Whether it’s to try out a new Christmas present, a family day out, being a tourist for the day or showing off our city to a visiting friend, there is one place that is guaranteed to make it special, one place that is our most treasured place.  It’s not hidden, but there are hidden treasures to be found on it.  Where are we going?  The Derbarl Yerrigan.  The Swan River.  Our river.

Some of our Hidden Treasure stories have included elements of the Swan River.  It was when I looked around Bassendean that I first thought about a river story. 

We talked about the confluence of the Helena River and Swan River and the thrill of watching people fall off stand-up paddleboards and I watched kids swinging on a rope and tyre tied to a gnarly old tree sticking out of the bank on the Guildford side.

Our Hidden Treasure this morning is for all of us who love the river, love getting on it, but don’t have a boat. Here’s a few things you can do to get you on the water on one of the world’s great city waterways.

We’ve already mentioned stand up paddleboards as a spectator sport and tyres on a rope as an age-old pastime on the river but let’s get to my list of ten things for riding on the river if you haven’t got your own boat.

Surfcats:  I can remember as a kid watching cricket on tv and the camera would pan across to people on the river in surfcats and they would sometimes blow over when the Freo Doctor was in and then you’d see people stand up.  I also remember Tony Greig baiting Bill Lawry about going out on a surfcat, knowing Bill couldn’t swim. These days the surfcats are stronger and a family of four can enjoy sailing and imagining they’re winning the America’s Cup.

Transperth Ferries:  This is probably the best way to see the city, the river and all of the activity on it. For just a couple of dollars you can hop on at the Mends Street Jetty in South Perth or ferry terminal at Elizabeth Quay.  At both ends of a ten-minute journey you’ll find ice cream shops and cafes, or something finer if you like.  You can open the windows and have your head out in the breeze, watch cormorants on the navigation markers with their wings spread wide, drying them in the sun.

Electric Ferry: For a different type of ferry, a tesla on water, try the Little Electric Ferry Company which also operates from Elizabeth Quay.  This little fleet is fully electric and looks like something Gatsby would go boating in.  They travel up to Claisebrook and tie up in the inlet and give you enough time to duck into the pub for a beer before heading back down the river and sometimes they stop off at the pontoon wharf outside Perth Stadium, just up from Matagarup Bridge.

Zipline: Also up from Matagarup Bridge, literally, is the recently opened zipline which launches you from the bridge and across to the east bank.  It’s a great way to fly like a bird, scream like a banshee and land like James Bond.

Nautipicnics: Staying with the electric theme on water, if you want to get your dog on the water and have a go at being a skipper for a day, even without your Skippers Ticket, you can take out the groovy little Nautipicnics boats. 

Nautipicnics … no Skippers Ticket needed … but watch where you’re going!

Perfect for exploring the banks around Maylands and Bayswater, chugging alongside a pelican as it’s taking off like some 1930’s flying boat.  They’re set up with a central table and a shady bimini so you can glide around the river and graze your way through a cheese platter with cheese of a better quality than my days working for Boat Torque.

Water Wanderers: These guys do sunset tours, wetlands tours and Leonie will find little spots to pull into and give you amazing desserts served in Mason Jars, designed to top up your energy levels for your adventure.  I did a tour with Leonie as a Father’s Day adventure with my kids and my brother Jamie.  Matilda and I would line up Jamie and Tom and yell ‘Ramming Speed’ and then bump against Tom who would get cross with his Uncle Jamie for not avoiding us while Leonie would just laugh, mostly.

Try ‘Ramming Speed!’ with the Water Wanderers

Water Bikes: For a completely different way of being on the water, how about riding a bike on the water.  These are the only bikes you don’t need to wear a helmet for. Tom and I recently headed down to the little beach near the Narrows Bridge on the South Perth side and took a couple of these out with Penny and Nev and while they know their history and can answer lots of your questions we were happy just to watch Tom look up as we pedalled under the Narrows Bridge, hearing from underneath all that frantic and rumbling activity of north and south bound traffic and trains.  The bikes have two pontoons and are lightweight and easy to move through the water although my little legged companion started to get a bit weary as we turned for home so Nev tucked his pontoons under Toms bike and did the pedalling for both of them.  These guys can do the taste test style experience or longer up the river and sunset tours.

Waterbikes … no helmet required

Swan River Seaplanes: Just around the corner on the South Perth side you’ll find the opportunity to take off from the river in a real seaplane.  Taxiing across the water, picking up speed and bouncing into the air is exciting and not something you can do every day.  Their destinations range from up and down the coast, across to Rottnest or back on the river for a picnic. Check out their website, http://www.swanriverseaplanes.com.au, for more information on taking to the skies above Perth and along our amazing coastline.

What a way to roar across the river! Take off in a seaplane this summer!

Pedal Boards: Jeff operates from near the jetty at Point Walter and let’s firstly take a look at his pedal boards.  These are a cross between a stand-up paddle board and a penguin.  While you stand on a board with handlebars, there’s two little flippers under the board that do their best impression of Happy Feet and send you along in whatever direction you steer.

Swans: Swans on the Swan.  How can life get can any better than pedalling a swan on the Swan this summer? Forget the tube of sunscreen, you’re going to need a big tube of Voltaren the following day but honestly, it’s not because they’re hard to pedal, it’s just that those muscles aren’t working out enough each day. Jeff is busy launching and retrieving his swan pedal boats and pedal boards but still has time to show me his pride and joy, a recently painted black swan that is ready to be launched this summer.  I think he needs a red swan because as we all know, red means it goes faster.

Swan Pedal Boats. Fun doesn’t get much funner!

The Swan River is a hidden treasure because of these activities.  I bet there are things on this list you’ve never heard of and I bet there are some on the list you’ve heard of and never done.  The Swan River is more than a glorious view to drive past or walk along. 

Get on it and feel the treasure.      

ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast: Snake pits to sunsets in Scarborough. There’s so much to see before you get to the sea.

Scarborough?  Why is Scarborough a Hidden Treasure?  It’s got one of the most famous beaches in WA and Australia stretching along our coastline.  For locals and tourists alike, Scarborough provides relief from the summer heat and for generations has been the place to go. 

Whether you’re a widgie or a bodgie, a skater or a surfer, a bruncher or a luncher, Scarborough is the beach precinct we pack out every summer.  So, I was set the challenge of finding Hidden Treasure in a known treasure and this is what he found. Enjoy the audio link below and enjoy a bit of reading as well:

Scarborough.  What I found was that you can enjoy Scarborough without getting the sand between your toes or anywhere else, or that pesky saltwater stinging your eyes.

There are buses, there is Aboriginal urban art, there are walking tours to clear the mind, lookouts to blow your mind and snake pits and whale skeletons to explore. 

There’s even a hill just for watching the dying of the days light. And there’s enough burgers or fish and chips or ice cream for before or after all that activity.

Let’s start with Saturday Morning on the foreshore promenade where you’ll find Perth’s newest market. 

You might be familiar with the iconic Sunset Markets but if you’re up and about early you can try the Scarborough Beach Farmers Markets full of healthy local fresh fruit and veges and breads and brightly coloured vans and stalls selling cookies and crème brulees and deep fried cheesecake!

Put some headphones on and listen to ABC Saturday Breakfast as you explore the Beach Farmers Markets on the Scarborough foreshore.

Before we come back to the foreshore, let’s walk off some of the mornings treats with Bush, Beach and Bubbles!

Fun Fact!  The sand dunes in the Trigg area (we’re calling it Scarborough today) are parabolic. Try a walking tour with the Hike Collective which is as much about mental health as it is about just a little bit of physical exercise.

So, back to the foreshore and still keeping our toes away from the sand and water and not giving the lifeguards anything to do, let’s have a walk through the giant Whale Playground which is great reminder of just how big whales are and just how much fun we can all have in a playground.

The Whale Skeleton Playground

The playground flows into the grassy Sunset Hill and some really cool Climbing Walls and of course the iconic, notorious and infamous Snake Pit where my mum use to trek to Scarborough from Midland to dance as a widgie and then cool off with a swim and a malt milkshake that hopefully some boy would buy her. 

These days the Snake Pit is for skaters, scooters and even little bikes if it’s not too busy.  Tip that beanie back on your head, put a scowl on your face and if I’ve got my skater lingo right, “fill your dives to 3.5 metres and hit the ramps, rails and banks.”

Ssssssssnake Pit!

Around the foreshore, take some time to follow the Tjunta Trail, an urban art trail that tells the story about how a spirit woman finds a group of children who go missing.  There are five locations around the foreshore that tell the story although when the markets are on you might find them hard to see.

Tjunta Trail

Is that enough walking about for a while?  Let’s hop on the newest tourist experience in Perth that ….. drumroll please …. is free!  It’s free!

It’s so free that queues are starting to form as word gets around of the double decker bus, the Sunset Coast Explorer, that makes its way from the Scarborough Pool and winds its away along the sunset coast. 

The Sunset Coast Explorer … wave at the locals and their lattes

The bus has a crew of conductors to answer questions and tell you to sit down if you’re clowning around up the top in the fresh air.  It’s a hop on hop off service and is running all summer every Saturday and Sunday.  Be a tourist, have some fun and wave at the locals at the all the cafes.

Watch the local wildlife in their natural habitat

One of Perth’s best hidden treasure museums has to be the Mount Flora Museum.  We’ve spoken previously about museums that only survive because of volunteers and Local Government support.  This is one of the best if you’re interested in the social history of the area.  Exhibitions feature ‘windows into the past’. Check online for when they’re open or call the City of Stirling.

On top of the museum is one of Perth’s best lookouts and we really are going to have to do a Hidden Treasure on views of Perth because it’s little wonder this lookout on top of the museum used to be an observation post during World War II.  The lookout also has a really vivid mural that encircles you in a complete 360 degree burst of colour and representation of Australian wildlife.

A brilliant and joyous, vibrant lookout with no smell of wee, old ciggy butts and beer cans

Scarborough is a hidden treasure because there’s a lot to do and see before you get to the sea.  Places to walk, places to sit, markets to explore, bus rides to whoop for joy and wave at the locals, local and ancient history, lookouts with views to forever all make Scarborough a staycation destination that I’ll tell you a more about next week.  But that’s a story for another day.

ABC Saturday Breakfast: Exploring and Reminiscing About North Fremantle

What a fantastic discussion with Ro and Molly! Crowded houses, Greek cliffs, dingoes, Frida Kahlo and stubborn cottages surrounded by an industrial tetris like world. Enjoy listening to the audio and reading a few words as well:

The dingo.  It’s a landmark.  The flour mill is heritage listed and the famous logo was first painted on the side in 1940 and famously repainted by a young Alan Bond. 

Do you ever think to yourself, I wish Perth had a giant Frida Kahlo mural?  Well now it does!  Once you’ve taken your pics of the big red dingo, step across the road and fill your camera lens with the joyous colours of the Plata Bonito mural of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.  She doesn’t smile much but you will once you get inside the building. I came away with giant brightly coloured rosary beads that for a non-catholic I’m still wondering what I should do with them.

The Biggest Frida Kahlo Mural in the World

At Rocky Bay there is deep water which means you get a lot of party boats dropping anchor to let people jump off into the deep, protected waters of the bay.  There’s also a really interesting clifftop walk with beautiful views of the bay and river traffic coming and going and also a very cool tree that is perched on the cliff and grown sideways, making a great cubby spot for kids. There’s also an old tunnel from the days of the soap factory and an even older cave from the days of the wagyl.

Molly says the Rocky Bay Cliffs Remind Her of Greece

It doesn’t get much quieter than Gilbert Fraser Reserve on the banks of the Swan and where a little grandstand, in fact so small it has been referred to as a pavilion, but it’s spectator architecture at its best. Sit up in the stand and you can watch cricket and beyond the match just over the boundary rope are the lapping waters of the river with sometimes bigger lappings as the big boats chug past.

A Baby Grandstand

Mojos is famous in my family and will be famous for generations of music lovers to come.  Not only has it been a North Fremantle institution for live music for 50 years and modestly claims to be the best live music venue in the world, it is where Matilda first performed as lead singer of Dog Food, an all-girl band formed through a great music program called Girls Rock WA and that’s what sets Mojos feet firmly in their community.  It’s not just the biggest acts that attract an audience, it’s about new acts and opportunities.

Mojos

The North Fremantle war memorial reminds us of the contribution and sacrifice of our small communities.  North Fremantle had so many of its players killed and injured during World War I, including at Gallipoli, that they relinquished their WAFL licence.

North Fremantle had a WAFL Team, before World War I

“I wasn’t keen on letting my house go – I’d worked for it” is a wonderful quote from an ABC story a couple of years ago, by Carmel Mullally.

Here is a cottage that is more Castle than The Castle.

As they say in The Castle, “It’s not a house. It’s a home.”

There’s not a lot of serenity in a land dominated by a Tetris-like skyline of sea containers and rumbling trucks and bustling forklifts competing for who can be the loudest but it does feel quintessentially Australian that no only is life from another time hanging on in an industrial jungle but that it has also been allowed to survive and hasn’t just been squashed by dropping a sea container on it.

It’s not a house. It’s a home.

Over 800,000 sea containers were handled at Fremantle Harbour in the past year and if you’re not buying local for your Christmas presents I’d be getting those online orders in quickly.  I’m not into train spotting but I do like a bit of big industry spotting.  Here are logistics in action; shifting, lifting, scraping and storing. 

Fremantle Harbour is One Big Tetris Game

Why is the North Mole Lighthouse Red? It’s over 115 years old and is a great spot for some big rod fishing or quiet sitting at sunset.

Port Beach has reopened after the horrific shark attack last weekend.  I was down there and saw the incredible efforts of police and rescue agencies to use every resource they had.  If you’re not sure about getting back into the water, it’s a beautiful beach for sitting on the sand or in the waterfront café which looks out to a view that extends to South Africa.

North Fremantle offers you the opportunity to immerse yourself in an experience of sea, river, music and mooching.  It’s definitely worth an afternoon wander that perhaps turns into sitting on Port Beach or standing at the North Mole Lighthouse to watch the sun go down before watching the lights comes up at a live venue for an act that, if you’re lucky, might be my daughter!