On ABC Hidden Treasures we’ve recently been doing some special issues, like WAFL footy and Aboriginal Tourism. It’s time to get back to the idea of hidden treasures in our suburbs.
Some adventures require a lot of planning, other adventures are looked forward to with anticipation and excitement.
Other adventures are opportunistic moments to explore new ground and dare I say it, as just a reason to spend some time with the kids and get out of the house.
Not quite a road trip but more than a trip to your local café around the corner.
Welcome to Bull Creek.
Let’s start with a coffee and something to eat at the Little Parry Café.
When little Tom stands in front of a café that is named for his stature and his surname it is a remarkable photo opportunity to have him stand in front of it and an even better opportunity to try and work out why a dish simply called Waffle could appeal to an eleven year old boy.
No wordy review needed from Tom, just a thumbs up as the other hand wipes maple syrup from his chin.
This a little café that also doubles as a little art gallery and there some great local paintings and drawings in this little space.
You won’t wear off the waffles in the short walk from the café to one of Bull Creek’s most treasured shops, Bull Creek Oriental Supplies. This is a store that has been run by the gorgeously cheeky Li Ling for more than 20 years and as well as all those spices and flavours of Asia that you can stock up on you can also fossick for utensils and bits and pieces you won’t find anywhere else plus all the chips and chocolates you might be used to buying when you’re in Bali and other parts of Asia. Plus, I can assure you that their curry puffs are the best in Perth. Light and fluffy with a generous vegetable filling and my only regret was not buying the lot. Great to eat as you leave the shop and you do these quick exhales of breath because they’re nice and hot.
A few years ago I wrote about the Aviation Heritage Museum in a story about all of the things alongside the freeway that you should have a look at. I rate this museum, firmly and proudly in Bull Creek and run by volunteers as an absolute treasure in this state and you don’t need to be an aviation buff to get a buzz from hearing a very real and very loud Rolls Royce Merlin engine from a Spitfire being started or crouch your way through the fuselage of an Avro Lancaster bomber or look at Catalina Flying Boat and imagine what it was like seeing these take off and land on the Swan River during their famous double sunrise flights during World War II.
What I love most about this museum is that you’re not guided in a particular direction. My kids ran one way and I ran the other. We’d call out, “You’ve got to see this!” Admittedly there can also be a bit of “Where are you?” and “Tom, get off that aeroplane wing!” but the staff, who are volunteers and filled with stories to compliment the more than 30 aircraft on display, mostly just smile so long as you’re not trying to spin the propellors or sitting in cockpits pretending you’re Biggles.
There’s a dam down south and a few wheat silos with murals but the Stockland Shopping Centre in Bull Creek mural has to be one of the biggest in Perth and displays the Noongar seasons and local birds. It’s on the south side of the shopping centre.
An absolute highlight of Bull Creek is a sculpture in Centennial Park called the Pilgrim, by Western Australian artist Russell Sheridan and was part of Sculptures By The Sea about four or five years ago.
I spoke to the artist about this piece and it’s inspired by his love of Michael Leunig cartoons and the resemblance of the man featured in the sculpture to the main character in Leunig cartoons is very evident. Russell Sheridan explained to me that the dog is the passive observer to the burdens of life that we all carry, whether it be regret or being bullied or being discriminated against. It sounds a bit grim and heavy but just like a Leunig cartoon there is that element of inspirational whimsy that will lift you up and keep you in the fight!
While not the Nile, I was inspired by the Pilgrim to find the source of Bull Creek. In a glorious remnant piece of Bull Creek Park, next to Brockman Park and the playground, is the source of Bull Creek. There’s a small and steady flow of water that meanders through some of the most extraordinary bushland you’ll find on Perth.
In Mid-Summer Nights Dream, Shakespeare describes a character as “though she be but small she is fierce”. This is like Bull Creek Park. As Bull Creek flows towards the Canning River, it is surrounded by a small piece of bushland. There’s a log over the creek to walk across and a great path that requires you to push ferns out of the way and there’s bird life and enough green canopy to block out the noise of the busy city roads nearby. Interestingly, it’s very well protected by the City of Melville and you’re required to scrub and wash your boots before you enter to prevent dieback entering this small but fierce bit of bush.
Bull Creek flows into the Bull Creek Inlet which Noongar people called Gabbilju. The inlet has some good interpretive signage about the creek catchment area and an excellent walking trail that will take you from Gabbilju right around the river to the Riverton Bridge. But that’s a suburb and a story for another day.
Bull Creek is a Hidden Treasure because it will surprise you. A little walk on the wild side by a little creek, Spitfires, curry puffs, local art and inspirational sculptures make this your afternoon out when you’re too tired for a road trip but never too tired to have some fun with your kids.