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:
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!
There’s a lot to think about on ANZAC Day and the ANZAC Day long weekend. We thought for Hidden Treasures on ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast we would look at some of the sites around Perth and Western Australia that you can visit to remind you of the ANZAC story.
If you’re going to an ANZAC Day Service and want to experience a little more later in the day, or if you can’t get to a service but want to visit a site that is connected to our ANZAC history, we’ve put together a list of significant places you can visit to make silent contemplation your offering or perhaps find an adventure that helps tell you a story.
I grew up with men and women in my community who had been soldiers and nurses at Gallipoli and the Western Front in World War One. They had been Prisoners of War on the Thai Burma Railway and they had dropped supplies to the soldiers on the Kokoda Track. I knew their stories and felt connected to them because they lived in the streets around me.
There were also bunkers just out of town that had been built during World War 2 to store supplies and where we used to go for school holidays there were lots of adventures to be had exploring Point Peron which was a wartime observation post.
There are lots of places around Perth and Western Australia where you can find tangible reminders of our wartime past and the contribution made by our men, women and our communities.
Some of the places in Perth and around the state include:
Point Peron/Leighton Tunnels/Oliver Hill: Observation posts, gun emplacements and storage bunkers. Amazing to think these weren’t built as a tourist attraction. These were designed to spot enemy ships attacking Fremantle Harbour. They provide a view that lets you imagine what it must have been like to look out to sea with a pair of binoculars and having real fear that enemy ships might appear on the horizon.
Mount Hawthorn Bus Stops: Gallipoli and Vietnam themed, complete with sandbags.
ANZAC Cottage in Mount Hawthorn. Built in a day! In 1916, they started work at 3:30am and before the going down of the sun, a community finished building a house for John Porter and his family. John was with the 11th Battalion and landed at Gallipoli.
Broome Flying Boats: On 3 March 1942, Japanese fighters strafed Broome, including dozens of flying boats filled with refugees from Java, to escape the war. At low tide in Roebuck Bay you can see up to 15 flying boat wrecks of PBY Catalina’s and Dutch Dorniers. Many refugees, including women and children, were killed either by gunfire or drowning and as you walk around these wrecks they are a physical reminder of when war came to our shores.
Wireless Hill Station: During World War 1 the navy took control of the Applecross Wireless Station and this is where a signal was received from the Cocos Islands that reported the position of the German Cruiser Emden which was then sunk by the HMAS Sydney. The navy again took over the station during World War 2 and communicated with ships off the coast using a mast over 100m tall.
HMAS Ovens: I asked Tom to research this for his ANZAC education and school holiday counter to boredom. This is what he came up with:
One of six 90m Oberon class submarines
Entered service in 1969, decommissioned in 1995
Crew size 63
ANZAC Centre Albany: Located on Mount Clarence this is one of the greatest interactive and immersive museum experiences in the world. It looks out over the waters of Albany where many of the troopships left from. Follow the story of a service man or woman through the museum, not knowing if they survived the war until you finish your journey through the exhibits.
Merredin and Cunderdin: Major bunker complexes and airfields located throughout the wheatbelt and around Merredin and Cunderdin. There are still old aircraft hangers you can find and the remains of a World War 2 army hospital and a radar hut and concrete ammunition bunkers. There’s also a museum located in Merredin that contains a lot of displays and memorabilia from all Australian conflicts.
Yanchep Bunkers: Walk up the Yanchep Rose Trail off Indian Ocean Drive. In recent years these RAAF radar bunkers have been decorated by a local school with murals that are bright and discourage vandalism and tagging.
Corunna Downs Airfield: Just south of Marble Bar is one of World War 2’s greatest secrets. This is where B-24 Liberator bombers took off from runways over two kilometres long to attack Japanese bases from Singapore to Borneo, Java and other islands. You can still see the runways, bunkers, revetments and bits of rusted metal lying about the place. Also Nookanbah near Fitzroy Crossing,
Newcastle Gaol in Toodyay: Tells the story of the Toodyay connection to Prisoners of War in World War II. Alma Beard trained at Royal Perth Hospital and was an army nurse, and four local men; Herb, Gordon and Tom Dorizzi and Reg Ferguson, were all killed after they’d been taken prisoner. Alma was alongside Vivian Bullwinkle in the shores of Banka Island south of Singapore and the men were in the jungles of Borneo, west of the town of Sandakan.
Visiting sites that connect you to our wartime history is just as important as visiting a memorial site. You can acquire knowledge and pay your respects to all of those who have served, particularly to those who died.
As Lord Byron wrote, “There are deeds that should not pass away, and names that must not be forgotten.”
One of our favourite discoveries in Hidden Treasures on ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast are the secrets of the suburbs; what’s off the main drag, what’s in the heart of the suburb and what is the heart of a suburb?
Enjoy listening to the audio file below and reading a few notes as well:
While our public art is easy to see, and sculptures and murals continue to be popular and prominent, have you ever wondered where you can do an art class or where you might be able to see art on display from artists who live in your community, or a community just down the road?
Community art centres and art collectives are one of the best reasons to do something as a family or justify a weekend drive and activity.
Let’s get into some our suburbs and regional communities and discover how easy it is to put a bit of art in your heart.
Let’s start at the Midland Junction Arts Centre! This is an old school site and the corridors and classrooms make excellent spaces for exhibitions, workshops and classes. I took Tom and his mate Nick away from their tower of consoles last year to see an exhibition that was all blue and included a blue slushy machine. You could pour yourself a slushy while you considered the art on display. There is a year-round program of community led classes and some of the ones coming up are dance classes for over 55’s, experimental arts sessions where the audience give feedback and the good old life drawing class!
From one edge of the city to the other, let’s go out to Scarborough where the beautiful Scarborough Art Space Collective runs every day on the energy of Mo, Evie and Otis Maslin and the whole space honours their character traits of inclusiveness, peace and fun. They have so many classes, particularly for children, like making clay echidnas but they also do some adult stuff like macrame making and evening drawing sessions (if you know what I mean). Macrame and evening drawing is sounding a bit like you leave your keys in a bowl but I’m assured this is just one of the most beautiful spaces in Perth to breathe and try something new.
This criss crossing is making me dizzy! Let’s head back eastwards but stop in Mount Hawthorn at the Little Arthouse Collective that is as eclectic as it is exciting. There are often local artists exhibiting and even more often they have their famous soap making classes and indoor plant design courses.
Let’s go regional to a little art space called East End that you’ll find in Beverley. There’s a lot of art and rusty metal to see and they describe themselves as motorcycle friendly with lots of sofas to take a rest from the ride and throw your jacket and helmet onto. They’ll give you tea, coffee and chocolate for taking the effort to ride out there and they will even clean the visor on your helmet!
Other regional arts centres to get immersed in:
East Pilbara Arts Centre in Newman is a big space and a beautiful collaboration of the local shire and the even more local Martumili artists, linking the community in events requiring participation and a colourful, striped bar code style design on the building that means, “This is a big thing!”
Roebourne Art Group welcomes everyone to their exhibition space to learn local culture from more than 70 local artists.
Gwoonwardu Mia is in Carnarvon and has story telling interactive exhibitions from local Aboriginal groups and all this week they’ve run cultural easter hunts looking for the Bigurda, which is a kangaroo in Yinggarda language.
Other art collectives to explore:
Ellenbrook Arts HQ was established 20 years ago by the Ellenbrook Cultural Foundation to create a diverse, healthy community that participates in arts and cultural experiences. It’s a great place to get to know how art is valued by different cultures and brings us all together.
Atwell House works hard at social connectivity in the Melville area. Great classes coming up like Chinese Brush Painting of a Rooster which if that isn’t the greatest name for a workshop than surely Sip Paint Repeat is!
Others include Liddelow Homestead in Kenwick (lectures as well as workshops), look for the reopening of the Rockingham Arts Centre after it’s refurbishment, Laverton Art Centre for displays and workshops by the Wongi people and the Mowanjum Aboriginal Art and Cultural Centre just out of Derby holds workshops, exhibitions and the famous Mowanjum Festival each year in early July.
Big Tip! When you see something you like, buy it. I regret not buying a painting of honey ants in Laverton, I regret not buying Tom a clay model of the face hugger from the movie Alien that was in the Art Garage at Mount Hawthorn but I’m really glad I bought a metal fish skeleton, mounted on corrugated iron and surrounded by driftwood from Esperance.
Community arts centres are hidden treasures because they provide one of the best ripple effects in our community. They connect you to the creativity in your community, inspire you to participate and explore your talent and lack of talent and give you a reason to make a discovery on your weekend.
Perth isn’t that old is it? And our regional communities aren’t any older? While our Aboriginal culture is tens of thousands of years old, our oldest buildings are less than two hundred years old.
But that doesn’t stop many of them from sending a shiver up or down our spine and feeling that spirits from another time and another place are with us.
The ABC Facebook page was inundated with paranormal experiences across Western Australia. Callers to the show also spoke about regional haunted places.
Many of us swear to have seen ghosts or felt their presence in places and spaces so my sidekick Tom and I went to investigate some tales of the unexplained from right here in Perth.
The great thing about Scooby Doo is that it was always an old, grizzled fellow from an abandoned amusement park who was scaring people while wearing some ghoulish costume – and he would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t from those meddlin’ kids!
But the real thing is somewhat different. As I discovered, there’s tours telling ghost stories and buildings with ghosts in them, right here in our suburbs.
Gosnells Ghost Tours – Get in line with your ticket for their summer season at the end of this year. These tours encounter the spirits of timber workers from the 1860’s community of Orange Grove.
Over a five kilometre bush track walk from the Victoria Dam to Bickley Reservoir you’ll meet friendly ghosts who will share history of the area and colourful tales from convicts under the railway bridge. It’s dark, it’s spooky and it’s very entertaining!
Leederville Hotel – I climbed the stairs up to the dome on top of the hotel with my son Tom and staff member Isobel, although I quickly noticed Isabel was more than just a few steps behind! Isobel has, in her words ‘been completely creeped out’ and many of her staff refuse to go up there alone.
Apparently, a fellow named Kanga lived in the tower bedroom and died on the premises and although there’s no violent or tragic story to his life or demise, many people have come in contact with Kanga, particularly in the corridors of the old, original upstairs part of the hotel.
Isabel tells me that his strongest presence is felt on the on the stairs. She tells me this from the ground floor as Tom and I are making our way up the stairs. Tom you go first.
The Leederville alarm story must be told! Leaving a note to calm Kanga and the next morning the note was gone and the alarm that had been going off in the middle of the night for months never happened again.
The Alkimos – Stranded just north of Mindarie in 1963 it was while it sailed around the world that crew members reported a ghost on board, possibly a US soldier or German prisoner of war. There’s also been many reports for divers and snorkellers who claim to have seen Harry, a ghost in oil skins who loiters around the wreck and even on the shore.
Kenwick Cemetery – Alongside the Albany Highway, most people who drive past would never know this little final resting place for early settlers was there. Built by convicts, most of the graves have no headstones and speaking of heads, many people have reported seeing in the area a man riding a horse, holding his own head.
Woodman Point Quarantine Station – If ever there was a ‘creep you out’ destination, this is it. It’s a reminder that before Covid, there were other pandemics.
This station was used to isolate bubonic plague patients, smallpox, Spanish flu and leprosy. Over 300 people died there, and most would have been isolated from loved ones and in great pain.
There are walking tours you can take through the buildings, including the crematorium where it is believed by many that orbs of light floating through the crematorium is the spirit of the final smallpox victim who was cremated there.
Others include the Fremantle Arts Centre (Fremantle Lunatic Asylum), Midland Town Hall (the ghost of Daria Mulawa, brutally murdered on its steps in 1955), Rose & Crown Guildford (oldest hotel in WA and more paranormal encounters than an episode of Scooby Doo.
Regional haunts include the story of the Coolgardie Cat, the Israelite Bay telegraph station, Gwalia and Kookynie in the Goldfields are well known for the restless spirits of prospectors and railway workers.
Spooky spaces and places are hidden treasures because they provide a sense of adventure and also provide a link to the past, creating a way to learn about a buildings history and often a communities history.
Just send your sidekick up the stairs first. That’s what sidekicks are for.
One of the ways we really get on a roll is when we talk about a topic that includes a roadtrip. We both love a roadtrip and a reason to see something that requires time spent driving is good time spent.
Some of the stories we’ve done that have been linked to roadtrips include hometowns and lakes, country destinations including Dryandra and the Avon Valley and where you can find Aboriginal tourism experiences.
We’ve also sought to slow you down and ask you to explore a suburb. Rather than just race through on your way to work, come back on a weekend and make it your destination. Explore Mount Hawthorn or Bull Creek, Karrinyup or Bassendean.
Tips for a good roadtrip:
Make it about what’s on the way, not just what’s at the end. Be prepared to stop if anyone in the car wants to.
With the point above in mind, plan your trip based on time for stops not the kilometres you’re travelling. By distance it should always take me less than two hours to get to Narrogin but we stop to climb up Sullivan Rock, stop at Williams Woolshed for a sausage roll and if we go through Wandering we stop to look at bulls and sometimes horses. It’s a 2-3 hour trip.
Do a bit of research. You may have a clear destination but what’s around the corner from your destination?
Find something to buy. Local jams, local art, find something that is a reminder of a great day out … like a talc rock from Three Springs!
Who’s on the bench? If something is closed, how are you going to use your time without heading straight back home. Who’s coming off the bench to save the day?
Road travels are hidden treasures because they can be easily planned, easily budgeted for, can be any length you want and is the best reason you’ll ever have to create a new playlist.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
Last week for Hidden Treasure I explored Scarborough and promised something more about the area that make it a hidden treasure and perhaps the opportunity of a staycation to enjoy the sunset coast for longer than a day trip.
Earlier this year, Molly gave me some homework, made me read a book, and I think I met the challenge of studying about staycations and just how close they could be to home when we explored Innaloo as a Hidden Treasure.
I think she gave me a B+ on my assignment so I’m seeking permission to resubmit my assessment in the hope of attaining my first ever A.
Karrinyup and Gwelup. Enjoy the audio link below, reading the story and looking at a few pics as well.
These are suburbs that many of us are familiar with. Gwelup is a suburb you might travel through on the way to Karrinyup which has a shopping centre that was always big and has just emerged from a cocoon of scaffolding and is now even bigger and even has a mini golf course and bumper cars.
But while the shopping centre is Karrinyup’s known treasure there is hidden treasure in both Karrinyup and Gwelup.
There’s a place to stay in Karrinyup called Karrinyup Waters Resort that until a few weeks ago I’d never heard of and is where you go when you’re on L plates for camping and caravanning. There are very comfortable chalets if you don’t like the idea of reversing your caravan while every grown-up, child and resident duck watches you but that’s what staying here is all about. It’s like walking through an Anaconda catalogue.
Wherever you look there’s sparkling off-road rigs and camper vans and 4WDs and tongs being flourished for bbqs that have the look and gleam of King Arthurs sword Excalibur. This is where people come to learn how to reverse, set up and pack up all of this wonderful equipment before they venture into the world of regional Western Australia.
There are resort style pools that are as good as any of those we’re dreaming about when we can return to Bali and beyond and designed to be the reward for setting up camp successfully. There’s a café that even locals sneak into for breakfast because the mushrooms they serve are as big as my hand and the range for pizzas is great for everyone in the family.
Careiniup Reserve runs alongside the Karrinyup Waters Resort and you can walk along the edge of the Reserve and there’s a little grassed area and gazebo on the western side that’s wonderful to sit and watch the bird life and because there’s a bit of water from a local brook, there are great photographic opportunities in a small reserve that is genuinely a little green oasis in the middle of suburbia.
Now Molly has been wanting to me to try and do a Hidden Treasure on flower vans and I haven’t quite got around to it but I did recently visit The Karrinyup Flower Shed is an operating vegetable and flower farm that is a reminder of what these suburbs once were, full of operating farms, many by migrant families, growing all sorts of produce.
The Karrinyup Flower Shed is one of the few remaining small farms in the metropolitan area and as well as growing and selling more than 10,000 sunflowers every year they also sell the most bizarre multicolour flowers that are more like a kaleidoscope than a flower.
Lake Gwelup has a boardwalk that winds its way over a mangrove style environment and you can spot tortoises and all sorts of birds, including perhaps the Rainbow Bee-Eater.
This migratory bird flies down from the highlands of Papua New Guinea just to breed at Lake Gwelup, although if there’s no room at the inn and all the sexy nests have the sign up that says ‘If This Nest Is Rockin’ Don’t Bother Knockin’ sign they will find another lake elsewhere in Perth to get down to business.
Lake Gwelup also has a great trail around the lake that is about 2.5km and takes you past suburban cricket grounds with suburban champions at their best and through the wetlands.
There’s also another trail that’s just a kilometre in length that makes its way through the native bushland in the north of the reserve and if driving to our regional areas to find wildflowers is all a bit hard then this patch of bushland always has a great range of wildflowers.
Jackson Wilding is a really good, simple park that is just full of logs and branches. I love this park because it’s a small and safe space with a very random feel to it. There’s no colourful slides or swings, just logs to climb and clamber over and branches to mount up into piles or make patterns in the dirt with. It’s a park designed to let you get a bit dusty and maybe even a scratch or two if you’re a bit uncoordinated like me.
Now for sport, the Lake Karrinyup Country Club is on the other side of the road from the Karrinyup Waters Resort and if you are a member of an affiliated club or get special permission, you can relax on one of the great courses not just in Western Australia but in Australia. There’s even some resident and very judgemental big grey spectators!
Karrinyup and Gwelup is a worthy Hidden Treasure of Perth because you can find yourself part of a camping community you might not have experienced before that is not far from home and get you thinking about familiar destinations as a traveller does, with fresh eyes for adventure.
Always remember that what you spend on holidays, even a staycation, is outside your normal budget, it’s holiday spending. Karrinyup and Gwelup are also floral hidden treasures with a flower farm and natural bushland to explore. Do I get an A?