What’s your worst travel experience? Come on, can you beat a few of mine?

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:

Bureaucracy:

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.

Events:

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.

Critters:

Being attacked by a flesh-eating spider in Borneo and forgetting my bedroom was split level.

Just like the scene in Memphis Belle when they’re panicking over whose blood is all over the cockpit, my scenario was in a tinny, deep in the jungles of Perak in Northern Malaysia.  Leeches!

Accommodation:

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!

Picnic Spots for Mother’s Day, or any day really

For ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast we saw the need to take mum, or the aunties, out for Mother’s Day, or any day. While we could go to some of her favourite picnic spots, like Kings Park, Whiteman Park, Heathcote or the Cottesloe foreshore, we thought we’d keep her guessing and take her somewhere else.

We’ve decided to take mum to somewhere she’s never been.  We’ve decided to take mum on a picnic to a lesser known but no less beautiful spot to lay a rug down and open a sumptuous basket of goodies.

Enjoy listening to the discussion in the link below and reading the list below that:

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/perth/programs/saturdaybreakfast/hidden-treasures-picnic-spots/13872014

Smiths Lake:

In North Perth and the baby brother of Hyde Park, Lake Monger and Herdsman Lake.  There’s grass, bbqs, little paths, little boardwalks and the best trees for climbing in Perth for little kids thanks to nearly horizontal branches close to the ground. 

Mardalup Park:

In East Perth between Claisebrook Cove and the Graham Farmer Freeway Bridge.  Picnic facilities and a tiny little beach and little jetty.

Bicton Baths Reserve:

BBQs, playground and next to the famous Bicton Baths which has one of the best jetties in Perth!  One of the best riverside picnic spots that might be fairly easy to get a car spot on Sunday.

Harold Boas Park:

Remember we discovered this park when we explored West Perth?  This is a wonderful park for Mother’s Day because it’s got secluded areas, noisy playground areas, water features that are shallow and great for toes and splashing and there’s lots of shady or sunny grass for the rug. 

Picnic Cove Park:

On the southwestern edge of Lake Joondalup is this great park that has the awesome criteria of being ‘out of the way’ and there are better known lakeside parks that get inundated on days like tomorrow. BBQ’s playground facilities and paths that are perfect for a bike ride to burn off the picnic feast you’ve made for mum.

Lake Jackadder:

In Woodlands, this is one of my favourite lakes and the slightly bigger brother of Smiths Lake but smaller than nearby Herdsman Lake.  This ticks all the boxes with shops and cafes if you haven’t got a picnic basket.  There’s a wonderful playground and lots of bbqs and swans and other birdlife and for Mother’s Day tomorrow I’m tipping the remote-controlled sailing club will hold a regatta for families who want to watch some clever sailing, just on a smaller scale.

Alkimos Playground:

We’re doing this for Mother’s Day but this picnic spot qualifies for lots of other reasons, including the Treasure Island Adventure Playground that is quirky, challenging and exciting.  Maybe this one is for mum to enjoy a nearby café brekky and multiple coffees while the kids spend some time in the playground.

Minnawarra Park:

This a wonderful park located in the historic precinct of Armadale.  It plays host to lots of community events and has plenty of grassed areas, picnic areas and a great little footbridge to trip trap over the Neerigen Brook, perfect perhaps for a Mother’s Day family photo.

Sullivan Rock:

About 30-40 minutes from Armadale on the Albany Highway.  There’s a nice little rest spot with table and bench seat on one side of the highway and a little brook to explore and is a great sport to hunt for taddys.  On the other side of the highway, crossing safely, is Sullivan Rock which is dog free and has a beautiful three-minute track through the bush to the rock which is easy to walk up, taking about 10 minutes though a bit quicker if you’re scared by scuttering lizards.  There are normally little rock pools on the top with beautiful reflections and there’s a great view over the top of the forest and out to Mount Cooke.

Get on the river:

With Nautipicnics you can drive your own boat without a Skippers Ticket and have a picnic on the boat, or the riverbank, or let someone else drive the boat with the Little Ferry Company and enjoy watching the life of the river.

Tomato Lake:

This great lake in Kewdale gets the award for the best named park.  There’s grass, water, playground, bbqs, trees, cafe and a one mile walk that includes a boardwalk, elevated over the lake that leads you to a gazebo. 

Picnic spots are hidden treasures because the environment around you plays the role of a stage in a play.  It’s just a setting for you to perform the way your family likes to, creating memories of a great day out.  It might be about the trees or the lake or the sweeping views, but most likely, it’s about time spent together with your family’s member of the most amazing club in the world, mums.

Smiths Lake … not as cool a name as Tomato Lake but one of my favourite spots.

ANZAC Day and the ANZAC Day long weekend: It can be about memorials, and maybe a bit more.

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.
Tunnel Tours at Rottnest and Leighton
  • Mount Hawthorn Bus Stops:  Gallipoli and Vietnam themed, complete with sandbags.
Bus Stops on Kalgoorlie St and Anzac Rd
  • 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.”

As Published in Have A Go News: Lakes in Western Australia for setting world records, watching birds and maybe even jumping on.

I’ve always loved a lake. From Dad’s stories of the Bluebird on Lake Dumbleyung, to watching my kids leap into the sunset at the not so pink lake in Esperance, they are a great reason to travel close to home or further afield.

Enjoy reading the story above or even better, grab your own hardcopy of Have A Go News, a real newspaper. There’s 80,000 copies around Western Australia every month.

Maybe our most famous lake, or at least our most arty: Lake Ballard near Menzies

ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast: Hometowns … it’s not about being a hometown hero, it’s about having a place to go

We’re all from somewhere.  Some of us are from towns and suburbs, some of us might be from remote pastoral properties or communities.

Wherever you’re from do you still live there?  If you’ve moved away from where you grew up do you ever go back?  Why do you go back?  Why do you think people should experience your hometown?

For Hidden Treasures on ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast, Ro and I explored hometowns and took lots of calls and messages from listeners keen to share stories about their hometown. Christina told a great story about Kalgoorlie and Lorraine called to say she grew up in Narrogin and had memories of butchers giving her little red sausages as a treat (I remember the slice of polony from Spanswicks Butchers).

For the first time in a long, long time I couldn’t be in the ABC studio and the audio software didn’t work as well as we had hoped so when you’re listening to the file below, please forgive me. It does get better after a few minutes I promise!

What do you love most or miss most about your hometown?

Some things that might make your hometown special include:

  • Entry statements that capture an identity … big sheep (big anything), quirky statues or signs
  • Prominent buildings like town halls, pubs and memorials
  • Iconic shops like deli’s and toy shops
  • Big events like regional shows and festivals (Dad’s favourite tshirt was pink and emblazoned with the Agrolympics logo)
  • Making your own fun in a creek or vacant block, perhaps building a bike jump
  • Being a member of local service clubs and sporting associations
  • Local lookouts and hangouts
  • Rivalries with neighbouring towns and districts

A lot of us find ourselves away from where we’ve come from. To travel back to where we’ve come from is one of the greatest reasons to travel.

I’d like to introduce you to my hometown.  It’s not far down the road. I’m proud not just to grow up there but to have heritage there. If you’ve known me for five minutes, you know I’m from Narrogin.

Recently, my daughter Matilda turned 18 and she and her friends blew the party bar tab at a Perth pub in 15 minutes, by ordering cocktails.

I thought back to when I turned 18 and my Dad, the now passed but forever beautiful Dr John Parry, took me to the Narrogin Club to have a middy of Super.  No cocktails, no guava flavoured vodka concoctions.  Super. 

Dad and I sat at the bar and solved a few of the worlds problems and his mates came and went, sharing the days events from down the main street to what was happening in the paddocks.

With Dad’s passing I stopped renewing my membership at the Narrogin Club but with Matilda becoming an adult I contacted the President, Wayne Francis, who hastily convened a committee meeting where it was unanimously voted to allow Matilda and I to come along last Saturday night. 

Just a dad and his daughter

Wayne welcomed us, served us and shared stories of the town and people that were enthralling for me and a bit bemusing for Matilda. 

She struggled her way through her first beer and this is where my dad and I diverge.  He let me struggle to drink my first beer whereas I allowed Matilda to call it quits and order something else.

We could talk more about how my hometown has a townhall, great counter meals at the local pub, an annual regional show you can still sneak into for free behind the race track and how kids get out onto vacant blocks and build bike jumps with treacherous pits for those kids who don’t pedal fast enough.

Bike jumps or Gallipoli trenches?

We could talk about the three primary schools, the senior high school, the strength of its service clubs and sporting associations. We could talk about the Tucker Box Deli and Steve’s Deli (still called that even though Steve hasn’t owned it for more than a quarter of a century).

It’s a town that hasn’t stood still since I last lived there but in my mind, as we drive around and I see houses where my friends lived, I think they’re still there and all I have to do to get those times back is throw my bike down on their front lawn and knock on the door.

Why are hometowns hidden treasures?

My hometown is a hidden treasure because it’s not far down the road and it welcomes me every time with its view into the valley as you come over the hill. 

Coming into town … no flame trees but you know what I mean

Hometowns are hidden treasures because they remind us of the importance of having a sense of place and the importance of having a sense of community. To have a place to go to, to mark milestones and tell old stories and make new ones is the greatest treasure of all.

ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast: Getting back to our program roots by discovering a suburb!

When Hidden Treasures started over a year ago, the idea was to explore suburbs and find ways to do more than just drive past them or through them.

This year we’ve enjoyed expanding the program to explore topics like our lakes, movie location sites and rites of passage.

Now we’re getting back to our roots.  I was sent out to a suburb that is well known for its searing summer heat and a road that is probably our most spectacular.

Heading up to the hills from Perth is always spectacular, not just to explore the bush around you, but to look out across the escarpment and see our little city hanging on to the edge of this big, wide, mysterious land.

We have a lot of suburbs in the hills that are worth exploring and with our recent run of 40+ days, there is a suburb that was hotter than most and decided it was worthy of a family day trip … Gooseberry Hill!

More steep driveways than any other suburb in WA

Here’s just a few of the reasons to get you up to Gooseberry Hill:

  • Zig Zag Scenic Drive: Bit like the bumper cars, it’s one-way drivers, one way only!
  • Lookouts: Lots of safe places to pull over to stare out as far as the eye can see.
  • The Quarry: When you fly into Perth you’ve probably noticed the old quarry but do you know what the stone was used for and what the quarry is used for now?
  • Rocky Pool: 5km walking trail that is harder than easy and is a beautiful swimming hole.
  • Walking Trails in Gooseberry Hill National Parks: Lots of looping walks through jarrah and redgum and granite boulders bigger than your house.  Comfortable walks and uncomfortable walks.  Check the Trails WA website.
  • The Railway Heritage Trail and memorial to the Blue Goose, an aircraft that crashed in 1945.
  • Driveways – Gooseberry Hill has the most number of steep driveways in Western Australia.
  • Patsy Durack’s Rose Gardens in Archbishops Holiday House – March, April, May and Devonshire Tea, wheelchair accessible. Part entry fee goes to the Cancer Council.
  • Restaurants and pubs and a cake shop serving … Neapolitan Cheesecake!
  • Little signs selling stuff in the driveways and backyards.  Right now it’s fig season!

Gooseberry Hill is a Hidden Treasure because it reminds us that hidden treasures we’ve explored before, where you’ve got a little suburb next to bigger, better known suburbs, like Highgate sandwiched between the city and Mount Lawley.  Gooseberry Hill’s next door neighbour is Kalamunda with its art galleries, cultural centre, even a main street!  But Gooseberry Hill has the attractions we’ve spoken about and a feeling we haven’t.  A feeling of being away from it all but being part of something. 

There’s a song called ‘Good Light in Broome’ but there’s also good light in Gooseberry Hill, and you might not be up there to stare at the moon but you’ll find lots to do and lots of opportunities to stare out at our little city from the best views the hills have to offer.

ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast Discovers Our Rites of Passage

As we grow up and find our way in our street, in our town and our state, there are experiences we have that aren’t connected to bucket lists or wish lists.  They might be things that our parents have done and now think we’re old enough for, or places they took you to that you now take your kids to.

Let’s start with the jousting knights in the clock at London Court.  This was the thrill in my day of coming to the city.  The following day at school, my hand would shoot up to tell my news to the class and I’d describe how the knights would pass each other as the clock bells rang out and then one of the jousting poles would knock a knight backwards on his horse.

This for me is a rite of passage.  It’s something that might not have Lara Bingle in front of it asking where you are, but it means something to you.  I want to be clear that this isn’t the rite of passage experience like going overseas and visiting Gallipoli or sitting on Cable Beach at sunset or riding a bike on Rottnest for the first time.

Our rites of passage might be defined as unknown to anyone outside your family, or maybe even outside your town.  One of my rites of passage was the ride in the trailer from the Narrogin tip back to the main road.  It might not be appropriate these days but when we were old enough to hang on, it was a great adventure. ABC legend Brad McCahon was just as inappropriate as me, sharing his Boulder and Kalgoorlie rite of passage that involved a pub crawl up the length of Hannan Street.

Inspiration for rites of passage can be seen in our discussion a few weeks ago about exercise spots.  I was surprised that Ro and Ebonnie had never climbed the DNA Tower because I think it qualifies as a rite of passage as exercise or even a date destination.

Rites of passage that are hidden treasures you can be inspired by to make your own include:

  • Climbing the DNA Tower
  • Safely walking the sandbar to Penguin Island
  • Swimming to the Cottesloe Pylon and maybe even diving off it
  • Riding a train
When did you first catch a train?
  • Picnic at Kings Park and Fish & Chips on the beach
  • Roadtrips to anywhere
  • Swan River Ferry from Elizabeth Quay to Mends Street Jetty
  • Crabbing with a scoop net in your oldest sneakers
Were you scared when you caught your first big blue manna crab?
  • Catching gilgies from a creek or, with permission, a farmers dam.
Have you ever caught a gilgy?
  • Do a bombie off Palm Beach Jetty, Coogee Jetty or jumping off Blackwall Reach (be careful, be safe).

I love rites of passage as a hidden treasure because they sit alongside bucket lists as an inspiration or motivation for a travel experience but may not be as flashy.  A bucket list item might be wading in the Dead Sea but a rite of passage might be wading in the Mandurah Estuary with a scoop net. One is worthy of a slide night, the other is worthy of family stories for years to come about nipped toes, stingray terror and dropped torches.

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. 

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