Dreading traipsing through the shops hunting for Christmas presents? How about gifting Australia’s Extra.Ordinary. West – a purely Western Australian produced coffee table travel book about Western Australia that you can order right now by clicking here.
Australia’s Extra.Ordinary. West heads south from Perth to the Ferguson Valley, Bunbury and the Margaret River Region in Australia’s Southwest to the Great Southern, Esperance in the Golden Outback before heading north to Broome, Karijini and Christmas Island in Australia’s Northwest.
Born and bred in Perth, I have fond memories of outings in my hometown as a child. Of trips to the zoo where the jail-like enclosures for the big cats would make us sad until we moved onto the swaying elephants and monkeys who amused us with their antics.
I remember a bookshop on windy St George’s Terrace lined with double-height timber bookshelves and a spiral staircase leading up to a balcony spanning its circumference. Other Perth-ites also have vague memories of this treasure trove but what became of it remains a mystery.
We’d always stop into London Court for afternoon tea, a familiar spot for my mum, a Ten Pound Pom who came out from the UK in the early ‘70’s on the MS Achille Lauro. Reigning from Naples the ship and suffered from several catastrophes before catching on fire and sinking in 1994. Interestingly, mum caused her own Italian scandal at the age of 17 by becoming pregnant with me to my traditional Italian dad.
He was notorious for his long road trips to nowhere, or so we thought as driving journeys are a big thing now. Clearly, way ahead of his time, it’s just a pity the cars weren’t designed with air-conditioning back then.
I recall trips on the bus to the city with my mum and nana because that was considered a big day out. My sister and I would always get dressed up for the occasion often in matching dresses made from fabric my mum had bought from Boans. We were often mistaken for twins, rather prophetic considering my mum later had twin girls. This caused much angst to my 13-year-old self as I already had three sisters at the time.
Crazy gatherings at my nonna’s house were all part of the course where us kids would slide up and down the hallway in socks while the men played cards. There’d be endless platters of pasta, cutlets, meatballs and potato dumplings my nonna would fill with anchovies. I still have her meatballs in my freezer; frozen in time since her passing in early 2018.
Sundays in Fremantle were a regular occurrence with gelato from Benny’s on the cappuccino strip, and in my opinion, no ice-cream ever tasted so good until I went to Italy.
While co-producing this book I couldn’t help but notice the parallels of my transition into adulthood as Perth also grew up. The state’s resource-rich spoilings have plateaued, and Perth was struggling for a while until grace prevailed and she settled into her well-heeled persona.
We’re bound in together in isolated geography and memory. With a relentless curiosity for cultures and lifestyles beyond my home, Perth too continues to absorb its multicultural community. Now a cosmopolitan city with all the lashing our eastern counterparts, I discovered many charming throwbacks to simpler times while on this book’s journey.
Our expansive coastline still offers relative peace within its stunning vistas. Much of the state outside of its populated precincts remains virtually untouched except now its more accessible with developed trails. Like most attractions, the zoo is state-of-the-art, and outdoor pursuits are still at the forefront; only now laced with an emerging cultural scene, (hopefully) exciting enough to keep our creative talent local.
The food, bar and hotel options have blessedly shown the biggest growth with produce-driven menus, locally crafted beverages and high thread count designed for the ethnic influx, as well as for our sophisticated tastes.
I hope you find Australia’s Extra.Ordinary. West as enlightening as I did during the planning, production and post-production stages. Please click here to order your own copy.
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