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The Fremantle War Memorial, overlooking the historic port city

May 14, 2016
I grew up in Perth and have been to Fremantle countless times, though I have never lived there. Although these two population centres are only about half an hour away from each other on the train, they are very different in character.

Fremantle is definitely more evocative of history than Perth. I think this has much to do with the fact that even though it was established at around the same time (1829) it's much smaller and less built up, so its many heritage listed buildings are more noticeable. 

It's also a more sombre place. This is due in major part to the presence of two infamous jails within its borders. These are the Round House, which is the oldest still standing building in Western Australia, and the much larger but equally grim Fremantle Prison. It was also built in the 19th Century but housed inmates until only twenty five years ago. The Fremantle Arts Centre nearby, which was once a lunatic asylum, is another old structure with a somewhat haunted atmosphere. 

Overlooking all of these landmarks, and others, is the Fremantle War Memorial. This impressive reminder of the many local lives lost in defending freedom is in a commanding position on a hill above the port. Even on a sunny day you can sense its solemnity as you walk towards it up the path off High Street. 

It's located near the centre of a manicured park. This is the view from the monument looking east. 

The most prominent structure is the obelisk. 

There are several smaller memorials, including ones specifically for fallen soldiers and sailors. 

This torpedo is a further reminder of Fremantle's naval contribution to the war effort. It is dedicated to the memory of US Navy submariners who died at sea during the Second World War. 

Fremantle was actually the Allies' second most important submarine base after Pearl Harbour. This largely forgotten but nonetheless fascinating aspect of the city's history is described in great and compelling detail here

Renting in Perth has become cheaper, for a while at least

May 14, 2016
I read with interest this story about the big surge in rental vacancies recently, and how this has lowered the average cost of renting in Perth.

Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA) figures show the number of properties available to rent in Perth is nearly three times above what is considered to be the long-term average.

The oversupply of available rentals is putting downward pressure on prices, with the median rent down to $395 per week for the three quarters to the end of March...

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Subiaco parking inspector subverts paradigm, risks feminist backlash

May 7, 2016
A little story about a gift left to a driver by parking inspector in Subiaco really caught my eye. See, a woman had paid for her ticket but the machine wasn't working, so she called the ranger to tell him. She rather snippily cut him off when he said he'd "leave her a little something on her windscreen". He was good to his word, and left her flowers and a charming poem. 

A couple of things stand out for me here. He definitely behaved in a way considered atypical for members of his profession. ...
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Sorrento shark barrier approved. Issue still looms large, it seems

May 6, 2016
For me, one of the biggest features of living in Perth from 2010-2015 was the shark menace. Some fatalities and numerous sightings over that time and previously meant that pretty much everyone heading to the beach was concerned about the potential risk.

This was a massive change from decades ago. Now having just cracked the half century, I grew up in Perth in the seventies and eighties and was a keen surfer over much of that time. The thought of getting munched by a white pointer was the furt...
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Now living in Sydney, still thinking of Perth

March 4, 2016
You'll notice that I haven't posted for many months now. There are several reasons for this. But the main one is that I actually relocated to Sydney in recent months. I moved for various reasons I won't go into here. But I will probably return eventually (then leave again after a few years!). I have done this several times already. Having grown up in Perth it's still "home" even though I have to get away from it from time to time...

After getting settled in the east I didn't know what to do wi...
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Tareq Kamleh joining ISIS proves emotion trumps intellect

April 26, 2015
Not so long ago it was reported that a former economics student from Perth called Muhammed Sheglabo had signed up for jihad with ISIS. Now there's been an even more alarming story in the same vein.

Doctor Tareq Kamleh, who practised for some time in Subiaco, is now appearing in recruitment videos for the gruesome pre-mediaeval death cult. If this doesn't disprove the hackneyed ol' PC theory that Islamic radicalization springs primarily from legitimate anger against the greedy, racist eeevil we...
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Church of Christ building on Eighth Ave, Maylands

April 19, 2015
I lived in Maylands in 2006-2007. It was quite different then. Not exactly a flash part of Perth, the main drag of Eighth Ave was pretty low key and almost run down. 

Lately, though, there have been some big changes such as the big new library and community centre being built nearby. Upmarket units have been constructed in recent years, most notably on the corner of Eighth and Whatley. As a result the suburb is becoming more attractive to young professionals. 

Eighth Ave itself has a much more ...
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Grand Hotel in Wellington St is now Grand Central Backpackers

April 17, 2015
Perth has some fine old hotels. Some have been lovingly preserved and refurbished. Others haven't fared so well. 

The best example of the latter kind is the old Grand Hotel in Wellington St. You'll see it as you go into the city along Beaufort St as it becomes Barrack St, just near the bridge over the railway line. 

It's still in commercial use, now as the Grand Central Backpackers. Doesn't look in the best of shape, not unlike the venue's tenants, who you sometimes see sitting on one of the li...
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Perth buskers are a colourful bunch

March 30, 2015
One thing I've noticed since returning from Sydney a few years ago is just how many buskers and street performers there are in Perth. Even taking into account the city's significant increase in population, there do seem to be an awful lot of them! When it comes to busking this city seems to punch above its weight -- much like it does for that other mode of self expression, street art.

Granted, many of them are not that good. And some of them are just excruciating. But some are extremely accomp...
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Bon Marche building sadly scarred by graffiti

March 28, 2015
There's a lot of aesthetically pleasing street art in Perth these days -- most of it done with the owners' blessing, I suspect. But there's still too much ugly, stupid "tagging" going on as well. That's depressing on any structure. But it's particularly so when it's inflicted on a beautiful old architectural creation. Sadly, this is what's happened to the Bon Marche building recently. 

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