City of secrets: The seven hidden gems Perth keeps under wraps

Wolf Lane is a popular haunt, and is an Instagram favourite with massive commissions making for great pics. But the laneways in Highgate between William and Beaufort Streets yield more ‘grass-roots’ pieces that are constantly changing.

Discover Perth's hidden laneways and the colours beyond the main roads.

Discover Perth’s hidden laneways and the colours beyond the main roads.Credit:Kate Hedley

Just to the south, alleyways off Lake Street and Brisbane Terrace feature even more pieces done in the dead of night. Sometimes, if you take a walk early enough, you can still smell the fumes from just-finished, touch-dry bombs.

Like I said, it’s not for everyone.

John Oldham Park

A hidden treasure smack bang in the CBD. John Oldham Park truly is one of Perth's best kept secrets.

A hidden treasure smack bang in the CBD. John Oldham Park truly is one of Perth’s best kept secrets.Credit:Kate Hedley

If paint fumes aren’t your thing, and you hanker for a slice of natural beauty smack bang in the middle of the CBD, this secret spot is for you.

With a waterfall – that I assume works at least some of the time, judging from others’ Instagram feeds – and a huge lake home to friendly ducks and mercurial black swans, this park is an oasis nestled between the city’s high-rises and freeway traffic.

Hidden nooks and crannies perfect for exploring are dotted around the park, which never feels crowded – not many people know it exists, and its carpark off Mounts Bay Road is tiny and easy to miss.

For the kids, there’s a conventional playground, but there’s also a slide, the likes of which are rarely seen in modern parks.

Forget you’re in the middle of a city and head here for some rare solace from the masses. But be quick. Secrets don’t stay secrets for long – especially with lists like this one.

Iwan Iwanoff houses

If there are two words that represent the very best mid-century residential architecture Perth has on offer they are Iwan Iwanoff.

Perth is home to some Iwanoff beauties. This one is in City Beach.

Perth is home to some Iwanoff beauties. This one is in City Beach.Credit:File image

The Bulgarian-born architect made Perth his home, and subsequently made beautiful, brutalist homes for Perth, in the 60s, 70s and 80s.

The best remaining examples of his designs are dotted around Dianella, City Beach and Floreat, but Iwanoff also did the Northam Council offices.

Atlantis Marine Park

Relics from the abandoned Atlantis Marine Park remain in Two Rocks.

Relics from the abandoned Atlantis Marine Park remain in Two Rocks.Credit:Kate Hedley

Sticking with the brutal theme, is there anything more savage than nature reclaiming an abandoned theme park?

In its heyday, Atlantis was a northern mecca for those seeking good, clean, family fun.

It was the 80s. Blackfish, and large-scale awareness of animal cruelty issues were a long way off.

People flocked to see dancing dolphins and the Mark Le Buse sculptures – some of which remain at the site.

These days, King Neptune still stands guard at the former fun park, but what he overlooks is a mass of overgrown weeds and bushes. The abandoned site has been fenced off, but not very well.

Discoveries are still to be made at Atlantis, but proceed with caution.

The Coombe

Just below the multi-million dollar mansions nestled in the western suburbs is a slice of relatively untouched, rugged, riverside beauty.

The view from the Coombe.

The view from the Coombe.Credit:Kate Hedley

Coombe Reserve is your reward for taking on the steep and winding roads in Mosman Park.

Once here, you can stroll along the water’s edge, scramble over rocky outcrops and discover secret paths.

It’s part prime real estate, part Survivor challenge. You will get wet in knee-deep sections.

East Perth train station

Recent renovations have stripped this facility of some of its mid-century charms, but giant orange pipes protruding from the ceiling and heavy brick and concrete stairwells still provide an architectural feast for the eyes.

Of course, as a busy metro station, this place is no secret, but did you know the 1969 construction – love it or hate it – houses hundreds of curios and a heap of railways memorabilia?

More than just a place to ensure you get from A to B, East Perth station is somewhere you can go to take a step back in time, and it’s not just for train buffs.

There’s always been something romantic and wistful about long rail journeys, and with the Indian Pacific leaving from here, there is still a bit of magic in the air at this underrated Perth icon.

Miniature World

Those of us of a certain age who grew up in Perth, or were visitors to Perth, may remember the magic of It’s A Small World.

It's still a small world after all at Miniature World.

It’s still a small world after all at Miniature World.Credit:Kate Hedley

The West Perth house filled with miniature fairytales and fire engines may be long gone, but Shirley Putnin – the mastermind behind the memories – is still making tiny treasures at her Kardinya shop.

There’s no fancy facade, and the shop is nestled in a light industrial area, but Miniature World on Parkinson Lane provides a step back in time for the nostalgic, the wistful, and the lovers of all things Lilliputian.

Kate is the deputy editor of WAtoday.

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