View Comments
Different charms in the same city
Connor Steens and his brother Sebastian cool off at Adventure World. Picture: Simon Santi/The West Australian

For some it is the way the sun bounces off the Swan River, the sound of dog paws tearing through wet sand or the tang of ripe stone fruit giving way to teeth.

For others it is the pshh of a pop-tab on a can of something bitter and alcoholic or the smell of a sausage going from pink to brown and — when the backyard cricket game proves too much of a distraction for the cook — to charcoal.

Summer in Perth means different things to different people.

Sue Abbotts’ summer means a chance to go birdwatching for the latest arrivals from Siberia, avian immigrants who have taken up temporary residence along with the locals.

“We’ve got a whole group of waders down from Siberia, coming down to Australia for the summer,” Ms Abbotts said.

“In the summer you’ll look for birds in places like the lakes as they dry out. Whereas in the (winter you’ll go up into the Hills where it’s flowering.”

Up since 7am, Ms Abbotts and friends Claire Gerrish and Kerry Cowie had already seen a rare painted snipe when The Weekend West caught up with them at Bibra Lake reserve.

“We came up here because we heard it was getting good for birds,” Ms Abbotts said.

It is not just birds that like to migrate in summer.

January finds Perth awash with expatriates home for the holidays, dossing on the couches of friends or sleeping in an old bedroom that has since become dad’s study.

Jon Purnell moved to Brisbane for work three years ago but came back for the festive period.
Sipping a coffee at South Fremantle’s Ootong & Lincoln cafe with twin sons Jack and Hamish, Mr Purnell said he was enjoying the trip. “We’re really just here on holidays catching up,” he said.

“It’s been really enjoyable.

Birdwatchers Sue Abbotts, Claire Gerrish and Kerry Cowie at Bibra Lake Reserve. Picture: Simon Santi/The West Australian

“We love the river — the river’s so clean compared to Brisbane, so we’ve been swimming in the river and that sort of thing.”

Summer in Perth seems synonymous with water, judging by the popularity of the city’s beaches and pools once the mercury rises.

The Weekend West visited Adventure World at a weekday to find it packed with parents clutching eskies and impatient children stretching from the turnstile entrance 20m down the street.

Inside, mums and dads watched from the shallows as their children negotiated waterslides and wading pools, emerging only to messily consume an ice-cream or have their sunscreen reapplied.

Leighton dog beach was similarly popular, despite overcast skies.

A tourist stopped Margaret Shackleton on another stretch of sand and he was “so pleased” when she told him there was no charge to go on the beach.

Mitch Herriman, surrounded by three dogs and his father Tony, said summer was “about barbecues, it’s about family”.

Mr Herriman said his wife Louise gave birth to their daughter Lenie the previous day and he was waiting for visiting hours.

Freedom to spend time with family is a common theme.

Leanne Smith, cycling with sons Connor, 9, and Hudson, 5, said it was about school holidays and a break from the daily grind.

“For me as a mum, and a working mum, it’s about having no routine,” she said. “We sleep in, we catch up with friends, it’s great.”

English tourist Laurence Cooke, cutting a solitary figure on a Kings Park bench with his half-consumed packed lunch, said he visited Perth regularly to see his son and he always went to the park.

“I love Perth, I’ve probably been here 50 times,” he said.

“I’ve been coming for about 40 or 50 years. I used to come here for work. Now I come to see my son.”

At an outdoor table at East Perth’s The Royal, Jason Howe, John Faliti and Jack Jones sat soaking up the sun, surrounded by tables of noisy families and friends.

“It’s on account of the weather, everyone’s taking advantage,” Mr Howe said.

Mr Jones said the clothes, or lack of, that came out in the hot weather were a definite highlight.

“I like the way the women dress — all the short skirts,” he said with a smile before adding quickly:

“I am married. And I also like the laid-back atmosphere.”

All three are Perth boys who live and work in the city and are content to while away the warm afternoon with a view of the river and a cold drink in hand.

As Mr Faliti put it: “Why would you want to live anywhere else?”