Perth – funky bars and street art

posted in: Travel | 5

Every nineteenth (or earlier) century city has lanes. There had to be room for the night carts, delivery vehicles and so forth. They were often dirty, dingy, places where homeless people dossed down for the night, served as outdoor toilets and were generally unsavoury places to be – especially when night fell.

Melbourne was, I think, the first Australian city to turn its laneways into a cultural experience. Other cities followed suit, and so has Perth. People are living in the city now, so there’s a vibrancy in town which wasn’t around when I lived there. Funky little bars have sprung up in unused spaces (not just lanes). The Aviary is one such, very noisy and filled with youngish people, even at 4pm on a Thursday.

A lot of these places have polished concrete floors and use whatever’s around for seating – metal stools, benches, packing crates – all of which do nothing for this old lady’s back, or for her throat as she shouts to make herself heard over the music and the din of conversation. They offer nibbles-type food – a charcuterie plate, or tapas to eat with your drink before you go out for dinner, or a movie.

But some of the bars are quirky and interesting. One such is Wolf Lane. I’ll let the website do the talking. It’s a fun venue.

Wolf Lane bar interior

The other aspect of the lanes thing is street art. It’s everywhere, livening up blank walls and even imparting a bit of history, illustrating what that area used to be about.

This particular lane is behind a block of apartments that used to be a bank where I worked. It didn’t look like this then.

You don’t need to be the sharpest scissors in the drawer to work out what they used to make in Prince Lane. I reckon I made a few dresses using that pattern myself, in the late ’60’s.

They’re not all bars. This place is the Secret Garden Cafe in the heart of Wolf Lane.

The differences in street art design is striking – anything from a kid directing robots to native animals to Mary Poppins to funky weird stuff. And all these were in quite a small geographic area.

The area is still functional – but at least the bins have a pretty setting

It IS Wolf Lane, after all.

This piece of art was over in Northbridge, livening up an otherwise ugly, utilitarian concrete block
This one was in the inner city, using a drab brick wall as a canvas
I loved it all. It’s vibrant, welcoming and generally fun. And this is just in the Perth CBD. That’s just scratching the surface. There’s Subiaco, South Perth, Fremantle, Northbridge, Leederville and a heap of other suburban restaurant-bar hubs. Here’s a list to try.

Perth’s a great place to visit. Put it on your bucket list. If you need ideas of what to visit, just let me know.

5 Responses

  1. Meredith Gurr

    I imagine the CBD would be largely unrecognisable compared to how you remember it. It’s changed hugely since I got here way back in 1975. I’ve been to the Secret Garden a few times but not for ages. If you didn’t know about it beforehand, you’d never know it’s there – very secret! Haven’t ventured into the Aviary but it’s very popular with young folk. The Boheme (used to be Horsefeathers), across the road used to be a regular haunt when I was working. You may like the Hula Bula cocktail bar on Victoria Avenue for something a bit different.

    • Greta

      I remember Horse Feathers (I think). The Moon and Sixpence had appeared not long before I left but it’s gone now. We tended to go to the taverns. Do you remember the old Savoy Hotel in Hay street? And the Commercial (I think) in Murray St? There weren’t too many small bars around in my time.

      • Meredith Gurr

        The Moon and Sixpence is still here! It’s a couple of buildings down from the Boheme in Murray Street. Another regular haunt. Never been to the Savoy (next to Plaza Arcade in the Hay Street Mall). It has retail at ground level. The facade of the rest of the building is gorgeous. I’ve been to the *Criterion* in Murray Street a couple of times years ago. Lovely Art Deco building.

  2. charlotte

    I agree that the inner city scene has livened up a bit since our times of drinking at Shafto Lane. I enjoyed the Fromage Artizan and Print Hall off St Georges Tce as well. Amazing what hides behind the rather cold, old street frontage. They still need to advertise the presence a bit more as it is easy to wander past oblivious.

    • Greta

      Yes, it is. Easy to walk past. They’re certainly doing things with social media sites and the papers. And the word seems to be out. Aviary was packed and another place (forget the name) was very busy, too. I’m not sure what they could do without ruining the atmosphere.

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