Perth. It's a heck of a town—the Crown Casino is up and the brutalist bus terminal is down. While it tends to cop a lot of flack for being boring, Perth is actually a hotbed of pure suburban Australian freakdom. It's sunny, pretty, and the people resemble characters from a Neighbours/Mad Max: Welcome to the Thunderdome crossover.
I was recently in Melbourne, where everyone has a fashion blog about poststructural theory and 90s streetwear, where when someone says "I'm a writer" they mean they have 250 followers on Vine. Melbourne is a circle jerk, but Perth is too small to get a proper circle jerk going. Left to our own furtive masturbatory devices, we've had to create some pretty cool, or at least disturbingly compelling shit. Here it is.
Midland Brick makes bricks and in the 1960s, Midland Brick was a big power player in West Australian politics. Through some tricky lobbying (I'm imagining a man with a giant beer gut and blackhead riddled wine nose talking through a haze of cheap pipe smoke), Midland Brick scored the contract to build Perth's government housing. The result was a veritable cornucopia of squat tan townhouses: the furtive beginnings of Perth's comically entropic suburban sprawl.
Scorching hot during summer, and decorated with cement gardens that would make Ian McEwan blush, the Midland Brick house is quintessential Perth. G'arn, visit your neighbourhood Nonna, and pet the little cement lion statues that head up the driveway.
Huh? What do you mean it's over? FUCK YOU! IT CAN'T END! Gina Rinehart has a giant iron ore statue outside the city's central shopping mall. All the pinger popping FIFOs are now having their boots and laces taken away, and the state's inability to foresee the end of a finite resource bubble is going to doom us all. Still though. Hi-Viz is siiiiiiiik.
Western Australia's favourite beer (unfortunately no longer brewed in Western Australia). Image via
Now, I've been a Freo boy my whole life. The town is in a constant state of flux: the old whaling/whoring port passing from Italian immigrants to burnt out hippies to the cashed up children of burnt out hippies with a steady drip of the clinically insane.
Freo is one of the few places in Perth with "character." Unfortunately, those characters are standing outside Cashies screaming about the inevitable reign of Q'athtar, God of Blood and Justice. Freo is the kinda place where you can spend $30 on deconstructed granola, oscillate between the many bead shop healing centres, or ask why they tore down all the beautiful Georgian architecture to build a Target.
A TOTAL CONTEMPT FOR THE PAST
Whether it's in the form of a casino on sacred Aboriginal land, a summer resort on a former Aboriginal death camp, or by hosting a hippie music festival at a famous Aboriginal massacre site, WA loves to look forward. While playing Pokémon Go in King's Park recently, I found a commemorative plaque for eugenics enthusiast A.O. Neville, the guy who essentially tried to breed out Aboriginal genes.
Perth likes to think it sprung out of the ground at the peak of the Menzies era, and it desperately wants to stay there. It's this ahistoricism which makes the city feel so, er, timeless.
Perth has an ice "problem." More like an ice party! Every private school boy is ditching their Finance degree at UWA to hop aboard the ice train. By the way, our trains stop at 11:30.
This is a catchy nickname we give to any local celebrity, be they a professional mixtape curator for beloved community radio station RTR or a notorious neighbourhood sex offender. There's the Premier's son Sam Barnett, a sweaty glazed ham-Joffrey hybrid who gets up to all kinds of shenanigans. There's potato baron and populist revolutionary Tony Galati, whose eyebrows offer shade to northern suburb shoppers on hot summer days. Then there is Rolf Harris, the boy from Bassendeen! Um…we've removed those plaques.
LATE NIGHT MACCAS RUNS
Because everything in Perth closes at 6.30pm sharp (vampires, demonic hordes etc), Maccas operates as a church for the twilight-dwelling dispossessed. There's nothing like rolling into a suburban Maccas at 1 AM and seeing six guys you know, and all sitting down and having a merry feast while demanding the counter kid serves you a cupful of hot sundae chocolate sauce.
Okay, this is sincere. Perth has a good music scene. The smallness and weirdness of Perth means most of our arts scene is pretty unique, not the homogenous Tame Impala Lite you find around most of Oz at the moment. Check out local boys Shit Narnia.
Perth can feel a bit (a lot) like purgatory. Imagine a never-ending Beckett play that goes on for eternity (incidentally that's how it feels to see a Beckett play produced by Western Australia's state theatre company, Black Swan).
As such, Perthians develop a unique world outlook. We are isolated and indefinably stunted; couple that with a mining cash influx and our 1980s beer ad aesthetic, and you'll get some unique opinions—also the new West Australian One Nation senator.
Perth people know nothingness. It's always a lark to go to Melbourne or Sydney and hear them talk like they are the centre of the world. We just laugh. You fools! Australia is the world's Perth. Crack an Emu Export and get used to it.
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