Kirsty, our guide for a Perth Small bar and Street Art Tour meets us at Yagan Square. I’ve learnt to pronounce Yagan correctly: “Yayy gn” not as I first thought “ya gaan”. The square is named after an Aboriginal Warrior and is built over the train line. It connects the more sedate and commercial part of the city to the exciting and vibrant suburb of Northbridge.
A quirky introduction to Perth
Our group of five consists of a mother and daughter from Perth, a young girl from Sydney, a digital nomad from Goa and myself. I only arrived in Perth a few hours ago, and am looking forward to a quirky introduction to the city.
Fourteen reed poles reach up to the sky from the iconic digital tower. The poles represent the fourteen language groups of the Noongar people from the southwest corner of Australia.
In Forrest Place, a popular meeting place, the green sculpture called “Grow your own” by the artist James Angus, is more affectionately known by locals as “the cactus”. A line of poetry embedded in paving winds its way through the plaza. It describes how the land we’re standing on used to be a reedy muddy swamp, drained as the city grew.
Laneway Activation in Perth
Kirsty leads us through laneways which she describes as an “open air gallery”. Some of the artworks were commissioned as part of a laneway activation program. Others have just appeared. Many are lit by decorative lights making areas once perceived as being unsafe, much more welcoming.
Above a line of red and yellow lidded bins, old photographs set into red box frames contrast with the more modern owls, by street artists Bonsai and TwoOne, staring down at me. Kirsty also points out paste-ups and a caricature of Alice in Wonderland.
The First of Three Small Bars
We’ve worked up a thirst and it’s time to discover our first small bar. Perth has a big small bar scene. Some larger small bars have a capacity of 120 people, while others only hold up to 30 patrons. The door to Alfred’s Pizzeria, painted to look like a red telephone booth, is open and we descend down stairs lined with black and white mugshots.
We’re offered a choice from a selection of beers and pizza by the slice for $10. Oh Hey WA who runs this tour has negotiated reduced prices for drinks at the three establishments they’ve chosen for us to visit today. I look around at the quirky décor. A hole in the ceiling reveals boxes of different malt whisky and other spirits.
The Perth locals on the tour warn us visitors that we’ll struggle for restaurant food after 9pm. They say that Perth is a sleepy town. Fortunately Alfred’s stays open late.
More Street Art in Perth
There’s more street art to admire before our next small bar. A series of detailed botanical works painted on a black background by East Fremantle Artist, Joanna Brown AKA Laeline are next. Then we visit a Rainbow Serpent painted by a collaboration of Indigenous artists.
Kangaroo Paw and other native plants in planter boxes around the pedestrian malls provide welcome colour. It’s great to see natives used instead of the usual pansies.
Perth 2014 Festival of Walls
A Series of murals created by mostly overseas artists during the 2014 Festival of Walls lead us to the next small bar in Wolf Lane. But first we admire the intricate cross-hatching of what at first looks like a seahorse. But then I notice the human hands. Around the corner, figures that look like paper dolls in wide skirted dresses float across an off-white wall.
We admire the work by Adnate on the wall of the Adnate Art Hotel. Featuring three large scale portraits, it covers one wall of the 25 plus storey building. Adnate took four weeks to complete the mural.
Two More Small Bars
Kirsty tells us that Wolf Lane is about fairy tales. The low lighting and eclectic furnishings give it a warm and comforting feel. Biscuit tins fixed to the wall welcome me as I walk up the stairs. Old style suitcases hang from the roof. We have a choice of cocktails. Most of us choose the “South Side”, similar to a mojito.
After the tour, the mother and daughter duo are off to the Comedy Lounge. The chap from Goa asks about jazz clubs. There’s a jazz festival on and one of the many options is the Ellington in Northbridge.
Next, Kirsty presents us with a challenge. The entrance to the Volstead Lounge, our last small bar for the evening, hides behind a set of bookshelves. We need to work out how to enter the bar. I look for (and find) a book with a worn spine. A gently pull on the spine opens the door disguised as a bookshelf.
The lounge is decorated art deco style. This evening there’s piped music, but at other times guests are entertained with live music suited to the décor. My Lavender cocktail comes with a pop of smoke. It’s delicious.
A Great Introduction to Perth
This Perth small bar and street art tour has given me a great introduction to the city. After farewells, two of us go off to listen to jazz in Northbridge. I already have plans to bring my friends who arrive tomorrow to at least one of the small bars I’ve encountered this evening.
Note: I joined this Perth Small bar and Street Art Tour at my own expense.
Very interesting Jo but when do you rest
It’s getting hard to find the time these days, Wally!
Interesting article. One day I’ll get to Perth!
Thanks Jo, and thanks for picking up the editing error!
Clubs, bars and street art make for a good place to visit. I love the rainbow serpent and the seahorse.
We’ll put them on the list for when you next visit, Bernadette!