Sunday, November 16, 2014

Perth Guide - Spring, 2014

image: Tourism WA

Top Ten Amazing Day Trips To Do With The Kids

1. Avon Valley

The Avon Valley covers a massive area. It’s not too far from Perth, and there are stacks and stacks of things to do. Check out Beverley’s historic working farm, explore the aeronautical museum, or get a taste of the real thing with a birds-eye view from a glider.  Eat and drink your way around Chittering while the kids run amok on the walking trails, and don’t forget their spectacular wildflower displays in Spring. Visit the enormous wheatbins and deep space radio antenna in Victoria Plains, or get all spooked-out at Toodyay’s award-winning gaol. Come on, you know you want to.

Kids will go nuts for Boshack Outback, a 350 acre working farm. Their Wild Eco Outback Adventure day tour includes boomerang throwing, feeding farm animals, bushtucker tasting, fishing for yabbies and playing the didgeridoo.

Don’t forget
Walking shoes (for the trails). Don’t forget to head to the Bindoon Agricultural Show in October, too.

2. Bibbulmun Track

The Bibbulmum Track is one of the world’s greatest long-distance walking trails, rambling through almost one thousand kilometres of gorgeous terrain from Kalamunda in Perth’s eastern suburbs to Albany in the South-West. The kids will have great fun following the trail signs featuring a Waugal (an Aboriginal snake-like creature) as part of an awesome day hiking in the great outdoors. If you have the inclination and are feeling a little more adventurous, why not try camping overnight in one of the forty-eight campsites and shelters dotted along the way? Just remember the Track’s motto – Leave No Trace – so take your rubbish with you!

What’s not to love about cooking fresh damper out in the bush? Children’s Camp Kitchen sessions are held regularly throughout the year, with the next one held in October.

Don’t forget
Sturdy walking shoes with thick socks, water, sunscreen, hat, insect repellent, map, weather-appropriate clothing, energy snacks, bag for rubbish, first aid kit, charged mobile phone.

3. Gingin

Just an hour’s drive north of Perth is Gingin, a small town with a truckload of family things to do. Check out the wonders of space through a fully-retractable roof at the Gingin Observatory, then head next door to the Gravity Discovery Centre for a solar system walk. If the temperature’s rising, cool off at the aquatic centre or follow the coastal road out to Moore River, a mecca for Perth families. Hire a dinghy, jump on a horse for a trail ride, check out the spanking new farmyard zoo, or just stretch out on the sand for a bit of shut-eye - if the kids will let you.

Caladenia mini golf is a local treasure, and one of the best we’ve seen. Eighteen holes in a lush setting, with animal feeding and a restaurant with home-cooked meals to boot.

Don’t forget
Bathers and towels (for Moore River), coins (to buy animal food at mini golf), your camera (to catch all the action).

4. Hillary's Boat Harbour

Hillary’s Boat Harbour is a Mecca for families, with lots of entertainment for the kidlets and lots of eating out for the adults. Go for broke on the waterslides or five hundred square foot rock climbing wall at The Great Escape or, for some more relaxed action, try your hand at their mini-golf, 6D cinema and trampolines. For a taste of marine action, head to AQWA or simply chillax on the sheltered swimming beach with nothing but a towel, bucket and spade.  When tummies start to rumble, there’s a mecca of kid-friendly dining options in the form of burgers, steak, pizza, fish ‘n chips, Tex-Mex, chocolate and ice-cream.

Whale watching season runs through Spring, when the majestic humpbacks are on the move. We’re blessed to have them right on our doorstep. Whale watching tours run daily from Hillarys Boat Harbour, with guaranteed sightings.

Don’t forget
Sunscreen, hat, bathers and towel, snorkel gear, camera, water.

5. Lancelin

An hour’s drive due north of Perth, Lancelin boasts some of the best windsurfing in the world. There are also fourteen shipwrecks and a host of reefs along the coastline to explore via snorkelling, scuba diving and swimming. And let’s not forget boogie-boarding and surfing around the point at Back Beach. Keep your eyes peeled for sea lions and pods of dolphins too – the area is renowned for them - or head over to Lancelin Island for birdwatching. For land lubbers, the enormous sand dunes will provide hours of thrillseeking, with sand boarding, dune buggy racing and four-wheel driving all on offer. Don’t forget a visit to the eerie majesty of the Pinnacles – it’s a must-do.

At Lake Thetis, 3500 year old living stromatolites abound, and are linked to the earliest life on Earth. Explore the walkways and read up on these fascinating structures.

Don’t forget
Sunscreen, snorkel gear, water, camera.

6.    Penguin Island

This popular tourist destination has absolutely got it in spades. Close to Perth and only five minutes from the mainland? Tick. Gorgeous scenery? Tick. Cute little penguins? Tick. It’s also got dolphins, sea lions, stingrays, pelicans and around fifty species of sea bird, so it’s heaven for wildlife lovers. The kids will love penguin feeding time, held three times a day. Take a cruise of the wildlife sanctuary on a glass bottom boat, and check out the nesting sea birds on Seal Island. Get up close and personal with the sea lions on a sea kayak. Seriously folks, this place has it all.

If you’re thirsting for adventure, jump aboard the dolphin, penguin and sea lion cruise.  Visit fossils in Aladdin’s Cave, watch ospreys nest and listen to the clicks and whistles of dolphins thanks to an underwater microphone.

Don’t forget
BYO food and drink, snorkel gear, camera, sunscreen, hat, water.

7.    Rockingham

Ah, Rockingham. We just can’t get enough of her gorgeous award-winning beaches. From the child-friendly waters of Cockburn Sound, snorkel spots dotted around Point Peron and surf beaches at Secret Harbour, paradise is only 40kms south of Perth. But it’s not all pristine waters and idyllic coastline. Tag along on the Naragebup Environment Centre’s night-time frog walk, browse around their monthly markets and check out the highlights of Lake Richmond, which boasts over one hundred species of birds. Hidden in Waikiki is Fantasy Park, with a sensory garden and touching panels for the hearing-impaired, interactive play sculptures and barbecue facilities.

Swimming around in the ocean with wild dolphins is right up there on most people’s bucket list. It’s the wildlife encounter of a lifetime, and it’s right here on our doorstep, so what are you waiting for!

Don’t forget 
Sunscreen, hat, waterproof camera (for swimming with dolphins), bathers, snorkel gear, towels, water, torch (for frog walk).

      8. Rottnest Island

What’s not to love about ‘Rotto’? Just a glimpse of its pristine waters will have you breathing easier. Only a short trip from the mainland by ferry, there’s bike riding (electric or manual to hire, or bring your own) that will take you around the tiny isle past an incredible sixty-three beaches, twenty bays, salt lakes, lighthouses and lookouts. See if you can spot the adorable quokkas on the way, or grab a bus to the outer reaches of the island, West End, and check out the colony of fur seals.  If you prefer something wetter, there’s world-class snorkelling, swimming and diving. And don’t forget to pop over for the inaugural family-friendly event Carnivale in September. We hear it’s going to be huge.

Lying beneath Oliver Hill, which features a gun used in WWII, is a maze of underground tunnels just itching for kids to explore. Tours run several times a day.

Don’t forget
Sunscreen, hat, bike, snorkel gear, water,

9.    Swan Valley

Seriously, what’s not to love about the Swan Valley? It’s near to Perth. It has an abundance of wine, chocolate and cheese. Oh, and there’s stacks of things for the kids to do, too.  Want to let off some steam? Try Oasis Supa Golf, an eighteen hole golf course with oversized clubs and balls for the little ones. Or perhaps The Swan Valley Animal Farm is more your speed, including bottle and bucket feeding. Kids feeling peckish? Get yourself to Mondo Nougat, Oggies Ice-Cream CafĂ© or one of the two chocolate companies in the area. That’s not counting all the child-friendly cafes and wineries with play areas as well.

The Great Valley Rally is a fun trail that leads families around the Valley via a list of cryptic clues. There are ten different checkpoints and a prize waiting at the end.

Don’t forget 
Bring your appetite and, if you’re visiting grown-up wineries, some colouring-in books for the kids.

10. Whiteman Park

Whiteman Park is an awesome destination for all ages. Close to Perth, it has around four thousand hectares to explore with loads of things to do. Hand-feed the kangaroos, see Australia’s native animals and have a pic taken with a koala at Caversham Wildlife Park. Ride with style aboard a vintage bus, train or tram, get hands-on in the transport and tractor museums and sample sweets from all over the world at the lolly shop. Get wet at the water playground, take a night tour of Woodland Reserve and watch rare woylies feed. Have a barbecue, or pack a picnic, choose a stretch of grass and chill.

Explore the Children’s Forest, which has been planted by children. Discover the giant marching antis, colourful birds and the Forest’s ‘guardians’, the Boy of the Bush and his sister Fern.

Don’t forget 
Torch (for Woodland Reserve night tour), sunscreen, hat, picnic, camera.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Motor Trade Association: Interview with The Hon Peter Costello

 image: Sydney Morning Herald

Taxing Times: Interview with The Hon Peter Costello 

The Federal Treasurer Peter Costello recently announced that he would crack down on the State Government for double-taxing the people of Western Australian.  MOTOR spoke to him about this and the industry’s own double-dipping woes…

In A Nutshell:  The Federal Treasurer believes that with GST revenue far surpassing all expectations, the States need to now make good on their pledge to abolish the nine State taxes GST has replaced in accordance with the inter-governmental GST agreement signed by all States in 1999.

However, many States feel they have already met their obligations to the Federal Government, with many holding the view they have been ‘ripped off’ by the Treasurer and Democrats Leader Meg Lees citing him as ‘mischievous’.  NSW recently offered the Federal Government $1 billion to pay its way out of the GST deal, which was rejected, after refusing to cut stamp duties. 

On 1 July, the Treasurer announced he would put measures in place to force NSW and WA into honouring the GST agreement. Eric Ripper conceded his government would fully comply with the GST agreement with the abolition of the Bank Accounts Debits Tax.  He also said WA had already axed the Financial Institutions Duty and Stamp Duty on Quotable Marketable Securities.

On 7 July, WA State Treasurer Eric Ripper announced that there would be a new review of State taxes.

According to you, many Australians are currently being double-taxed by the GST as well as the taxes it was designed to replace. As you are probably aware from your meeting with Peter Fitzpatrick, the vehicle dealers of WA are also the victims of double-dipping by the State Government following the introduction of the new stamp duty Ruling on loan and leave vehicles on 1 July 2005. Can you provide a national perspective on this issue for our readers?

 I am concerned about the tax burdens imposed on businesses and individuals by State and Territory Governments. The WA Government is projecting to collect $645 million in motor vehicle taxes in 2004-05 and $642 million in 2005-06, which is up 30 per cent since July 2001.  Across the Forward Estimates total tax revenue for WA is projected to increase from around $4 billion in 2005-06 to $4.6 billion in 2008-09, which is an increase of around 16 per cent.

Could you provide a brief synopsis on the issues surrounding the GST agreements with the States?

In 1999, Australian Government, State and Territory leaders signed an Intergovernmental Agreement on the Reform of Commonwealth State Financial Relations (the IGA) which provides that all GST revenue is paid to the States and Territories.

The GST revenue for WA is forecast to increase from $3.8 billion in 2005-06 to around $4.4 billion in 2008-09. In the absence of further tax reform, this will provide a cumulative windfall above WA’s Guaranteed Minimum Amount of around $1.4 billion.  The GST was intended to replace a range of inefficient indirect taxes, one Commonwealth and nine State taxes, which were listed in the IGA. These State taxes were identified by the States themselves as undesirable on efficiency and equity grounds.

Originally, all of these taxes were to be abolished on or before 1 July 2001, with the exception of stamp duty on non residential conveyances of real property which was to cease to apply from a date to be determined by the Ministerial Council on the basis that no State or Territory would be worse off.  In order to get the GST legislation through the Senate, as part of an agreement with the Australian Democrats, some items were removed from the GST base meaning it raised less revenue. As a result the States would not receive enough revenue to abolish all these taxes by 1 July 2001 without being worse off.

It was therefore agreed that wholesale sales tax and accommodation (bed) taxes would be abolished on 1 July 2000, Financial Institutions Duty and stamp duty on quoted marketable securities would be abolished by 1 July 2001, and bank account debits tax abolished by 1 July 2005. All the other taxes would then be reviewed so that if GST was sufficient they could then be abolished.

Over six years from 2004-05, anticipated GST revenue payments to the States will amount to around $243 billion, exceeding original projections. In the absence of further tax reform, it is estimated that this would result in the States receiving a windfall of around $17 billion compared to the amount they would have received under the former system of Commonwealth-State financial relations.  In light of this growing GST windfall, at the 23 March 2005 meeting of the Ministerial Council for Commonwealth State Financial Relations, the Australian Government proposed a timetable for the elimination of the majority of stamp duties listed under the IGA for the benefit of Australian businesses and families. 

On 20 April 2005, six States and Territories responded to the Australian Government with an alternative proposal on the timing and sequencing of the elimination of these taxes. Western Australia was not a party to this offer. It wants to keep the State taxes and the GST, which was introduced to replace them. The Australian Government is disappointed.

You announced on 1 July 2005 that over the next twelve months you would be putting measures in place to compel NSW and WA into honouring the GST agreement with the Federal Government. What sort of measures do you mean to use to force the WA Government into abolishing some of its taxes, and what are the legal ramifications of this move?

 People in other States will not have to pay GST and the State taxes it replaces. The WA Government wants to double tax West Australians, unlike those in the Eastern States. The Australian Government wants to encourage the WA Government to protect West Australians against double taxation and give them tax relief that other Australians will receive.  A range of measures are available to the Australian Government to encourage the WA Government to abolish these taxes. However, as noted before, the Australian Government wants to deliver this outcome by agreement. It is premature, at this stage, to outline the response if the WA Government tries to maintain double taxation.

What would your message to Mr Gallop & Mr Ripper be at this point in time?

 Everyone knows the GST was introduced to replace nominated State taxes. Six of the eight States and Territories have offered timetables for the abolition of IGA taxes. The WA Government is at present refusing to abolish the taxes that the GST is intended to replace and putting West Australians behind people in other States. No State can keep the GST revenue and the taxes it is designed to replace. Should the WA Government continue to double-tax its citizens, the Australian Government will introduce measures to encourage the WA Government to relieve the tax burden.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Scoop Magazine, WInter 2014

 image: supplied

Keeping the Faith

When Ezra Pound opened in Northbridge back in September 2009, it was among several front-runners to redefine our capital city’s hospitality topography. Small bar licenses had recently been given the green light, and the people of Perth were hell-bent on embracing the small bar scene. Cut to five years on, and the boys behind Ezra Pound - Talmage Andersen and Jan Kulski - are back with their next offering, Old Faithful.

“Old Faithful is an idea that sparked while I was travelling through the US in 2011”, says Melbourne-raised Talmage

“After sitting at an American barbecue restaurant eating a plate full of smoked meat and drinking one of the most delicious IPA craft brews, it seemed like a no-brainer to me. The trick was to translate the idea to the Australian market, which wasn't really that hard considering how much we love barbecue and beer here anyway.”

It’s no secret that the industry is spawning new eateries by the acreage, despite all the party-pooper bureaucratic red tape that goes with it.

“I’m really enjoying watching the growth of the hospitality scene here in Perth,” says Talmage.

“It’s even more humbling to be a part of that growth, while helping to add culture to this beautiful city. I love seeing some of our hospitality professionals getting into their own venues, and adding their unique style and design to our once-boring hospitality landscape. I certainly think one of the biggest challenges for small business operators is the lengthy process in obtaining your license to trade. It can take up to one year to process, and when you’re paying rent on an empty space for a year, this can turn into a costly exercise.”

Despite the challenges, stay tuned - the boys have whispered to us they may be planning a cheeky little pop-up bar very soon.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Scoop Magazine, Autumn 2013

photo: Jenny Susanto-Lee

Chinese Whispers

It’s no secret that Perth’s dining scene is bursting its britches at the moment, and with that comes lots and lots of choice.  Where to begin? Chinese restaurants in particular are a veritable minefield: it could take years trying to sort the succulent Peking duck from the same ol’, same ol’ fried rice.

If you have a particular penchant for authentic Chinese food, follow the Asian community to Northbridge. According to a popular food website (oh alright, we’re talking about Urbanspoon), the three highest rating Chinese restaurants cite Northbridge as their physical address. The top end of William Street buzzes at all hours of the day and night with a plethora of Chinese supermarkets, restaurants and people. Duck into The Red Teapot or Shanghai Tea Garden for inexpensive, fair-dinkum Chinese fare that is worlds away from the Westernised lemon chicken or beef in black bean sauce.

Northbridge is also home to a Chinese institution – yum cha. Seriously, if you haven’t experienced yum cha during a weekend lunchtime rush hour, then you haven’t really experienced Asian dining. Small, enticing plates of fried and steamed yumminess are ferried about from table to table via trolleys, all washed down with oceans of Chinese tea (not booze, people!). It’s fast, noisy and delicious. You eat until you’re bursting, eat a bit more, and then stagger out the door. Your table will be filled in a flash. The best places to go in Northbridge for a true yum cha experience, complete with queues and ticket-taking, are on Francis Street (Dragon Palace, Joy Garden, Xintiandi), Roe Street (Regal on Roe, Northbridge Chinese) or James Street (New Moon, Golden Century, Oriental Inn).

But please, don’t just limit yourself to inner city eating out. If you cast your net wider, there are fab Chinese restaurants sprinkled all over the place. The pearl in Fremantle’s crown for Chinese cuisine is Joy Kitchen, while Aquarium Seafood Chinese in Ascot is a multi-award winner. Good One BBQ, Ten Ten and Chi are the go-to Chinese restaurants on the Vic Park strip, and Chin’s Noodle House in Leeming are best loved among locals for their Peking duck. In the north, Wing Soon is a family fave in Morley and Gold Garden Seafood BBQ in Balcatta packs them in for yum cha in the burbs. For ‘best quality’, you can’t go past the spanking new Silks at Crown Casino.

Most Chinese restaurants in Australia serve Cantonese food – that is, cuisine from southern China. Here’s why: during the 80s and 90s, when the transfer of Hong Kong sovereignty between the United Kingdom and China became imminent, there was a mass exodus of a million Hong Kong Cantonese. The residents were concerned about what living under Chinese rule would mean for them, and fled to the UK, the US and – yes – Australia. These days, Cantonese wonton noodles and shark fin soup are an integral part of the English vocab.

So once you’ve found your perfect Chinese eatery, what on earth do you order when you get there? Most if not all restaurants with have even a middling reputation for a signature dish or two that regulars return again and again for (and, they hope, rave to their friends about). Rich, crispy-skinned Peking duck is top of the Chinese food chain. Served as one, two or three duck dishes, courses generally include pancakes, soup and san choi bao (minced duck served in iceberg lettuce leaves). Good Fortune Roast Duck House in Northbridge gets our tick. Deep fried squid tentacles are also very popular, as are char siu bao (soft, steamed buns filled with saucy barbecued pork) and Shanghai dumplings (thinly wrapped parcels bursting with soup and minced meat). For awesome handmade dumplings with a northern Chinese take, try Mom Dumpling House in Victoria Park. There are so many choices in Perth that you’ll be eating out for a month of Sundays – at least for yum cha, anyway.