Now as the pups of the pack continue to get older, they hear new stories and myths about our great state and often come to me asking what is true and what is rubbish.
I’m a big believer in storytelling, if you can come up with a story plausible and entertaining enough, who’s to say it can’t be real? So this week I’ve decided to chat you through some of WA’s curly and curious stories.
“Perth is the most isolated city in the world”
They say if you say something enough you can speak it into existence, I don’t think the same goes for this one, even though we hear it a lot! “Perth is the most isolated city in the whole entire world!” Well…. turns out…. that’s maybe… not true.
Sure we might be ONE OF the most isolated major cities in the world and yes it is true that Perth is closer to Singapore than we are to our own capital, Canberra. But the nearest city to us, Adelaide is 2130km away, while our mates in Honolulu are a whopping 3841km from San Francisco and are actually more isolated than we are!
So if we’re being honest, we’re the 2nd most isolated city in the world. Doesn’t have the same ring to it though, does it? We say run with it, Honolulian’s (is that their preferred term) probably don’t even know what Perth is.
Perth is the “City of Lights”
I know what you’re thinking, who has ever said that? Isn’t Paris the city of lights?
Well from all reports, Astronaut John Glenn gave us the title way back in 1962 when he was travelling through space (as you do) and is said to have said he could see Perth from all the way up there, due to our street lighting. (Which I don’t recall as being all that bright…).
Apparently the city had all their residents turn their house and streetlights on as John was whizzing around up there on the ‘Friendship 7’ craft. Surely as you’re hurtling through space, there are more important things to be focusing on – than whether or not you can see Wendy Wilson’s kitchen light on from space, John! “Hey Wendy, while you’re up, can you put the kettle on – I’ll be round in a jiffy, I’m only about 7 lightyears away.”
We loved the attention (no one more than Wendy) so much so, we apparently replicated the same feat again in 1998 when Glenn passed over again in the Space Shuttle. “Pshhhhh Mission control to Glenn, any chance you could give the shuttle a little bit of you attention and wave to Wendy from Perth a little less?”
Ahh Perth, we really just want people to know we exist, don’t we.
Yes, you read that right. In the south of Western Australia, there’s a place called Gnomesville. It’s located just off Ferguson Valley (1.5 hours out of Perth) and is home to close to 10,000 gnomes! I ‘gnome’ what you’re thinking – that morning shower routine must be an ordeal!
Gnomesville is said to have simply evolved overtime with no developers, or any financial assistance, the Gnomes were originally just placed throughout the area by the community, with many more often being added by punters and patrons as they visit the little town. As more Gnomes are added the tradition grows, so feel free to go and check it out and leave your own gnome to keep the tradition alive.
You gnome what they say – if you build it, they’ll come.
The Dingo Origin
Now we all know the stories of someone who has a ‘mate’ or an ‘uncle’ or a ‘grandpa’ that painted the original or painted the Iconic logo of me on the flour mill but without a doubt the two most frequent stories that come through are the following:
The first most publicised story is that a young Alan Bond was in fact the man to throw the red ink onto the flour mill officially giving the Dingo life. It is said that Alan “jack of all trades’ bond started out his career with an apprenticeship at Parnell Signs, who apparently won a bid to repaint the sign after it was erased 3 year prior due to ‘wartime precautions.’ However, Parnell’s son has previously stated that Alan was “never involved in that kind of work” so we’re all a little intrigued by the plausibility of this one.
The other well publicised story is that artist Les Nash painted the Dingo Logo way back in 1940 for just £40. This tale has a bit more beef on its bones, as Nash’s daughter Mona, has apparently explained the process – where her father completed the logo over the course of the week. Sketching it out on graph paper and then matching the graph grid with the panels of the flour mills silo. (Smart man Les!) Before it was repainted during WWII. (by bond?)
Now we’re not going to give away which of the stories is true – maybe it actually was your partner’s aunt’s cousin’s step dad or maybe, just maybe, it was Les Nash. (Bloke must have had a LOT of connections).
The mystery lives on…
Commonwealth Coat of Arms
Finally, the Coat of Arms outside the Commonwealth GPO building in Forrest Chase. You’ll notice, it’s not as we know the Coat of Arms to look like. Instead of the Kangaroo looking at the emu, (as it does everywhere else) on this occasion the Kangaroo is looking over its shoulder at the old treasury building…
Now over the years there have been a few different reasons proposed as to why this is the case. One being that the sculptor who created the piece didn’t get paid for his work, so he decided to have the kangaroos head facing the Old Treasury Building to “see when the money was coming.”
A secondary and more professional story is that the roo and emu were designed to look in the same direction to ensure they didn’t turn their backs on the GPO building’s british Coat of Arm (which is a big sin in most official books). Truth is I don’t know the answer but I think that adds to the fun.
The fact of the matter is whether any of these are true or doesn’t necessarily matter – the tall tales just add to the fun. In the words of George Costanza, “it’s not a lie, if you believe it”.
So be sure to tell us your favourite WA Myths (mentioned here or not) for your chance to feature on a future edition of WA’s curly and curious stories.