A Taste of life as a Hills Kid
Anyone who knows me or has listened to me on radio will know that for years now I’ve banged on and on about being from Perth’s picturesque hills region.
I was born “up the hill”, at Kalamunda hospital, grew up in Lesmurdie and spent my weekends as a kid waiting in the car while Dad went out into the neighbouring Walliston & Bickley bushland to collect firewood. I’m not even sure that last part is/was legal, but that’s the life we lead. I grew up with kids from the valley and orcharding precincts nearby, from Carmel, Pickering Brook and Karagullen. My best friend had a horse in the front yard and a couple of dogs out the back. I preferred song & dance lessons (in Mundaring) to dressage and could be found gigging as a caroler in the Armadale shops around Christmas time.
I went to Lesmurdie High School, where kids from Roleystone joined us for years 11 and 12 because their school didn’t offer upper school. We called them “Rollies”.
The parties I was invited to as a young person were all over the hills. There was almost always a bonfire. We often burnt things we shouldn’t have. And if there was ever a line for the usually single household toilet it was often easier to just cross the road a pop-a-squat in the nature reserve. The thought of us driving those winding back-roads between our houses at night while on “P-Plates” makes me finally understand why Mum used to worry so much.
The fact we came from differing shires and council areas didn’t matter to us – we were all “hills kids”: a status and shared history boasted about with much pride when we would meet up at university taverns and in our city jobs “down the hill” – for years after we’d all left home. To put it simply, we were cut from a similar cloth.
I now realise that it was an incredibly unique and privileged way to grow up. When I return to the Hills as an adult who’s taken a few years to try out other cities around the country – I notice the air is cleaner by day and smells only of wood-fire heaters by evening. That the winding roads are lined by lush green paddocks, towering trees and sinking gullies that most people associate with areas much further away from the city. And the townsites that I used to bemoan lacked a cinema, Golden Arches or stores filled with fast fashion are in fact quaint self-contained villages that feel just like the country towns I now choose to holiday in with my family.
Today places like Armadale and Kalamunda are thriving hubs for farmers & handmade markets, gift stores, galleries and hipster coffee houses. The orchards dotted along the roads between them are broken up by vineyard & cellar door experiences, cideries and artists' workshops.
Just like the kids of my gen who once called her home, Perth Hills Armadale, has grown up. And it’s with good reason, that we need to start telling you about it.
Working as a radio & travel show presenter has given me countless opportunities to share my passion for local tourism. I whole-heartedly believe that as a state, as a country, we’re all in this together – and the resources we draw upon for industry, and jobs that will keep our communities thriving for years to come can be mined from so much more than just ore. By promoting these areas as good places to come for fine produce, wine, food, entertainment, culture and nature-based experiences we’re creating not just a sustainable future – but an opportunity for all people to live lives of balance, without having to head all that far from home.
Over the coming weeks and months, I’ll be sharing all the things I love about Perth Hills Armadale, as well as some new things I’ve discovered more recently that simply weren’t there when I was a kid. And what’s more I know you’re going to love them as much as I do.