One of the earliest "dates" my husband took me on was to the Sunken Gardens (or "Secret Garden" as he calls it) at UWA. It was late afternoon and the wedding parties were out in full force as photographers busily snapped away at the tulled-up posse's in the perfectly lit surrounds. I thought it was magic, however having this reality parading around on a first date was a bit too confronting for my partner. In a poor attempt to hide his panic but continue the romantic illusion, I was gently ushered away from the sweet ambience of the little amphitheatre and its tranquil water features towards a quaint art gallery I never knew existed.
The Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery is open free to the public Tuesday to Saturday from 11am to 5pm. Children are not discouraged from experiencing the inquisitive world that lies within the gallery walls (in fact, they are quite supportive of accommodating programs that generate interest in the Arts for children), though it should be remembered this is an adult environment that is not really set up for over exuberant little personalities. My kids quite often appear to have sipped a cyclonic cup of crazy soup whenever we get closer to a setting requesting quiet so we just walk right on by until we reach a major road, a work site, an airport or a helicopter launching pad and remember there is plenty of time for galleries. But please don't let me discourage you, enjoy!
I have been extremely lucky over the years to have been exposed to this charming world in all its little leafy nooks and rabbit-hole-like goodness. Curiosity certainly entices exploration through the grounds where it can feel as if you've entered another world entirely or a country with a longer history than our own.
The architecture is powerful and it's a rewarding experience to expose your children to such man made magnificence if you are unable to casually pop overseas. Their perspective can be quite thought provoking. Or not. If like my young son, they may just be interested in using the building marvels as a platform on which to get a better view of the "duckies". Whatever floats the attention grabbing boat.
The grounds of UWA are enchanting. A wonderland rich in lavish gardens and immaculate open spaces where sport is played or students study and take time out. There are areas that seem to have been created simply for the purpose and honour of space itself. Take time to soak in the silence that doesn't seem possible considering that nearby is the chaotic world of traffic, cranes and city life.
By far my most favourite soul charger is to visit the Moreton Bay Fig tree which until very recently was known as "the big a ... hippie hugging tree". When you see it, just try to resist the urge to meander through the foliage and embrace it.
If you take the time to explore there are plenty of delights to be found and you'll be surprised what can be discovered especially with children. Look out for the mulberry tree, a white peahen named Alex, roly poly hill, the koi fishpond and even some buildings reminiscent of a certain school attended by a certain young wizard!