Most are surprised that what they let go by so unregarded and unenjoyed was precisely their life, it was that in expectation of which they lived.
Published July 14th 2011
Our tour group huddles around the entrance of The Old Canton Bar as a cool wind greets us at the door. We bundle together to keep warm, even though we hardly know each other. Our guide Ryan is busily explaining to the group the history of the Canton
"This place was the first Chinese restaurant in the CBD" he says, curious ears listening. "And it's now been successfully transformed into a classy bar, food and cocktail establishment." This is the first stop on my bar and walking tour of Perth that Two Feet and a Heartbeat run weekly, and already I'm impressed.
The smooth sophistication of the Canton Bar is a welcoming start to this walking trip. The bar's contemporary décor and sharp fittings make it the perfect place for after work drinks, social gatherings and functions alike. Within minutes, Ryan is busily fetching platters of sushi rolls and hot snacks for our tour group as I sneak off to join the South Africans for a cocktail round at the well stocked bar. No need for introductions here. Two rounds through and while Ryan is captivating a cute group of girls from our tour with a history of street graffiti in Perth, I engage in a rough tongued conversation on all things rugby and ending in "yar, yar" with my newly found Protean friends.
Before long, Ryan gives us the round up and we are back on the street heading down St. Georges Terrace to the Cathedral and to an artistic monument that has had Perthites talking. As we gaze in curiosity in an effort to turn on our artistic brains, Ryan asks the group what the work represents to them. "A big slippery slope" says our New Zealand contingent, with a few hmm's heard on that. "A rather large glass of milk being poured out" hoots the Melbournians, which raises a few smiles. "A big waste of taxpayers money" bellows a South African voice from behind, and we all have a little giggle at that.
The sculpture represents Ascalon, the lance used by St. George to slay the dragon, and this is precisely why Two Feet and a Heartbeat excel, they give fully guided and informed tours of Perth and Fremantle that provide tourists, travellers and locals alike the chance to soak up the history of WA in a relaxed environment.
Two Feet and a Heartbeat is owned and operated by two friends, Ryan and Ryan, who have both studied underneath Perth's best Tourism Lecturer Kathryn Clark at Beaconsfield TAFE, and it's paid dividends. The company has already won Bronze in the Tourism Council Awards and a have a City of Perth Heritage Award. Impressive.
From the Cathedral we are pointed out a few bars we may like to go to next time including XO, a whiskey classic and The Greenhouse, famed for its food and its Chef. As we stroll to our next destination Helvetica, the only bar in Perth to offer a keep (where you can purchase a bottle of whiskey and keep it at the bar to consume when you return) we venture past the most central point in Perth at the GPO, then through some funky laneways to a bar that resembles a Mediterranean villa. The outside windowsills of Helvetica are caked in compounded wax that appears to hold the wooden window shutters in place, and it has a tall entrance that houses the smallest signage of identification, around the size of a matchbox. Quite rustic.
The South Africans look like they've just walked into heaven. The décor of exposed brick cladding and mirrored walls create a sharp savvy bar. Two professional staff who know all there is about whiskey and cocktails man it. Ryan explains to the group that the special of the night is 'Hot Totties,' a Scottish blend of hot whiskey, lemon juice, sugar and honey, but I already know this as the springboks have a dozen of them in cups lined up in parade formation at the candle lit bar. These guys are quick.
Over $250 million is being spent on state projects in WA through Forgotten Spaces to encourage tourism with over $8 million alone being set aside for the city alone. It's exciting times, and with new liquor licenses being approved, and better understanding of the city lifestyle, bars like Helvetica continue to pop up.
After half an hour and 4 Totties, I can hardly understand what the South Africans are saying. I have resulted to a sort of courteous smile and nod mannerism that usually serves me well when overseas. A gluttonous consumption of cocktails and whiskey has enhanced their speech to what now appears another language altogether. Never to mind, Ryan has the group organised and we head off through the city streets to Wolfe Lane, a casual laneway transformation in the central area.
I finish the night sampling wine at Wolfe Bar, a minimalistic white leather couch hangout that is casually cool. My group has bonded over the past three hours with new friendships formed and plenty of cocktails drunk, and we've been to bars in the city many of us simply never knew existed. Two Feet and a Heartbeat Tours are a great initiative and a fantastic night out, especially for South Africans.
I think the small bars tour featured in this article is over priced. I agree it was interesting to see bars I didn't know existed but assumed $50 would include a drink at each bar, that is 3 drinks plus nibbles. In fact we were given a miniscule amount of food at Canton (no drink), one drink at Helvetica (no food) and an even smaller portion of food at the last bar, (no drink). Definitely not value for money.
By geoff - reader Wednesday, 12th of November @ 07:27 am