I am a freelance writer originally from Ireland, now living in sunny Perth. I adore crafting, nature, upcycling and exploring all the delights Perth has to offer.
Published March 21st 2014
Meander, muse and marvel at the WA Museum
The Western Australian Museum in the centre of Perth is an absolute treasure. Even the walk through funky Northbridge to the rather elegant revolving front door is a feast for the senses with buskers, street art and a children's percussion area. Inside I was greeted by a rather fierce looking dinosaur and thankfully a much more hospitable and helpful receptionist. Entrance is free so I popped some coins in the donations box. Armed with a map of the museum, I set off upstairs for my cultural adventure.
The museum describes itself as 'a gateway to Western Australia's natural and social history'. I had been to the museum several times before with my children though decided to take advantage of a child-free morning to meander about and to have more than just a few seconds to marvel at the exhibits. I started on level 1, which begins with a marine theme exploring animals and creatures of the Dampier Archipelago. There are lots of specimens to look at and a couple of computers with games for the children. Adults can also learn a thing or two. Did you know that the new name for Starfish is Seastar as they are not actually fish!
Leading on from the marine room, there is the 'Mammal Gallery' a large hall full of stuffed animals and animal skeletons, the kind typically associated with a natural history museum. It was fascinating to look at if a little gruesome. A nice touch was a reading corner for kids. The gallery opened onto bird and butterfly galleries with all kinds of winged wonders.
Across the corridor was 'Katta Djinoog - First Peoples of WA'. This was a very powerful and well thought out exhibit about Aboriginal people, their history and culture. The stories of colonisation and the 'Stolen Generations' were covered in depth. I had seen the film 'Rabbit Proof Fence' and the policies which led to the stolen generations depicted in the film were laid bare along with chilling stories of the individuals who had lived through their cruel implementation.
Aboriginal people were also celebrated with signed shirts from sport stars and beautifully colourful examples of their art. It was an exhibition that I would highly recommend, particularly to anyone wishing to learn more about Aboriginal culture or the history of Australia.
Up another set of stairs, Diamonds and Dinosaurs dazzled on level 2. There were impressive life sized replica dinosaur skeletons, rocks from Mars and the Moon, meteorites, fossils and super sparkly diamonds. For budding geologists detailed explanations were provided about rock formations formed thousands of years ago in Australia.
Back on the ground floor, I took a look around the Discovery Centre, purely in the interest of research. On weekends and school holidays, the centre is filled with enthusiastic children exploring the vast collections of bugs and birds, and solving puzzles.
Creative minds have devised a fantastic assortment of activities to keep young minds amused. From time to time there are themed activities in the centre, for example they recently did Ancient Egypt. Although no such themes were on the day I visited, there was still plenty for young people to do. At a small cost you could also make animal masks or a badge.
And if that wasn't enough at 10.30 and 2.30 you can watch the animal feeding of frogs, snakes and lizards! Again purely for research purposes I observed the feeding of the frogs. The seemingly docile Splendid Tree Frogs became very animated when they saw their mid morning snack of crickets approach. The lady feeding them was friendly and knowledgable and I found out that each frog gets 5 crickets a day.
Frogs having a snack
I completed my visit with a look around the gift shop, which is situated outside across the picturesque museum courtyard. There was a good selection of gifts, toys, books and fossils which I thought were quite reasonably priced. There is also a cafe. I did not sample it's wares on this occasion though from the attention given to the vintage style decor, I imagine it would be full of decadent delights.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the museum. It has something for everyone and is housed in an impressive heritage-listed building. I left feeling restored as though I had pressed pause on the world. A little oasis in the city and a wonderful way to muse away a morning.