Ben Elton – My WA Top Ten!
Based in Perth’s bohemian neighbouring port of Fremantle, Ben Elton has spent 30 years exploring the wonders of WA.
To celebrate the release of the WA-based film Three Summers by Perth local and internationally renowned writer Ben Elton, we asked for his Western Australia ten of the best!
It’s my home and I’ve known and loved it for thirty years. The pubs, the cafes, the beaches and the general vibe. Little Creatures Brewery is of course world famous and there’s a great music venue called Mojo’s in North Fremantle where I live, which has three or four bands every night. I love that. Just knowing there’s live music near by. In fact North Freo has really, really blossomed recently with great new restaurants like Habituè and Bib and Tucker up the road at wonderful Leighton Beach.
I mean come on? Sun, surf, fine wine, great food, fabulous bush? What is not to love? Again I’ve been visiting Marg’s for thirty years, in fact my then girlfriend (now wife) and I caravanned there in 1987 on our first trip South together. The Caravan Park at Prevelly is still there with the same little shop and the same incredible surf (not that I do anything but splash about in it). The wine in the region is of course superb and there is nothing better than a long lazy lunch at one of the many brilliant wineries. We are so lucky to have a little holiday place in this incredible region, Sophie and I bought it in 1994 the year we got married and we’ve had such great family holidays over the years. When I was making Three Summers last year in Pinjarra both Rebecca Breeds and Rob Sheehan (my leading lady and man) took weekends off there and they too fell in love with Margaret River. Everybody does.
The Fairbridge Folk Festival.
This is a lovely little weekend festival that takes place once a year in the lush hills near Pinjarra. It’s what I based my movie Three Summers on. Why not check it out? Take your tent, enjoy a shed load of music and spend an hour deciding between Turkish and Indian street food. Or do what I like to do, sit in the beer tent and watch the world go by, that’s where I dreamt up the characters for Three Summers. Next year I think I’ll take my bike and do a day exploring the surrounding region too.
It’s quite a long way south but OMG it’s worth it. I went down because my Brother and Sister in Law live down there but you don’t need a local rello to enjoy this great town in an amazing region. It’s half old style country farming and half arty-crafty creative which is a great mix. Check out the Greens Pool Swim, which is one of the most beautiful and dramatic natural coastal swimming areas in the world. Spectacular rocks shelter a vast lagoon. See if you’ve got the guts to jump off one into the pristine depths.
El Questro Wilderness Park
El Questro Wilderness Park. The Kimberley. This is one of the most beautiful resorts in the world. Wonderful red rock walks with sparkling swimming holes and waterfalls to explore. They have a camping area but I admit that Sophie and I did it posh (twice) staying in the secluded five star luxury of the Lodge. For dinner they set you out your own table, far away on the edge of a precipice with a vast view sweeping away beneath you. That is one memorable place for a Sundowner.
The Black Swan Theatre Company
Perth has really blossomed in the last few years. It’s taken a while after unscrupulous and to my mind criminal developers tore the soul out of the beautiful colonial city in the 70’s and 80’s. But thank goodness that era is over and we now see great bars and restaurants returning. And centre to all this is the amazing arts area next to the main station (still a lovely building). There’s the museum and the Art Gallery and for me best of all the Black Swan Theatre which is our State Theatre. We have the amazing new Heath Ledger auditorium and also the wonderful fringe Blue Room next door. There’s an amazing theatre arts community in Perth (just check out the WA acting talent in Three Summers) and a trip to The Black Swan is always a treat. Or just stroll around the arts precinct, grab a drink and look at a sculpture.
Speaking of theatre arts did you know we have one of the greatest theatre arts schools in the world at the Edith Cowan University. The West Australian Academy of Performing Arts is world-renowned in all areas but particularly for its musical theatre school. I am kind of an occasional patron there and when I’ve been casting my musical We Will Rock You world wide it’s amazing how many times we cast WAAPA talent. There are also three WAAPA graduates in Three Summers. They also have a fantastic and innovative Aboriginal theatre program which one of the young actors in Three Summers has now been accepted on to.
Karijini National Park
This is about as magical a holiday as you can get. Wonderful walks to stunning secluded pools beneath cascading waterfalls. My wife and I have done the trip for a romantic getaway and also with the children for a fun family break. It’s a long way but so worth it.
I love hill walking so I really recommend a trip to this lovely mountain range. You can do it easy which my wife prefers or hard which I admit is more my style. I like to really test myself with a long walk or hill run so feel I’ve earned a beautiful feed in the evening.
I’ve never been that much of a beach person. At least I’m not interested in lying on them, I’m happy to run along them though and go for a swim. But Broome is different. Broome really makes you want to chill. There’s such a peaceful and relaxing vibe and of course the beaches are stunning. Even I’m happy to grab a book and do very little. As long as there’s a cold beer on hand to go with it.