Yagan Square, Perth’s sacred heart of the city

Perth’s latest multi-million dollar investment, Yagan Square brings native gardens, interactive digital media, public art and some of the coolest cafés and eateries to Perth’s heart.

Launched in March 2018, the development links the city centre with the eclectic suburb of Northbridge, and is expected to be one of Perth’s most popular spaces for both everyday use and events. If you’re Perth bound, here’s where to eat and be entertained at the city’s hottest new venue.

Once a concrete jungle, the pedestrian friendly area now seamlessly links Northbridge and the Perth CBD. Historically a place of deep significance to the Noongar people, it was once a meeting point, vital food source, and a special women’s area for secret customs and rituals.

The latest incarnation acknowledges its sacred importance at every turn. Named after Noongar warrior leader Yagan; it’s the first large-scale public space to be named after a historic aboriginal figure. Important to both the aboriginal community and Australian History, everywhere you look is a celebration of his culture. From the building’s façade layered to match the Red Tail Black Cockatoo feather of Yagan’s headband, it includes black granite, zinc quartz and other natural elements.

Anticipated to be Perth’s most popular gathering point, the first thing that grabs attention when entering from Roe Street is the presence of the tall sinewy ‘Wirin’ statue, created by Noongar landscape painter Tjyllyungoo. Wirin guards the grass tree lined steps towards the amphitheatre, shaded by a digital canopy, meandering like Lake Goologoolup once did in the early 1800s. On the opposite side, the digital tower is more likely to catch your eye first. Replicating the old water tower on William Street, its 14 prongs represent the bulrushes of the original lake and the 14 dialects of the Noongar people. The digital tower displays visual artworks, live-streamed events and more, even responding to the surrounding environment with weather notifications.

Walk beyond the clearly embossed ‘Market Hall’ sign, to find over 16 food vendors celebrating global, traditional and modern cuisine. Bringing fresh artisanal produce back into the city, there’s everything from Deli’s, casual eating and fine dining. With some venues yet to open their doors, here’s what I found and what I love at Yagan Square:

For a quick and easy feed...

Serving nothing but Poke bowls; a traditional Hawaiian salad bowl with cubed cured salmon, Ahi Poke is a great pit stop for health conscious punters that want fresh food quickly prepared. There’s also a vegetarian option with tofu, for those that don’t eat salmon, tuna, or kingfish. For more traditionally prepared seafood, Fish Boss serve golden battered fish ‘n’ chips, fish burgers and fish tacos. For a more classic diner style burger, Troublemaker Burgers keep theirs simple and wildly affordable, starting at $6.50.

For artisan and boutique...

From the award winning chocolate of Sue Lewis Chocolatier, to the famous combination of honey biscuit and creamy caramel at The Honey Cake, there’s plenty of stalls to grab a taster and something to take home around the Market Hall. Maalinup serve a range of bush tucker inspired jams, sauces and chutneys to echo the flavours of the outback, meanwhile Jersey Jack Gelato experiment with more unusual, but pleasing combinations like matcha and oreo cookies or pandan. Down the way, the Perth Gourmet Trader Deli is a one-stop-shop for all your antipasto board needs, selling cheese, small goods and wine to pair with it.

For dine in and drink 'til late...

Serving Latin American fusion that includes mouth-watering prospects like tempura jalapeno poppers and tequila prawns,  Big El’s also shake up a playful and extensive list of cocktails. Upstairs, The more sophisticated Shoe Bar and Café overlooks Wellington Street and the inside of the Market Hall, offering both your early morning coffee and a cocktail at any time of day, until late. For purveyors of the Japanese grill method Teppanyaki, Hiss & Smoke fry everything from tasty savoury noodle pancakes, butter garlic fried rice and refreshing cocktails like the Lemon Sour Chu-Hi to wash it down.

For public artworks...

The majestic Wirin statue is the tip of the iceberg as far as Noongar artworks surrounding Yagan Square go. Discover the interactive waterline sculpture that bubbles with water on the roof by Jon Tarry, and the story of Noongar woman, Balbuk inscribed on the building’s façade. Walking west towards RAC Arena, discover six cast bronze figures in the Wellington Gardens by local artist Rod Garlett; their striking patterns stemming from painted ceremonial markings found in historical photographs.

The latest additions...

Showcasing Australia’s finest food and wine, Ficus string together farms, fisheries and growers to their new restaurant. Shy John Brewery and Yum Cha joins them to bring you fresh Cantonese dishes, modern dim sum and a roasting house to pair with their craft brewery. Both opening in August 2018. For Indian flavours with a twist, look out for new addition Toast My Curry; and finish off at Lena Lu – with mouthwatering donuts you can’t refuse, oozing with lemon curd, salted caramel, and honey caramel cheesecake.

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