They Will Come

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Remember that line from a baseball movie…”Build them a park and they will come.”? Well that appears to be the case with Whiteman Park in the Swan Valley. Derived from some form of legacy left by a brick maker, and probably hedged about by all sorts of state governmental deals, it has proved to be a good venue for all sorts of oddball activities.

I would not be surprised to see it exempted from the land rush and speculative building boom in the area on account of native titles, empire building by government departments, or old quietus deals left from the previous owners. Nor would I be surprised to see it swept away with the stroke of a pen if some mining magnate or overseas industrialist decides to make a private Xanadu out there. Pretty certain that won’t happen because it is not all that spectacular nor prestigious but then you should see what some of the local potentates look like…

Well, apart from this, the place currently hosts an international class shotgun shooting complex,a model airplane flying area, an ecologically friendly bush park, and a sort of a low-grade railway/motor museum/picnic ground/ pleasure park. The shooters and the model airplane people are as snooty and exclusive as the price of their hobbies and government regulation make them but the pleasure grounds are open to all.

Today was the annual classic car show…classic is a large flexible word that can be used to glue nearly anything together. In this case it is about 50 veteran cars, 100 vintage cars, and a great many modern vehicles thrown in to bulk out the dish. It was a murphy’s mixture of cars and food stalls, but as it was free parking and a $ 2 donation, it was well worth the trip.

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As you might imagine, Perth and surrounding towns and cities has a finite number of old cars and enthusiasts, and each year will see repeat showings as people come together. This is not bad – it lets you see something several years running and watch improvements as they are made. And there are new things each year. Unimagined things. Perth hides a hell of a lot of history and treasure in sheds and garages and the country towns are sometimes even better.

The people who attend are similar to the people who exhibit. I am now 68 and can say then next phrase with impunity – the old cars are the province of old car people and frequently they are old car people. I can wear my khakis and flannel shirt and Akubra and vanish into a crowd of people who look like me. And the people are well-behaved toward each other and toward the cars – none of the insect swarm behaviour of Melbourne on Australia Day. Fortunately Whiteman Park also has enough surface area to provide for spacious parking so the photo opportunities can sometimes be easier. You still gotta wait for the grazing herds of gawkers to move through but that is the way anywhere. Go early and get the pics you want.

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And one thing you get at Whiteman Park that you don’t get in Melbourne or Laguna Beach. Roos. As I drove to the Mussel pool car park this Sunday a mob of about 30 bounced across the road in front of me. Not little zoo roos – big bush ones. All the cars on the road stopped to let them through as we wanted to go home with our radiators and windscreens still in place. A reminder for next time I am in the area…

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