We’ve been hearing a lot about speakeasy-style bars lately, but would venture none take the theme as seriously as Sneaky Tony’s, the new joint from small-bar alum Clint Nolan. Not only is entry through an unmarked door in chaotic Chinatown, you’ll also need a password to get through. Intimidating, right? Don’t worry, anyone with an internet connection can find the password du jour on the bar’s Facebook page, but we’d caution you to watch your cocktail intake before entering – pronouncing some of the code phrases is hard enough sober. Once you’re inside – finally! – expect a saloon-style fit-out, the dimmest lights in town, and rum. Lots of rum. Nick’s Lane, Northbridge.
Beaufort Street bar Dominion League popped up earlier this year, with a brass band brandishing signs encouraging you to ‘Say YES to mischief’. Although their entrance was flashy, their basement is far from it, a subterranean spring that burbles with exotic cocktails after dark. It feels sophisticated, with plush carpeting, velour lounges, and low lighting, but don’t mistake the restrained vibe for stuffiness. Remember their catchphrase? 84 Beaufort Street, Perth.
The Gold Digger
Now, we ain’t sayin’ she a gold digger… Okay, so maybe we are. But unlike that twenty-something with her talons on a credit card, this small bar is here to stay. The hideaway, originally a Fringe World pop-up, lurks next to the Perth Theatre Trust, making it an easy venue to walk on by. Don’t. The vintage mismatched decor, subdued lights and range of board games creates a chilled-out alternative to Northbridge sloppiness on Friday and Saturday nights. The large windows open onto William Street, so you can smugly survey the drunken chaos from the comfort of your antique chair. 176 William Street, Northbridge.
You wouldn’t know it from the outside, but this Northbridge venue is tipped to be the new Bakery (RIP), with its focus on live music and visual arts. In fact, unless you were actively looking for it, you might miss its understated staircase entrance altogether. They’ve taken a 70s gambling den that was left dormant for two decades, and revamped it into a cool lounge that’s as green-lit as a sci-fi set, with a cool DJ set up, leather booths and a live stage.
69 James Street, Northbridge.
The Odd Fellow
If you wander down the side of The Norfolk, a massive graffiti piece of a girl’s face smiles knowingly at you. The subject’s expression probably has something to do with the fact she’s safeguarding the barely lit cave that is The Odd Fellow. The basement of the Norfolk – only available through an outside staircase entry – has brick walls with rough cutaway doors that make you feel like you’ve tunnelled an underground escape route. Behind the bar, towers of spirits glint like ancient artefacts. It’s not just cool to look at though: The Odd Fellow has some of the cheeriest bar staff out, jugs of fruity punch, and stacks of local performances.
9 Norfolk Street, Fremantle.
Think you know Freo like the back of your hand? This laneway is more like a crease on the underside of your finger – you might know where it is, but you’d never think to look. Set behind one of Freo’s historic buildings, down one of the backstreets, and in an alleyway, the spot plays host to pop-up restaurants and bars. With its rustic walls, makeshift wooden furniture and speakeasy-style basement for when the open-air lane gets too frosty, it’s little wonder it’s becoming a go-to for one-off events like EP launches and weddings. Down there, you’ll find killer sangria and maybe even a cheeky Playboy mag. Naughty.
1 Pakenham Street, Fremantle.
We love to stop by Mary Street Bakery when the sun rises, for a coffee and salted caramel doughnut. But we love them equally when the light fades, thanks to new restaurant Mary’s, which pops up after dark, Wednesday through Saturday. From the outside, the place looks shut, so you’ll have sneak through the side, ninja-style. But being stealthy is totally worth it: you’ll be rewarded with Asian fusion deliciousness and a stellar drink list, featuring sake, shochu and soju cocktails, and orange wine. Just when you thought it couldn’t get cooler, there’s a BYO, buy-and-sell vinyl station set up near the usual entrance.
507 Beaufort Street, Highgate.
Jamel’s Pizza at Nell’s Emporium
WA fashion royalty Fenella Peacock – she’s one-third of Antipodium, and designs her eponymous label – owns Nell’s Emporium, a Mosman Park treasure trove. But in the evenings, from Tuesday to Sunday, her husband Jamel takes the place over, turning the courtyard into a wood-fired pizza garden. The prices are reasonable; the service is impeccable. You’ll feel like you’re at a dinner party of an old friend who loves you very, very much. 15 Glyde Street, Mosman Park.
Short Order Burger Co
Some might argue The Mantle is something of a hidden treasure itself, a Fremantle dining co-op in a cavernous warehouse near the train station. But Short Order Burger Co, the Mantle’s newest resident, takes it up another notch, popping up sporadically in a container. All its premium beef burgers are generous and juicy, but the heart-attack-inducing Quad Burger – a whopping four meat patties heaped with equal amounts of cheese – takes the steak. Trust us, it’s worth acquiring a food baby (okay, quadruplets) for. 1 James Street, Fremantle.
For years, Stimulatte has been the go-to for Subi workers seeking caffeination and comfort food with a healthful twist. Now, from 5pm, the place transforms into Tommy Sugo, a fledgling chain that doles out pasta in chic take-out containers. No, that’s not an oxymoron. Whether your tastes skew traditional (extra virgin olive and parmesan; egg linguine) or more exotic (wild mint spelt ravioli; nut-free kale sauce), you’ll relish the speedy service and competitive prices. On a side note, you might’ve spotted the Perth duo behind Tommy Sugo, Nathan Baws and brother-in-law Joel Sneeuwjagt, presenting the idea to entrepreneur reality show Shark Tank. Spoiler alert: they received funding, but not as much as they’d hoped. 361 Hay Street, Subiaco.
Mount Hawthorn dwellers, don’t you dare pick up frozen pizza from IGA. No, go through an alley to the store’s underground carpark instead, where you’ll enter Neighborhood Pizza through wrought-iron gates. Inside, it’s half Brooklyn industrial loft, with concrete floors and exposed beams, and half Southern saloon, with a pool table, American flag, and crooning blues on the radio. You could go here for the atmosphere alone; the delicious artisanal pizza is just the topping. Anvil Lane, Mount Hawthorn.
This Little Piggy
We feasted on the pulled-pork rolls and homemade ice-cream sandwiches all summer long at this cute Southern-Cali-meets-Mexican pop-up joint in North
Freo. They closed up end of May but are set to reopen in a couple of months. Where? Well, it’s a secret…
You’ll have to be connected to score an invite to these chilled-out concerts, strewn across a crop of backyards – pretty much everyone in attendance is involved directly in the Perth music scene. Think a progressive dinner, but with a menu of local musos, not amuse-bouches, as you move from yard to yard. It’s the antithesis of festivals like Stereosonic, where the sole purpose of attending is showing off one’s toned biceps or tiny midriff under trendy clothes. No fake tan or fluoro here, but paisley, beards and rolled-cigarettes are abundant.
The Hidden Sound Concerts
Moonlighting as DJ Steve Aoki isn’t the only way photographer Jarrad Seng likes to surprise us. Using his musical pedigree (he’s been the resident photographer for bands like Passenger), he organised an intimate concert last year with a couple of catches: he gave absolutely no clue who was playing at the concert, or where it would be. Risky, but the proof of how much we love a mystery was in the reception. Just hours after the concert was announced by a Facebook post, the one hundred tickets sold out, and people who were lucky enough to snarf up a ticket (here’s looking at you, ed) still talk wistfully about the beautifully styled Kate Miller-Heidke concert, staged in Freo’s old Myer. Jarrad tells us he has plans for another this year, but is yet to confirm acts. Well, not like he’d tell us anyway.
Wave Rock Weekender
Alarm clocks, bills and deadlines getting you down? Resenting adulthood’s inevitable onset? Get thee to Wave Rock Weekender, an unadvertised boutique festival in September that’s a utopia for adults who want to be children again. Held at Hyden’s impressive Wave Rock, the camping festival has cheap drinks, food trucks, and a surreal vibe: think a rickety old bus converted into a cinema, and a huge salt-lake pool across the way. The line-up is always solid (The Cat Empire headlined last year), but it’s the vibe that makes this festival magical, with a diverse crew breaking it down and tearing holes in your ‘boring adult’ posturing.And hey, the namesake landmark itself is 270 million years old and still knows how to rock. Wave Rock, last weekend in September.
If you can’t make Wave Rock Weekender, the group that organises it – Soul Highway – holds Special Occasions, one-off secret events throughout the year. It might seem a bit much to commit to a ticket when you don’t know the venue or the artist, but trust us, it’s worth it. The acts are electrifying, the drinks are ludicrously well-priced, and the venue and extra touches are designed to make you feel like you’re at the most rockin’ house party ever.
Don’t be offended, Freo, we say this with your best interests at heart: though we love your bohemian roots, heritage architecture, and pockets of pure epic-ness,
we sometimes feel you fall short of your true potential. Thank God for Hidden Treasures, then. Each Thursday in July, the concert series activates underused spaces usually reserved for members – has anyone under the age of ninety entered the Navy Club recently? – with local music acts, so-bad-they’re-good drinks, and sausage rolls (to mop up said drinks.) The elderly staff and endearingly tacky decor remain. Yep, there’s the Freo we know and love.
Fremantle, each Thursday in July.
The Jazz Cellar
This isn’t the kind of place you’re likely to stumble across, unless you like strolling through suburban Mount Hawthorn on a Friday night (yeah, didn’t think so). Actually, even if that was your loitering place of choice, you still don’t stand much of a chance: entry is through an alley, into a red phone box, and down a staircase. Whew! The trek and the $25 entry fee are worth it though, with BYO food and wine, a boppin’ jazz band, and a sardine-packed crowd with people as young as your niece and as old as your grandpa. Corner of Scarborough Beach Road and Buxton Street, Mount Hawthorn.
Okay, we kinda understand why the organisers of Frayed, a club night in Freo, didn’t want to advertise its location (hint: it starts with ‘C’, ends in ‘link’, and is basically a hellhole of iniquity). But the whole secrecy thing has worked well for them. They’ve built up a devoted fanbase of cool Freo locals who love the $5 drink specials and underground vibe. The Clink, every Saturday.
These local youngsters have a quasi-regular party in an underused location. One of their usual suspects is Gilkison’s, a multi-level ballroom dance hall in Northbridge, but they’ve been to known to get… well, weird with their choices. Case in point? The rave last April held in a closing-down KFC. Finger-lickin’ fun.
See Get Weird Facebook page.
Every Saturday, a tribe of indie kids line up at an alleyway behind Beat Nightclub for Canvas, a pulsing club night less ordinary. Be warned, this is not the stop for a sophisticated nightcap – its patrons are frequently, er, messy. A photo booth inside means, with a click of a button, you can immortalise your indiscretions in black-and-white. Just don’t get mad when the proof pops up on Facebook later.
Alleyway behind The Beat, Saturday nights.
The Creatives Long-Table Dinners
Local stylist Stacey Clark has a knack for creating events that are as pretty as a picture. An Instagram picture, to be precise, with artful arrangement and rustic whimsy. No wonder she’s got upwards of 14K followers on her own account. She’s responsible for styling the long-table dinners of Perth networking platform The Creatives, which pop up seasonally in secret locations prettified with fairy lights and low-hanging flora. After seeing the evidence (Instagram, duh) we’re plotting how to muscle our way into the club…See staceyclarkstylist.com/the-creatives.
Secret Cake Club
We’re guessing the Leeds retiree credited with creating the Clandestine Cake Club did so because she wanted to spice – or, er, ice – up her otherwise pedestrian life, but we’re not complaining. Nor are thousands worldwide, who greedily adopted the model in their own hometowns, from New York to the Cayman Islands. It goes like this: each month, members bake cakes according to a theme (like ‘boozy cakes’, or ‘under the sea’) and gather in a secret location to share them. And eat them, of course. The Perth chapter grew tired of the prescriptive rules (only cakes? what about sausage rolls?!) and altered the name (RIP alliteration), but still holds covert cooking seshes every four to six weeks. See secretcakeclubperth.com.
FOR THE KIDS
Though we always hunted for treasure when we were kids, we never actually found anything, except for maybe bottle caps and a Twisties packet, if we were lucky. This GPS-enabled real-life treasure trail changes all that. Download the app on your phone, and follow a set of coordinates to find geocaches (translation: containers) with a logbook and, if you’re lucky, buried treasure by way of trinkets and toys. Good practice is leaving something in place of what you’ve pocketed, so a trip to the $2 shop pre-hunting is advised.
Did the Japanese investors who created this theme park make a self-fulfilling prophecy when they named it? Like its namesake, this fun-park fell out of favour with the gods (or, er, the tourism industry), and languishes with only stone carvings left to remind us it existed. Kids will get a kick of the giant stone King Neptune guarding the place (nice job, mate), while the overgrown parkland reveals exotic plants you won’t find elsewhere in the country. Two Rocks.