...we rarely travel far to swim. We occasionally cross the river to Leighton or Cottesloe, where the white sand squeaks underfoot and the champagne foam in the shallows tingles the legs and fizzes over the shoreline and makes children giddy with delight. Mid-morning, before the sun passes overhead and shears off the ocean, the cirrus clouds above the horizon often resemble passages of perfect cursive script written in soft white lines against the bluest page. This is the picture of a Perth in harmony with the stillness and space and silence that is its truest personality, the only prick of drama being the spotter plane of the shark patrol crawling over the sky.
David Whish-Wilson's Perth - the river, the coast, the plain and the light - is a place where deeper historical currents are never far beneath the surface and cannot be ignored. Like the Swan River that can flow in two directions at once, with the fresh water flowing seawards above the salty water flowing in beneath, Perth strikes perfect harmony with the city's contradictions and eccentricities.
Whish-Wilson takes us beyond the near-constant sunshine, shiny glass facades, and boosterish talk of mining booms and the gloom after the bust. Lyrical and sensitive, Whish-Wilson introduces his readers to the richness of the natural world and the trailblazers, the rebels, the occasional ghost and the ordinary people that bring Australia's remotest capital city to life. He reminds us that while the city's boundaries are porous as people come and go, rates of Indigenous incarceration are high.
Carefully researched and full of personal reminiscences - including many about fishing - and eye-opening facts, Perth now has a remarkable new Postscript. Here Whish-Wilson returns to the city's ghosts - some human, others the ancient jarrah trees, wildflowers and wild birds that once flourished but no longer. And, as he walks across the new Matagarup Bridge to watch the footy he reflects on the city his children will inherit.