Getting it on at Maccas


Buy Em By The Bag. We dare you.

As you probably know, the good citizens of Guildford are rejoicing over having fought off plans for a 24-hour Maccas to be built at the back of the Guildford Hotel. Even the local MLA, Michelle Roberts, is against any new fast food outlets in the town.

One of the reasons given for opposing the chain was that it was too close to a primary school. In other words, “Won’t somebody think of the children?” But this is far from a novel complaint about hamburger bars.

Although the media had regularly written accounts of how exciting Americans found them, the first burger bars seem to have arrived in WA only during World War II. And, just like the proposed Maccas, these were all-night joints. Which some sections of society found problematic.

In 1943, the head of the Salvation Army demanded that Perth should ensure all burger bars were closed at midnight, or society would be destroyed. How? you might ask. Well, they are “places of temptation”. And not just a temptation to supersize your order, oh no, temptation between the sexes.

You see, burger bars had become pick-up joints. (For young people: a pick-up joint is like Tinder, but without the need to register your email address.) “Perth has held such a fine place in moral standards that it ought to be the vital concern of every citizen to keep it in that position,” thundered the Salvation Army’s commissioner.

And he was not alone. The Women’s Service Guild wanted early closing on hamburgers, as did the Children’s Court magistrate and the Child Welfare Secretary.

Won’t somebody think of the children?

We suspect that the problem with burger bars was they were simply too American for the taste of Perth’s leading citizens. What was more likely to corrupt young minds than being exposed to Yankee food?

Anyway, Guildford has managed to protect young people (at least for the moment) from both the pleasures of a thick shake and the pleasures of the flesh. So we salute them.

Where was Perth’s first gym?

Feel the burn

Feel the burn

There is, apparently, anger at the news ECU is thinking of privatising its gyms. All the users will get in exchange is better opening hours and increased investment in the equipment. Outrageous!

But this does lead to the historical question: where was WA’s first gym? It’s not an easy question to answer, since it depends on what you mean by gymnasium. The school at Fremantle had the first equipment, but it wasn’t open to the public.

In which case, we nominate Stirling Square at Guildford. Some wooden gear, painted white, was erected there around 1885. This was organised by future MLC and local businessman, James Morrison, who was worried about the local larrikins and wanted to give them something energetic to do.


Named after James ‘Young Brides’ Stirling

The following year, Wellington Square got Perth’s first outdoor fitness centre. There was a trapeze, a horizontal bar—one for adults and one for kids— rings and a climbing pole. While it was popular, residents complained the unpainted wood made it look half finished.


Then known as the Recreation Ground

A commercial gym was established in 1887 by William Rosevear at the back of his ironmongers in William Street, right where the entrance to the Bankwest Tower now sits. The club taught self-defence, and had a horizontal bar, free weights and other equipment.

The 1880s saw an obsession with gyms because of the rotten kids. Boys were standing on street corners, smoking and swearing, while the girls were walking the streets looking for a quickie. The solution, known as Muscular Christianity, believed that anaerobic exercise resulted in more spiritual souls.

As the Dodgy Perth staff can testify. After a good gym session we are in no state to smoke, swear or seek one night stands. Muscular Christianity works.

How to keep the Guildford Hotel open

Back in the day before it met with an unfortunate accident

Back in the day before it met with an unfortunate accident

As the Guildford Hotel controversy still rumbles on in the background, Dodgy Perth looks back to a time when the scandal took place inside the building. And it was all revealed by accident.

In 1927, Bassendean residents were clamouring for a hotel of their own, since the suburb still didn’t have one. A few locals opposed the idea. They had only moved to Bassendean, they said, so they could keep their daughters away from the evil drinking types.

In the licensing court, James Wilkinson was giving evidence about why Bassendean needed a hotel. The accommodation would benefit his FIFOs, he said, and sporting groups needed somewhere to meet. The bench was sceptical. How useful would a hotel be for sporting groups, when it would have to close at 9pm each night? Surely that would be a little early for committee meetings?

Don’t worry about that, blurted out James. All we have to do is pay the landlord £1 each for a special license and we can keep drinking until 11pm. We do it all the time at the Guildford Hotel. Suddenly, the proceedings fell silent.

“The police will be interested,” quietly observed one official. At this point, James probably realised he’d dropped the hotel’s landlord right in it.

So remember, when the Guildford reopens, £1 buys you a two-hour extension to closing time, otherwise they’re not being true to their heritage.

Last orders at the old Olde Narry

Ye Olde Narrogin Inne

Ye Olde Narrogin Inne

When Ye Olde Narrogin Inne was bulldozed there were, of course, complaints from a few heritage-minded people. Although everyone agreed the original pub was somewhat decrepit, its romantic links back to coaching days had long made it a favourite of travellers.

To commemorate Western Australia’s centenary, a tablet was unveiled at the Inne, noting that it first opened in 1857 and the first licensee was Thomas Saw.

Yet in 1937, just eight years after this heritage recognition, the licensing authority condemned the hotel as being unfit for conducting business. Improving the old building wasn’t viable, so it had to be demolished. There’s not a lot of romantic souls working at liquor licensing.

The New Olde Narrogin Inne was very different to the unpretentious single-storey edifice it replaced. Although it is hard to imagine it today, the pub was in the latest fashionable style, Mock Tudor.

In fact the owners kept stressing how modern the Inne now was. No more grime and dust, just contemporary furniture resting on contemporary carpets. For some reason they were obsessed with how cool (and expensive) their carpets were. They also encouraged drinkers to finger the new furnishings. Which is just wrong in all the ways.

Anyway, this most modern of hotels is now heritage listed. And no one mourns the loss of the original Inne. No one

Now what makes me think of Guildford?