City Organizer: Jane’s Walk Perth
Walk Leader: Jane’s Walk Perth
Text by: Jane’s Walk Perth
Photographs by: Terry Lok
The Meltham neighbourhood is fifteen minutes from downtown Perth. It’s a charming place, full of weatherboard cottages and streets lined with large shady trees. But the area is changing – Perth’s love affair with the car means the small main street is now mostly vacant shops, and the community is at a crossroads on how to encourage more people to live in the area around the railway station, and what these places could look like.
When Jane’s Walk flyers started popping up in letterboxes locals took notice! They called old friends together to join a Saturday stroll through the area’s past, present and future with local resident Nic Temov.
Some call Meltham a “place between places” because it is often overlooked between its two bigger siblings on either side of the old railway line, Maylands and Bayswater. Our Jane’s Walk helped to share the untold stories of Meltham with a wider audience for the first time.
We took on a walkability audit of the Meltham main street with a simple method of observations written onto postcards. The group collected ideas to create an environment that was more comfortable for people to walk around in – streets with generous sidewalks, that protect people from the sun and rain, that have enough eyes on the street from shop windows and that have safe places to cycle.
There are no signs of the original butcher, supermarket or hairdresser, but Nic arranged for some guest appearances from local business owners who bringing life back to the Meltham main street. We met with John Earnshaw, who’s opened a BBQ ribs joint that fills in the evenings with people spilling onto the street. After that we dropped in to visit Johnny Ma, who has converted an old warehouse into a film studio where set designers and catering trucks were rushing around preparing to film a new children’s TV show. Most visitors had no idea there was a functioning film studio in our neighbourhood!
Along the way three generations of neighbours added their own stories of past shopkeepers, hilarious local characters and the things that make the area unique. We talked about some examples of shop-top housing, how to rationalise car parking and opportunities to breathe new life into old industrial buildings nearby.
Jane Jacobs famously said “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” Even if for a few hours, our Jane’s Walk through Meltham showed the power local stories to encourage neighbours to come together and talk about her ideas, and how they could influence a positive future for our area.