Albany Highway near Victoria Park, Perth
Written by Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey
Artist Abdul-Rahman Abdullah has chosen the street that has changed alongside him since he was a child, mirroring the transformation of Perth over the years.
Albany Highway was one of the earliest roads in Perth, starting as a wagon trail in the 1830s before being laid as a hand-sawn wooden-plank road by convict labour in the 1860s, and replaced with bitumen after the First World War.
Albany Highway starts at Heirisson Island, a wildlife sanctuary with some rare unspoilt wetlands in the middle of the city, where the causeway crosses the Swan River. This is one of the most picturesque parts of Perth, with iconic views of the city from the South Perth foreshore.
Walking through McCallum Park inland towards East Victoria Park, the area is cosmopolitan, with a mix of cafés and assorted little shops and businesses. It offers a wealth of cultural influences and a sense of identity with its strong presence of Asian grocers and restaurants, continental delis and markets, and Italian, Greek, Turkish, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Malay, Indonesian, Chinese, Indian and, more recently, African aspects.
While this stretch of Albany Highway is known for its restaurants, The Good Store has an intriguing assortment of giftware incorporating clever design. At the East Victoria Park end is the beautiful Edward Millen Home, a heritage-listed classic federation-style building that was once a maternity hospital and has been renovated to include a community centre and contemporary art space. The nearby Victoria Park Centre for the Arts is a hive of activity, offering everything from community workshops to critically engaged contemporary exhibitions.
This part of town offers an alternative to the beachside tourist hotspots (as elsewhere); there is a busy, working-class atmosphere that puts you into the heart of Perth life. Restaurants are basic, value-for-money, and serve good authentic food reflecting the multicultural mix of the area. Bravo’s Pizza, with its friendly service and big plates, and Elie’s Tent, a well-established family-run Lebanese restaurant, are preferred choices. The International Eating House is another favourite, popular despite a certain lack of décor, but it reputedly serves the best Chinese BBQ and takeaway teriyaki chicken for under AU$10 in the city.
Abdul grew up in Perth. In 2014 he was awarded an Art and Australia/Credit Suisse Private Banking Contemporary Art Award, selected as a finalist in the Bankwest Art Prize, and received an Australia Council for the Arts JUMP Mentorship with Sydney-based artist Alex Seton.