Hid­ing in plane sight

Kalamunda Reporter - - Front Page - Lau­ren Pi­lat

WHILE jour­nal­ists thrive on gath­er­ing hard-hit­ting news for the Mid­land Re­porter, it is the quirky sto­ries that brought be­wil­der­ment to the news­room over the years.

From sto­ries about cats, UFO sight­ings, McDon­ald’s icons and a Hol­ly­wood­in­spired sign, we look at just a few of the more quirky sto­ries to come out of the area over the past 40plus years.

As cat videos be­came pop­u­lar on YouTube, sto­ries of weird and won­der­ful fe­line friends were spread among the pages of the Mid­land Re­porter.

Some of the most mem­o­rable were the cat with two faces who was de­liv­ered by a vet­eri­nar­ian in Mid­vale and the mys­tery around sight­ings of big black cats in the Perth Hills.

Cat sto­ries al­ways seemed to ‘have legs’ – a term used in the news­room to de­scribe a story which keeps devel­op­ing as time goes on.

The story about the twofaced kit­ten was re­ported first by then-Com­mu­nity News jour­nal­ist Linda Parri and went vi­ral, with in­ter­na­tional news or­gan­i­sa­tions also sink­ing their claws into the tale of the ar­rival of the unique lit­tle fe­line.

The kit­ten was born at Swan Vet­eri­nar­ian Clinic but un­for­tu­nately later died due to liq­uid on the lungs as a re­sult of its con­gen­i­tal de­for­mity.

As for the big black cat sight­ings, it’s a mys­tery that’s been wrack­ing the brains of count­less Perth Hills res­i­dents and jour­nal­ists for years.

It seems only a small few have ever had the chance to see the elu­sive cats, though ru­mours and sto­ries about people sighting them are not as rare as the crea­tures them­selves.

The most re­cent story the Mid­land Re­porter pub­lished about big black cat sight­ings was by jour­nal­ist Sarah Brookes, who came across Mt He­lena res­i­dent Lisa Speyer’s tale.

Ms Speyer said she saw a “pan­ther” sized cat that “was crouched like a cat and had dis­tinc­tive eyes”.

She said she had never seen anything like it be­fore in more than 40 years of liv­ing in the Hills.

The sighting sparked other res­i­dents to come forward and share their sto­ries about see­ing such crea­tures, with Vaughan King, who grew up in Kala­munda, say­ing the big cats were likely de­scen­dants of es­caped cir­cus an­i­mals or US Navy pets or mas­cots.

Mr King said it was only a mat­ter of time be­fore the pres­ence of big cats in the Hills was proven true.

Un­til then, the Hills big black cat pop­u­la­tion re­mains a mys­tery.

One mys­tery to have come out of the area that was solved this year was the where­abouts of the so­called Fly­ing Ham­burger air­plane that was iconic to Mid­land McDon­ald’s in the 1980s.

The eight-tonne Douglas DC3 out­side the lo­cal McDon­ald’s hosted the coolest chil­dren’s par­ties for about 15 years be­fore it was re­moved and taken to an un­known lo­ca­tion.

That lo­ca­tion was re­vealed in 2018 when Luke Howe re­told how his fam­ily came to own the his­toric plane at his fa­ther’s gar­den in Myalup.

Be­fore it made its way to the Howe fam­ily, the plane was ti­died up for the spot­light when it fea­tured in the ABC tele­vi­sion pro­duc­tion of Shark Net.

It may not have been a Hol­ly­wood pro­duc­tion but the Hills be­came the sub­ject of Tin­sel­town when the Shire of Kala­munda con­sid­ered in­stalling its own ver­sion of the fa­mous Santa Mon­ica Hills sign in its own backyard.

The pro­posal in­cluded hav­ing a Kala­munda sign spelt out in white letters, a ca­ble-car lift and a mu­si­cal road at Zig Zag Scenic Drive in Goose­berry Hill to boost tourism in the area.

Un­for­tu­nately, none of the in­no­va­tive ideas got off the ground.

Al­though this is the fi­nal edi­tion of the Mid­land

Re­porter, quirky sto­ries will con­tinue to come out of the lo­cal area and we’ll con­tinue to cover them in our new for­mat with the ex­panded East­ern Re­porter pa­per and Com­mu­nity News’ on­line com­po­nent.

Pic­ture: Matthew Poon

A kit­ten born at Swan Vet­eri­nar­ian Clinic with two faces.

Mid­land McDon­ald’s iconic air­plane.

Vaughan King, founder of the Aus­tralian Big Cat Re­search Group.

A Hol­ly­wood-style Kala­munda sign pro­posed for the Perth Hills.

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