Once fallow farmland, Maylands lay dormant for decades before springing forth as fertile land for a budding café and culture scene – and the odd bit of flirting.
Once a gritty outlier – the domain of dubious pubs, dusty antique shops and alternative music dens – the northeastern suburb of Maylands is proving to be a dark horse in Perth’s increasingly plum property market. Perched on a peninsula, it was home to the city’s international airport until the early 1960s. But in the past decade the area, just 5km from the city proper, has once again become a destination in its own right.
First settled as farmland in the 1890s, Maylands later became a hub for brick and tile manufacturing. Today it is proving to be fertile ground for a budding arts scene. The Western Australian Ballet found a home in an art deco building here in 2012 and the West Australian Youth Jazz Orchestra is slated to move into the former town hall later this year.
These institutions have been drawn in partly by the quirky cafés, boutiques and bars that have sprung up in place of clearance outlets and fallow blocks. The housing stock is also good. There are early 20th-century timber-and-iron workers’ cottages and prewar California bungalows, which sit beside newer, higher-density offerings. The Dwell building is an airy, clean-lined apartment block from architecture firm Klopper & Davis, while Unison is a resort-style complex. Both are emblematic of Maylands’ newly found pull when it comes to creatives and young families.
Resident and public-relations manager Del Baxter has watched as Maylands has morphed from “a place with lots of second-hand shops and some cheap cafés” to a hive of cultural offerings and offbeat dining options. After failing to find a suitable block in the bordering suburb of Inglewood, Baxter turned to Maylands.
The area’s stauncher proponents predicted this long ago. “I’d always had my eye on it,” says Andrew Bennett, a bar owner who bought a federation-era home four years ago. “It’s a real diamond.” He describes 8th Avenue and the perpendicular Whatley Crescent as one of Perth’s most exciting strips, with bakery Sherbet, the quaint Mrs S café and the old-timey Swallow Bar. On weekends you’ll spot residents – 70 per cent of whom are single, apparently – cycling towards Swan River for leisurely breakfasts (and the batting of eyelids).
Despite the buzz of new openings, Maylands retains a rough-edged, down-to-earth feel that faster growth may have eliminated. Change may be coming but the older residents haven’t been priced out. The variety attracted entrepreneur Steve Lavell back to his childhood home after a seven-year stint in Melbourne. “There’s this wonderful melting pot,” he says, before telling us about Henry on Eight and Kings Above: a café, bar and arts venue he dreamed up and will open in spring. “I don’t want to wish away the years but I just can’t wait to see where Maylands will be in a few more.”
Maylands’ property prices are inching up but still affordable, with median prices 35 per cent less than nearby Mount Lawley and Inglewood. Inner-city homes can be inexpensive, particularly as the Western Australia market is stalling.
Three-bed house: AU$630,000 (€305,000)
Four-bed house: AU$1.03m (€495,000)
Squires Real Estate
161 (0)8 9437 1000
stay: Maylands Cottage: Maylands has private spots like this cosy Edwardian cottage.
60 Crawford Road
shop: Hampshire on 8th: As well as the usual suspects, this butcher hawks choice cuts of kangaroo and quail.
88 Eighth Avenue
shop: Vintage Emporium: This shop brims with retro and mid-century homeware.
216 Whatley Crescent
eat & drink: Mrs S: This charming café is filled with mismatched furniture and homey food such as cornbread and rosewater sweets.
178 Whatley Crescent
eat & drink: Chapels on Whatley: More than 50 types of tea – and Asian antiques.
196 Whatley Crescent
eat & drink: Nash & Co: A lo-fi café in a federation-era house.
200 Whatley Crescent
eat & drink: Swallow Bar: Watch jazz bands from the booths in this old-fashioned bar.
198 Whatley Crescent