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We're an American family living in Australia, where everything seems a little bit turned-upside-down.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Discovering Fire & Emergncy Safety in Perth at the Education and Heritage Centre Fire Station

The kids and I love venturing into Perth CBD to discover new things, so when we heard about The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) Education and Heritage Centre for children and families, we were excited to check it out.

Parking is never easy in the city, so we rode the train in and caught the Red Cat to the Royal Perth Hospital stop.  My youngest son loves riding the train and the bus, so this in itself was part of the adventure!  The Education and Heritage Centre is located near Royal Perth Hospital on the corner of Murray and Irwin Streets.

The FESA is nestled right across the street from another heritage spot in Perth.  This part of the city is rich in culture, and the tree lined street has a sort of charm from years past.

We entered the center and were immediately drawn to the old time fire engines and heritage displays showing the progress of fire fighting through the years. I especially appreciated this part of the museum... looking at old leather fire hoses, firefighter uniforms, and equipment.

The heritage center is an actual fire station from the past.  The old engines are parked in the firehouse garage. It was fun showing the kids how the firefighters used to slide down the pole from the second story to race into their gear and onto the truck.

In the back corner of the fire station, there was a mirror and box of dress up for the kids.  They could become firefighters themselves by dressing in hats and big yellow jackets!  Even my thirteen year old got into the the dress up fun!

Upstairs in the heritage center was a whole floor of interactive safety exhibits with hands on demonstrations and models.

After climbing the stairs, you will see a section with computer kiosks and information pamphlets about possible disasters and their safety procedures. But it was the next room that got my 4 year old son's attention. It had child sized tables and chairs, puzzles, coloring in sheets, crayons, and loads of books to read about fire safety.

The last room brought us through several modules about emergency situations and safety.  Including: water/marine safety, fire safety, safety in the bush/wilderness, earthquakes, hurricanes, and mountain terrain safety.  The categories all relate to Wind, Earth, Water, & Fire.


What we liked best about the heritage center was the hands on aspect.  It was a museum where discovering and learning through touch and interaction was encouraged.  The best part of all... the whole experience was FREE!


The Education and Heritage Centre is open 10 am - 4pm Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday, and admission is free.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Visiting the New Orangutan Boardwalk at the Perth Zoo

The kids and I went to Jungle School today at the Perth Zoo.  We wanted to check out the all new Orangutan Boardwalk that officially opened April 13, 2014.

Jungle School was an interactive experience that taught us what it takes for an orangutan to be released back into the wild.

Here are the Five things an Orangutan must learn at Jungle School:

  • Stay in the Trees (arborealism)
  • Getting Along (socialization)
  • Find Food & Water (foraging)
  • Know Your Neighborhood (orientation)
  • Make a Nest (nesting skills)
According to the Perth Zoo website, a number of the young orangutans from the zoo will potentially be released into the Sumatran jungle one day... so Jungle School is a real necessity for them!

While exploring the new exhibit, my kids were able to go inside replica's of the orangutans tower-top pods, climb ropes similar to the primates, and measure up their hands and feet in comparison to the orangutans.
  • Here is a list of the exciting new features:
  • Replicas of the tower-top pods
  • Binoculars for zooming in on the 12 orangutans that inhabit the Perth Zoo
  • Observation Stations with visitor-controlled CCTV to get a closer look
  • A broken down Jeep that children can climb on and explore at the entrance of the exhibit
  • Interactive play stations for children to explore and pose for photographs!

It was also interesting to learn that Palm Oil is the big reason the orangutans are rapidly becoming extinct in the wild, and that the orangutan's rainforest habitat is in grave danger.

Keeping rainforest conservation in mind, the new Jungle School exhibit and habitat was made with recycled material including recycled plastic and even the jarrah wood that the previous orangutan display was made from.

The $3.6 million project features misting, sounds, and over 2000 new plants to reflect the smells, sights, and sounds of the rainforest.

We had a great time observing the orangutans in their new exhibit.  They were quite active playing, swinging and climbing.  The baby orangutans were especially fun to watch!  They stayed close to their mother's and followed their every move.  It was easy to fall in love with these little hairy primates!