Local couple keeping heritage alive and well in suburban Maylands

MHPA committee members, L-R; Keith Cundale, John McLennan and Sue Cundale
L-R; Keith Cundale, John McLennan and Sue Cundale

Caption: L-R; Keith Cundale, John McLennan and Sue Cundale

Maylands, the riverside, inner-city suburb, is a bit of a mystery. Or at least its name is.

The historical suburb, 4.5 kilometres north east of Perth, got its name in 1896 but where the name ‘Maylands’ came from is uncertain.

Enthusiastic resident, Keith Cundale, says newcomers often know little of the history of their new suburbs. Nor are many long-time locals abreast of changing developments.

Keith, 70, has taken on the role of president of the Maylands Historical and Peninsula Association. His wife, Suzanne, is the association’s treasurer.

Retired human resources and people management specialist, Keith says the historical group puts on regular monthly talks and presentations on topics of interest to residents of Maylands – “or indeed any other people with an interest in matters historical.” 

Keith says Perth people might recall Maylands as home to Perth’s main airport until the early 1960s. The facilities were then converted to a training area for the Western Australian Police Service.

Maylands was also once a source of clay for brick-and-tile making at Maylands Brickworks. The pits are now part of a golf course and residential area. 

The most recent talk by the association’s researcher and head archivist, John McLennan, revealed a story about ‘Protesting Maylands’ from the residents’ anger in the 1990s at the development of the clay pits and the dumping of toxic waste under the future golf course, Keith said.

The iconic Old Peninsula Hotel on Railway Parade will be known to many Perth old-timers who passed it on trains on the Midland line. It now serves, grandly, as venue for the association’s talks (as well being the home for a Dôme eatery). 

Keith said: “We always welcome casual visitors to these talks. We also have an ever-changing range of displays and exhibitions at the Old Police Station on Guildford Road which is open to the public every Wednesday (9.30am to 1.30pm) and on the first Saturday of every month: (10am to 2pm).

The former cop shop provides a distinctive location for storing historical records, for meetings and space for researchers and archivists to work, as well as committee meetings and working sessions.

“We are looking for volunteers with an interest in history, old houses and heritage buildings to play a part in some of our research projects.” 

Community action is an issue for many suburbs and they often lack the spark to encourage greater ongoing participation by residents.

Keith and Suzanne, parents-of-two, have travelled and lived in exotic places including Africa, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand.

“Maylands is a nice little place,” said Keith.

“We don’t need to go to these other places. There’s plenty enough to do in WA; in Perth, in Maylands,” he said.

With its historic buildings, cosmopolitan Maylands was developed during the 1890s and is a suburb under the umbrella of the City of Bayswater (after being covered by the City of Stirling until 1998).

Maylands is bordered by the suburbs of Mount Lawley, East Perth and Bayswater. Maylands railway station provides quick access to the city.

The official word from the council is that: “Maylands is known as a cultural and creative hub as it is home to The West Australian Ballet Centre and home to the WA Youth Jazz Orchestra.

“In recent years, new bars, cafés and restaurants, along with gourmet food and retail outlets have all contributed to an ongoing transformation of the town centre into a lively, diverse and inclusive destination. 

“There are numerous shopping centres in the area, 15 parks and reserves and two primary schools.”

There’s also Tranby House. 

“Tranby (Peninsula Farm), an historic farmer’s cottage overlooking the Swan River opposite Kuljak Island, is one of the oldest surviving buildings from the Swan River Colony.”

Growing in popularity are a series of Maylands walks with more being developed by Keith and his committee.

Details 0402 164 206.