BEATTY Park Leisure Centre has reached its diamond jubilee 60th year, a little creaky and a little leaky, but still working where it counts with nearly a million people a year coming through the gates.
The centre was purpose-built for the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, and after three days of events it spent most of the late ‘60s and ‘70s as a concert venue hosting bands like The Bee Gees, Deep Purple and Santana.
The building was later handed to Vincent council to take care of and it officially became a leisure centre in 1994.
Vincent’s now hosting a celebration of the diamond jubilee by turning the centre’s caf√© retro with memorabilia and a series of 12 videos from Beatty Park patrons sharing their tales, including a confession from a swimmer who claims they snuck in to use the pool a day before the Commonwealth Games.
November 25 has been set aside to pay homage to the centre’s concert days by bringing back the music with their Sixties Sundowner, and a retro family day on November 26 brings in gogodancers, hula-hoopers and a Kombi photo booth.
Mayor Emma Cole says the centre is “iconic” and “it has gone from hosting athletes, to rock stars, to people from all around Perth who want to keep fit and healthy and who love the sense of community that comes with being a member.
“The 60th anniversary celebrations are a time of reflection and celebration, but it’s also a good time for us to talk about what we want the future of Beatty Park to look like.” It hasn’t been cheap for the council to look after the state heritage site: The council’s spent millions so far keeping it chugging along and just last week had to commit another $278,000 to fix water ingress into the original 1962 grandstand, which has been closed to the public for years due to public safety.
The city’s next step is to try to secure some state or federal government funding to look into refurbing the grandstand’s main entrance so it can be used by the public again.
CONCERT-GOER Larry Wale shared his memories of Beatty Park gigs in the 1970s seeing acts like Suzie Quatro, Free, Manfred Man and Deep Purple: “I remember at one concert the girls were jumping in the water to get to the band,” he said.
“I can’t remember which band it was, whether it was Daddy Cool or Deep Purple, one of those two.
“The acoustics in the actual arena was great and the setup of the stage was good, everyone had good vision.
“It was very exciting to be a part of seeing these overseas acts at the time. Everything was happening, here.”
The Beatty nostalgia series is up at: https://www.beattypark.com.au/about/sixty-years
By DAVID BELL