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 Hollywood-inspired sign, we look at just a few of the more quirky stories to come out of the area over the past 40-plus 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 two- faced 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 so-called 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.