AS Beatty Park gears up to mark its 60th anniversary in November, the Vincent Local History Centre and Beatty Park kicks off with this celebration of the aquatic centres’ history with a tale of its time as one of Perth’s premiere music venues.
MOST people know Beatty Park was built in 1962 as the major aquatic venue for the VIIth British Empire & Commonwealth Games.
Three days after the Games wrapped up, the pool opened to the public and created many happy memories for generations of Perth swimmers.
Fewer people would know that for a brief period in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Beatty moonlighted as Perth’s go-to concert venue, hosting the likes of Santana, Deep Purple, The Bee Gees and more.
Prior to the opening of the Perth Entertainment Centre in 1974, Beatty Park was one of the few Perth venues that could seat 3000 – 5000 fans eager to see big name international acts, from Roy Orbison to The Jackson Five. Larry Wale is one of the many Perth locals whose fondest memories of Beatty Park is as a concert venue.
“My main memories of Beatty Park are from the concerts coming here in the early ‘70s.
“There were so many acts. One of the first concerts I saw was Suzie Quattro.
“Daddy Cool was another concert we saw along with Free; Manfred Mann’s Earth Band and Deep Purple.
“The crowd just went crazy all singing along. I remember Free doing All Right Now.
“I love that song cause I was a drummer and I just loved the drum beat.
“I remember at one concert the girls were jumping in the water to get to the band – it was either Daddy Cool or Deep Purple.
“The acoustics in the arena were great and the set-up of the stage was good – everybody had good vision. It was very exciting to be a part of seeing these overseas acts.”
The man responsible for bringing many of these international stars to Beatty Park was former radio announcer and concert promoter Paul Gadenne.
“The Beatty Park Aquatic Centre proved to be an excellent concert venue at a time when Perth was without any other venue of suitable size to host some of the world’s biggest names in music,” he said.
“It did at times look spectacular with the image of what was happening on stage being reflected on the water of the main swimming pool adding to the ambience of many a memorable concert.”
While rain occasionally interrupted the open-air concerts, most shows were a huge success.
One of the memorable concerts that Paul was involved in organising at Beatty Park was a performance by Australian folk band The Seekers. In 1968, the band were at the height of popularity having just been named Australians of the Year. On February 9, 1968, the band played two sell-out shows as a fundraiser for the Floreat, Subiaco, Scarborough and City Beach chapter of Lions International.
Larry Wale’s story has been captured as part of the Sixty Years of Beatty Park video story series available at beattypark.com.au/sixtyyears
If anyone has photographs of the show, or of any other concerts at Beatty Park, please share them with the Vincent Local History Centre: (local.history@vincent. wa.gov.au or 9273 6534)