Hostel Milligan (Pearl Villa)
Every day, thousands of people pass this old hostel in the city. Few would likely know anything about it, let alone notice it, judging from its rather bland appearance. Boarded up windows, faded paint and certainly nothing remarkable about this building, that stretches far back into the history of Perth.
Built from 1886 to 1930 (Heritage Council, 2013), it appears to have had a colourful history, judging from the few recorded anecdotes. Originally known as Pearl Villa, it was built as a residence by pearler Joseph Clarkson, whose family were amongst the first few settlers in the Swan River colony (Grant & Bell, 2019).
The hostel was added in 1930 and is what we can see today, if we look up as we pass.
Lodgers were forced out in September 2019 (Bell, 2019), to make way for a new $180 million mixed use development. The proposal encompasses a 52-level residential tower, with 359 apartments and a 37-level hotel, containing 406 hotel rooms (Lake,2016). Seventeen months later, the site remains boarded up.
Inside the hostel, the accumulation of furniture was extensive. Like the internal décor and architecture, much of it was borderline vintage, particularly items that was built into the structures. Everything felt old and juxtaposing it with modern life aspects, certainly made me feel out of place.
A few rooms were full of possessions, obviously rummaged through, by what could be assumed as squatters.
An old meth lab was identified by one of my fellow explorers, who’d previously studied clandestine drug labs. Another makeshift lab was later located in an abandoned shop, at the back of the property. It appeared to him that both had been destroyed by someone other than the authorities.
With the amount of clothing hanging on a makeshift clothesline, as well as a collection of potentially stolen bicycles and empty handbags littering a small path in between an exterior section of the hostel, we decided to make this explore a brief one. Just in case some squatters suddenly decided to come home.
Bell. D. 91 and left to sleep in a shed (The Perth Voice Interactive, 2019).
Grant, S., & Bell. D. Hidden Gem (The Perth Voice Interactive, 2019).
Heritage Council. Hostel Milligan, Perth. Government of Western Australia (2013).
Lake. B. Fragrance Group propose their second Perth City development (Off The Plan, 2016).
January 2022 (unedited)