The Mystery Church of Garratt Road

by Purple Wyrm on December 27, 2018

As I am sure has escaped no one’s notice I am a bit of a nerd. A lot of a nerd to be honest. And given that two of the way ways said nerdery manifests are as a love of maps and a love of history, it should surprise no one that I know a bit more about both the geography and history of my suburb than the average punter staggering out of the Bayswater station Cellarbrations of a Friday night. As such I was quite intrigued of late to stumble over a strange and tantalising local history mystery…

In the run up to Christmas developed a most lamentable and lazy habit of getting the bus home from work rather than getting some exercise in by catching the train and walking from the station. There are several buses that I can catch, the 48 and 55 for instance will drop me right outside my door. The 950 will get me to Morley where I can swap to a 48 or 998, or I could even get the 998 directly from work if I’m happy to spend an extra hour looping around the far side of Herdsmans Lake. If I was feeling particularly insane I could even get the 999 and spend three hours taking in Fremantle and the desolate land of wind and ghosts (AKA south of the river) before returning home. But the bus relevant to this particular mystery is the 41.

The 41 bus behaves like a decent, ordinary 48 or 55 for most of its route before recklessly and without warning veering off into the wild lands between Guildford Road and the river at Maylands. It wanders back and forth through the tangle of suburban streets, emerges briefly back into the light of day at Garratt Road, then plunges back into the wilderness before finally coming to rest only a few blocks from my domicile. If the weather is behaving it’s quite a pleasant walk, taking in both historic Halliday House and the day care centre constructed on top of a PCB dump (if the crazed photocopy stuck up on the IGA noticeboard a few years back is to be believed).

It was at the turn off from Garratt Road a few weeks back that the mystery began. Looking up from my novel I spotted something extremely curious in the distance. It looked for all the world like a church!

Now, I know the local churches. There’s the Catholics at the top of the hill, the Romanian Baptists at the bottom of the hill, the Anglicans halfway down the hill on the other side, the – well I don’t know what it was originally but nowdays it’s the Sikh Gurudwara just a block along from the Anglicans, the Russian Orthodox by the railway line, the Buddhists near the McDonalds, the Ukrainian Orthodox just near the Buddhists and even the Happy Clappys up at the old council offices. But an ecclesiastical building between Guildford Road and the river?!  I’d never heard of such a thing!

So, it was time for research! By which I mean jumping onto Google Earth and zooming around the area looking for a suitably religious looking rooftop. It was hard going. I thought I had it briefly but it turned out my sense of scale was off and I was looking at someone’s garage. A good ten minutes of scrolling and jumping in and out of street view left me baffled. Where was this mystery church? Was it a mirage? Was it a hallucination? Was it an illusion created by Ozzy Osbourne? (He does that more than you’d think). I just could not find it!

So I went back to first principals. I dropped back into street view at the Garratt Road turn off and sighted along the line I remembered for the mysterious building. Then I jumped back into satellite view and traced the line forwards…

And it turned out I’d done goofed up.

I had assumed – as I so often do with street grids – that the street grid around Garratt Road was regular. It is not. The street I sited the punitive church down was not parallel to Guildford Road, but was angled to converge at it. To converge in fact dead on the Romanian Baptists. The mystery church that puzzled me so much was an already known church seen from an unexpected angle. Boy was my face red!

So, what is the moral of this lurid tale? I’m not sure there is one. I’m sure I could spin something together about being prepared for unexpected viewpoints and the destination being the starting point, but I’m a web developer, not a self help guru. Just take this as another pointless interlude in my pointless, carefree life.

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