FAQ

What is this?

I never guess. It is a shocking habit—destructive to the logical faculty.
―Sherlock Holmes, in Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of the Four

WA Detective Trails are self-guided walk trails taking in historical and cultural attractions around Perth city and other locations in greater Perth and the rest of Western Australia. Each trail comes with a fictitious crime to solve and a list of suspects; each stop on the walk trail has you hunting high and low for the solutions to clues which will reveal the name of an innocent suspect or corroborate their alibi, or uncover a missing treasure. The trails are self-guided: you do them at your own convenience.

How does it work?

You know my method. It is founded upon the observation of trifles.
―Sherlock Holmes, in Arthur Conan Doyle, The Bascombe Valley Mystery

Once you have purchased the desired trail, you will receive a link to a printable pdf booklet which includes both a map and written directions to each location on the trail. At each stop, you can read a few interesting facts about the site as well as other relevant information. You will also find a clue which can only be solved by making observations and connections, like true detectives.

Are they suitable for children?

It is the unofficial force—the Baker Street irregulars.
―Sherlock Holmes, in Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of the Four

Absolutely. The walk trails are made with families in mind. They are stroller and wheelchair friendly, and point out kid-friendly attractions (and toilet facilities) at each location. The clues rely on the “observation of trifles”, as Sherlock Holmes would say, so can be solved by keen-eyed children, with adult logic and general knowledge to guide them.

The lower age limit is around age 6-7, depending on the child’s reading confidence, attention span, and stamina, though parents report children as young as 5 joining in successfully with their families. There is no real upper limit – adults report enjoying the trails even without children in tow – but teenagers of a certain age and disposition may be unimpressed.

Are they suitable for dogs?

To a great mind, nothing is little.
―Sherlock Holmes, in Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet

Generally, yes, if they’re on leash and you clean up after them. You might be walking in some crowded city places so they’ll need to be fairly well behaved. Some parks and public spaces don’t allow dogs, so please observe the signs.

How long will it take?

 It is better to learn wisdom late than never to learn it at all.
―Sherlock Holmes, in Arthur Conan Doyle, The Man with the Twisted Lip

Each trail has a minimum of 10 locations with 10 corresponding clues, but the amount of walking will vary. You would generally need at least 2 hours, but I would recommend setting aside more time than that so you have time to explore “off-trail” (and, oh, I don’t know, sit in a park and eat ice cream, why not?).

How hard are the clues to solve?

I cannot live without brain-work. What else is there to live for?
―Sherlock Holmes, in Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of the Four

It varies. Some can be solved just by spotting the suspect’s name hidden at the location, but others might involve anagrams, codes, logic and other little tricks to keep it interesting. They should be challenging without being frustrating. It takes teamwork, attention to detail, and some thinking: just like Watson and Sherlock.

If you get stuck, QR codes hide extra hints (you can download free QR reader apps to your mobile device). And if QR codes are not your thing, a mobile phone number is provided in the booklet so you can SMS an SOS (please see the home page which contains current information about availability of this service).

What is the difference between the Sherlock and Watson difficulty levels?

I think that you know me well enough, Watson…
―Sherlock Holmes, in Arthur Conan Doyle, The Final Problem

Watson category trails have only suspect names to eliminate. They mostly require observation skills, with some anagrams, homophones or other twists. They best suit younger children (aged between 6 – 9). Sherlock category trails include suspect profiles as well, the clues tend to more involved, and some clues will need you to pay attention to the suspect profiles to confirm alibis or other details such as profession to clear them. They best suit older children through to adults.

I’m not from Perth. Will I need local knowledge to solve the clues?

It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.
―Sherlock Holmes, in Arthur Conan Doyle, A Scandal in Bohemia

No. The answers to the clues are based mainly on observation, puzzle solving, and a little general knowledge (such as knowing how a basic A=1 alpha-numero cipher works).

What if we get to a location and the clue has been obliterated or blocked off e.g. by public works

Good old Watson! You are the one fixed point in a changing age.
―Sherlock Holmes, in Arthur Conan Doyle, The Last Bow

I regularly check and update the trails but temporary or permanent changes can occur in any public setting. If there’s a clue that can’t be accessed, you can either use the QR codes to get the answer, or access this clue photo page (the password will be in each booklet as this service becomes available for each trail) to still solve the clue (or SMS the number in the booklet and I will send you a photo of the clue if possible). Please do let me know if there’s an access problem.

Do we have to go inside the site?

You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear.
―Sherlock Holmes, in Arthur Conan Doyle, A Scandal in Bohemia

Unless a building is unoccupied and has free entry and generous opening hours, you never have to go inside (unless you want to). You sometimes have to go into the grounds of an area which is not open 24 hours a day, and this will be noted on the puzzle trail’s page and in the trail introduction. I would recommend reading through the whole booklet beforehand so you can see relevant times and days associated with every location and plan accordingly.

If you’re planning on doing the trail on a public holiday, double check whether the location will be open.

What should we bring with us?

Bring with you a jemmy, a dark lantern, a chisel, and a revolver.
―Sherlock Holmes, in Arthur Conan Doyle, The Bruce Partington Plans

As well as a copy of the booklet, bring whatever you would normally bring on a long walk: sun protection, snacks, water etc. On the page for each puzzle walk, I have listed anything out of the ordinary you might wish to bring, but you should also read through the booklet to check for additional activities you might need to plan for.

How do I purchase the trail of choice?

It has always been my habit to hide none of my methods, either from my friend Watson or from any one who might take an intelligent interest in them.
―Sherlock Holmes, in Arthur Conan Doyle, The Reigate Puzzle

Add the trail to the checkout. You can either choose a download-only option, or a download + print copy option. If you chose the printed option, be sure to add your address in the ‘Special Instructions’ field on the checkout page. After you have paid using our secure third-party payment processor, you will see an instant download link on the page after payment, and will receive an email with the download link and printing instructions (check your Spam folder if it doesn’t arrive). For the printed option, you will also receive a printed trail booklet in the mail. Please allow plenty of time for this option (at least 2 weeks), especially if you live overseas, and check the home page for information about any delays to this service.

Note: if you are buying more than one trail and want them mailed to you, please select the printed option for ONE trail only and the download-only option for the rest; I will mail all of them, but you’ll only have to pay one lot of postage and printing costs.

Do I really have to print the booklet?

There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.
―Sherlock Holmes, in Arthur Conan Doyle, The Bascombe Valley Mystery

No, you can save the pdf to your phone and view it on there; however, it is designed to be printed so it’s not always an easy experience trying to follow it on a small screen, and the QR codes are harder to use. That said, it has been successfully done that way. (Yes, an app is in consideration for the far-distant future…)

How can I give a trail as a gift?

Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis…
―Sherlock Holmes, in Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four

You can order an e-voucher here and enter their name and email and your message under ‘Special Instructions’ on the checkout page. Your recipient will receive an email with a redeemable code that they can use to buy any of the puzzle walks. You can also choose to have the voucher email to yourself so you can print it out and present it in person.

If you have received a voucher, browse the trails and add your choice to the shopping cart as normal. At checkout, enter the voucher code in the field below the cart summary.

Can you do a custom trail around our school or place of business for fundraising or team-building?

I listen to their story, they listen to my comments, and then I pocket my fee.
―Sherlock Holmes, in Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet

Yes, I can, if you live in the Perth metro area or the southwest of Western Australia. Use the contact form to email me, and I’ll get right back to you.

Are the crimes and suspects based on real events?

What you do in this world is a matter of no consequence. The question is what can you make people believe you have done.
―Sherlock Holmes, in Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet

No! Names, businesses, places and events referenced in the suspect profiles and clues are fictional or used in a fictitious setting. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental, unless otherwise noted. There is no intention to cause harm to real people or businesses.