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We arrived in Perth on a sunday. I could have kicked myself because as we have learned previously, it’s not a good day to travel. We had to get a bus from the airport, walk a bit through town (always fun with the heavy backpacks) and then pick up another bus at the bus station. However, it was sunday so the normally every half hour buses were running at over an hour between them, so our journey from the airport ending up taking a depressing 3 hours. Add to that, we were staying out in the suburbs and we realised that the sunday buses back out of the city stopped at 7.30pm. Hmm.
Anyway, we got to our accommodation and were blown away by the luxury. Another airbnb triumph I must say. Airbnb wasn’t very prevalent in Perth as apposed to the other cities we’d been to and was also generally pretty pricey because of that, but as it was our last stop in the western world, we decided to go for somewhere a little pricier than we’d hoped and in fact the place we stayed was pretty much the same price as the hostels anyway. It was a brand new build home and our bit was the upstairs with our own lounge (TV!), bedroom and bathroom. It was all rather lovely, as were our hosts. Once again, we’d got lucky. They’d also decked out the lounge with some old radios, record players and musical instruments, which we loved. There was an old organ which was one of those ones that they used to play in the cinema and at shows. Mark had a go on that which sounded pretty cool. He also got to go on Peter’s rather lovely guitar which he was very excited about and they even had a little jamming session.
That first evening wasn’t great as we headed to the CBD to get something to eat only to find that nearly everything was shut. We ended up in an Irish bar which would normally be a simple and easy solution for cheap beer and food but wowsers (yes I did say wowsers – saves me swearing online) Perth was up there with Brisbane in the expensive stakes. But we didn’t have much choice. We hadn’t gotten the measure of Perth or where everything was and we were tired from our travelling so we accepted the scarily expensive option and then caught a taxi home with a lovely African guy who’d lived in Australia for 5 years. He was a sweetheart and gave us some good tips on where to go.
The next morning we awoke to a beautiful, gorgeous day (had I forgotten to mention – we’d finally hit jackpot and were having the kind of weather that you imagine in Australia). We also had a delightful breakfast spread laid on by our hosts and had a leisurely breakfast sitting on our sofa watching TV. Oh that did feel a treat. But Perth beckoned and we headed off to the beach.
We had had another bit of luck by heading to Perth earlier than intended (about a month early in fact). There had been something on in Bondi, somewhere in Queensland and now in Perth (with the day we were going, being the last day), called Sculpture on the Beach. When we’d seen this back in the UK we had really wanted to go but the dates and places had never worked out. But it did, on that gorgeous sunny day in Perth and it was so worth it.
Cottesloe Beach is totally stunning. It’s the one thing everyone said to us about Perth – the beaches are amazing – and it is so true. The weather was glorious, hot and sunny with a bit of a breeze to keep the edge off. I was even wearing the hat that I had looked long and hard for, only to find after I bought, I never needed due to lack of sunshine.
It would have been a great enough day just going to the beach but the addition of the sculptures was just fantastic. I adore sculptures – the bigger the better and if anyone remembers the dismal, disappointing trek out to a sculpture event in Auckland we had endured, this felt like payback for our suffering. There was some incredible work there.
The thing that I found a bit mind bending, being at the beach, is that it was the Indian Ocean.
That seemed just downright odd. I have only seen the Indian Ocean once in my life – at the bottom cape bit of South Africa, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Indian Ocean and you can see the join.
I can’t believe that that ocean comes all the way over to the edge of Australia. I mean, that is BIG!
Geography dunce Mark, just rolled his eyes as I kept repeating that I couldn’t believe that it was the Indian Ocean as we trekked up through Cottesloe to the train station.
Cottesloe we discovered is a rather lovely place in itself. And judging by the properties – a much desired and expensive place to live. Mark decided that when he made his millions he would very much like to live there.
We caught the train to Freemantle, less than half an hour away. I’d not been blown away by Perth up to now. I mean it’s very lovely and nice and all those positive things that people say when they tell you about Perth but it didn’t seem to have a whole lot going on. Freemantle, I had heard had a much more quirky, eclectic vibe and almost as soon as we stepped out of the train station I liked it. It was possibly because it, being the original main port that the whole world and it’s goods came into, was full of characterful old buildings. I don’t think buildings have to be old to have character, but it does help. It also had quite and arty vibe to it and had some cool restaurants and bars scattered about.
We had a quick drink in a place that was also it’s own brewery and although he didn’t go for it, Mark did eye the tasting menu they had for the beer. On our wandering, we first stumbled across a photography exhibition that was part of the university I think and was really amazing and then at the beach itself we found somewhere to eat that didn’t totally break the bank and had some fish and chips.
It is a bit sad, but I really liked the road name signs which were done in a kind of old fashioned serif font (oh i do like a nice font!).
Something that tickled us on the way back to the station was this van we came across for a business selling roadkill jerky. Why not indeed! But I think my favourite bit was the strap line to ‘bloody’ try some.
The next day we had lots of dull practical things to do. Mark had to get some medication sorted out (what’s that you say? Hadn’t he left that rather until the last minute? Well it’s not for me to judge…!!??!) and we had to just get some odds and sods for bali like strong mozzie spray etc.
Mark went ahead into town and I met him much later, having missed the bus and somehow hailed a taxi in the suburbs where there’s barely any cars let alone taxis. Another delightful guy, from Somalia who has lived in Australia for 20 years but has been all over the world. He made me laugh with his description of London being like a zoo, it having every species (i.e. nationality) there. I said I didn’t think I’d ever seen an Eskimo there though. It didn’t matter that I was so late getting into town as Marks stuff took forever anyhow.
We had a bit of a potter around the cbd.
Mark went kangaroo riding.
Once we met we headed to Northbridge, a small suburb just north of the bus and railway station which was meant to be a bit more buzzing and house the best bars and restaurants. It was also home to the cities contemporary gallery which I was hoping to go to (we’d been unfortunate so far in Australia – the Sydney contemporary art gallery was shut and other places had either been closed or inaccessible). I’d intended to go early, on my own, rather than have Mark following me around going ‘meh’ or ‘but is it art?’ to the point that after throwing many a dirty look his way, I usually have to get violent. But luckily, the main exhibition covering the building was photography so he could appreciate and enjoy as much as me (with only the occasional ‘i could have done that’ comment).
We then had a bit of a walk about the neighbourhood. The area also doubled as a kind of china town so that was looking hopeful for some dinner before heading home later.
We had a quick drink in an English pub – yes I know, I wasn’t thrilled, but Mark had seen a sign that offered super cheap drinks but that turned out to be only on a Thursday or something. And it had a nice area to sit outside and we hadn’t actually eaten or drunk outside that much in Australia due to the dire weather so that felt nice and holidayish.
They certainly had the fanciest Dominoes pizza I’ve ever seeen.
We then stumbled across a place called Pot Black which was a snooker hall. Now usually you get a pool hall with the odd snooker table in it but this was the other way around. I think it’s because this was in an asian neighbourhood and snooker is really popular in asia – not just with pie eaters and nans like in the UK. The reason I’m even talking about, for those of you who don’t know, and I’m thinking that’s probably many of you as I do try to keep this a secret – Mark loves snooker. He’s played it since he was a teenager. I know, cool wasn’t he? This is the point where I normally cough ‘loser’ into my hand, but to be honest, I’ve just given up and much like his love of magic, have accepted it as a part of him. I suppose it’s better than football which is on all the time, at least with snooker it’s on TV a few times a year (although the matches last for about 20 hours so it’s a bit much). Anyway, imagine Marks excitement bless him, so seeing that they at least served alcohol to dull some of my pain, I agreed that we could go in for a game. It was a funny old place. Massive, painted in deep red, full of Vietnamese teenagers, with lots of rock n roll and movie posters on the walls. Although the inclusion of a Justin Bieber poster and a So Solid Crew one was a tad peculiar. The real bonus for me was that they were playing some fantastic hip hop videos the whole time. So while Mark marched around the table doing his thing, I could sit back with a glass of wine and listen to some great TUUUNES! and watch some cool videos. It did go a little awry later in the evening, I think a new shift of staff came in and the music got a little off what I had been enjoying. There was some girl rapper with the somewhat odd lyric of ‘I got the swag and it’s puffing out my ovary’. REALLY LADIES?
And I did actually ‘play’ snooker against Mark. Obviously I was worried but I gave it a go. It’s actually a bit more enjoyable than pool I thought. That’s probably because pool is so quick, my defeats are so rapid that I fail to see the point. My biggest problem though (apart from the fact it is snooker and they wear waistcoats and stuff) was the fact that the table is massive so I needed one of those long sticks with a cross on the end, A LOT in order to have a chance with shots – I’m just too short!! After our game, Mark then just did some practising, clearing type stuff while I sat happily, bopping away to myself. Now I’m sure Mark won’t mind me telling you this (umm, tough if he does) but he decided he wanted a video of himself clearing the colours (if you want to know the colours – please refer to the 1980s Chas n Dave hit – Snooker Loopy). So I sat there with the camera lined up with the table while he made, several, or rather, lots, of attempts until he finally did so he can pretend on his youtube video that he did it first time. Like I said *coughs* loser!
We ended the night with a couple of drinks at the famous (apparently) Brass Monkeys hotel. I can’t imagine that it ever gets brass monkeys (for those not in the cold, that is old english for bloody cold – I’ve no idea why) in Perth. Finished with a chinese meal and a chat with another friendly cab driver on the way home who suggested we go to all the places in Bali that we are definitely intending to avoid, bless him!
That was pretty much it for our Perth adventure. It was gutting to be there such a short time, particularly as we finally had such glorious sunshine. I’d wanted to hire a car and drive down to see more of the area south and south east of Perth, including going to the huge trees where you can walk in the canopies, known as the Valley of the Giants. But having found it to be incredibly expensive, I realised that we really did need to get the hell out of Australia or we would be back home within a couple of months. Mark, unsurprisingly, would like to live in Perth! He was seduced by the climate and beaches. I really liked Peth. I wasn’t sure at first and I do think it’s a place that is more about living in the suburbs and needing a car. That said, public transport was good (apart from on a sunday) and the cheapest we have used so far.
The houses in the suburbs do have more character than you would think because they are all different – so you don’t just have row after row of the same thing. And you do have some interesting, characterful places like Fremantle and Northbridge, but they are both pretty small. I so wish we’d had more time to spend here, I really am not quite sure what I think of it quite yet. It seemed to be a place full of contradictions. Like I say, it feels like you need a car really but public transport is good. The bus is great but it drops you off and the streets aren’t very well lit so if you then have to walk to your house after dark with no pavements, it’s a bit odd. I’ve met some of the friendliest, loveliest and some of the grumpiest, moodiest people here.
They have big old plots for houses but often have a big, pointless front garden but not much space out back. They go on about water shortages and taking quick showers etc but there is sprinklers all over the place. However, I’d definitely like to go back again to discover more nuances as maybe things like that are what makes it interesting.