Monday, 28 November 2011

Perth - days 83 - 96

I’m writing this in my final week in Perth. I’m now back in South Perth at Martine and Marks place, although apart from Mark being around from time to time, everyone else is in Cananda, so I’ve got the run of the place. It’s handy being this close to the centre, and I’m managing to get out most days to faff around in the city, whizzing around on the buses and the trains. It’s a weird low key end to the holiday, cos I almost feel like I’m living here now. Plus, the weather has sorted itself out, its been hot and sunny now for at least two weeks, and I’m getting in the pool most days to cool off (with a beer in hand, natch). Most mornings here are weirdly normal - I’m taking the dog for a walk, cleaning the pool and watering the plants. It’s strangely therapeutic – apart from the day Holly (the dog) did a massive steamy dump on one of our walks. That was just gross.

Back to Day #83 and it was off to my other friend Tanyas for a week. Again it was great to catch up with her (not seen her since the late 90s I think) and her family (and another dog!). Every night we’d have a massive BBQ in the garden, Tanya would crank up the music, and many beers would be drunk. Tanyas husband Matt brews his own beer, so that got quite entertaining when we ran out of normal beer.

Day #87, and it was back to Kelly and Alexs again for the weekend. The Friday night was spent in The Flying Scotsman in Mount Lawley, which was a wicked little pub, did great food and beer, and actually played decent music in the evenings. The pub was also full of tattooed people, mainly cos of the tattoo shop across the road, so that was kinda cool to see. The place was full of other random characters too – some of the drunk aussies were funny and fairly nice people, however our table was stared at constantly by a weird middle aged couple, who didn’t seem to like us for some reason. Luckily they buggered off after half an hour of intense scowling at us – god knows what we’d done to offend them!

The next day we were off to Rottnest Island, which we were all really bloody excited about. Noone got any sleep the night before! I loved Rotto the last time I was here, and have been desperate to come back ever since, so this was gonna be a mega highlight. The boat crossing on the Saturday morning took a while to get there and got a bit tedious. The sea crossing was a rough one, prompting Kelly to go for a quick puke before we arrived at the island. That sucked – Kelly had managed to hold on for the entire journey, and hurled just minutes before we landed. Damn!

On arrival, we headed straight for the bike hire place and got our bikes sorted. Next came the test – do you ever forget how to ride a bike? Yes, kind of. I hadn’t ridden a bike since my last Rotto trip 20 years ago. And it was a nightmare!!! My coordination and balance had gone, so although I could ride it once I was on the thing, I had trouble starting off, turning sharp corners, and worst of all, stopping! Didn’t help that I’d worn my stupid sandals and not my trainers. Stopping remained a problem for the entire weekend, I could never get to grips with it.

Next we checked into our cool little hotel, the Rottnest Lodge, then grabbed a Subway. Was a surprise to see we had extra guests at our table when we started eating – the Quokkas, the local wildlife on Rotto, had got braver over the last 20 years, so we were joined by a couple of them, waiting to see if we dropped anything. I was surprised to see so many of these little buggers running around the populated areas over the weekend. Usually you only saw them out on the island. Apparently this isn’t the case anymore!

So with the fact I couldn’t ride a bike properly in mind (and that I’ve done no exercise since July), we set off for the day – on an 18km ride to and from the furthest westerly point of Rottnest! This was something I always wanted to do, and was a brilliant day – apart from the fact going there is mostly all uphill. The scenery on Rotto is mental. One minute it’s all salt lakes and forest, then its low lying scrubby bush. The beaches on the westerly side are pretty fierce and rocky, and the further to the west you get, the wilder the coast is. Took us about 2 hours to get to Vlamingh Point, where we stopped for some lunch and took photos. It felt so isolated, especially as most of the day tourists don’t make it out here.

The ride back was easier, and was a quicker journey home. On the way Kelly encountered a snake (a dugite?), and we did a bit of bird spotting. Saw lots of crazy coloured things on the way back – but didn’t manage to get any decent photos, as they were too fast!

We were totally knackered from our epic ride, so the evening was low key. Me and Kelly had a swim, then we all had a few beers and food at the local resort, complete with standard acoustic girl-singer, local aussie drunks, and a load of Quokkas. Downer of the night? The wind BLEW my full pint of Little Creatures Pale Ale over, so I had to get another. It was $11.50 a pint!!

Next day was easier. We had breakfast, headed out to the beach and SAT THERE for a few hours, standing in the sea. Had some lunch, then caught the ferry back home, having a few cheeky beers on the way. Was an awesome weekend. Was so great to get back to Rotto after all this time, and it didn’t disappoint. But there was the added bonus of that huge bike ride, which I’m really glad we did, even though it hurt like hell for the next few days.

Got back to Martines place in South Perth the following week, and spent most of the next week or so enjoying the sun and being so close to the city. One afternoon I took myself off to Cottesloe Beach. Again, somewhere I’d been 20 years previous, so wanted to check it out again. Like everyone else apparently, cos when I got off the train by the beach, so did everyone else! I guess Cottesloe is like every other beach in Perth – its big, and although there were lots of people there, there was loads of space for everyone. So I found a spot and stood in the sea for an hour. Unfortunately I’d forgotten my swimming trunks and my towel, so couldn’t really go for a swim. What a doofus.

Theres a great coast walk at Cottesloe, so wandered south past the Cottesloe Sundial (a massive piece of modern art) and onto the rocks part of the coast and sat and watched the waves for a while, sitting in the sun. Then the lure of the pub became too much, so pitched up at the Cottesloe Hotel for a few Fat Yaks and a spot of lunch, sitting on the veranda looking out at the sea.

In the evening, me and Mark went into Vic Park for the evening, had a few beers at the Balmoral, where I had more Fat Yak, then grabbed an awesome burger at V Burger, a place I’d wanted to check out for a few weeks.
Didn’t disappoint.

The final weekend of this section (somewhere around days #93 - #96) I managed to see some more wildlife and get out of Perth proper for a couple of trips. Firstly I went over to Heirisson Island, which is a small island on the Swan River between Vic Park and Perth. It’s a totally random place, considering where it is. It’s a small national park/conservation area underneath a main bridge that goes into Perth, and is populated by kangaroos. Although it took me a while to find them! On my walk, I did come across the Yagan statue, that was mentioned by Gary on my city walk at the start of the holiday. Was a total surprise as I didn’t think it was meant to be here. After thinking I wasn’t gonna see any kangaroos, I eventually bumped into some tourists who seemed to know where they were going, and finally got to see some. Six rather large gray kangaroos lazing around in the sun. They didn’t really do much, but it was cool to see wild kangaroos so close to the city.

Got taken out another day with Kelly and Alex, who took me north to the suburb of Joondalup, where we met up with Kellys mum who took us on a day tour around the area. First was Joondalup Park where we hung out with and fed some Cockatoos (awesome), then a quick trip to Yanchep National Park to see some Koalas and Kangaroos. The Kangaroos all seemed to have Joeys with them in their pouches, and really weren’t bothered by us, so we managed to get quite close and get some cool photos. Was a really fun day – seeing Yanchep and the animals was fab, but hanging out with the Cockatoos was awesome. So random - and I’m usually not a fan of birds standing on me – but these fellas were really friendly!

Day #96, and the final day of this blog, and Mark was taking me out for the day to do something I’d been dying to do since I got to Aus. See a really really REALLY long road in the middle of nowhere. So without any prompting from me, Mark decided we were gonna go to Nambung National Park for the day to see The Pinnacles, which was a big surprise. It’s a 2 ½ hour drive from Perth, and was shocked that Mark was so up for it, but it was an awesome trip. Once we got out of the city, there was nothing – miles of bush, sand dunes and coastline, and a bloody long road! Stopped every so often for some photos, and got to The Pinnacles in decent time (Marks car is FAST). Had a drive round the park, looking at the random rock structures, trying to find the most penis like ones we could find. After that hilarity wore out, we took a couple more photos, then headed back to Perth in time or more beers and another BBQ.

And that’s now more or less up to date. I’ve got 6 days left of Western Australia and this amazing city, then its onto my final stop before home!

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