Date: Thursday 10th to Monday 21st December 2015
Location Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
I have a friend who I met in America when we both spent two months having fun in the West Virginia Mountains while ‘working’ at summer camp. We managed to make our long distance relationship work through various skype dates and a brilliant trip to Greece. So when I said I was coming to Australia it was only natural that she screamed into the skype microphone that I’d ‘better be coming to Perth!!’. I know better than to disobey her, so Perth it was for the final two weeks of my trip.
Perth is the most remote city in the world, by this I mean it’s in the middle of bloody nowhere. As you fly into the airport it’s just red dirt everywhere and then all of a sudden this shining spot of glass and steel appears on the landscape. My friend picked me up from the airport and after jumping around like idiots for a while and doing that screaming thing that girls do when they meet each other after a long time (no, I don’t know why we do it either. It’s a biological reaction you can’t help. Like sneezing ) we jumped in her car and she took me to her house ready to become her adopted sister for two weeks.
She and her (real) sister could not have looked after me better – within a day I felt like I’d been there forever. Which is a good thing as our first job was to complete my friend’s chores and the weekly food shop. Our next day we took a trip to Ellis Valley to start our list of sight-seeing. Western Australia has a very different look to the east coast of Australia but the locals are all still the same. For example on the west coast you only have to travel a few miles inland to find the endless plains of that bright red dirt and the scrubby bush plants that you see in the movies and feel like you’ve gone back in time to a world before people. Then you run into a naked man standing at the top of a cliff holding a go-pro being egged on by his friends to jump in the water… still in Australia then. We later found out he was an Instagram famous spear fisher from Exmouth (Australia not Devon), go figure!
Perth was where I had my first encounter with kangaroos, which when close up are a little bit more frightening than they appear on the TV and I also met quokkas, just as adorable as they look on TV. I met the quokkas on Rottnest Island, their one and only home in the whole wide world – and an absolutely stunning place to visit.
The classic thing to do on the Island is to hire a bike, cycle to a little bay and then spend the day snorkelling. To me this sounded like a fab idea, a little bit of exercise to make me feel like I’d done something, then relax on the beach all day. When we got off the boat from the mainland we asked one of the (really cute) crew to point us in the right direction. He duly brought forth a map, pointed out where we were, the best bays for swimming in and the direction and length of time it would take to ride there, ‘Won’t take you more than 20 minutes max mate’ *insert my poor Aussie accent here*. Off we went with the wind in our hair and the sun on our cheeks, full of energy and fun … and there we were 2 hours later. Still with the wind in our hair and the sun on our cheeks (and shoulders and backs and thighs, all turning a bit red by now) with maybe less energy but still a whole load of fun. We have no idea how we went so wrong but basically instead of going the short hop round the island we went all the way round in the other direction. Wouldn’t have changed it for the world as it meant we saw the island in all its beauty, including the salt lakes in their pastel colours of purple and pink, the fancy boat harbours, the coral reefs and its three light houses! …There aren’t three, we just saw one twice without realising. By the time we got to the bay we were aiming for (yes, we got there) we thought we well and truly deserved every minute of relaxation we had. Which was about 30 minutes as neither of us are very good at sitting still that long and by then we were starving. We left the beauty and went off in search of a late lunch and a glass of wine.
My friend also took me out on the town several times in Perth. It is such a fun city to go out in. It’s laid back, there’s no horrible bouncer checking you up and down for ‘cool factor’ before letting you into the club. On the contrary, they’re perfectly happy to have a conversation with you while you’re queueing (who knew bouncers could talk!). The people in the clubs are friendly and happy and willing to talk to strangers, meaning I made new friends. This was a good thing as at some point my host did have to go to work. My new found friend showed me the best places in town for a hung over breakfast, which beaches to spend the day strolling along and the best bars for an afternoon drink … and treated to the Aussie charm in bucket loads.
I was included in all of my friend’s social engagements over the weeks I was there, including a Christmas party outside in the sunshine (weird as hell) which turned into a fabulous girly night in and several dinners out with friends. I got the full on local treatment and I loved it. I would imagine that Perth is a great place to be a tourist, but I have no idea as I wasn’t one.
I finished my time in Perth on the 20th December at a bar, sitting with my two adopted sisters laughing and joking at a table next to a wide open window, looking out over the sea and watching the sun set, with a cider each in front of us. Knowing that in 24 hours (actually closer to 35 hours) I would be back in England, in the cold and the rain, leaving behind all the many, many friends I had made on my journey around the world and knowing that the sense of freedom you gain from travelling would soon be a distant memory. I savoured every last sip of that pint.