On January 2nd, my parents and I flew to Perth, Western Australia, where we spent a few days.
For a long time, Western Australia has been the only Australian state I’d never visited. I was born in New South Wales, occasionally visit relatives in Victoria, have spent most of my life in South Australia, visited Queensland in the late 80s, the Northern Territory in the early 90s, and Tasmania in the mid 90s But until now, the nearest I’d ever been to WA was the Head of the Bight. Of course, checking off the final state doesn’t mean I’ve been everywhere — I’ve still never visited any part of Australia north of the Tropic.
Perth turns out not to be that different from Adelaide. It’s bigger, has much bigger rivers, the ground is full of sand instead of soil, and there are more one-way streets in the city centre, but the atmosphere’s closer to Adelaide’s than any of the cities on Australia’s east coast. Get away from the city, and the hills southeast of Perth are strikingly similar to those around Adelaide.
My holiday was spoilt somewhat by the fact that I left my glasses at Adelaide airport, in the departure lounge where I put them down to have lunch. Consequently, I spent the entire holiday unable to really appreciate the beauty of the places we visited. That was really annoying, and contributed to my mood not always being the best. Many of our destinations were places I found on the Experience Perth website.
On our first evening — after recovering from a rather rough landing — we had seafood tea outdoors at Fremantle where I took the following sunset photograph.
On our second day, Mum and I took a walk in King’s Park while we waited for Dad to get access to the hired car. The carpark where we’d put it had published misleading information about its opening hours, failing to mention that they open late on public holidays. I snapped a few photographs of the view from King’s Park, of which this is the best.
Once we were all together, we drove north to visit the Aquarium of Western Australia. It was very, very crowded, I was frustrated at not having my glasses with me, and my phone/camera wasn’t meeting my expectations, so my temper was short. But the aquarium was great, with a big enclosure for the sharks and turtles, etc, and a lot of smaller ones for different sorts of aquatic life. It also had by far the best souvineer gift shop that we encountered on our travels, and the cafe served one of the best cottage pies I’ve ever eaten (even if the over-capacity crowds meant one spent more time waiting for food than eating it).
Here’s a turtle:
I bought myself a souvineer, and Mum also bought me a gift — a soft-toy octopus that I need some help in naming. [Update: This space originally contained an invitation for readers to submit a name for the toy. I’ve now settled on “Buncho” — see comments, and this follow-up post.]
After the aquarium we drove further north to Yanchep National Park, where we visited the spectacular Crystal Caves. Again, it was very frustrating not to have my glasses, and what’s more, the cameras I was using ran out of batteries before we got to the best bits. There’s more to Yanchep than just the caves, but we didn’t have time for the Aboriginal culture tour. Perhaps if we’d had access to the car sooner, or were able to park it closer to the aquarium . . .
That evening, back in Perth, we had a barbeque tea with friends of my parents. [Update: Said friends have sent us a photograph. which I’ve added below. I’m in the black and white and need a haircut. Mum’s sitting down in the green. Dad’s in the red stripes. Of our friends, one’s at the BBQ and the other’s behind the camera.]
On our third day, Dad had business meetings to attend (part of the reason we were in Perth in the first place), so Mum and I headed southeast to Araluen Botanic Park, a lovely spot where none of my photographs worked out the way I wanted (too much light/shade contrast I guess). It’s quite big, so we explored independently without meeting up except by arrangement at the cafe.
Later that day back in Perth, I visited the Perth museum on my own, while Mum went shopping. The museum was a little difficult to find, but I got there. Compared to the other places we visited I would be less inclined to recommend it to others, not because it’s bad but because every city has a museum and they’re 90% identical. One thing Perth’s museum has that Adelaide’s lacks is a decent human evolution display with hominid skulls etc.
That evening we had tea with more friends at a restaurant in King’s Park. I ordered the swordfish, which I’ve never had before, and quite enjoyed it. I felt it was somewhat similar to barramundi, but I don’t eat a lot of exotic fish.
On the morning of our fourth day, we flew back to Adelaide. I got my glasses back (the lost property retrieval system could be more efficient, but it’s good enough), and had a surprise encounter with relatives who were on their way to visit Tasmania. And thus concluded our brief holiday. Yanchep and the aquarium are foremost among the destinations I’d recommend to other Perthbound travellers.