We made it to Australia!!
I mean, we were always planning to make it to Australia, but neither of us can quite believe we’re still going after nine months and that we actually managed to eke out the budget long enough to make it here. We’ve been dreaming of Australia since we first starting planning this trip and it feels a bit surreal that we’re finally here.
It’s been a completely different experience to explore Perth and its surroundings and everything is just so much easier than it has been in Asia. Not least because Josh has put us up in his lovely house and given us a crash course in Aussie living. Number one rules: stop pretending to be a kangaroo all the time, and don’t call anyone a convict.
We love Perth itself, and particularly the stunning stretches of coastline. The beaches are just incredible, with miles and miles of gorgeous white sand, rolling dunes, gentle waves and sparkling blue water. Josh and my uncle, Pat, both took us on drives along the coast to admire the impressively large sea view houses, check out the array of beachside cafes and bars on offer and explore the individual coastal hubs.
I don’t know if we’re just appreciating everything more after spending six months in Asia, but we’ve been so impressed by how clean it is here and how many amazing facilities there are. Every mile or so along the beach are well maintained public toilets, hot showers, free barbecues to use, new skate parks, swimming pools, running tracks etc. There’s one cycling and running track which goes for miles along the coast and is nicknamed the Honey Pot thanks to all the ladies ‘chilling in their active wear’ and drinking skinning lattes. Honeys aside, it makes for a beautiful morning jog.
We spent our first week here predominantly enjoying Perth’s surprisingly good nightlife while Josh was back from the mines. Highlights included trying out Scarborough’s famous Sunday Sessions in the bars on the beach; a night watching the rugby, world cup and AFL on various screens in the craziness of an Australia sports bar; and, my personal favourite, cooking up a giant lasagne for a dinner party and gorging on cheese and wine after so many months without much of either. Thank God that Brie is back in our lives again.
We did take part in a few more wholesome activities while Josh was back, including a barbecue in the park on one of the free gas barbecues the council provides.
Josh also took us to John Forest for a walk in the bush and our very first kangeroos! So much fun and we really felt like we’d made it to the heart of Australia when a man in a typical Aussie farmer hat genuinely walked past a bunch of kangeroos and said ‘G’day’ to us.
One of our best days of the trip so far, particularly because, thanks to the on and off rain, we were permanently accompanied by the most incredible rainbow.
After our adventurous walk through the forest and over the waterfalls (obviously paths are out of the question with Jamie and Josh), we headed to the local pub for a restorative pint. We were joined by yet more kangeroos, as well as an entire menagerie of galahs, kookaburras, lorikeets, guinea fowl, ducks and swooping magpies, all of whom are apparently as fond as I am of salt and vinegar crisps.
Josh also took us down to Fremantle, one of our favourite city spots in Perth. Fremantle was one of the first landing spots for settlers in 1829 and was home to one of Australia’s most notorious prisons. It’s now an artsy little harbour town, full of quirky boutiques, hipster cafes and street art, as well as a plethora of maritime museums and information placards about the first settlers.
One thing which has definitely felt strange for us Europeans is the lack of history and culture in Perth. It’s not surprising and it’s definitely consistent with what we expected of Australia, but I’m not sure we’ve ever been anywhere that’s felt quite so ‘new’ before and we have been missing the buzz that we’re used to in European cities. Everything is extremely suburban here and as you drive around it’s hard to distinguish between the various different places. I think that’s why Fremantle (and Guildford, another historic town in the Swan Valley) have felt more appealing to us than anywhere else here so far.
After Josh headed back to work, we made the most of some family time with my uncle and little cousin Lily, who turned four the other day. My mom flew out here last week to visit them and so we met up with them all for a fourth birthday party in Spurs, a South African steakhouse (keeping it authentic).
Pat also took us down to Hillary’s Boat Harbour, a pretty little harbour lined with gift shops and cafes.
Yesterday we had our favourite family day out so far at the Caversham Wildlife Park. The best thing about having a four-year-old around is that we have an excuse to get excited about the opportunity to pose for pictures with Koalas…
And not just the cuddly koalas, but dingos, wombats, emus, echidnas, some gross snakes, and, of course, lots more friendly roos.
We’ve squeezed in a couple of other days out while Mom has been here too, including a walk around Kings Park in central Perth, which has the most stunning views over the Perth river and the city centre and is itself full of weird and wacky Australian plants and trees.
We headed to our new favourite restaurant Clancy’s at City Beach for a lunchtime indulgence of mussels and white wine.
And, on the subject of wine, we of course couldn’t come to Perth without a wine tasting session in the Swan Valley.
Delicious, although admittedly not entirely nutritious.
Next blog post on our upcoming WA road trips coming soon!