Hailed as the most isolated city in the world, Perth is about a 5 hour flight from the East Coast of Australia. If you look at a map of Perth, to the west is a huge stretch of the Indian Ocean until Africa and to the East is the forboding and nearly uninhabitable Australian Outback. Not a likely place to build a city, but it is the capital of Western Australia and an amazing city at that. Nestled on the Swan River, the city is green, clean and it’s inhabitants are extremely friendly. Buses around the city are free, enticing people to use the public transportation system meanwhile saving the environment. They use it; all of them. Huge parks surround and intertwine the downtown area and the harbor maintains the world’s largest musical instrument, the Swan Bells.
Once we arrived at the airport, on the way to the bus station a departing passenger handed me his ticket that allowed me to ride the public transport system for the rest of the day. We made it to the train station, and decided to head south towards Fremantle, commonly known as Freo.
After we came up empty handed for some beds, Erin finally found two while I watched the bags at an Irish Pub where I discovered one of my new favorite beers, Kilkenny (no pun intended Mom.) Checked in and famished we walked around the small port city and decided on some hiro’s (gyro’s.)
Recently, we became aware of our need for Visa’s for parts of our upcoming trip and we managed to spend the rest of the day researching our entry into China, the countries of SE Asia, and India. Upon discovering that China charges U.S. citizens $155 each for a visa (other countries pay $40) and realizing we only planned to spend a week and a half total between Beijing and Hong Kong, we decided to scrap China altogether, both for budgetary concerns and principle. We changed our flight from Tokyo to go directly into Bangkok, giving us additional time in SE Asia, where we will be meeting with Erin’s brother and mom, and allowing us some more flexibility for the rest of the trip so we can meet with my parents in the Netherlands and Spain. Thanks China! We decided the next morning we would go to the Indian Consulate in West Perth to secure our visa.
Back to Perth
Departing the train in West Perth the next morning, we soon became lost as my compass had fallen off of my watch out of it’s encasement. It’s strange that that had happened because just prior to this, I was thinking that if I could only bring one thing on this trip, the compass would win. We asked a lady for directions to the Consulate with only 15 minutes until they closed and realizing we wouldn’t make it she offered us a ride with her nanny and newborn baby. An amazing gesture which further solidified Perth in the record books for friendliest people. We arrived at the doorstep with 5 minutes to spare and rushed upstairs only to find that they would have to keep our passports while processing the visa’s. This wouldn’t work since we were leaving for Tokyo in 3 days. Oh well, we’ll get what we need in Bangkok.
We had some lunch at a cheap sandwich cafe and caught a free bus around the city to explore. We walked around for a few hours and then over to King’s Park which offer’s amazing views of the city. Not feeling well from the mayo on the sandwich, and the dry air, we made our way back to Freo for another night. The next morning we were on the 7:30 ferry to Rottnest Island.
Originally discarded as a Rat’s Nest (hence the name) by it’s Dutch founder’s, Rottnest Island is now a short 30 minute ferry ride from Perth. Once people learned that the small furry animals that inhabited it were not rats and in fact Quokka’s, a small marsupial only found on the island, they quickly turned the island into a destination not to be missed while on the West Coast. And thank goodness they did.
Once we docked and delivered our bags to the tourist center where they would be delivered to our campsite, we rented some bicycles and started pedaling to the nearest beach for some snorkelling. Their are no cars on the island (besides two earth-friendly buses which use natural gas, a truck to deliver and pick up baggage, and a few others to keep the island running) and the roads around the island amount to 24km in distance in circumference. The island is home to sixty-three beaches, one ranked Australia’s best, which gives you a pretty good chance of scoring your own private caribbean-blue watered, white-sand beach. We beach-hopped all day and I received my first jellyfish sting of my life (at least that I can remember) which was extremely unpleasant. Also, we collected some shells which will be necklaces, earrings and bracelets before long and after a full day, built up quite the thirst, only to be quenched by the almighty beer at the end of the day coupled with some grilled sausages.
The next morning (today), we rode to one of the lighthouses for a nice view expecting to climb to the top only to discover it is closed to the general public. “Oh well, back to the beach” is our motto so we rode another 6km to Pinky Beach where we spent the rest of the day sunbathing, swimming and snorkelling before our ferry departed in the early afternoon.
Our flight to Tokyo leaves at 11:30 this evening and I couldn’t have thought of a better way to finalize our month in Australia. Yet again, I’m still left with the feeling that I haven’t spent enough time here and there is so much more to see. Due to weather we were unable to sail the Whitsunday Islands and scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef. The country is immense and I’d still like to see Tasmania, Darwin, more of Cairns, Melbourne, Adelaide, Uluru and the Outback. Not to mention what some experts say is the possible origin of man’s life, the stromatolites of Shark Bay. Of course, I’ll have to wait until next time…
Off to Tokyo! 🙂
P.s. Flash drive adapter is missing or lost so pictures will be uploaded shortly!