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Published: March 8th 2008
After a train ride through the most desolate parts of this large island-continent, it was good to be back in a large city again. We are both admittedly city dwellers, but certainly don’t mind venturing out into the lesser populated regions.
Perth is a city of almost 1.5 million people. If you looked at a map, spotted Perth and looked at its latitude, you would notice it was at about 32 degrees give or take a few degrees and minutes. Then, if you headed west on that same parallel until you hit land again, you would have to go all the way to South Africa across a vast expanse of water, the Indian Ocean. Perth is the only city of any size west of Adelaide, which is over 1650 miles to the east. This is one isolated city. But it’s also very nice.
Perth is the capital of Western Australia, and contains about 75% of its population. It is just as easy for people here to fly to Singapore as it is to fly to Sydney on vacation and Singapore is actually a shorter flight.
We set off to explore some of this city with our friends Sheila
You must see these to believe these!!
and Bill, and immediately discovered that it was quite easy to get around given the location of our hotel, plus the fact that there were free buses that ran to the central business district and the waterfront. The buses are clean and the drivers are friendly and helpful to riders, somewhat the opposite of some we have encountered in the U.S. We rode around on the bus for a while just to have a look, then headed to the waterfront, where we took a boat cruise down the Swan River towards Freemantle. Freemantle is a cute waterside town with beautiful architecture. A was nice cruise on a beautiful sunny day. It doesn’t matter where you are… it is great to be out on the water on a sunny day.
Bill and Sheila had to fly out that night to Fiji, so the next day we strolled into downtown and made plans for our time on the west coast of Oz, as it is affectionately known. We found another one of the ever-useful information centers and the next thing you know, we had found a nice place up the coast about 250 miles called Dongara. Dongara is the lobster capital
You must go to Western Australia and get a look at these rocks!!
of Australia, so this got our attention immediately in a very Pavlovian way.
The drive to Dongara was peaceful and had an ever changing landscape. We saw rolling hills, straights with scrubby bushes and dunes of sand along the highway.
We got a great room on the ocean with a little kitchen and set up shop. We were able to get a hold of the tasty crustaceans and they did not disappoint. The hotel cooked up a couple of these tasty crustaceans and we had quite a feast. They brought them to the room completely cooked and ready to eat, head and all. We had been watching “The Blues Brothers” movie, so we named them Jake and Elwood.
The following day, we set out for the Pinnacles, which are set in a national park some 75 miles south of Dongara in Nambung National Park. MJ saw the pictures on a postcard in Perth and asked a gentleman there about them. He said that they were definitely worth having a look at as they were quite unusual, but that there wasn’t much else in the vicinity……he was right on both accounts.
The drive we took through the park
Sea of Pinnacles
These look surreal sticking out of the sand.
was astounding. Rising mysteriously from the dune sands are thousands of limestone pillars. Just imagine thousands and thousands of pillar-shaped rocks, some 14 feet tall, sticking out of desert sand over a several hundred acres near the Indian Ocean. We could spend time telling you all about the geologic reasons for their existence, but the bottom line is; they were formed over millions of years from an existing seabed plus lots or erosion. A picture of them would have made a great Pink Floyd album cover (dating ourselves, no?) The day was perfect without a cloud in the sky, making for great photos of these unique formations. If you are on the west coast of Australia please go see the Pinnacles!!!
Staying right on the Indian Ocean was fabulous too. Listening to the crashing surf at night from our room and also the fantastic sunsets we saw. There is something quite special about just standing and watching the sun set over a vast expanse of water. The sun just seems to drop like a rock as it nears the horizon, producing some stellar colors in the sky with the help of the surrounding scattered clouds. We never tire of
this and feel quite lucky to be able to stand in such a beautiful and somewhat remote location. The ocean is quite active here, and the rip tides prevent you from swimming.
After our stay in Dongara and enjoying walks on the beach we headed back to Perth for our last couple of days in Australia. When we were on the train we met a group from England that have vacationed in Australia four or five times. They suggested that we have lunch or dinner at “Little Creatures” if we got to Freemantle. So, we decided to make a special trip over there for lunch. It is a brewery with some amazing beers, some of the best that we have had on the trip. It sits in the harbor so the views are good and the food was great. Well worth a trip if you are in the area.
As we leave Australia we would like to summarize a few things.
Things that surprised us about Australia:
Almost all establishments that offer internet charge outrageous amounts of money to use it. (as high as $30 per hour) Youza! The cheapest we found in an
internet café was $4 hour.
We had been told that prices were high in Australia but we astounded daily by the prices. We are not sure how the average person can afford to live here, given the price of such basic things as gas, milk, and food, not to mention that a home is well beyond the reach of the average Australian. Interest rates alone for home loans are over 8 per cent and rising fast.
Another example: one day at lunch on the Sydney waterfront, Dave had two beers and MJ had one; we split a small pizza and shared a piece of cheesecake. It cost $58 Australian! Bear in mind the Aussie dollar is worth about 93 cents American.
On the northeast coast there are many, many, many acres sugar cane farms. We didn’t expect to see so many. Clearly this is good news for rum drinkers in this country.
We didn’t realize how much Australians love cricket. Turns out, they are absolutely mad about it and can’t seem to get enough. You can literally watch it every single day. They are sports crazy. They love their Australian rules football, Cricket, Rugby, and Tennis.
This country has beaches, beaches, beaches and more beaches but they are not crowded like the ones in the US. We are confused about this so maybe someone from Australia can answer that for us. What we did notice that the waves are much bigger here and many beaches have warnings concerning the dangers of rip tides and currents. So, we assume that in many places the average person may feel like it is too dangerous. We expected the beaches to be filled with throngs of people and that was not the case.
We were surprised that the highway system is not better. They say they are trying to improve them, but the main highways are mostly two lanes and it gets a little scary when you’re driving at high speeds on narrow roads with large trucks.
Things that did not surprise us about Australia:
Australia is all about sun, sand, surf, beaches and the people here tend to be very laid back. They are also incredibly friendly, cheerful, and quite helpful.
They love to cook on the barby and they love to drink.
The country is very beautiful and well worth the visit.
We’ve been here a little over two months and have thoroughly enjoyed “OZ.” We feel that we have seen quite a bit of the land and would recommend a visit to anyone.
Now……..on to the desert country known as Dubai……….
We’ll let you know but we think it is a 10 or an 11 hour flight from here and we should have a 5 hour time change.
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