Edit Blog Post
Published: March 9th 2012
The Witch's Hat Hostel
Our first stop in Perth.
G'day guys and gals, here we are upside down and strewth is it hot out there! And where'd all these creepy crawlies come from?! Well our first month away has flown by but we've been filling our time well.
The flight from Dubai to Perth was a long one, but gave us plenty of opportunity to catch up on films and stock up on 'free' booze & drinks. (Though if I'd fully appreciated how expensive booze was in Perth I would have downed a few more on the plane!). After Dubai I was longing for a $3 pint but alas such things do not exist here. In part due to the sheer geography of the country and part because the minimum wage here is around $20 dollars an hour! (£13). Clearly they are paying the border people enough as we sailed through immigration (after declaring Fiona's fruit tea bags) and off into the Aussie darkness.
Our first port of call was a hostel called 'The Witch's Hat' in the northern Perth suburb of Northbridge. So we arrived bleary eyed from the airport at 3.30am, needless to say not a soul was around and it took the help
of another hosteler to rouse the night reception guy to let us into our room. In the guide books this area is classed as a place to be wary of, but to us it felt more like BasVegas on a Friday night. The hostel was OK (we had a private room) and I enjoyed meeting some fellow travellers. A few nights we sat outside on the veranda sipping our drinks and chatting about Australia. There were mainly Brits but some Germans, South Africans, Irish. All seemed in love with Oz and none wanted to go home, certainly not to frozen Europe. Fiona was perhaps less comfortable with being around the boozy brits and preferred the ambience of the jazz bar we frequented (what can I say, I'm a classy gal - F). She certainly wasn't impressed that I had offered to pay this guy some money (along with others), if he ate a couple of live cockroaches. I think he would have done it but he was so drunk that they kept running away from him.
Perth is a lovely, compact city. Easy to get around by foot or using the free bus service. Food isn't cheap so F
Wildlife Shots - Rainbow parakeets
These birds really are upside down!
is going to have to get used to more Subways ($7 Footlongs!) and oriental cuisine. The Transport system is good here. Not only are there free buses in town but to get from where we've been staying in the Hills to Perth centre (say from Basildon to London) it only costs about 3 quid.
After doing the sights in Perth we headed up to the hills to sample our first Ozzy wwoof experience in Kalamunda (Willing Workers On Organic Farms). Rejoining the wwoofing world does reassert your faith in human nature. There are some fantastic people who do it. They have a different view on life, an openess that is rare to find.
We have been lucky enough to stay with Leeann and her cats in a cosy caravan in a large lovely garden, helping her out around the home and garden in exchange for bed and board. She is very friendly, lively and generous and inbetween work we have joined her on one of her many social jaunts, from tai chi in the local park to meditation, farmers markets, numerous coffee shops and singing African songs with the local choir!
TV is almost universally pants here.
Virtually everything is imported and not just the good stuff (Minder with Shane Richie anyone?!). There is very little Oz-made stuff and if it is then it is 'reality'. Anything good is punctuated by adverts frequently and so much is imported that if we watch TV we won't be missing much from home.
It has been quite (very! - F) hot here at times, usually in the mid/high 30s and hitting 40 degrees earlier this week. Fiona isn't really cut out for the heat and is in danger of sounding like a whingeing Pom as she lounges around in the heat. The nights have been generally colder and windier, a sign that autumn is on the way. It has been good to experience such heat on the farm. It gives a sense of what real australians do without aircon. This means working earlier and later while spending the interveening hours in the coffee shop. Thank goodness I don't like hot drinks otherwise we'd be broke by Easter. Still, F can get her 'treat' so long as the place has wifi.
Being a temporary resident gives me more options but I also feel a little pressure to get a
job. I've been to see a few agencies here in between working on the farm and sightseeing.
The hot weather lends itself to the outdoor shower, and luckily Leeann has one in the garden. It's great to have the water running over you whilst you can see and hear the birds in the trees. Most welcome in 30+ heat. Another glory of Australia is the ouside dunny. Whilst inside you can play a few games. How many spiders can you see in the loo with you? You will be surprised where they hang out! Or you could count the number of mosquito bites on the back of your legs.
Mossies are a big downside of living out here. You just can't relax outside with them flying around. Still, being in the hills you see an array of wildlife. We have a host of birds on site such as Kookaburras (which sound like monkeys), parrots, as well as bandicoots, 'bluetongue' lizards, owls and spiders. We can hear a possom in the wall of the house and the cat likes to bring in (sometimes) dead rats as a thank you. Fiona didn't find it so sweet when a live one
came dangling in its jaws!(Newsflash - just as we are posting this a possum has been spotted outside). You get used to the creepy crawlies, though you do get the odd fright when you reach for a towel and the biggest spider you've ever seen is right there! Though it is the smaller ones like the red backed spider that you have to worry about and we've already seen one in the loo!!
Since being on the farm we haven't done much sightseeing but have been living like locals with Leeann. We also took a trip down to funky Freemantle and had a paddle in the sea. Our host Leeann is a busy bee and it has been great having her show us around. She is a very generous person, someone who has travelled and runs her own business, so an inspiration to F and I.
For my birthday (thank you for the messages), Fiona took me to to Rottnest Island, situated just off the Perth coast. The boat ride there (and back) was a little choppy, but once ashore we hopped on our bikes and rode around the car-free island. We had wanted to tour the whole
island, but with the sun beating down and the wind against us we settled for half the island and some snorkelling. The island was once an Aboriginal prison and is quite barren. It is also famous for the small kangaroo type creatures that live there (Quokkas). They are really cute and we got some great pics. We stopped off in Fremantle on the way back for some dinner, but had a bit of a row and so ended up eating separately (such is travelling together!!).
Up in the Perth hills there is an ageing population, many old Brits included. At times a little envy pops up when you hear how 'easy' it was to come over years ago and have a great life. In many ways it is similar to the story in Britain where the Babyboomers seem to be the generation that had it all and opportunity, housing, jobs, etc is harder for those that follow. On the flip side of course we have grown up in a much 'safer' world, which communication has made smaller and life is always what you make it.
Events that have happened since we've been away:
Wildlife Shots - 'Bluetongue' Lizzard
We think this one might have 'passed on' not long after this was taken.
Gillard survived a confidence vote.
Spurs got a Pasting from the Mighty Gunners - F never told me about it!!
Protestors evicted from St Pauls.
I have been reading an interesting psychology book about control power plays. It explores the idea that through education we are taught to obey and to see people who object as being trouble makers. As adults we are encouraged to be 'free' and express ourselves, but our training actually makes us conform. This is particularly true when it comes to 'authority' figures and therefore a prime reason why we continue to allow them to screw us over and over. As a questioner myself I find this interesting, though of course you need some form of order or you get chaos. I mention this simply to ask you to remember this when you think about the protestors at St Pauls. You may be happy they are gone, you may be sad, but if we never have people who ask questions then we never have change. If everyone saw things similarly then it would be a very boring world indeed. I for one know that I had nothing to do with the
global financial collapse and I guess that neither did many of you as well. Just remember that when you are told 'we are all in this together'.
So much of our stay in Perth has been about meditation, beaches, wwoofing, sweating and coffee shops. I've visited the local Menshed and we even had a night of stargazing on top of the local university's roof. We're now due to leave Perth and head south to Margaret River for more wwoofing and a bit of a road trip. We've had a great time here and will be coming back inbetween trips as it is so homely!
Bye for now folks xx
Tot: 2.401s; Tpl: 0.066s; cc: 15; qc: 62; dbt: 0.0584s; 2; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb