4th - 9th February
04.02.2009 - 09.02.2009 32 °C
After our flight from Melbourne to Perth we were met at the airport by Katie and Stuart, friends of Mike from his time in Brisbane a few years ago. We drove back to their house in the Swan Valley, which they had recently had built, and chilled out and drank some beers in their back garden. That evening they drove us up a hill where there are good views of the area surrounding their house and of the city and ocean in the distance
The following day we went into the city where we wandered around for a bit and once more took advantage of the cheap sushi that is available throughout Australia.
We met Katie and Stu when they finished work and went to a pub for dinner with two of their friends, Rob and Claire. After the meal we drove up to Kings Park (the largest inner city park in the world apparently) where there are excellent views of the city skyline.
The next day we borrowed Katie's car so that we could go on a short road trip to Fremantle, a port town close to Perth which is one of the attractions of the region. We stopped off at Scarborough on the way and went for a walk along the beach there. Although Scarborough takes it name from the famous English seaside resort comparisons between the beaches would always favour the Australian namesake with its white sand and backdrop of the Indian Ocean.
When we arrived in Fremantle and found a parking space we had a look around the market which has a number of interesting stalls. It would be very easy to spend a lot of money there but we resisted the temptation! We then walked around a bit more and went into an amusement arcade where we played on various games. After that we went into a couple of large secondhand bookshops and stocked up on novels. Instead of going to the beach at Fremantle we got back in the car and stopped at a quieter beach close to Scarborough. Mike went in the ocean but came out fairly quickly as there was a very strong current and large dumping waves that could be dangerous. Although it was still fun to be in there for a short time!
That evening we went round to Stuarts parents house for a BBQ with some of his family. There were about 18 people in total so it was a good evening with his parents providing more than enough tasty food for everyone. We played a Dutch game called Sjoelbak which involves sliding wooden discs along a smooth surface into narrow lanes at the opposite end of the long thin board. After that we played some pool then went home before midnight as we were getting up early the following morning.
We were back at Stuart's parents house at 7.30am so that his Dad, Tony, could take us to Rottnest Island. We drove to the local mariner and launched his boat into what turned out to be pretty rough water. There was a fairly large swell and strong southerly wind making it a bumpy ride to say the least. Tony said it was among the worst conditions he'd seen crossing to Rottnest.
We did make it though and it was well worth the rough ride. Tony stayed at the boat whilst the four of us bought tickets that allowed us to hop and off the regular buses that circle the island. The first place we stopped at was a beautiful bay where we all relaxed on the shore and Mike and Stuart did some snorkeling. We then caught the bus to a beach that had an amazing strip of white sand and even better snorkeling with more colorful coral and a wider range of fish.
We then went right round the island on the bus and back to the boat where we had lunch and some drinks. We chilled out on the boat for a bit then went to look for quokkas, an animal that is unique to Rottnest and a handful of other island. Quokkas look somewhere in between kangroos, rats and wallabies. Dutch explorers actually mistook quokkas for rats and named the island accordingly. Rottnest is Dutch for Rats Nest.
Tony showed us a bit more of the island on his boat then we braved the seas and made it back to the mainland, this time with Stu at the helm.
One of Stuart's mates was having his 30th birthday party that night so we drove across town to his place. It was a decent party with lots of people and a lot of drink! It went on quite late so we all ended up crashing there and drove back the next morning.
We were all quite hungover that Sunday so had a fairly lazy day. Unfortunately news was coming through of the bush fires which destroyed parts of Victoria so we were following that on TV. That evening we had a BBQ at Katie and Stu's house. We had the obligatory steaks, lamb chops and salads as well as abalonies which we hadn't heard of before arriving in Perth. They are a type of shellfish that Stuart and his Dad fish for and are in such short supply that the season for them only runs for 6 weeks a year, one hour for each of those weeks! They have a rich and quite intense flavour which we really liked. It will probably be a long time until we eat them again though.
We got up early on Monday morning, sorted out a few things we needed to do like posting some stuff home, then went to the airport to fly to Asia!