Having realised rather belatedly that our hotel booking in Perth included breakfast we did our best to make up for lost calories before striding off into downtown Perth to pick up our hire car. Why is it that the Japanese can get the big things right (like putting the steering wheel on the correct side), but somehow haven’t understood that the indicator stalk should be on the left hand side of the column? It’s all very well, but so far every time we’ve come to turn a corner we’ve managed to clean the windscreen and at the same time caused total confusion among other drivers.
First stop after leaving Perth was a quick trip down to Fremantle (or Freo as it’s known) and a saunter down the ‘cappuccino strip’ – which lays a justifiable claim to being the most laid back spot in all of Western Australia. Lots of good buskers (one lad making a really good job of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here), nice markets and well-preserved late 19th Century architecture.
A hundred miles or so further south and we hit Dunsborough and Geographe Bay with its fantastic deserted beaches, blue seas and wildlife. Within two minutes of having slipped off our sandals for a paddle we saw two enormous Rays (well, at three feet across they seemed pretty big to us) but as the only photograph I managed to snap looked like a close up of a couple of rocks you’ll just have to take our word for it.
Just south of Dunsborough is Cape Naturaliste; not, as you might imagine, the local refuge for those who like to get their kit off, but a favoured spot for whale watching (in the season) with some even more beautiful beaches and the most annoying and persistent flies known to man.
Perth airport was a balmy 26 degrees last night when we arrived just before midnight local time, but I’m pleased to say that things got a little warmer today with the temperature apparently reaching 39 degrees. Fortunately we had a cooling breeze for much of the day, so with frequent stops for drinks and the occasional dive into air-conditioned buildings it was very bearable.
Our first action this morning was a quick stroll down to the Barrack Street Jetty for a bite of breakfast and then off to the WA Tourist Centre to book up our hotel accommodation for the next few days. We then hopped onto a No 37 bus which took us up to King’s Park and the Botanic Gardens where you get some fantastic views out over the Swan River and downtown Perth.
Perthy is the newest member of the Ewbank entourage – very kindly given to John as his farewell gift from the children of the Dean Close Pre-Preparatory School (The Squirrels). Here he is checking the departures board at Terminal 5 before we jet off on our travels to Australia and New Zealand.