Sunday, 25 March 2012

Perth, Australia...

Australia is massive, vast, remote and epic in all it's diverse proportions. However, it is sparsely populated; in size it rivals the USA, yet it's population is just a mere 20 million the same as the city of Mumbai, India. It is an ancient land and often looks it; in places its the most eroded, and driest of continents, unforgiving to anyone who treats this land with anything but the utmost respect. The bulk of the country is like this, arid, flat and remote, but, it is also rich in natural resources and minerals that is the source of this countries great economic growth and prosperity. It's these unique qualities that present the countries most beautiful attractions. This faraway island offers the isolation and remoteness like no other country in  the world; from the vastness of the outback with its dazzling salt plains, ever changing landscapes and diverse wildlife and reptiles to  rain forests, The Great Barrier Reef, rich marine life and stunning beaches. In contrast to this natural beauty, it's cities hug the coast line and are relativity new, no older than 200 years and express a youthful optimistic energy. The cities are  social microcosms of music, dance, art and sport an orientation the ozzy's are fiercely proud of, a part of their everyday life which is as famous as the Kangaroo, or their love of a barby with an ice cold beer. In the time of writing this blog I have travelled over 5000 km in just over 6 weeks crossing this vast county by 4x4 from Perth all the way to Sydney; So get ready for an unforgettable ride and adventure through the vastness of Australia...'No Drama's'. 

We arrived at Perth Airport on the 2nd February refreshed and ready for a new chapter on this journey around the world. Laura's Aunty and Uncle, John & Susie picked us up in their 1970's Rolls-Royce, a little gem and a reminder that we had left the developing countries of south east Asia behind for the money and prosperity of Western Australia. I remember walking out of the airport and feeling the sun on my face and looking at a big blue sky... everything is the opposite to England and its summer here in Australia...'get in there'.  We stayed in one of Perth's many suburbs, a place called Woodbridge a very up-market area. John and Susie settled us in and made us feel right at home, and what a home, I mean it was like a mansion, the place had five toilets and we had our own wing. When you have stayed in some of the places we have stayed in over the last 6 months arriving here gave us the distinct feel of Royalty...well almost. We were also greeted by their two big Irish Setters; Morse and Phoebe, they are beautiful dogs, very energetic and inquisitive. They also have a big Ginger cat called TJ who runs the house. The first night I woke up in the early hours to find him lying next me hitting me with his tail and looking me in the eye making that deep purring sound; I think he was letting me know who the boss was in this house.

It sounds almost criminal to say but travelling wipes you out, I mean we were both exhausted by the time we landed in Australia,  physically,  mentally and emotionally. Living out of a backpack for over 6 months constantly on the move soon takes it's toll on you. So for the next two weeks we had a little bit of luxury to fully recharge our batteries and indulge in the things we take for granted back home like having a hot shower, sleeping in a descent bed or having a proper cup of tea while watching some classic DVD's. It was nice to walk the dogs of an evening around the big picturesque lake that surrounds John & Susie's house, that's what is great about Australia, they have so much natural space. However during the second week the usual walk with the dogs turned a little bit more eventful. Phoebe, who is getting old decided to get under the fence and chase the ducks, an old past time of hers. The problem was she forgot that she was old. She swam straight after the ducks and right into the middle of the lake, swimming in circles. After about five minutes it was clear she was in a lot of trouble and she was to tired to swim back. We all watched helplessly for a couple of minutes shouting for her to come back but she was to tired to comprehend the instructions and to tired to act on them. Her head started to go under and she was breathing heavy as she kicked her back legs frantically to stay a float. The next thing I know everyone is looking at me to do something because I was the closest to the lake. So, like a scene out of 'Baywatch' I stripped down to my underpants and took the plunge into the lake. I swam as fast as I could as I knew she only had seconds before she drowned...but I underestimated how hard it was to swim in fresh water and when I got to her I was knackered too. I sucked it up and got her by the neck and struggled back to the bank. It must of been a funny sight to see both me and the dog lying there totally fatigued on the bankside with our tounges hanging out. Well I saved the dog which ment I was in the good book's with Susie all week.

Perth was founded on the great riches found in the soil, most notably the gold booms of the late 19th century. This resulted in places like FremantleFremantle was only a short train ride from where we were staying so we spent the day there on a number of occasions exploring the place; I was impressed by the well-preserved 19th-century buildings, thriving port and history of the place which give it a somewhat colonial timeless feel. The train is a great way to travel around Perth and a day saver allowed us to visit the city regularly and cheaply. Over the two weeks we were in Perth we visited a number of places including Yanchep up in the north, were I saw my first Kangaroo and Mandurah, the sleepy little sea side harbour where I done a spot of fishing. We also walked to Perth's many view points to take in the majestic view points of the Swan River and the city rising in the distance. We had a fulfilling two weeks in Perth, a place I would prefer to visit than live...It feels a little to isolated for me and the weather is always intensely hot most of the year round. The next stop on our journey was east to Melbourne, but, we had no idea of how we would get there. We put an add on 'Gumtree' and made a series of phone calls and as fate would have it, we met a guy called Naider who had a PhD in Physics, his own Subaru 4x4 and more importantly he was keen on much more than just a trip that was a means to an end, he was looking to go on a fulfilling adventure, a journey across the real vastness and remoteness of Australia's outback...a 'road trip'. That sounded good to us. We left on Saturday 18th of February and it was to be one of the best 11 days of my entire life.  

"You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to"
                                                                                                                 -J.R.R Tolkein

Perth City from one of the many view points


Perth Swan River

Another fish caught...Mandurah

Yanchep caves

My first Kangaroo

The lake that I saved Pheobe from drowning in

Morse, Me and Pheobe...Who has the best hair style?

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