Living in a Marsupial World
 
Nov 25 - So, we're currently writing the following post while riding the Indian Pacific Railway from Perth to Adelaide over the next few days. We'll hopefully be able to post about the train while on the train (ain't technology somethin'?), but in the mean time enjoy as we get up to speed! Happy Thanksgiving to our loyal reader :) 
Picture
At the State Library, Perth
Within minutes of driving into the city centre, Perth had us enchanted. Bordered by the beautiful Swan River and filled with parks, art, food, and shops, it was all we could do not to fall madly in love. Damn you sexy Perth. Had we the time and the funds, we easily could have spent many months in this region of Australia (Perth, Fremantle, and the Margaret River Region). But alas, it was not meant to be. We did try to make the most of our short stint here, however, and so we present you with the following adventures in the Southwest:

The first few days in Perth and Fremantle were the last for Devin’s west coast jaunt, and sadly also for our merry band of itinerant miscreants.  Therefore our time was spent primarily in frenzy, reorganizing and looking for accommodation, post offices, and the means to mail two unwieldy didgeridoos across the world.  Our first night in the caravan park near town was fairly low-key. There we befriended a pair of young Quebecers over dinner and some free, boxed wine that was thrust upon us by departing retirees. We noticed this particular phenomenon during our stay there – apparently, the more destitute you look as a weary backpacker, the more handouts you receive. As we sat in the camp kitchen that night, we had no less than four different people approach us with bags of food and supplies. Thank you Australia, we are not below free food. 

Picture
Wandering through Perth central during the day, we couldn’t help but pick up really positive vibes. Different sections of town had aspects of our other favorite cities and towns around the world – Melbourne, San Francisco, Montreal, Cambridge, Boston, and Munich to name a few - and it made for a very familiar ambiance. Public art was abundant with sculptures and paintings scattered throughout the city. After months of small towns and vast bush land, we had re-entered metropolis and the refreshing cultural perks that accompany an international city. The Asian population and influence were particularly apparent here, surprisingly more so than in Darwin where we had been expecting it. Perth was filled with Asian restaurants and shops, which reminded us of our serious sushi deficiency. 


Picture
Picture
What made Perth less overwhelming for us compared to other big cities was its abundance of parks and green space. The largest and most impressive was King’s Park, a sprawling expanse of botanic gardens perched on a hill high above the city. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to give this truly spectacular bit of real estate proper attention, but we did manage to get up there and take a peek. We also took this opportunity to take some celebratory photos marking our successful completion of over 18,000 kms through Australia with the car still intact (suck it Corey, this pictures for you, naysayer!). Woot.


Picture
Neighboring Perth is the smaller, but equally enticing port town of Fremantle and on our second night, we ventured in for a beer at one of our favorite Australian breweries, Little Creatures. We had been to the Little Creatures brewpub in Melbourne, but the one in Fremantle is the company’s main brewery, the original. Built in an airplane hangar, the facility is huge and has a trendy, industrial but welcoming atmosphere. The place was packed but we soon realized that we were some of the youngest in there. Most of the customers were in their early 30’s - the type that just wanted a good, casual beer and excellent food, without the stereotypical bar scene. It was right up our alley. The beer, as expected, was fantastic and we had a sampling of their tap selection. Our favorite is their Bright Ale, but we would take any one of them any day. Ben was super excited that he could actually taste the hops in an Aussie beer. As Australian beers go, Little Creatures knows how to do it right, particularly when it comes to hops and a balanced flavor. We also got to try a white ale and a dark ale from another Western Australian brewery, White Rabbit, which were excellent. 


Picture
Ben proudly displays his Little Creatures business cards from Coast to Coast
Picture
Picture
London Court, Perth
The next day, Devin’s last full day with us out west, we spent far too much time reorganizing the car and then settled in at a hostel closer to the train station for Devin’s departure the next morning. We spent the afternoon getting a better feel for Perth, exploring the side streets and numerous walking malls. We discovered one particular hidden alleyway that had been designed to look like a street in 1600s London, and contained a variety of specialty shops for coffee, chocolate, and cigars. The guys immediately rushed in to this legitimate old-school style Tobacconist to soak in the ambiance of pipe tobacco, wood boxes, cigars, and humidifiers. Two Cuban cigars were purchased to celebrate the significant milestone in our trip that evening, as well as a few bottles of local wine. 

Picture
That night we were determined to have a sushi dinner to mark the end of a successful road trip as the three (and once four) musketeers. We took a lovely stroll into town from the hostel and soon discovered that Perth restaurants, much like Colorado Springs, seem to close down at 9 pm for some bizarre reason. This being a Saturday and the night before Halloween, we were particularly shocked. Anyhow, we managed to sneak into Taka, a very cheap Japanese restaurant, just before they stopped taking orders. They do it cafeteria style and have some awesome inexpensive sushi platter options. Much to our dismay, the chef only had enough sushi rice for one more roll, so we resigned to one large sushi roll to split and several other dishes including a delicious teriyaki fish. 


Picture
The Cubans were lit and we moseyed the streets in the cool night air, admiring the occasional costumed passerby. Eventually, we stumbled upon a massive Halloween block party sponsored by one of the corner bars. We would have jumped right in had the entry fee not been a whopping $50 each. We did get to check out some excellent costumes though, and Ben got to have a slightly creepy conversation with some old, inebriated Aussies about Texas and whether he owned a gun. Which brings up a recurring theme we’ve noticed in our travels – Aussies LOVE Texas, especially the more backwater Aussies. From their perspective it seems that the United States mainly contains California, New York City, and Texas, and that everyone owns at least a handful of guns. We’ll probably talk about this, as well as other Aussie observations, in a later post. Be sure to tune in!


Picture
Picture
It's been a long jouney
The next morning, we made sure Devin was packed up, had done his homework, and had remembered his Ninja Turtle Thermos lunchbox. Before we parted ways, we made sure to document that at the completion of a six-month, 18,000+-kilometer road trip our beards had grown long. ALL our beards. It was an emotional parting given all we had gone through, but we knew Devin would go on to amazing adventures back in Brisbane on the boat with Emily. Ah, they grow up so fast. Miss you Dev and Em!


Picture
With Devin on his way east on the Indian Pacific Railroad, Ben and I decided to get a better feel for Fremantle, since we had only really seen Little Creatures and a few streets in the dark two nights before. Fremantle was established as the port town for Perth, and has become a hub for artists, baristas, and backpackers. It was easy to see in the many well-preserved, ornate, Victorian buildings that the people of Fremantle went to great lengths to preserve the history of the town. There was a consistent balance struck between the old and the new that made for excellent city walking and an overall feeling of comfort to be there.


Picture
Picture
Picture
Picture
Who is this guy?
Each street held new surprises for us: hidden indoor markets, fantastic brewpubs, quaint restaurants, dirt cheap Asian food, specialty stores, and sinfully gourmet chocolatiers. If you ever find yourself in Fremantle, go to San Churro’s Chocolatier (they also have one near Perth) and order the Azteca Hot Chocolate or really anything on the menu. Sweet nectar of life. At the Sail & Anchor brewpub we bought a sampler paddle of various beers from local breweries as it was officially “Novembeer,” a month of celebrating Aussie craft beers. We particularly liked Hop Hog, an American IPA, and 1984, an Imperial IPA. We’ve been particularly starved here for good IPAs – tragic, I know.  Don’t worry; we plan on doing a post specifically on Australian beer. Add all this up with $2.50 sushi rolls and the night was complete. Yay Fremantle!


Picture
Picture
The Esplanade
Picture
Johnny Depp, eat your heart out.
Picture
Picture
Alas, Karma finds a way to balance out all things and the following day was indeed a "ball-suck day" as Ben so aptly described. While there was some additional positive sightseeing around Perth and Northbridge, a student oriented, culture-rich suburb, United Airlines made sure to ruin my day. While at the beautiful state library trying to sort out far future travel plans and near future to-do’s, I found out that I had been given incorrect information regarding the travel rules of my ticket home (which had been purchased with frequent flyer miles) and I wouldn’t be able to make any changes to my itinerary. This basically meant that I would have to leave a month earlier than we had planned or buy a new ticket altogether. Suck.

In addition to this catastrophe, we were experiencing mental and emotional panic about where we should be staying (city or country), how we were going to sell our car, and how we were going to forestall our upcoming bankruptcy, among other things. Triple suck. Anyway, no need to go into detail about all of this. It’s boring, it’s not fun, and you don’t want to read it. To sum up: It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. I think I’ll move to Austral… wait crap. (Childhood literature reference anyone?)


Picture
This sculpture bridged a rotary and could fit an entire truck through it!
Picture
Eventually, after much hemming and hawing, we determined that waiting in the city for someone to take interest in the car was not a good idea, and we wouldn’t be able to find work in town unless we could stay for the entire summer. We didn’t want to stray too far from the city in case someone did want to look at Alby, so we determined that WWOOFing just outside of town would be the smartest move. After calling at least thirty hosts with no luck, we were contacted by a woman named Ita Goldberger from Roleystone, a town in the hills southeast of Perth, who invited us to stay and work beginning the very next day. A night of free camping in a beautiful wooded picnic area near Jarrahdale and we were off!


Tom (the Austrian ^^)
11/26/2010

Hey, so, of course I enjoy reading each of your posts, but I absolutely love this last one with the detailed description of Perth/Fremantle!
I think you did a great job catching the mood of what used to be my home for a little while, and I'm glad you guys liked it.

Hope all the uncertainties you encounter on your travels will sort themselves out!

Oh, and btw Marielle, in Austria it's still your birthday, so: All the best :D

Reply

Your comment will be posted after it is approved.


Leave a Reply.