Perth – Friday 30th March 2012


I’m not going to live near a railway! Perth’s YHA is very convenient for the station but the trains pass by really close and love to sound their horn as they travel: even at night!
I wake with a mild headache, and a concern about Easter!

Last night at the Korean restaurant, we had been joking about the strangeness of celebrating harvest festival at the same time as Easter. For someone from the UK this does not make sense and I’d never thought of it before. Today, I realise that Easter is next week!

Next week!

And we have not booked any accommodation at all! And when I make enquiries, everyone tells me it is a very busy time and all families go on holiday and accommodation is at a premium. Haven’t you booked already, they say amazed!

Sure enough Wotif shows us that Easter weekend is fully booked!

Hmm…

Oh, we’ll how bad can it be? We only have today to see Perth, let’s go!

Perth has three free buses. We choose the red CAT because it stops very near the YHA and because it’s circuit travels the longest distance along Perth city.

It’s a bit disjointed initially, spacious, several medium sized green spaces, all the shops and businesses you might expect of a large and successful city.

Kings Park, larger than Central Park NY,we are told, has a whole range of interest, from children’s corner to botanic garden. We make our way round, impressed by the number of team building groups we find, sporting T-shirts from various major multinationals.

Once we reach the viewing platform we get a sense of what this city is about.

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Like Sydney it is based around an estuary system. The river mouth is enormous providing an incredible natural harbour. Housing spreads right round this water and the efficient transport systems are very evident.
The CBD offers a proud and confident skyline and way off in the distance, bush land surrounds the city. The panoramas are wonderful, especially from a viewing platform beside three cafes. Under this platform is an aboriginal art gallery, which we explore. There are some wonderful modern pieces here. Firstly I select two cushion covers, which are gorgeous. Then I fall in love with a piece made from hand made paper, constructed in 3D in red depicting a topography of a journey around water holes.

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Purchases made, we explore the botanic gardens and their collection of Banksia plants, before finding the Bell Tower down by the harbour. Nearby, is a massive sundial. As part of John’s work concerned time we spend a while examining this time piece.

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There are so many wonderful things to see in Perth, I am sure we missed loads. We walked until we could walk no more, finding quaint, English style alleys and brash modern buildings. Eventually we need a drink. The first place we poke our noses into is noisy beyond belief, we spy “The Nest” up high and make our way up there. This is also quite noisy, but with a vibrancy we love, full of people who have just finished work. I wonder if they had to do their share of teamwork games, it seems very popular here.
Back at the YHA, we begin the thankless task of finding somewhere to live over Easter. Not as easy as I thought. We only secured one night so far!

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Last few days in Melbourne – 5-8th January 2012


There are so many small jobs to conclude before we go to New Zealand. The difficulty with our car hire: Hertzt not knowing that we have already paid a comparison website for the car, getting a refund on the nightie I had removed from the first flat we stayed at in Sydney in October, doing washing and researching in preparation for New Zealand.

It does not make for good reading but it is very much part of travel! There are hours on the net, completing this blog and trying to get up to date!

However, we cannot restrain from a visit to see Melbourne’s art gallery near Federation Square. In Brisbane we had seen precious few aboriginal art, including two wonderful pieces on bark.

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In Melbourne there is a brilliant exhibition of modern aboriginal artists and a more permanent 1970s exhibition. Both are wonderful and we are lucky to have a tour to explain some of the background.

Aboriginal art grew from the dot patterns which adorned body art. It tells stories from the dreamtime and from the culture. While being painted the artists sing. Many paintings are created by groups who sing together, telling the stories of old. The exhibition was good at explaining the dreadful, catastrophic effect of European development, not least the A bomb testing in the desert which relocated many tribes.

The older bark paintings, such as the one I have uploaded, describe in detail the ceremonies, not a line is wasted. Every detail records important aspects. Not all tribes can read each others stories. Today aboriginal art is highly commercial. Modern painters have the confidence to take the old stories and reinterpret them in their own style. Their colours are incredibly vibrant.

I was overwhelmed by the life of this art but had not brought my camera! How could I?

Our last day at the house was devoted to cleaning. Just about everything we could, was moved, dusted, hoovered or scrubbed.

A last BBQ ended our day, and we went to bed exhausted but pleased with our results.