08 June 2009

Perth and Freemantle, June 2009

With an early start into the cool morning air of a winter's day in Perth, with bright blue skies and a little dew on the grass, this was the opportunity to cram in the sights of Perth and the nearby port of Freemantle.

Working from the eastern end of the CBD, along the shores of the Swan River, there are marvellous cityscapes to be enjoyed, along with brightly coloured birds enjoying the nectar of the flowering trees which promenade the shoreline.

Swan Bell Tower
Past the Barrack Street Ferry Terminal, under the magnificent Swan Bell Tower (a very contemporary structure that soars into the sky, but surprisingly houses the 14th century bells from St Martins-in-the-Fields) and then a yomp up to the superb Kings Park, accessed by a steep climb up the steps of Jacob’s Ladder which brings you to the modern Bali Memorial. Quiet at this time of the morning apart from the throngs of intense young things seriously engaged in the process of getting fit. Some good scenery!
Great views east to the Perth skyline, counterpointed by the waters of the Swan River. A fine spot, and one I’d return to later in the day for better light for photography.

Perth from Kings Park
Another quick walk to catch the 1100 ferry to Freemantle, 19km to the mouth of the Swan River, passing some spectacularly expensive properties and boats along the way. Freemantle is a small port town on the Indian Ocean, locally known as Freo, and a classic old port with some fine museums, historic architecture and a population that booms at the weekends as Perth dwellers flock to savour the relaxed feel of the fine little town.

Fishing Boat Harbour, Perth
I headed straight for the pub, a huge drinking and eating establishment of renown called Little Creatures, situated in the busy Fisherman’s Wharf, and enjoyed a fine Pale Ale and a good wood-fired pizza. Then a brisk walk though increasingly crowded streets to view the market area, the fine Victorian buildings and the Round House, out on Arthur Head, a local prison built back in 1831 and a good place to look down across the town.

No time to stop though, so a quick return to Perth on the overground Transperth train, in time to visit Kings Park more comprehensively. Starting at the Kokoda Memorial, just next to the First World War Memorial, with dominating views back over Perth in the low afternoon sunlight, then passing through the cleverly presented botanical gardens, I the walked the Lotterywest Federation Walkway, which takes you high above stands of eucalyptus trees, before taking the Kokoda trail, a steep path down to Mounts Bay Road, where a final short stroll took me to the Old Brewery Restaurant for a beer and excellent steak.

Views from Kings Park, Perth

Back to the hotel, exhausted, but a very satisfying day. What a nice city!

06 June 2009

Western Australia

A brief visit to the beautiful and empty space of Western Australia, June 2009.
Although it took a 650km round trip with Pinnacle Tours, a worthwhile day was spent travelling north from Perth to visit the Cavendish Wildlife Park (koala, kangaroo, and wombats) before a long pull up to the Nambung National Park, home of the famous 'Pinnacles'.

Koala at Cavendish Wildlife Park
A moment with an old wombat...
These are eroded stubs of limestone, probably formed from tree stumps from an ancient drowned forest, which are now appearing through the sandy base of this area.

The Pinnacles, near Cervantes
Great views out to the coral sea of Jurien Bay Marine Park, situated in the warm currents of the Indian Ocean.
Then a bit of 'dune bashing' in a large 4WD vehicle amongst the huge white sand dunes of Lancelin, back towards Perth. An atmospheric spot with a fine sunset to the west and a full moon to the east. Happy days.

Sunset over the Indian Ocean from Lancelin
Huge dunes at Lancelin