Australia - Round The World Tour 3 2004 Day 324 (134)

Perth

Wednesday 26th January (2005)

We awoke this morning to the sound of hundreds of small Zebra Finches flying around the trees outside our cabin. Many of the birds we might typically see caged as pets back in Europe, such as finches, parrots, parakeets, cockatoos and cockatiels, can be found roaming free all over this country – a much better way to see them, in my opinion.

We checked out, took back possession of our AU$10 (€6,10) key deposit and set off through the desert back to Yulara. At around the halfway mark, we saw what looked like a goanna scurrying across the road so I slammed on the brakes to get a better look. By the time I backed the car up a few meters, it had already lost itself deep in the underbrush along the side of the road. Still, it was another new animal species that we’ve now seen roaming in the wild.

We still had some time to kill before making our flight so we had a look around the information centre in Yulara. They have a very well presented exhibit of desert creatures and we got to learn all about how both Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) were formed. We managed to kill about forty-five minutes in the information centre before hunger kicked in and we went in search of food. Our visit to Yulara has been a good one but if there is one annoying thing about visiting a small town in the desert in the middle of nowhere, it’s the fact you are a captive audience and pretty much at the mercy of whatever the proprietors choose to charge for goods and services. The only option we had for food was a small take away cum cafeteria, although I did manage to convince the woman behind the counter to allow me to bring in a chair for my pregnant wife. I’m now also looking forward to parking in all those pregnant woman parking bays at shopping centres too.

The last chore of the morning was to top off the car with fuel and hand it in at the airport. We were over our five hundred Kilometre allowance by about twenty and this raised the total bill charged to my credit card to AU$108 (€65,88) for the two days.

At check-in, I asked about our strange upgrade on the previous flight but the check-in agent had no explanation for us. It could have been one of any number of reasons, such as not enough meals being available in economy, for example. We’ll never know. I was cautiously optimistic about being upgraded again on this flight but no such luck this time. The flight into Perth on Australia’s west coast took just about three hours and was uneventful. I kept eyeing all the business class seats. All of them were empty

Upon landing at the domestic terminal, I went to collect the car whilst Sandy went for the luggage belt. This time we got the category car that we paid for but it’s a very nice little run-around and will suit us well for the next eight days here in Perth. I don’t know how far out of Perth we will venture but at least we have unlimited Kilometres just in case we do wish to venture farther out. Once we were in the car, I cracked open the Lonely Planet guidebook to shop around for backpacker accommodation. Unfortunately, most of them were booked to capacity and beyond for tonight due to it being Australia Day. The going rate for a night’s budget accommodation here in Perth seems to be around AU$50 (€30,50), give or take a few dollars. We arranged to go and check out the rooms in the one hostel that had availability and, with a few directions from the proprietor, we left the airport. He assured me that it should take us no more than about twenty minutes to get into the city and to their establishment but it wasn’t more than about thirty seconds out of the airport before we were totally lost. We did eventually make it into the city but one particular junction gave me a bit of trouble and we ended up on the other side of the road going back out of the city again. I found a place to do a U-turn but somehow managed to end up in a bus lane and we drove straight towards a group of waiting police officers. In near unison, they jumped out into the road to stop me and I had to wind down the window and plead ignorance. Not ten minutes in Perth and I was already staring a traffic violation fine in the face – no better way to get your blood pumping, let me tell you. As it happens, pleading stupidity and ignorance seemed to be the best tactic, as they immediately went into helpfulness mode after it was apparent that we were new in town and had unintentionally went down the bus lane. They directed me back into the correct flow of traffic and even gave us directions to where we were going so I can’t say better than that.

We eventually found the backpackers hostel but the staff there seemed none too friendly so we wandered around a bit to find an alternative. There were several other places within walking distance with a really nice one just around the corner. Not listed in the guidebook, this one had a really nice room with ensuite bathroom, a big kitchen and comfortable lounge. At AU$55 (€33,55) per night, it’s a little more than I would have liked but still close enough for our needs. At the very least, we have a nice room for tonight and may yet remain here for longer.

For several days now, I’ve been pestering my brother Paul David to try to find out for us the contact details of the sister of a family friend here in Perth. He finally came through with the necessary Information (thanks Paul!) and we left a voice mail. Hopefully, we will hear back from here tomorrow and we can make arrangement to go and visit her at the convent. I had a very interesting exchange of text messages with Paul David about some news that we will be conveying soon. He badgered me persistently about what this news might be and even asked at one point if it was that sandy was with child. We’re not ready to spill the beans just yet and I’m not sure if I was able to throw him off the scent or not so it will be interesting to see just how the rumour mill churns over the next week or two.

Having checked in to our accommodation and made ourselves comfortable, we wandered into the city to have a look around. Half of Perth seems to be out on the streets and making their way down to King’s Park for the Australia Day celebrations this evening. The central business district of Perth is very much like Melbourne but most of the shops were either shut or shutting due to the public holiday and celebrations. Sandy was by now starting to get tired so we made our way back to the hostel via a quick detour into a nearby KFC. We also found the doctor’s clinic where we will go tomorrow to talk to someone about any prenatal care that sandy will need in the coming months. Tomorrow, after the doctor’s appointment, we will find a supermarket and do some shopping to keep us fed over the coming days. From the balcony of the hostel, we watched a truly amazing display of Australia Day fireworks that lit up the Perth skyline for nearly half an hour before turning in for the night. I put on a DVD but Sandy was off to dreamland not long after her head hit the pillow. We will need to acclimatise ourselves to the time difference here in Perth.

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