Great Chips; Dull Mint

Trip Start Sep 08, 2011
Trip End Jan 08, 2012

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Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Thursday, November 17, 2011

I'd been Down Under for 6 weeks now and still hadn’t seen a single kangaroo in the wild. I had seen them in a sanctuary in Melbourne, but as good as that was, that could be done anywhere in the world. The kangaroo, like quite a few animals actually, is unique to this country. If I didn’t see them here, I wouldn’t see them anywhere.

Knowing this, Helen decided it was time to seek them out. Just as you cross the Swan River to enter the CBD, there is a small island in the middle of it (the river, not the CBD). On Heirisson island there is, apparently, a colony of kangaroos living there. The island is open to the public, but the kangaroos are fenced off. Fortunately this area is also accessible and allows you to get up close and personal with the kangaroos. There was one tiny snag; we went in the middle of the morning. Anyone who knows kangaroos will know that they are not out and about during the day, after all they’re not completely stupid. They usually spend their days sleeping in long grass under trees and are most active from dusk onwards, which, incidentally, is why it is very dangerous to drive in the country at night as that’s when vehicles crash into kangaroos, which is not a particularly pretty sight, as hitting a roo can total a car. So, as you will have surmised by now, we didn’t see a single kangaroo on the island. We walked around the compound, looking under trees, near water, looking just about everywhere, but not a single roo was to be found. The most exciting thing we spotted was a duck taking her ducklings for a swim. To say I was disappointed would probably be a bit of an understatement.

Nevertheless, a packed day was planned and so we headed out of the city towards the coast. Our destination was Cottesloe. It’s a pretty beach, but one of the main reasons why we were there was to go to the Indiana Tea Rooms, which is similar to having tea at the Ritz. But as (our bad) luck would have it, it was closed. We later found out that it had recently been panned in a review in the paper, according to Paul, he’d never seen such a savage review of a restaurant, which may have accounted for its closure.

By the time we’d got to Cottesloe, both Helen and I were hungry and just opposite the Indiana was an unassuming fish & chip shop, so we decided to go there for lunch. This was my first visit to an Aussie chippie, I just assumed that it would be the same as the ones in England (always assuming you can find one, of course). Nothing could be further from the truth. The first thing you notice is that there are a variety of takeaway salads on offer – a chippy selling healthy food? Whatever next? Also the fish on offer was completely different. None of the boring cod, plaice or haddock, here we had barramundi, shark and whiting. However, what impressed me most was the offer of the fish of the day, remember this is a coastal town, so it has to be supposed that the fish of the day had been recently caught. The fish of day was Orange Roughy. Say what? No, I’d never heard of it either, it’s a recently discovered fish and is also known as 'deep sea perch’. As the Oz adventure is all about new experiences, that’s what we both went for. It was absolutely delicious! The unassuming fish & chip shop turned out to sell the best fish & chips I’d ever had. How bloody typical of Australia, everything is bigger and better than anywhere else. However, there is a downside to the Orange Roughy. It was only discovered about 20 years ago but, due to its longevity (it lives up to 80 years) and sparseness of its reproduction (it doesn’t start to reproduce until it hits 18 – 20 years of age), it is already in danger of being fished into extinction.

After eating our fish & chips on the beach, surrounded by hungry seagulls, it was back to Perth. I’d been told about the Royal Mint, which had a demonstration of gold pouring that interested me. In order to see the gold, I had to go on a guided tour. ‘No worries,’ I thought, ‘it should be interesting.’ Well, I can now say that I’ve done something that was hugely disappointing. The tour was dreadful. I should have been a little wary of it when I realised that we were not allowed to take photos in the building. The tour guide gave us a cursory history of the building and the work done in there, but when it came to the various exhibits (coins, nuggets, etc), he explained it all before we entered the room where they were and then gave us 5 minutes to look around them, by which time everyone had forgotten what we’d been told about what we were looking at, but we didn’t have time to read the information either. Not particularly informative. Even their attempt at being interactive was rubbish. Apparently some years ago at the Brisbane Expo, the Mint had had a gold bar on display with the challenge that if you could lift it, then you could keep it. The trick being that you had to put your arm in a hole to get to it, so the only leverage you had was from your wrist. To their surprise, somebody did actually lift it and since then the challenge is just to lift it without any reward for doing so. Anyway, I thought I’d give it a go, but found that I couldn’t get my arm in the hole. That just about summed up my visit to the mint; overall, it was pants.

On the positive side, the pouring of the gold was interesting and there were also scales there that weighed you but rather than tell you your weight in kilos or pounds, it told you your weight in gold. I’m worth $5.3 million AUD. However, I wouldn’t recommend a trip to the Mint.
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Joe on

After reading this review, I can something else in Cottesloe is in danger of closing down too.
Oh, and one other thing, leave those Orange Roughy alone!

Christine on

Were the fish & chips really better than the ones we had in La Raval?

Met up with Anne last night for our Friday babs and we were saying
"What if he loves it so much out there he never comes back!"


georgegoode on

Sorry to tell you Christine, but they were magnificent!

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