Perth, most remote city on earth 10 Mar-10 April.

Trip Start Sep 09, 2010
Trip End May 28, 2011

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South Lake

Flag of Australia  , Western Australia,
Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thursday 10th March - Travelling

Got to Heathrow T3 on time without too many issues on the road although traffic was as predictable very heaving on M25 but was all checked in by 8.30am. However not quite sure what the problem was the pilot kept saying it was some administrative issue in Singapore, which meant that we sat on the runway for 2 hours….so we’d be late arriving in Singapore and I only had an hour transit to get my other plane…so looked like I’d miss it. I spoke to one of the stewards and they said the plane would wait as I think there were many people transferring to Perth and it was a connecting Quantas flight. So no panic then. I was travelling in one of the new A380 planes, the large double decker planes that takes over 400 passengers. It was pretty spacious and the facilities were good especially the in-flight entertainment. It was showing all the latest films, including all the oscar nominated films, and the King’s Speech, typical I could have saved myself £7 at the cinema and just waited for the plane! They also have this new facility where you can make a call or text to ‘the ground’ from the plane. A call was about $5 but a text was only £1.50 so texted Chris just to let him know that I was likely to be late, Jay my brother and Alaa. The flight was 12 hours so I managed to watch a few films such as 127 Hours, The Social Network and the Hurt Locker so that helped wile the hours away.

Friday 11th March

Finally got to Perth at 4pm on Friday after around 24 hours of travelling, this is my 6th time to Oz. Chris was there waiting for me at the airport with his kids Cassidie and Tyler. I have known Chris for 20 years and met him when I lived in the gold mining town of Kalgoorlie on a working holiday.There was no work in Perth at the time, so I went to stay with the Matthew’s - friends of the family and ended up getting a job working in Hungry Jacks - the Oz equivalent of Burger King! It was during my first few weeks working at HJs that I met a girl called Debbie who introduced me to her boyfriend Ray and his friend Chris. Shortly afterwards I moved in with them and that’s when I became friends with Chris, he really was like a big brother to me at the time - I was 20 at the time he was 28.

Anyway not seen the Twins for 5 years they are now 12 and Cass is taller than me, I knew the day would come, it has and its depressing! Cassidie is 12 going on 16 but Tyler is still a typical kid. The twins are coming to Bali with us, along with about another 45 people….Chris’ friends Aaron and Jen are coming with their 3 kids and there are dozens of other friends and family coming out  and we’re all staying at the same hotel. Just found out there has been a massive earthquake 8.9 and subsequent tsunami in Japan, looks and sounds horrendous and on par with the devastation of the one caused in Samatra & Thailand back in 2004. There are Tsunami warnings in Australia and NZ but it won’t affect us on the West Coast. 2011 really does seem to be turning into the year or natural disasters, it was only 3 weeks ago that Christchurch was flattened by an earthquake…where will it strike next?

Saturday and Sunday 12th and 13th March

The kids normally stay with Chris every weekend since he split up from his long term partner Tracy a number of years ago, and they share custody. Just went shopping around Freemantle and then on Sunday we all got excited about going to the Western Australian Maritime Museum. There is a submarine in the museum which you can walk around and the kids have not been before. We got there around 2pm andwas  told that the tours of the submarine were all full up for the rest of the day. They only run till 3.30pm and can take 10 people maximum on each tour.  It’s a hot and sticky day in Perth today, well into the 30s and everywhere we go seems to be packed. All we wanted to do was find somewhere to have a milkshake, but wherever we tried food was sold out or the queue would have taken an hour to get through. We found a beach and sat and have a drink for half an hour or so but not really in beach clothes. Me and the kids dipped our toes in the water it was lovely and refreshing and I really felt like jumping in for a swim. But we will be in Bali soon so plenty of time for relaxing by the pool and sea. In the late afternoon we then went round to Aaron and Jen’s house. They have a fabulous outside garden bar area, and we had a few drinks and chats before heading back home for tea.

16-23 March in Bali

Thursday 24th March

Having got back from Bali Chris and I headed straight down south to stay at his country holiday home near a place called Northcliffe which is in the South West corner of Western Australia, a five hour drive and around 400km from Perth. Chris had told me the ‘shack’ was basic and he was right! It was like one of those pre-fab houses built after WWII in the UK made of tin. But it was a reasonable size, had a lounge and kitchen, toilet and shower and four bedrooms. But no TV, radio or internet, so pretty remote. Chris bought this with his friend Aaron a few years ago and they use it as a bolt hole, a getaway for the family from the stresses of normal day life.

Friday 25th March

This part of Australia first began life just over a 100 years ago as a logging community. We visited the next big town to Northcliffe, Pemberton today. It has character and has some colonial type houses dating back to the early 20th century when settlers first came here. Many of the houses just look like they are giant beach huts. It has character but seems a bit sleepy to me. We head out to Warren Beach, which is part of the D’Entrecasteaux National Park and stretches over dozens of miles. The only way to get to it is through the bush and sand dunes and you really need a 4-wheel drive or you’d get stuck. Chris has a large Toyota Land Cruiser with satellite phones, 2 way radios, fridges, compressors etc as he regularly goes camping and 4-wheel driving. He is an experienced 4-wheel driver, having grown up in New Zealand and he is used to driving in rugged terrains. It probably takes an hour to get to the beach from the outskirts of the national park, it’s a very bumpy and bouncy ride.

This is not a beach which is suitable for swimming, the waves are far too rough even to surf, and there are strong rips which make it unsafe, but the sand is white and stretches on for miles and miles. The beach was deserted when we arrived and there was nothing on the horizon, but as we drove along the shoreline like a mirage we could just about make out the outline of a couple of vehicles ahead. There were a few people out camping and others were just fishing - the beach is very popular for salmon fishing. It’s strange to think though that as you look south out to the southern ocean there is nothing between us and Antarctica which is 3,000 km away. Being out bush does mean that you get to see some of the native wildlife. I saw dozens and dozens of emus roaming the fields near to Chris’ shack, and we also a Kookabora the famous Aussie bird and an iguana lizard too, only one kangaroo though!

Saturday 26th March

We visited the popular look-out point Mount Chudalup. Once you get to the top you get great views of the widespread expanse of bush land and forests. After climbing Chudalup we drove to Windy Harbour which is another landmark of the area and where the locals fish. I have to say I could never live this kind of lifestyle its far too sleepy town and isolated for me, but it is a part of the country that Chris said he would like to retire to one day. Not for me though. I’m definitely not a country gal.

Sunday 27th March

It took 5 or so hours to get back to Perth and as I walked in the door at 3pm so I was able to see the last 2 laps of the Melbourne F1 Grand Prix…I’m a big F1 fan and it is the opening race of the season and in Australia. Good news is Lewis Hamilton got second place bad news is it looks like Sebastian Vettell is still the man to beat. Let’s hope this is a good season.

Spoke to my best mate Nick today on skype and Alaa too. I tend to wait until late in the evening around 11pm or early afternoon UK time. Whilst online so my old travelling buddy Katarina skyped me too. We have not spoken in person since I last saw her in December in Buenos Aires. She has spent the last 3 months in Bolivia with her boyfriend who she met in La Paz, but is now travelling through Columbia. It was really nice to speak to her and I wish that I was still travelling with her. She is due in Australia in June so we will just miss each other .

Wednesday 30th March

Headed into Perth city to meet up with my second cousin Sara who is on holiday coincidently at the same time. Perth is actually the most remote city on earth.The nearest city is Adelaide which is over 2,000 km away. In fact Perth is actually closer to Jakarta in Indonesia than it is to Sydney or Brisbane! This is her first visit to Australia and she is certainly embracing the outdoor/beach/surfing culture. She is in Joonalup north of the city by the coast and absolutely loving it here. I think she wants to emigrate here in a few years. My main observation of Australia now  is how bloody expensive it is. I think Perth and Western Australia has always been traditionally more expensive because of its isolated location but it is so much more expensive than the UK - well the food and clothes in particular. I noticed this on my first weekend when we stopped at a roadside café near the coast and a portion of fish & chips was $12 about £8 and whilst down in Northcliffe at their one and only café a full breakfast would have set me back $20 about £15! The dollar is now less than $1.50 to a £1 and on par with the US dollar so very strong indeed. A few years back you’d get $2 to a pound so much more for your money. Great for Aussie’s heading overseas but not great for us tourists.

I got the bus from the end of Chris’ road that takes me directly to Cockburn Train Station about a 20 minute journey. The train goes direct to Perth, only about 5 stops and takes just under half an hour. You pay $9 for an all day ticket. Sara and I literally bump into other as we wandered around the streets near the train station. We met each other quite early 10am, so we spent the morning just walking around the city centre. Perth really isn’t very big, St Georges Terrace, Hay Street and Murray Street are the main shpping areas and that’s about it. It's a very clean and compact city with a great skyline which can be viewed from King's Park. We had a few drinks, had lunch and then got on the explorer bus for a city tour. It was lovely to catch up with Sara and will see her again when we meet Brian and Sheila Samsworth next Saturday. They are step relatives - Brian is the step son of my great aunt (my nan’s sister). He emigrated to Oz years ago and they were the people I lived with when I first arrived in Australia 20 years when I was here on my working visa holiday. The last time I saw them was about 15 years ago on one of my return visits. Sara is also related to them, so she is coming with me (she’s never met them before) should be fun.

Thursday 31st March

Today I am meeting up with the Matthew Family. They are old family friends - our Australian family. Betty Matthew is my aunty Bronwen’s best friend. They met in London about 40 year’s ago and have been friends ever since. Bron was a £10 POM and actually emigrated to Australia in the early 70s but things didn’t work out and she came back to the UK a few years later, Australia really is her second home. I actually ended up living with Betty and her family up in Kalgoorlie ( a gold mining town in the outback)  back in 1991, on my working holiday.  When I lived with Betty I was sharing with her 3 children too Jen 8, Ashley 11 and Tim 13 - now they are 28, 31 and 33!!!! But whenever I visit Australia I always spend time with them, Bet visit’s the UK regularly and Jen and Tim have both lived in England too. Jen picked me up from Chris’ and we drove north of the river to her sister-in-laws Libby to look after her 2-year-old niece Lucy whilst Libby went to work. Ah she is so cute a real character. We spent the afternoon there and then Betty arrived to take Lucy back to her place for tea. Jenny and I went up to Kings Park. This is a very famous landmark in Perth which provides visitors with spectacular panoramic views of the city skyline. Jenny is helping out with a friend’s wedding at the park on Saturday and so is attending the wedding rehearsal. I spent the hour walking around the park. I’ve visited it many times before but it was very relaxing just wandering around and seeing loved up couples holding hands, friends running together and tourists admiring the view of the city and the memorial lake. Laura is there when we arrive. Laura is Betty’s mum - she will be 90 on the day of the Royal Wedding so they are hosting a tea party for her while they watch the ceremony on TV! Ashley is there too he cooks us a BBQ, believe it or not but it’s my first one since arriving in OZ.

1st April Friday

I went with Tracy to pick the kids up from school. I was wearing a lilac dress and unbeknown to me it was a special day at school and everyone was wearing purple! I spent the evening there and stayed the night. An interesting insight into life living with teenagers…..

2nd April Saturday

Decided to go the cinema with Cassidie we went shopping first at the one of the main malls….she brought a groovy pair of skinny red jeans…oh to be a size 8 again, but unfortunately the days of skinny jeans are well and truly over for me. But hello how expensive is the cinema - it was $18 for me $13 for Cassidie so over £20 - a bloomin fortune. I tell u what anyone thinking about visiting Australia should think twice, I will probably end up spending in 6 weeks what I spent in 3 months in South America? Oh well I knew Oz would be the most expensive place on my travels. Roll on Thailand and cheap living again.

3rd April Sunday

Chris has a motorbike…please don’t ask what make it is but I think it is a Honda. His mates Aaron and Ken both have Harley Davidsons, so we all went out for a Sunday ride. We drove to a place by the river about 70km south of Perth towards Mandurah. It was a lovely drive - the sky was clear blue just a little windy as we drove down the freeway. As I’m not used to riding a motorbike I didn’t manage to get myself into his slipstream so as a result my head and helmet were bouncing around a lot which was a bit uncomfortable. We stopped at this café by the river - it was 11am and everyone ordered fish and chips…I just couldn’t face it that early in the morning, so I had a cream tea instead. And it was lovely one of the best I’ve ever had $9 and you got a large pot of tea and two large warm scones with jam and cream - yum yum, the best meal I’ve had so far in Australia! Must admit the fish did look nice but still couldn’t have faced it that early in the day.

7th April Thursday

The weather has turned very English. It’s raining and very windy. It hasn’t rained in Perth for ages and in fact March was the hottest on record, but its very blustery. I met up with Jenny in Perth again. Did a bit of shopping beforehand and then we popped over to see Betty and Laura again. This time I didn’t stay long but I did get the chance to see little Lucy and take some pics. Dad and Bron will be staying with Betty when they arrive in Perth on 28th April, so they’ll soon be over exposed to the Philpott family! Dad, Bron and Betty are going on a ‘road trip’ up north to Darwin, then through the centre down to Adelaide and back to Perth in May - they’ll be away for nearly 2 months.

9th April Saturday

Chris was at work today so I couldn’t get a lift to the train station so had to wait for the bus again, but got the timings wrong. Anyway it all worked out ok as I got to Perth at 11.30am and met up with Sara and we headed along the Midland line to Meltham to see Sheila and Brian. Sheila came and picked us up from the station, not seen them in about 15 years, they are such lovely people and we has a lovely afternoon with them and a cracking BBQ, steak and a great selection of sausages - it was great to see them again.

The twins are staying over so that they can come to the airport with me tomorrow. They probably don’t remember but they’ve done that a few times over the years with me when they were much younger of course. Aaron and Jenny came round for a few beers and to say goodbye. Jen has just bought herself a new motorbike….I think that in another life Jen would probably be Chris’ ideal woman, be it not the fact she has been with Aaron for 20 years and they are still madly in love with each other!

Good to be moving on though, one month is probably too long to stay in one place, especially when you've been there many times before, but it was nice to see Chris and the twins, and the Matthew family. Not sure when I'll be back though I think it may be a while...looking forward to seeing new parts of Oz that I've never seen before..

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