The perfect start to our Australian adventure
Wednesday 20th December 2017
Western Australia is often overlooked as a tourist destination with people preferring the east coast when travelling from afar. We decided to visit Perth because I (Rebekah) have been to Australia before some 17 years ago but never to Western Australia and it was less flying time from Singapore to head to the west coast. After an overnight stay in an airport motel following a late arrival we headed off to our destination.
I'm so glad we chose to visit the west coast because we all fell in love with the town we were staying in and if it wasn't for the long air travel to get home to the uk I'm pretty sure we'd be investigating how to move to the town.
We stayed in Fremantle - about 45 minutes outside the city centre of Perth, in a quirky little Airbnb apartment within walking distance of South Beach and the famous Fremantle markets. Fremantle is an old hippie town and it still has some of that vibe about it, so many people wander about barefoot (Aussie feet I'm reliably informed) and the whole area just has such a cool relaxed feel to it with its gorgeous high street, book shops and galleries. And bakeries! So many bakeries!
There also a little row of cafes that are based on whole foods, raw and vegan - and all busy too so you know it's all good tasting too.
We got up and headed out, visiting That Little Cafe on our way where we enjoyed a great roast beef wrap and and excellent welcome. We were told to visit Cottesloe Beach where our cafe host proclaimed it to be the "the best beach in Australia!" - "in AUSTRALIA?!" I exclaimed - that's a pretty bold statement but he was insistent so we made sure to add it to our list of places to go.
We continued our walk to the town and headed to the esplanade where we could see a park and the big wheel. The girls played for a bit whilst we wished we'd brought our fleeces - after the heat of Thailand and Singapore, Perth had a definite freshness in the air but it was so welcome, so much less humidity and a beautiful coastal breeze.
We continued our walk around the harbour where we enjoyed seeing many statues related to the history of the area, including a monument to the fishermen of the area, those who made the area into the fishing village it became.
We wandered across to bathers beach, where there used to be a whaling station and tunnels lead from the beach to the railway line. We loved walking along and seeing all the seafood restaurants, and seeing the tiny jellyfish in the sea around the jetty.
We ended up stumbling across the roundhouse, a former prison or curfew centre, as well as finding the whale tunnels to the beach and a stunning art installation that looked as though massive yellow circles were floating out of the street towards us.
We visited a super art gallery and then wandered home, stopping in at the various galleries, book shops and bakeries on the way. It's such a laidback vibe and there are so many places to eat and bars, we instantly felt at home here.
The next day we decided to visit this amazing Cottesloe beach and we weren't disappointed. I've never seen such clear water, even in the Caribbean or Zanzibar. Absolutely crystal clear and beautiful white sand. It really is stunning and stretches for miles.
As the wind picked up we headed in for some lunch and caught the train back to Fremantle and walked home. This sort of lifestyle is intoxicating, you can see how you would embrace an outdoorsy life here because the climate and surroundings just lend themselves so perfectly to fulfilling it. There's no effort required where you have the most beautiful walks on your doorstep and the bluest of skies above you.
On Sunday we headed down to the famous Fremantle market. We love a market on our travels and this was no exception although pricier than we've experienced so far given our others have been in India and Thailand! It was so busy as well but a good buzz about it and we picked up a couple of souvenirs.
We headed home to relax before going out to the South Beach sunset market which we'd been recommended to visit by our Airbnb host. It was the first one of the summer season and packed out with families and dogs all enjoying the grassy areas, listening to the live music or playing on the beach. We actually can't believe how lucky the people are who live here. We kept looking at each other saying "and this is just these people's normal lives!!!" How lucky they are to be in such amazing surroundings.
The market however wasn't what we expected as we thought it was going to have more craft stuff and local stalls but it was really just a food market - so many choices, from Japanese to German, Thai to Turkish there was something for everyone. We sat on the beach and watched the sunset before starting our stroll home. I love how much we walk everywhere and we are regularly clocking over 12,000 steps each day which is great for us all.
On our last day in Western Australia we decided to head to Rottnest Island - a place that crops up in everything you read about Perth and Western Australia. We were keen to meet the quokkas as we'd never even heard of such creatures and experience an outdoorsy day but to our dismay the morning started with RAIN! Where was the blue sky? What happened to summer? We dashed out of our uber at the ferry terminal and huddled in the cafe hoping it would disappear.
Another dash onto the ferry as the rain was starting to lessen and as we sat waiting for the rest of the people to board we were amazed to see a pod of dolphins in the harbour! We watched them feeding and swimming by, absolutely entranced by them.
We made the short journey across the bay and headed off to pick up our bikes. The island is so cool, the only traffic is the vans of the workforce although it does have it own police and fire station. It's like a massive centre parcs as most people cycle and there's accommodation on the island and a village square with a supermarket and restaurants, even a Subway (sandwich stop not metro station!!). In fact there are people who actually live in Rottnest Island and there's even a small school.
We saw our first quokkas, funny little marsupials, a bit like a wallaby but with more of a hamster/wombat - esque face! They are so cute and look like they're smiling all the time.
We spent our time feeling like the Famous Five on a summer jaunt, the rain had cleared but was cloudy so it wasn't burning hot, we cycled, we swam on deserted beaches, we fished, we explored a shipwreck and it's fishy inhabitants. It was just brilliant. A day that we will all remember.
The fishing proved to be more tricky than anticipated as Nikki first caught a rock cod, unhooking it was a challenge with its pointy teeth and spiked back! Luckily a local man came and helped and showed us a good technique! Then Nikki hooked a sting ray, just as two enormous pelicans came swimming towards us - we were worried that they would try to eat the ray and we would have a pelican on the end of our fishing line!!
Luckily we unhooked it easily and sent it back into the water. We raced back as our ferry was heading off and flopped exhausted into our seats. We could have spent days on Rottnest Island, we explored only a tiny percentage of the island and loved it all. It's a super place where kids really get to be kids and families can experience the best of nature.
Our final morning saw a disastrous start as we lost our passports, Darcy was sick in the uber and we'd been allocated separate seats on our flight to Alice Springs! Luckily the passports were soon recovered, Qantas sorted out our seats and Darcy ate a cheese sandwich and recovered and we were off to the red centre of Australia to visit Alice Springs and then Uluru. Check out the next blog post when we will update you all on the next part of our adventure!