Trip Start Jan 13, 2010
26Trip End Mar 10, 2010
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Where I stayed
Western Australia is hot! We arrived in Perth in the second hottest summer on record. It was 42C (107F). The sun was so hot it was painful to be in it - shade was a priority.Thankfully,we had a spacious air conditioned apartment in the centre of Perth within easy walking distance of downtown in normal weather.
Surprisingly, many of the eateries we tried for lunch were not air conditioned - they were somewhat taken aback when we walked out on finding that out! We soon found an air conditioned restaurant where we had an excellent lunch.
While we are on the subject of A/C I must observe that electricity must be really cheap here (and in Melbourne)
Braving the heat, after settling in, we walked to the Swan River. This is a big river! Surprisingly it does not flow in the summer but is saved from the sea moving upstream by a sandbar at the mouth of the river. Fronting the city along the river is an enormous green stretching for almost the full length of the downtown business district. It is surrounded by palm trees but there are no trees growing on it. The city is set up for cyclists with well segregated bike paths provided in most areas. Downtown Perth is an attractive mix of older buildings and brand new
high rises. Large cranes were to be seen everywhere, evidence of optimism about the future.
We headed for the Bell Tower, which is a new modern structure erected for the millenium, containing bells, some from St Martins in the Fields in London which are from the 14th century
It was an easy walk from there to the shopping district but most of the stores were closing so we strolled back to our apartment. There are pedestrianized streets which form malls which make it easy to walk around.
Our hot climate strategy was to use the air conditioned, free tourist buses to tour the city, which we did the next morning. In the afternoon we took a boat ride to Fremantle, where the America's Cup was first won from the US. The boat ride was unexceptional, but on viewing the expensive real estate which lines the banks of the river, it seemed that Perth millionaires like to build their homes so close to each other that they don't have to shout to converse.
Fremantle was a pleasant surprise (as well as being hot), the old town is well preserved and sidewalk cafes line the streets. After coffee we took the clean and new commuter train back to Perth.
The commodities boom has obviously helped Western Australia. New roads, rail, buildings, houses were to be seen everywhere. Because of its remoteness, I had unconsciously assumed a certain lack of modernity - I was wrong. Once the distance from anywhere else is forgotten this region appears modern and complete, i.e. has all the facilities and features of any modern Western state. It is clearly ripe for growth - it has a great year round climate, adequate water (at least in an area larger than the UK), basic resources of all kinds, giant wheat fields, great wine, fruit farms, extensive forests, dairy and beef cattle, and more besides.