Trip Start Jan 2003
200Trip End Dec 2003
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We have walked for miles. It's one of the advantages of hostels in Australia that they all have kitchens. We therefore packed up a picnic and headed to Perth's premier attraction, Kings Park. The weather was kind and we lay, overlooking the city along with all the young and carefree courting couples. There's nothing that's made me feel quite as old as being subjected to the sight of snogging teenagers rolling around on the grass. The views were spectacular (city on one side, Swan River on another) and it was an unusual yet welcome feeling to do something we might do at home.
Keeping it unreal, we were, as far as I could tell, the only backpackers at ou place who didn't dine on takeaway pizza or SuperNoodles, opting instead for a gorgeous but surprisingly expensive dinner in the Highgate area of town
Day 128 - Perth - Rockingham - Mandurah - Bunbury - Fremantle
A day of real freedom as we hired a car fo the first time this year. While driving was easy to get back into, it seems Australians drive a lot more cautiously than is normal at home. I was soon a recipient of 'the bird' from a pick-up driving man mountain for indicating and then pulling out into his lane at least 100 metres in front of him. I didn't stop to argue.
We didn't really know where we were heading but given that this is often the best way, we just picked place names fom the map. Unfortunately on this occasion it wasn't the best way and Rockingham, Mandurah and Bunbury all rivalled Eastbourne for their prevalence of pensioners. Bunbury briefly looked pomising but there were a distinct lack of dolphins at the Dolphin Discovery Centre.
The best stop of the day was at a winery (vineyard). Signposted from the main road we were expected something more visually impressive than the back garden-sized area of straggly vines we saw. Despite not being aimed at tourists, the owner was more than happy to show us round and let us taste a few wines. We bought a bottle of one we liked and were pleasantly surprised that our palate was more knowledgable than we thought as we were subsequently told it had won some sort of award. I'll make it as a wine connoisseur yet!
The last place we visited (and where we stayed) was Fremantle, just 22kms south of Perth. After a day mixing with Australia's more mature citizens, it was a relief to be amongst a younger generation for dinner, drin ks and a visit to the cinema. Freo, as it's known (best said in an Aussie accent) has a cosmopolitan feel to it with an infinite number of cafes dotted along the pavement. It seems a perfect place to relax and although we're not going to see any of the tourist attractions, given that the prison is near the top of that list, it's probably better we don't and still leave with a positive feeling about the town.