Last days in Western Australia and Perth

Trip Start Oct 30, 2010
Trip End Dec 14, 2010

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Pat's house in Rockingham

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Blog 7 b- Last days in Western Australia

We only visited Perth once, on our last day in WA.   It was a lovely city, very much like Portland – a mixture of super-modern skyscrapers and hundred-year-old buildings, built on a river, and full of people enjoying the sunshine and the outdoors.  We had a guided walk around the botanical gardens which specialises in the flora of Western Australia, to try to learn more about the many new trees and plants we had been seeing, but staring at dumbly as we didn't know what they were. 

[ It’s been interesting in the cities – mostly hot, sunny, people walking around in shorts and sunhats – noting the Christmas decorations hanging from the lampposts, and the occasional commercial Christmas tree (one dripping with Swarovski crystals in a posh Sydney Victorian shopping mall).  Otherwise, the preparation for Christmas seems rather half-hearted.  Apparently, they mostly have artificial trees, and have cold turkey and a salad for Christmas dinner because it's 90 degrees.]

Mike finally got to go swimming in the Indian Ocean on our last day in Rockingham where Pat lives.  Pat’s son, Mark, and his three children came for dinner on Friday evening.  On Saturday we had a short visit to Mark’s home and saw the results of his incredible technical and practical abilities:  a 1936 Chevy he’d rebuilt, a large racing boat he’d won the Western Australia championship in, his collection of 1920s-1950s radios he’d restored, as well as many other gadgets in a triple-sized garage.  We were too gobsmacked and unclued-up to even ask questions, much less engage him in meaningful conversation about his technical interests.  We just tried to hide our total lack of practical knowledge or ability.  Auntie Pat’s most common statement is:  'Mark will fix it’, or ‘Mark did that for me’, and now we see why.        

By the way, we’ve found restaurant food very expensive compared to the equivalent in England. The exchange rate last year was Aus$2.50 to the Pound, but now is Aus $1.60, and the US dollar is at exact parity.  Food in stores is often double the cost in the UK.  We feel we’re paying twice what we would for nice fish and chips or a steak in the UK.  Aus$20 (13) is a lot for a mere salad or a sandwich.  Having said that, the food is great, especially the seafood, and we’re enjoying all there is on offer when we can.

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