We flew into Perth, a small modern city and the capital of Western Australia. We were staying in Fremantle which is really a suburb to the south of the city which describes itself as home to artists, bohemians and lotus eaters but we did not see any of these strange creatures during our stay. Perhaps it was the rain which started soon after our arrival and persisted until our departure. It seems to have dogged us wherever we have been, following us around in a determined fashion. You cannot rely on the weather in Australia.
But it did not bother us. We had got used to it and, anyway, we had come here to review the contents of our backpacks in preparation for our trip to China and Southeast Asia. We discarded clothing that we think we will not need and took on new stocks that we have been warned will be essential. I had to buy new trekking boots: the pair I bought in San Francisco were no longer of any use. Partly because they were never waterproof (despite the fact that they should have been) but mostly because I had worn out the soles which now had large areas that revealed the inner boot. So my advice to any would-be trekkers is not to buy anything from Merrell – all the kit I bought from them has been of poor quality without durability. On the other hand, Debbie’s Berghaus boots have been brilliant. So I now have a pair of Italian Asolo boots that look as if they can climb Everest on their own. Which is just as well because Debbie tells me that is exactly what she has planned. Little does she know that I have removed a hike to Everest Base Camp from our China itinerary because I know she won’t stop there and, before we know it, we will be standing at 33,000 feet planting an oldies flag on the summit.
As for Perth, we did try to walk around the sites of the city but, having stared at the Government and Supreme Court Buildings, we arrived at the Bell Tower where the rain belted down and put a stop to any further sightseeing. The Bell Tower was a fun place to try to sit out the rains, a Millennium Project, it houses 16 bells that were shipped over from the church at St Martin in the Fields, London. Now fully restored they dance to the time of the old turret clock from Ascot Racecourse. They are all housed in a very modern building shaped like the top of a pyramid just outside the Central Business District and overlooking the old harbour on Swann River.
As for Fremantle, it’s a small place. It was the base for a previous Americas Cup and now has a few shops and plenty of restaurants and waterside eateries. I wish I could say that the cuisine was excellent but, like the rest of our Australian experience, it was average to good. The best meals we have had were in a Thai restaurant in Cairns and an Indian restaurant in Fremantle. The Indian really was excellent. Mostly I am not a great fan but, if this place were in London, there would be queues down the road.
We are now mentally preparing for a month of Chinese cooking, green tea and beer. Debbie is lamenting her last bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and I have checked the Imodium tablets.