Friday, May 8, 2009

Down Under

Well my reservations about visiting Perth have all been blown away - Its a wonderful city - the sun is shining and there are bike paths everywhere!
Peter met me at the airport - I had a very good flight with a lovely neighbour, a retired farmer and politician from NZ, coming to Oz for a Caving and Karst Conference - who knew there were such things - anyway we talked the whole way and dear Peter managed to get me, my bike and luggage as well as Derek and his bag into the car to drop Derek at his hotel downtown!

More great hospitality is happening - Peter and I probably saw one another 45 years ago which is scarey but true so it was lovely to see him and reminisce about playing in the garden on Yarmouth Road!
Peter now lives in a lovely home on the river right across from "DT Perth" with an uninterrupted view and about 100yds from the bike path.
On Saturday we went to Freemantle and wandered in that delightful little old town - had fish and chips and then got me maps and some tourist info so I can make a plan! Picked up a great bike map for Perth and surrounds and got a new sim card for the phone.

Peter is not going to the Kimberly and I'm not going on a "Road train" - instead I have explored Perth on my bike - Kings Park is the largest urban park anywhere in the world apparently - I did a tour of the botanical garden and still have to spend more time exploring there.
I did manage to get a booking for a hostel on Rottnest Island and have been there for 3 days this week. I cycled from Peter's to Freemantle - 30+Km all along the river - the Swan river is huge and seems more like an estuary or lake but they have done a fabulous job of keeping the shore line as park and creating the best bike path system I have ever seen -

Rottnest Island is 4km from Perth and originally was used as a jail for aboriginal people and then a military defence druing the war - now it is a sanctaury with only service vehicles allowed and everyone riding bicycles - It is 12km long and 8km at its widest. I stayed in a dorm room in the old Barracks for $25 a night and it was great - again met some interesting people -
There is a wide variety of accomodation available but mostly it looked pretty basic and I don't believe there are any private homes there.
But the main thing on the island is the amazing beaches and stunning scenery and the Quokkas.
These are the smallest marsupial and were initially wrongly identified as rats - hence the name of the island. Very cute of course but a bit scoungy around our accomodation and they kept managing to get into the kitchen and were really hard to shoo out!

Anyway its a little paradise and I cycled all around and about back and forth and had a great time - Got to see 2 fabulous sunsets from the 2 high points. Its probably pretty busy in Summertime with masses of people visiting by private boat but this week with beautiful weather and not many people it was really special.
I rented snorkel and fins one day and ventured out in the crystal clear tourquise water - managed to find a chap to take me out the first time and then went in again on my own later - I saw all sorts of fish and blooming coral and can see how people could get hooked on exploring the underwater -
Yesterday I came back to Perth and cycled a different route, going up the coast north of Freo and then cutting across into Perth - Riding beside this beautiful beach with white sand and tourquiose water was more of the spectacular! Certainly got to see all the humungous houses along the river - realy lifestyles of the rich and famous stuff - must be lots of money in Perth!

So now I am planning my next little excursion and took Colin and Gabrielle's advice and on the internet found a bike route that looks very doable - "The Great Escapade" Route - about 550km if thats what I end up doing - It goes from Bussleton past the wine region of Margaret River down the coast to Augusta - the SW corner of WA and then inland into less touristy parts, past huge trees and farmland I think and back up to Bunbury. So I have booked the bus on Sunday to take me to Busselton and then hope to start riding on Monday. Everyone says how lovely it is around there so hopefully the weather will continue to be gorgeous and it will be a great trip.

I have 3 weeks left in Oz so will make the most of this great experience! I even managed to update my wardrobe at the Sally Ann today so I shall feel like a new woman!

I found a lovely quote in one of Peter's books on Oz

"Nature has left us the most beautiful gift; the most wonderful opportunity. The standing of this generation will ultimately be measured not by the sophistication of our toys, or the grandeur of our structures. Our ability to preserve the integrity of nature's garden - that will be the true monument to our progress"
by Hugh Brown

I like that!
hugs to you all

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