Monday, October 20, 2014

Week 15 - Purposeful Meandering around Oz

Kilometres          17948 - 18531 km

As we’d finished last week on a lull, it was only fitting that we start this week by picking up the pace. Monday morning saw us head across town to spend the day at Fremantle. The kids were excited to drive past the tall buildings of the Perth CBD and across the Swan River for the first time. We were soon in Fremantle and the first thing we noticed was the endless mariners filled with multi-million dollar boats, to the point they are stacked like small apartment buildings….. Our first stop was the Fremantle Prison.  This place was a maximum security prison until its closure in 1992. We did a very informative tour of the prison where they offered to keep all kids in lock-up but somehow we kept our 2 for further parental punishment. We then headed down to the mariner where we sampled some of the award winning fish n chips the area has to offer. By mid-afternoon we were at the WA Maritime Museum where we ticked another thing off my bucket list…… The winning 1983 Americas Cup yacht – Australia II is on display here along with an “Oberon” class submarine, which we did an onboard tour of. We all loved the experience of going below deck of this once working Navy sub.
Inside Fremantle Prison
Tuesday was meant to be a little slower and it started that way. While most of the family lazed around the van I went out to get a slow leaking tyre repaired. About lunch time we headed out for an afternoon in Swan Valley, this is a smaller version of the Barossa or Hunter Valley. A picturesque tourist drive only 25km from Perth seems like another world away. We visited some spectacular chocolate factories, an ice-creamery, a working honey farm and tasted some very nice wines. Late in the afternoon we detoured into the Perth hills where we stopped at V8 legend Peter Brocks fateful crash site. After a moment reflecting on this legend of the sport we headed for home and a well-deserved happy hour.
Oberon Class Sub - about to go below deck
Wednesday was a scorcher in Perth. While many of our friends were lashed by the severe weather back home we had temps of 35deg so we naturally headed to the beach, more specifically the northern beaches. Starting at City beach where the kids dipped their feet in the chilly water, we travelled north along the coast stopping at Scarborough, Trigg and Sorrento beaches and finally the picturesque Hillarys Boat Harbour which is a meca of expensive boutiques, eateries and a kids amusement park. After checking out all the expensive boats for-sale, many of which were worth more than the average house, we headed further to Joondalup where a massive shopping plaza entertained us for the rest of the afternoon.
Old grape crusher - Swan Valley
Thursday was a bit of a nothing day for us. We had the car booked-in to have some suspension mods done so we were at the mercy of the mechanic and as it turned out they pretty much had our car for the entire day. By the time we got the car back we were happy just to return to the van.
Hillarys Boat Harbour & water park
The tempo of Friday was go go go! We headed into the city just after the peak hour rush and soon found some all-day parking. From there we jumped on the free metro bus service. We used the 4 interconnecting bus routes to get around the city, checking out many of the sights. Ethan and I headed to the WACA sports ground where we got a tour of the facilities while the girls did some retail therapy. After lunch we all did a tour of the Perth Mint, which is where much of Australia’s gold is handled. Under heavy security the tour shows you Australia’s largest existing gold nugget (Normandy Nugget – 25kg) and the only Australian $1 million dollar gold coin. As night fell we stayed in the city where The Mall comes alive with a variety world food stalls and buskers. We had a quick bite to eat before headed to the Perth Arena where we watched the Perth Wildcats defeat our own Wollongong Hawks in the National NBL series.
Ethan and I at the WACA
After a late night we didn’t surface till late on Saturday. We eventually got motivated and headed out to see more of the city sights. We drove to Rockingham and the surrounding area where we had a look around before slowly making our way back up to Fremantle. The place was a hive of activity, the Freo markets (local lingo) were on and the endless mariners were buzzing with people attending to their boats. Once again we spotted our boat of choice, only to see it was owned by someone else…. By mid-afternoon a huge storm hit the city, it forced us to take shelter as we watched the boats on the Swan River get smashed. Unbeknownst to us at the time but our van park and surrounding suburbs wore the brunt of the storm. We returned to the van to see the area covered in hail. It looked like we’d had a dusting of snow with a few vans being damaged by the hail, luckily we weren’t one of them. The inclement weather hung around for the rest of the evening.
Lets go Hawks - Perth Arena
Sunday was the first time of our trip that we’d woken to the sound of rain, it was nice to lie in bed and enjoy the sound of rain falling on the van. The kids however had other ideas and were soon up and armed with raincoats headed off to play with other kids in the rain and puddles. Pretty typical of kids who haven’t seen rain for so long…… By late morning we were heading to a geocaching meet n greet with some of the local teams. Unfortunately the first hour was spent huddled under a gazebo as the rain continued, but thankfully the weather improved and so did the enjoyment of the event.
"Freo" Markets
Our first week in Perth has been pretty much non-stop. We don’t want to leave wishing we’d done or seen more. Who knows, maybe next week we might slow down!

Until then, ciao 

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