THE PLACES BEYOND THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES
It's the evening of the 13th day of my Great Adventure - and already I'm suffering from serious sensory overload. Too many things seen and done. Too many places visited and people met. Too much to tell and not nearly enough time to give it all the justice it deserves.
Before I left Perth on Tuesday, I asked Janice to write down as much as possible about everything we'd done during our three wonderful days together....
Breakfast cooked by Kate. (It was lovely, too - and included the nicest poached eggs I've ever tasted.)
Caversham Wildlife Centre (in Whiteman Park). (That's where I met the kangaroos, as well as some snazzy 'agile wallabies', my beloved quokkas, two or three wombats and echidnas, innumerable exotically coloured parrots, parakeets, kookaburras and an emu or two.)
Swan Valley Wine Region - Lancaster Winery. (The wine was lovely but I was surprised how expensive wine is in Australia - specially as it's locally made.)
Margaret River Chocolate Factory - over the road from the winery. (This was lethal - the chocolate was scrummy and they gave you as much as you wanted to eat for free as long as you cheated and just queued up again. They made the nicest sugar-free chocolate I've ever had.)
The Tap for pizzas and tapas ( - this was housed in a converted farm that used dozens of redundant wheelbarrows as flowerbeds - ) and then a change of clothes (in the toilets) for....
(A splendid Saturday night out in downtown Perth to see Onegin, danced by the Western Australian Ballet Company. It was lovely - performed in His Majesty's Theatre - just about the oldest in Perth. Sumptuous - and sooo nice of Janice to cater to my predilections.)
The drive home afterwards was via Northbridge (the offbeat partying quarter of the city centre. It was very lively indeed - and I even noticed a berainbowed gay pub called The Court, although - inexplicably - we didn't call in).
Needless to say, I was once again led astray by my hosts; we stayed up late, courtesy of good company and excellent wine. Janice says we were up till 0300 but I have no recollection even of going to bed....
Brian drove us to the ferry jetties in the city. They're located by a monumental belltower but what catches your eye is the name of the pub nearby - The Lucky Shag. Janice told me the innocent derivation of the name but I didn't believe a word of it.
We boarded the ferry to Fremantle here - the James Stirling. (Note: From now on, I'll be referring to the town as Freo, as the locals do.)
It was a wildly windy and squally day - which made the trip down the Swan River to Freo even more dramatic. I say 'river'. It's much more like a very large inlet of the sea. It's enormous...
The bloke swabbing the decks of the James Stirling was from Bristol....
Freo is the port of Perth. Unlike Perth, though, it's late Victorian and Edwardian town centre is almost perfectly preserved. It's really lovely - and compact enough to walk around. So that's what we did.
We passed the celebrations of National Talk Like A Pirate Day on the esplanade - complete with a saucy troop of Morris dancers called the Mad Tatters - to the main street, part of which is nicknamed the Cappuccino Strip. That's the sort of upmarket place Freo has become.
Blue and white balloons and bunting were everywhere. The Dockers - the local Aussie Rules Football team - had reached the national final for the first time in 17 years. The whole town was talking about little else and Let's Go Freo was adorning shop windows, Tshirts, and the exteriors of large buildings - even back in Perth. The final is this upcoming weekend.
Let's Go Freo....
I liked Freo a lot. I liked the 60s, flower-power feel of its indoor market. I liked Cheryl, who served up my first taste of 'silverside' - boiled Australian corned beef - with sweet mustard pickle. I liked silverside, too. I even liked the vegemite sandwich she suddenly appeared with. Thanks, Cheryl.
(Note: When you get back, start up a new business in Grainger Market selling Bubble Tea. It's very, very good...)
So it was back to Perth. To Phoebes the dog and Cat the cat. To pasta and salad - and talk talk talk - and wine. Always lovely local West Australian wine...
But time is running out now. It's getting late here in Sydney. Once again, so much that I have to tell will have to wait. The overnight cyclone, the Monday morning seafront breakfast, the train trip to Perth, the wonderful and surprising art gallery, the garden of the mystic number 7, wandering at dusk in King's Park - up a-height and looking down over this astonishing and vigorous city from the memorial at the hill's edge - with its eternal flame - as the lights came on below us.
Full days. Happy days. And they ended with champagne and strawberries - and a live video chat with my brother and his wife back home in England. How very lucky we are to live in an age when such things are possible.
We were all together on that final night. The way it should be. I had travelled across the world to see my cousin and her family and had soaked up every single second of their company.
Now I really know what 'unforgettable' means.
* * *
Here's my problem...
I've already been in Sydney for two days. I haven't told you about my flight from Perth or my hotel here. I haven't told you about where I've been or what I've done. I have loads of photos to show you.
But when? I'm just so busy doing my journey that I'm finding it difficult to find the time to write it all down!
* * *
Distance travelled so far...
12,364m / 19,898km
Watch this space...