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We Love Australia Fair: Perth and Environs (late Sept. 2009)

We Love Australia Fair: Perth and Environs (late Sept. 2009)

Mar 1st, 2010, 09:37 PM
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We Love Australia Fair: Perth and Environs (late Sept. 2009)

We arrived in Perth at 9:20 am on a Saturday after a 7 am departure from Darwin. (It’s 1-1/2 hrs. earlier in Perth than in Darwin.) We spent four nights at the Holiday Inn City Centre, on Hay St. (superior queen non-smoking room, A$129/nt; I booked this rate on the web; it was non-refundable). This was great place to stay. It was very conveniently located and had a nice indoor swimming pool. There was an underground food court nearby with a large number of different vendors. We ate many of our meals there, at a very reasonable price.

Our first day, after lunch in the food court, we went on an excellent free 1 pm tour at the Art Gallery of Western Australia. The gallery has an extensive collection of aboriginal art works, and, as we’d encountered at MAGNT in Darwin, there was an exhibition of the art of winners of an aboriginal art contest.

We then visited the Western Australia Museum and Old Perth Museum Gaol, which is next to Art Gallery.

Dinner at the Arirang Korean restaurant.

On Sunday we walked to Kings Park. (It rained off and on the entire day, sometimes quite heavily.) We had a light breakfast at the café there and looked at some of the plants and flowers on our own before going on the 10 am guided tour of the Nature Trail. We were there during the annual wildflower festival. The gardens in Kings Park are extensive and beautiful, and the views of the river and the downtown area are stunning. It is well worth a visit. We walked along the Lottery West Elevated Walkway, and then took to bus back to the hotel. In Perth all buses (not just the CAT buses) are free within the CBD.

Lunch at the food court and then back to see more of the Museum of Western Australia.

On Monday we took the Red CAT bus to the Parliament and took an excellent (free) tour at 10:30 am with a fabulous guide, Michael Loney. His family has lived in Perth for many generations, and he is a professional actor (who leads tours as a sideline). My husband and I were the only people on the tour. As we walked around the chambers we ran into several of the leading politicians; Michael knew all of them.

After the tour, we took a CAT bus to the train station and took the train to Fremantle. We visited the Western Australia Maritime Museum (we got the concession [senior] rate of A$5 pp), which has many boats on display, including the one that won the America's Cup. We also went to the Shipwreck Museum (donation), where the highlight is the wreck of the Batavia. After a nice dinner at Little Creatures, we took the train back to Perth.

We had hoped to spend a day in Rottnest Island, but it was so cold and windy in Fremantle, and we figured the weather would be similar in Rottnest, that we decided not to go to Rottnest.

On Tuesday, we walked to the Swan River and saw (but didn’t go into) the Swan Bell Tower. There were many beautiful, colorful birds in the area. We then walked through the Supreme Court Gardens to the Perth Mint. We took an excellent tour of the Mint (A$15 each); the highlight was watching them pour gold. There is a great display of gold nuggets and interesting information about the West Australian Gold Rush.

We then took a (free) city walking tour, which began at the Murray St. Mall, but the guide wasn’t very good. We left the tour at noon for another lunch at the food court. After lunch we took a quick tour of His Majesty’s Theater (for a donation) and then took another city walking tour; this one focused on city art and was very good.

For dinner we had free “tapas” (pizza and fried chicken) at the Holiday Inn.

On Wednesday walked to Thrifty Rental Car office (198 Adelaide Terrace) to pick our rental car (2-door Hynudai Getz; unlimited kms., A$135 for 3 days; booked with Vroom Vroom Vroom), and then headed north to AQWA (Aquarium of Western Australia).

The aquarium, which is about 20 minutes north of Perth, at Hillary's Boat Harbour, is excellent; A$26.50 pp. We thought it was as good as the one in Sydney. It focuses on the sea life of the Indian Ocean. In one portion you’re on a moving walkway through a circular acrylic tunnel, with sharks, rays, large fish, and turtles swimming overhead and around you. We found that we did much better taking movies than still photos of the fish, though this uses a lot of memory.

After lunch at an Italian restaurant in Hillary’s Harbour, we continued north on the Mitchell Freeway to Yanchep National Park, which is 51 km north of Perth. We stayed at the Comfort Inn in Yanchep N.P. (A$105 for a “motel” room; TV, fridge, AC, ensuite). The room was large but a bit run down.

Yanchep NP was fabulous. There were kangaroos everywhere (including a number of mothers with joeys in their pouches, and we could get quite close to them) and many beautiful birds. There is a Wildflower Garden and Koala Enclosure, where you see many koalas sleeping in the trees as well as many beautiful flowers, which were nicely labeled. In addition to spending quite a lot of time in the Wildflower Garden and Koala Enclosure, we took several nice walks that day: The Wetlands Walk, around a large billabong; and the Woodlands Walk.

We had an excellent dinner at the Yanchep Inn. It is a historic building from the 1930s with a lot of character. The night we ate there they had a great special of a 200g (7-1/2 oz.) steak with chips and choice of sauce of A$12; salad and veggies were another A$3. We topped this off with Sticky Date Pudding for dessert.

The next day we were up early to do the Ghost House walk (about 10 km round trip). It wasn’t as good as the other walks, but was still very pleasant. At the end of the walk we saw about 30 roos altogether in a field.

We left Yanchep and headed toward York. We had lunch at a restaurant in a (garden) nursery. We wanted to go to Avon Valley NP, but it wasn’t clear how to get there. (We couldn’t find any good maps of the area, and noone we asked seemed to know.) We passed (and checked out) several national parks, but none of them had people around or maps or brochures.

We drove through Toodyay and Northam and saw some nice old buildings.

We arrived in York and checked into the Settlers House (A$95 for ground floor room, queen bed; couch, ensuite with bath; tea/coffee facilities; continental breakfast, unheated swimming pool), 125 Avon St. The room was nice and fairly spacious, but the TV didn’t have good reception and there wasn’t a fridge.

We walked along the main street, Avon Terr., and had dinner at the Settlers House. York is pretty dead. Many of the restaurants didn’t serve dinner or were out of business. This was the only part of our trip that did not live up to expectations.

The next morning, after a continental breakfast at our hotel, we walked along the Avon River and then drove to the Mt. Brown Lookout, which features nice views of the area. We then drove to the Perth airport (for a 4:20 pm flight to Sydney), stopping along the way at Mundaring NP, where we did the Weir View walk, which was nice; and at John Forrest NP, where we walked to Hovea Falls. (The Mundaring Weir is a dam built to supply water [the Golden Pipeline] to Kalgoorlie/Boulder.)
judilie is offline  
Mar 1st, 2010, 10:25 PM
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Hi judilie -

So glad you enjoyed Yanchep! You might have read that Toodyay suffered a bush fire in late December and some 40 odd homes were lost.

WA national parks are often works in progress, which as you discovered, can be a bit frustrating. I've had a helluva time trying to find info on several WA national parks myself. I suspect its partly due to lack of funds and partly because many of them are meant to be undeveloped wilderness areas and are by definition remote and difficult to reach.

I felt the same way you did about York. We spent a day there awhile back and I kept wondering what I was missing.
Melnq8 is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2010, 12:02 AM
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judilie, congratulations on a great series of reports - everything a trip report should be and an uncomfortable reminder of what a slacker I've been and continue to be (yes, Melnq8, I still mentally whip myself about that Bali trip report).

Your reports deserve equal billing with Melnq8's memorable accounts of her waistline-enhancing adventures in WA and SA, and AndrewDavid's masterly accounts of his misadventures in Tasmania and encounter with Dinky, the Singing Dingo of (somewhere unspeakable in the Outback). They're a great guide for any visitor who gets the time to move out of the Sydney-Cairns-Red Centre-Melbourne triangle (or for pedants, an irregular quadrilateral).

And as an ROF (Registered Old Fart) let me also congratulate you on your impeccable grammar and spelling. I fear we're a dying breed (said suitably smugly).

In addition to providing an invaluable blow-by-blow travel guide, please feel free to comment on the undoubted oddities of the populace. We (well, some of us) have broad shoulders, metaphorically speaking. If I ever get around to memorialising our laughable blunders through your own beautiful and hospitable country, rest assured I'll do the same.

"Oice"? I guess I shouldn't be surprised. My surname is Cammack, and I thought I'd made that clear when I booked a domestic flight in the US. Imagine my surprise (well, resignation - as an ex-airline employee, surprise would have been inappropriate) when we turned up at Savannah airport to be told Delta had no booking in my name. Eventually it was found under "Cimick". It seems that despite my best efforts the agent had interpreted my Australian "a" as an "i", and what's the odd "m" between friends.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Mar 13th, 2010, 10:45 AM
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neil, you've heard the ABC clip; i think you saw my picture of dinkey when you were here, but i fear you still doubt his existence! so take the family out for a sunday drive to stuart's well and enjoy the show!!

cheers
AndrewDavid

judilie: thanks for these 3 great reports; the west coast (w/ a stop to beard neil and robyn in their den in canberra is my next dream trip to the "land down under"
AndrewDavid is offline  
Mar 13th, 2010, 01:01 PM
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Andrew - I believe, brother, I believe! I really do.

PS: did you get my email, or is it perhaps lurking in your Junk Mail folder?
Neil_Oz is offline  

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