So, country number seven! After an early morning in Bali, I finally arrived in Perth around lunchtime on Tuesday. I was expecting more of a ‘Border Security’ moment at the immigration but it was all super quick and I was out and on my way downtown within 30 minutes.
Perth is smaller than I imagined and it’s really easy to get around. I’m staying on Murray Street, which is perfect for walking everywhere. For a city that boasts 3000 hours of sunshine per year, it’s quite impressive that I have managed to be here for the two days when it’s overcast with thick cloud. It’s still quite warm though so that’s ok and it’s quite nice to drop down a few degrees.
I headed out for the afternoon and wandered up to the Perth Cultural Centre. It’s full of arty people and arty things, which I love and I popped in to see the latest exhibition at PICA (Perth Institute of Contemporary Art) before getting the free city bus (there are four free routes around the city) to Barrack Square. There is a Bell Tower by the harbour there and couples can buy a heart lock, engrave their names on it and lock it to the railings for good luck. It was a shame that the sun wasn’t shining and there is a lot of construction work going on down there.
I meandered up through the Supreme Court gardens to St. George’s Cathedral and snuck in to get out of the wind for 5 minutes.
Later that evening I went out for dinner with some people from my hostel and we had a walk around Northbridge, an area just east of the cultural centre, where there are loads of bars and restaurants. Perth is lovely at night and it wasn’t cold at all.
Today I got up early and was on the road by 8am. I took the underground train (which is actually 90% above ground going southbound) to Rockingham, or Rocking-ham as they pronounce it here, to check out some of the beaches and visit Penguin Island.
It’s about 50km, around 45 minutes from central Perth and the train line follows the freeway. It’s not quite on the coastline but you get to see a lot of the scenery including the lovely coves around Perth Water, Matilda Bay, the Swan River and across the Canning River bridge. All the houses are really well kept and there are plenty of boats docked in the bays.
I took the bus to the beach from Rockingham Station and had amazing Eggs Benedict at the Kent St. Deli before walking down by Palm Beach. I didn’t have a map but I knew if I followed the coast I would reach the jetty for the ferry to Penguin Island. Six kilometres later (!) I arrived at the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park information centre. It was a great walk despite being longer than anticipated and I got to dip my feet in the Indian Ocean.
The ferry over to Penguin Island only takes 5 minutes and there are 1200 little penguins living there, as well as sea lions, dolphins and loads of birds. There is a sandbar that goes from the mainland over to the island but it’s deceptively dangerous and apparently people have died trying to walk along it.
Little penguin is actually their official name – these gorgeous little blue and silver penguins are only 30-40cm high fully grown – and once on the island, you can visit the Discovery Centre where they look after vulnerable penguins. I watched the feeding session and then walked down the beach to have a look at this huge sea lion that was just chilling by the water.
Back on the boat, the captain took us on a 45-minute tour of the other islands. Seal Island, where there are no seals but lots of sea lions, and the other surrounding rocks where we saw an osprey, a squadron of pelicans (squadron is the name of a group of pelicans – one for the pub quiz!), and lots of cormorants.
I was back in Perth for around 3.30pm so I popped in to the Art Gallery of Western Australia, and I actually preferred the exhibitions there to those at PICA. They also have a small exhibition from a school group of Year 12 students that was really impressive too.
By the time I got back to the hostel I was ready to collapse but what a great couple of days so far.