Now I know where to go when the oppressively humid Queensland summer gets too much. Perth was gorgeous for four days in late January: clear cool mornings gave way to hot dry days which rolled into dusky evenings and BBQ dinners. We had been to Perth before in the summer of 2009/10, and I well recall my constant efforts to keep cool, staying indoors with the air conditioning on, dipping in the pool, and sheltering under the widest brimmed hat I could find. This time was like the most perfect summer that ever was.
We flew in very late at night and our nephew Terry picked us up and took us back to his place for a few hours sleep. After coffee and breakfast with Mark the next morning, we headed into the city for some sightseeing. Our first stop was the historic St Mary’s Cathedral right in the heart of the city, the church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Perth. I’m a sucker for old churches and spent a pleasant half hour with my camera trying (and failing) to capture the cool green light at the very top of the arches. From there we tramped about downtown, catching some street performance (the Fringe Festival had just started) and roaming through the quaint London Court shopping arcade. Colin and Terry demonstrated extraordinary patience (or restraint) as I snapped away, loving being in full tourist mode again. Later that afternoon we headed over to Fremantle to eat fish and chips with Colin’s sister, Michelle and her girls, and ride the Ferris wheel in Esplanade Park.
I love experiencing new places when I’m travelling, but it’s such a pleasure to return. There’s a sense of familiarity second-time around that orients you very quickly and makes you feel at home. Much of our time was spent at David (Colin’s brother), Deb and Levi’s house in Roleystone, where we had stayed last time. I was transfixed all over again by Deb’s lush and shady garden with its quirky bits of this and that, textural contrasts and half concealed treasures.
One afternoon after hanging out with Darryl (Colin’s nephew) and his son Jackson, we took a drive through the Swan Valley, Western Australia’s oldest wine region. We went first to the Margaret River Chocolate Company to indulge in generous samples of just about every kind of chocolate you could think of. After deliberating for ages, I finally settled on bags of crystallised ginger covered in dark chocolate, and licorice covered in milk chocolate. Mago Coffee was just along the road a bit, so we stopped in there for a brief lesson in coffee roasting and a delicious piccolo. Finally, as the afternoon drew to a close, we pulled up at Lancaster Wines for some tasting in a rustic corrugated iron shed, all the while entertained by our pourer and his hilariously inappropriate jokes. I came away with my favourite of the day, a sticky 2012 chenin, still ferreted away in the cupboard for just the right moment to relive that golden afternoon.
On our last evening we drove up to the lookout on Gooseberry Hill like we did on our last visit, to catch the stunning sunset looking west back to the city. Perth appeared tiny on the expansive horizon, and we could well believe that it is one of the most (if not the most) isolated city on the planet. After gourmet burgers in the funky suburb of Leederville, Terry took us for one last spin through the city, up to Kings Park then down for a closer look at Council House and its mesmerising exterior LED light display. We were up early the next morning for our flight, tired but happy, feeling like we had wrested maximum potential out of every moment. Thanks, and love, to Dave, Deb, Darryl, Terry, Jackson, Levi, Shannon, Michelle, Hayley, Mikaela, and Darryl for good times and great memories xxx