I arrived in Perth, the state capital of Western Australia, around 4:00 pm. The Airbnb that I booked didn’t allow check-in until 6:00 pm, so I ate dinner at a nearby restaurant off of the river.
The owner’s girlfriend let me inside the small studio apartment. She was petite and mousey, and she seemed nervous explaining things to me. Her Canadian boyfriend, who owned the property, was out of town. It took her 30 minutes to show me things, which was annoying. I took it easy and rested because my heart rate was very slow and I felt wiped out.
The next day, I slept in and enjoyed the apartment. I needed a rest day. Sometimes, traveling nonstop really wears on me. I need the occasional day off. I listened to my body and rested. The following day, I signed up for the hop-on/hop-off bus tour.
I walked across a beautiful bridge near my Airbnb that took me to the stadium. It was new, and I heard that it was built to encourage more footy games there, drawing in Australians from outside of Western Australia. I walked around the outside and enjoyed the beautiful day.
When the bus arrived at the stadium, I hopped on. I love learning about places, so I plugged in the headphones to listen to the commentary. Here are a few things that I learned from the tour:
- Perth has a population of 1.98 million.
- It’s the world’s most isolated capital city.
- Perth has the largest inner-city park in the world. It’s even more massive than Central Park in New York City. It’s called Kings Park and Botanic Garden.
- The commentary said, “Perth has the climate that Southern California thinks it has.” I had to agree – it was winter and was pretty moderate. They get a lot of sunny days, too – Perth is officially the sunniest capital city in the world.
- Western Australia is perhaps the oldest land on earth. It’s large enough to put Europe and England inside, with room to move.
- They call Perth the city of lights because, in 1962, an American Astronaut flew over the country. Everyone turned on their lights, which was the only thing that glowed in that part of the world.
Once I finished the tour, I walked around the city. I visited the library and the art museum, both of which were free. I had signed up for a walking tour that evening and met the tour guide, Robyn. It was just me, and I was happy that she was still willing to do it. Robyn was short with brown hair pulled back into a messy ponytail. Her sister started the company, and they were still growing.
It was nice walking around the city, but I had already learned a lot on the hop-off/hop-on bus. I did learn that Perth is the third windest city in the world. I enjoyed seeing the old and new buildings in Perth. Robyn said that the city had exploded in the last five years because of the nearby mining. However, the mining recently had a downturn, so the housing market was starting to struggle.
We walked through some laneways and saw a bit of street art. The city had a nice mix of modern and older architecture, and it was clean. Local aboriginals created some sculptures that represent their tribe.
When the tour was finished, I went to a gin bar that Robyn had pointed out. There was a wheel to spin that selected your drink if you wanted. I went for it and put the fate of my drink into the wheel. I was feeling good and was supposed to meet a guy from Tinder that evening, but he wasn’t responding. A different guy messaged and asked if we could meet for a drink. I told him that I was already at a bar and he could join me. He agreed, but then complained that he’d have to drive 30 minutes into the city. He offered me to come to his house instead. Frustrated by the lack of effort that men are willing to put forth, I declined.
I walked to a rooftop bar instead and enjoyed the city lights. It was beautiful, but it was too cold, so I left.
The next day, I took an Uber to the pier for a river cruise to Fremantle, a port city off the Swan River. I boarded the boat and was assigned to sit at a table with Carmen and Gordon. They appeared to be in their 60s and were from Sydney. Carmen used to be a teacher, and Gordon used to work in the food industry. Gordon was in an unfortunate car accident and retired early. He works with Meal on Wheels 20 hours a week.
Carmen works with a Filipino group, where they just elected her to the secretary. It was like working a full-time job, and Gordon said that she worked “too much of the time” there. They’ve been to the U.S. when they drove from Los Angeles to Minnesota. They also went to Alaska, which they thought was Canada at one point. The couple said they loved the U.S. They’ve also been to Africa and Europe. They were impressed that I was traveling solo and said, “Good on ya.”
When the boat arrived in Fremantle, we separated on the trolly that took us around the town. We passed the Maritime Museum, where people can put their name on a plaque with the name of the ship that brought their ancestors to Australia.
The trolley tour guide told us about C.Y. O’Connor, an Irish engineer who designed the construction for the Fremantle harbor. He is best known for his work on a water pipeline that they believed was impossible. The piping took water from Perth to Kalgoorlie. The vast desert needed water for all of the gold-mining. It took six years (in the late 1800s) and was supposed to be impossible. The pipe is 30 inches wide and 531 kilometers (330 miles). It provides drinking water to several towns that are along the pipeline. Unfortunately, there was a lot of political pressure, and slander surrounding the building of the pipe, and O’Connor ended up committing suicide.
We drove past the prison, which was built by the prisoners. The prisoners actually built most of the government buildings and roads when England first sent them to Australia. In 1909, the first and only woman was hung there. She was from South Australia and had killed her three step-daughters. In 1962, the last man was hung for killing eight people in the area. They are both buried in the same unmarked grave.
The tour guide talked about the breeze that comes in every day in the summer. It helps the ships to go into the harbor. They call it the Fremantle Docker.
When the trolley tour was finished, I walked back to the boat, where I had lunch with Carmen and Gordon. They were in town for a big rugby game. It was the first time that I heard an Australian use the phrase, “Fair Dinkum,” meaning, “unquestionably fair.”
Gordon and Carmen told me that when they went to Minnesota, they were shocked when they saw snow. A little girl asked them, “Haven’t you seen snow before?” Carmen replied, “No, I haven’t actually.” We talked about the differences in our countries, and they think it’s funny that our football players wear pads. I think it’s weird that their players don’t wear any pads!
Once the tour was complete, I went back to my Airbnb to take a nap. I bought a ticket for my very first footy game that was in the evening. It was a lot of exploring, and I wanted to feel refreshed for the game. It would end up being a highlight of my time in Perth.
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