I caught the bus into to Perth central for the day to do some exploring. First stop was the Bell Tower, a large 6 story glass and metal structure that houses a bell museum with giant swing bells, and an excellent view of Perth.
I made my way to the Carillion Food Court, with 16 different food vendors, it’s quite astounding to a food lover like me. I had an awesome bowl of wonton noodle soup from Chinese Canton. It was a really big serving, and apart from the dumplings also had Beef shavings, noodles, a large chicken portion, and some vegies.
I bought some T-Shirts and a pair of boardies (swimming trunks) at the SizeUp section of the local Target store (Target is like Game with a bigger clothes section), then met Ray at the bus stop.
When we got to Ray’s house, Elie’ treated us each to a huge plate of chicken casserole (very tender and tasty) for supper. After supper, we went to the site where their new house is being built (it’s cheaper to build a new house than to buy an old one).
Ray took me past a cheap liquor shop on the way back to Sean’s house, so that I could get my self some whisky… it cost me an arm and a leg because of the extra taxes on booze and the bad exchange rate.
I caught the bus into Kalamunda to do a bit of exploring. While there I bought my self a Trans-Perth Card and some air time for my cell phone. They don’t call it air time here, but rather Mobile phone credit. The phrase Cell phone will get you odd looks, and air time is what Michael Jordan has.
I found an awesome second hand book shop, and bought my self an old Si-Fi Magazine from the 70’s.
I also got my self a new hat, as the existing one was cheap and already starting to fall apart.
After church, we loaded the kids into the car and headed out to the Swan Valley, a region known for its vineyards, wine and crafts.
The first stop was Maalinup Aboriginal Gallery. This gallery of authentic Aboriginal paintings and crafts is owned and operated by Dale Tilbrook and family, descendants of the Wardandi Bibbulmun people from the Busselton/Margaret River region of the South West of Western Australia. I bought some hand panted and carved boomerangs, and Dale showed us “bush grub” in the specially planted garden of indigenous plants.
My search for Australian whisky came to a dead end at the Wild Swan Distilling Company as their whisky will only be ready in the next 2 years.
We popped into Duckstein Brewery and the Great Northern Distillery, but both were too packed with other tourists and we needed some lunch.
It seemed that all the good restaurants were packed as this is prime season for the Swan Valley…then we discovered Waldeck on vine café, right on the far end of the valley. By now we all were hot, tired and hungry. The Milkshake hit the spot while the play-pen kept the kids occupied. Lunch was basic but good, and afterwards we wondered around the Waldeck nursery.
On Saturday the whole family went to Caversham Wildlife Park & Zoo.
Caversham is part of the Whiteman Park nature reserve, a 40-square-kilometre bushland area purchased by the state government in 1978, to protect the underlying aquifer as a drinking water source for Perth.
They have most of the indigenous animals, reptiles and bird life along with the plant species found throughout Australia. The park is divided up into the regions of Australia so that you can easily tell where the wildlife is native.
There is also a small farm with animas that can be petted.
The best parts of Caversham were the kangaroo feeding park, where you could “mingle with the roo’s and even pet and feed them, as well as the koala bear inclosure, which understandably had a more closely supervised petting.
At lunch I had a Mrs Macs pie, the local equivalent of a Ma Baker pie… only much better.
Apart from the flies, which seem immune to the fly repellent, we had a great time.
Cathy (an old friend from SA) gave me a lift into Perth central today. Armed with a map of the CBD, I set out for some solo exploring. I got the map, along with some podcasts (kinda like a radio show that you can play on your cell phone or MP3 Player) that I had downloaded from the Perth tourism website. It’s a great idea, and works really well. You just follow the map and listen to the cometary for each of the sites on the map. You can walk at your own pace and wander off the tour at any time if you see something interesting that you want to check out.
I tried the MacDonald’s Angus burger for lunch, made using “prime Australian beef”. For the drink I had the frozen coke, it’s kinda like a Slush Puppy made with Coke a Cola. It somehow retains the fizz, and is pretty awesome if you can avoid the ice headache from eating it too fast.
I popped into the WA Museum, entrance is free, but donations are encouraged. They had some interesting displays on the early settlers and the aborigines. They also had a life sided Dinosaur replica in one of the displays. I didn’t have time to see the whole museum as I had to go meet Ray (another old friend from SA) at the bus stop to get home.
The busses, trains and ferry’s can all be used with a Trans-Perth card that works similar to a prepaid SIM card. You pay money into the card, than when you use the public transport, you swipe the card and it is debited the relevant amount. You are not changed per bus, but rather per zone crossed. So you can swap buses on your trip, just swiping your card when you get on and when you get off. And the computer will automatically work out the cheapest fare.
I had and awesome day in the city, and now that I know how to use the public transport I have true freedom to explore on my own.
Debbie took me to Guildford and we explored some of the old second-hand / antique shops. There were quite a few items that I would have bought if I didn’t have to worry about bringing them back to SA… a concern that has probably saved me a lot of money since I’ve been here. These shops can probably be best exemplified by the sign that reads ”We buy junk and sell antiques”.
We also stumbled upon a warehouse full of Asian antiques and artefacts… I’m sure I’ve seen a movie that starts like this.
After Guilford, I was dropped off at the mall in Midland for a few hours of exploring. I tried Red Roster skin-free wrap for lunch. The chips were good, but the wrap was not exactly tasty.
A friend of Sean and Debbie, offered to show me around Fremantle as he had the day off from work.
We wandered around the shops and had lunch at the local Hungry Jacks. I had the double whopper with cheese meal; this comes with a bottomless soda. Hungry Jacks is like the Australian version of Burger King
After that we just drove to the beach, then to south Perth, and finally back home. The drive around Perth helped me get my bearings and understand the lay of the land better.