We were still feeling the after effects of our wine tour combined with post-surfing aches and pains as we packed up our Margaret River campsite. We said goodbye to our wine tour friends, and made our way north towards Fremantle and our last two nights in Heidi. We made a couple of quick stops on the way the first being Bunker Bay, which was beautiful and great for a spot of fresh air and a leg stretch.We also called in at Busselton to look at its famously long jetty. Unfortunately you have to pay to walk down it so we settled for taking a picture from a distance.From there it was straight on to Freemantle and a quiet afternoon doing laundry. The next day we were feeling re-energised and ready to explore the town. Our campsite was right on the edge of town so we caught the free CAT bus to the centre and hit the sights. Fremantle is simply lovely town and a great place to stroll around at a leisurely pace. We took in the sites along the heritage coastline, all of which are accompanied by heaps of information and we loved the sculptures around the docks which seemed to come to life.The Roundhouse is a bargain with only a gold coin donation required to look around the old jail. It’s a must to pause at the top of the stairs in front of the roundhouse and appreciate the very simple, but very cool effect of the painted walls down the high street.
The truly bizarre Wind Harp is worth a visit if just for the photo opportunity.
Sadly, the wind wasn’t blowing the right way for us to hear any music. Our last cultural stop was the Shipwreck Museum, which is excellent and where saw the preserved hull of the Batavia, of which we had heard so much in Gero.As big kids, we particularly loved the interactive exhibit which allowed you to dig in the sand to search a buried wreck.Having topped up on culture it was time for a pint and, as Fremantle’s Irish pub has sadly closed, we made our way to the local brewery, Little Creatures. With 9 beers on offer it was only right that James taste them all whilst Caro drank a pint of very nice cider.Our footsteps felt a little heavy as we made our way back to camp with the knowledge that our last night in Heidi had arrived. We distracted ourselves by packing and creating this bombsite.That evening we sat down with cheese and crackers and raised a plastic cup of bubbles to our friend Heidi.The following morning it was time to make our way to Perth. We took advantage of having a vehicle for the last few hours and drove first to Kings Park which hosts the botanical gardens and has brilliant views over the city.Time was ticking on so we drove to our hostel, emptied Heidi in to our room and drove out to the airport where the Apollo offices are. We parked up and took our final odometer reading, we had driven 14,822km. The lady at Apollo was great, she quickly checked Heidi over, accepted our receipts for necessary purchases without question and we were soon free to go. We gave Heidi’s bonnet one last pat and followed the directions we had been given to the bus stop. This took us down the side of a 6 lane freeway with no pedestrian path, nearly getting run over by a roadtrain distracted us from our painful separation.
Our hostel, Billabong Backpackers, was great: we were given free dinner vouchers for our first night, they upgraded us to a deluxe room, free breakfast was available in the mornings and they seem to hand out drinks vouchers like sweets. The pub crawl was leaving at 6:45 that evening so we waited until 7 before venturing downstairs for dinner and WiFi with the other grown ups. Having survived through one painful parting we were put to the test once more as the end of Movember meant that James gratefully shaved off the tache and looked about 6 years old.
We had a busy day planned and, having enjoyed our free breakfast, we set off on a walking tour of Perth, which came to be our favourite city in Australia. We’ve found it quite difficult to express why we loved it so much, it just feels so welcoming. Our tour started in the CBD, which is a nice size and has some beautiful parks and buildings interspersed among the offices. We started by walking down towards the river, past the Supreme Court of Western Australia and its lovely gardens.Next up was the Perth Mint which was established in 1899 as one of only six branches of the Royal Mint in London and still operates today. This is one of the few places that we have regretted not paying to go inside, although we did manage to enjoy the outside nonetheless.We strolled up the shopping streets, passed the statue of street entertainer Percy Button and on to London Court, which bought us just the slightest hint of York and an English Christmas.The CBD explored, we moved on to Northbridge, a suburb of Perth housing the cultural centre and The Art Gallery of Western Australia. The gallery is lovely and we particularly enjoyed their extremely interesting temporary exhibit on Heath Ledger’s life. On our way out we passed through the contemporary art gallery. We both admit to frequently not being able to see the “art” in pieces of contemporary art and this time was no different. One exhibit was of six ordinary black framed mirrors hanging in a row:
Caro: They’ve just hung six mirrors up, how can that be art?
James: *pauses for a moment* They’re level…
Philistines, aren’t we? The whole of the cultural centre has the feel of the Southbank in London and we enjoyed strolling around for a while, soaking up the sunshine and admiring the street art.
Our final job of the day was to track down the Irish pub for compulsory pints
Having achieved this, James had a bit of a taste for beer so we stopped in at the local Northbridge Brewery for one more. We spent another quiet evening in the hostel, mostly trying to find accommodation for the next night in Melbourne. We truly showed our age that night; it was Saturday and a good number of our fellow hostellers were enjoying a few drinks around the pool, which was underneath our window. We remained confined to our room after about 9pm and attempted to get to sleep. The noise created by the poolside revelers was of such a volume that we were unable to sleep through it and, despite the fact that it was about 14 degrees, turned on our air-conditioner in an attempt to cover it up with a more consistent noise. This was successful. Is this what being an adult is?
Caro braved a run the following morning and stumbled across beautiful Hyde Park and some more urban art.We absolutely loved Perth and, on reflection our time there was far too short but we had a plane to catch and another city to see. Melbourne awaited.