Thursday, November 30, 2006


Finally managed to get the photos I uploaded at Eric's published (damnable internet kiosks... grrrr) so there are now a heap of backdated posts covering my trip through the South West (best way to make sure you see them all is to click the November archive link on the right, and scroll back to November 22nd) Meanwhile I've been to Ayers Rock (which was too hot and a bit too alien) and am now in Cairns which (so far) I really like.

Busy being here though so no new posts for now.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Leaving Perth

OK folks, there are a grand total of Five partially created blog posts waiting in the wings with a metric schwackload of pictures from my adventures along the south coast, photos are all edited and uploaded but it's my last night here and so instead of writing the posts to go with them I've decided to go down the pub with Eric one last time. Look out over the next day or two though as I'll be stuck in airports a bit and with luck some of them might have net access...

...anyway here's one photo to keep you all going in the meantime, this one's courtesy of Eric who has been great company and a fantastic host while I've been in Perth, we spotted this sign a few weeks back and on our way back from Freemantke today detoured to get a shot because... well look:


Monday, November 27, 2006

Albany & the Wheat Belt

Further along that same stretch of coastline we visited some blowholes set into the cliff top - here the swell of the southern ocean forces air (and in high seas whole waves) up through the cliffs, we arrived there as the sun was setting and the sound they made in the failing light was astonishing, and quite erie.

walking back up we snapped at the colours of the setting sun, as always they hardly do it justice

That night we camped on the coast, with the tent pitched in the lee of the car to keep it from blowing away

Last day with the car, and we motored north through the Southwestern wheatbelt (no pics of that, I was busy driving) to the pretty town of York before heading back to Perth itself.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Giant Tingle Trees

After Margaret River I met up with Eric back up in Bunbury (close as the train gets) and we headed down the coast again visiting various places along the way, including (after an overnight stop) this:

It's called the valley of the giants treetop walk, and is a steel suspension walkway that rises from the forest floor to 40m up in the trees canopy. Tingle trees grow to as tall as 60m so even way up there we weren't above all of them... it was a pretty spectacular sight

As were the bases of the trees. After walking through their canopy we took a second walk along the forest floor among some of the oldest Tingle trees, many of which like this one have been hollowed out by fire in the distant past but are still growing. Eric's very kindly providing a sense scale in this shot: he's stretching to get a shot of one of the spider's webs, and given that he's 6'4" the fact that stretching his hands barely reach halfway up the hollow gives you some idea just how big the trees are!

After the valley of the Giants we headed down to Albany and the National Park beyond it on the coastline - this place is on Australia's Southwestern most tip where the Southern and Indian oceans meet. Pretty spectacular piece of coastline all round.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Margaret River

I motored on to visit Margaret River, I stayed in the town overnight and spent the next day exploring the cool shaded forests south of the town.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Day two of the South West and I reached Bunbury. The beach was pretty impressive and different again from those I'd already visited but it was the middle of teh day so I didn't stay too long...

... heading instead for Bunbury's Mangrove swamps which (as you can see from the carpark) are a huge tourist draw...

... which I found odd, considering how peaceful and utterly other they are. The assorted boards around the board walk out into the swamps themselves told me it's one of only a few such sites in the country, and (for me at least) it was the highlight of Bunbury.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Mandurah & Secret Harbour

Right here (as promised) are the backdated posts from my adventures in teh South West - back on metered internet access so they'll be brief... first stop on my journeys in the south was Mandurah:

I ended up here first, completely by chance but it turned out to be a really lovely spot to see the town from, not to mention a peaceful sculptural memorial - three rows of white stone columns march up out of the ground rising in height in the middle then falling away into the river, this stream runs between them and disapears into the river. Very tranquil spot for writing.

Seems that the endless bronze statues aren't limited to Perth, still this Pelican madea great foreground for the sunset.

After Mandurah I rolled on to an amyusingly well signposted spot called Secret Harbour, where I kipped in the back of the Holden overnight awaking to this stunning white beach at dawn - lovely spot for a bit of yoga and a refresing morning swim.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

red, red, red, red, blue

Right then, what's Patrick been up to?

Well this weekend I've really been doing the tourist thing. On Saturday I went with a friend on Perth's Famous Wine Cruise (source of the first of many kinds of red this weekend) Paul (the friend I went with) is from Victoria but works over here three weeks out of each month, when we met he was grumbling that he never does anything touristy while he's here so we hit on the idea of doing something really very touristy together.

Paul's good company so I knew I'd enjoy the day anyway but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the cruise. We took in two very tranquil local wineries, being fed an excellent three course lunch at one and plied with assorted wines (yes Dad: they were indeed all varietals but not too 'beefed up', and several were really quite interesting, in particular a couple of the Sandalford ones) throughout the day. On the boat the captain gave a gently funny commentary, pointed out a few sights as they wafted by... all very civilised really.

... the really surprising enjoyable part (and this could have been partly due to the amount of wine consumed by that stage) was the unexpected entertainment laid on by the rest of the crew over lunch and on through the trip back to Perth. Two of them turned out to be really quite talented singers and while it was all a bit cheesy it was also a lot of fun.

So then after a lie in and a couple of cups of coffee on Sunday it was onto the second red of the weekend, the the Red Bull Air Race. Eric went down earlier in the morning than I, and consequently got even more sunburned (red type #3) but also got some spectacular photos, all of which I'm getting copied to disc and bringing back for my giant album. These were taken after I'd joined him for the actual race (11am onward) and the air show after.

there's heaps of info on their site about how the race works but essentially these tiny planes whooshed around an obstacle course laid out over the Swan River, commentary was on the South Bank, where we watched from and where the city skyline provided a stunning backdrop to some incredible flying.

After the race we walked round the river and back over to the North Bank from which we watched assorted other air-acrobatics being performed by various planes. The most spectacular of which were the antics of this blue Hornet, expertly captured here by Eric's telephoto high res digital SLR (I left my little noddy cam in my pocket all day) moments before it did this:

... disapearing upward at an incredible rate letting off flak as it went. After the race I caught up with my cousin Jonathan who's been over for a frisbee tournament. Johnny had missed most of the air show (they'd arrived on the North Bank and been impressed but a bit bewildered by the race minus commentary) but being an aeronautical engineer by training he was able to tell us all sorts about how difficult it is to get planes to do the sorts of things we'd been watching them do. It was really great seeing him again before he left, even if it's a little odd that the first time we see each other in about 5 years should be on the other side of the world.

The last red in the title refers to another thing (like my sunburn, which wasn't too bad and is fading rather than peeling) I won't post pictures of but I managed to fall down running for a train the other night and have a scuffed knee, elbow and hand in much the sort of way that hasn't happened to me since I was about 8. Running for a train however should be a thing of the past, for the next week at least since this afternoon I picked up the blue thing from the title:

My car! For this week at least. it's a honking great big V6 Holden Commodore, with a SatNav system in it so I don't get lost, and it comes mostly courtesy of my parents whose birthday present I'm using to pay for it (thanks again Mum & Dad!). Once I've posted this I'm going to head off in it to explore the south coast of Western Australia and I'll tell you all about that when I return.

bye for now!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

If you go down to the beach today...

Right children, time for some more pics of your Uncle Travelling Pat's*... um, travels. Same deal with the photos being just shrunken ones again sadly, you'll just have to squint a bit:

No I didn't do anything with the image. The sky is that colour in real life. Usually has fewer clouds in it to be honest but these ones really appealed to me with their swooshyness. The pic is taken from my current favourite patch of beach - just between the no-go area that's in front of the Swanbourne SAS barracks, and the much busier City Beach. Eric keeps telling me that the SAS fellas often jog along the beach but as I've yet to see this for myself I can honestly say it has nothing whatsoever to do with my preference. What? I mean it!

Lots of people have expressed surprise and even alarm that I'm doing such a big trip solo. On the whole that just puzzles me: I'm really rather enjoying the time to myself, and it's nicely ballanced by making some new friends along the way. That said I should confess that I'm not totally alone on my adventures - Gregory Bear has been a travelling companion of mine for a long time and it seemed a good idea to smuggle him into my luggage. So far he's just been along for the ride, occasionally coming out and enjoying the scenery (like he is here). He did earn his share of the airfare at Heathrow however when just knowing he was in my bag quashed an uncharacteristic moment's anxiety about the sheer scale the journey.

Yes, I know I'm a big softie - this isn't news to anyone surely?

This is the view back to the heart of the city from the shores of Lake Monger, which is about a ten minute walk from Eric's where I'm staying. it's worth pointing out in view of how far away the skyline looks, that we really are in one of the inner suburbs of Perth (only two stops from the city centre on the excellent train network) it's just the city is *that* spread out. The spread is compounded by the city being full of big sweeping open spaces just like the Lake. I really like it... as you're probably all sick of hearing by now

more anon.

*with thanks to Duncan for the Fraggle reference - I'm still really enjoying that!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Some words and some pictures

After a terrifying few moments yesterday afternoon when a quirk of Eric's PC* made it appear to have eaten three days' worth of my photos! (It had us both fooled for about two hours so it wasn't just me being a dizzy Mac user) before we eventually discovered that all by itself and without being asked it had uploaded the contents of my camera to Eric's account and deleted them from the card. Photos were all safe though which is all that matters. I'm going to leave doing the big photo album thing until I get home, but I thought I'd shrink a few to blog posting size and put them up now.

Note: If you're reading via LiveJournal's syndication the images probably won't show but you can get to the actual post on by clicking the link at the top of this entry

... right here we go:

This is a shot of Perth's skyline at night taken from King's Park on the night I arrived. It does not do it justice. Happily Eric (who wasn't jet lagged at the time and has a digital SLR) has some better shots that I'll get copies of and post when I do the full albums of my adventures in January. For now you'll have to put up with my dodgy camerawork here.

Perth is chock-full of green spaces, some are vast and some are not. Until I moved to Eric's spare room I walked past/through this little park in a region called Northbridge (just on the edge of the city centre) on my way into the city each day - it's full of gigantic antipodean fig trees, some bigger than my old house, which have facinating enormous networks of buttressed roots. I've got photos of them too but they don't show up well when you shrink them like this so here's the pretty little bandstand instead.

Perthers seem to like their bronze statues - they're everywhere, and they're usually lit at night which makes walking through the city a bit like being in a big open air sculpture gallery at times. These are probably my favourites, they're a family of life-sized bronze kangaroos who live next to Stirling Gardens in the heart of the Central Business district.

Freemantle's kind of a city within a city - it has very much its own distinct identity and atmosphere, and it's also the first place I've been in Australia where anything other than the landscape has felt old (even Perth's "historic" buildings feel like they were built yesterday and only just had the wrappers taken off) this is a shot out to sea from beside the old round house jail on the shore at Freemantle.

One of the many things I'm really enjoying about Perth is the exceptionally high standard of modern architecture here, I'm constantly being wowwed by stunning original buildings, and this is one of them. It's the Maritime museum in Freemantle and was essentially built to house Australia II so that she could be brought back from Sydney. I took a lot of photos of the light playing on and in the structure from various angles but I think this one probably stands by itself the best. Next time I go to Freemantle I might even go inside!

So there we are, a few little snaps of my adventures so far - sorry they're only small, but I neglected to make a note of my ftp password before I left and it isn't one I set myself, so I can't upload bigger versions of the files just yet. Fear not though these are just a few of the shots I've taken so far and I fully intend to bore you all rigid with 100s of full sized snaps when I get home.

* The whole Operating System thing is very much a matter of personal choice, I'm very grateful to have the use of a decent computer which I'm not being billed by the minute to use and to which I can readily transfer files. I'm not talking Eric's machine down here and I'm certainly not getting into any of that adolescent nonsense about which platform is "better" ...but I really really miss my Mac.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

72, 72, 72

So I've been in Perth for five days now and I'm really liking the place. The title up there is a reference to an oddly spooky coincidence I noticed the day after my arrival - I flew in on Qantas flight 72, and went to my hotel which is on Route 72, where I was given keys to my room... #72. All very odd and of course totally meaningless.

The hotel was fine but more than a little dogeared, and not very quiet (it was peopled largely by other backpackers who are on the whole a lot younger and noisier than me) so after five of the ten days I'd booked there, and having got to know him in real life (we'd been talkking online and via Skype for a while before I left the UK) I've taken up the kind offer of a spare room at my new friend Eric's house, which is far comfier and far quieter, and has Eric in it much of the time which is nice because he's a lot more fun to hang out with than the noisy backpackers. In fact if it weren't for this inconvenient business of different continents I'd be introducing Eric to the Friday gang back in Edinburgh - I think you lot would like him too.

Meeting nice friendly new people has been a bit of a theme so far. On Saturday I went out on the local scene which was pleasantly relaxed. Arriving at "the Court" (Perth's main gay pub) I was asked for ID which made me laugh a lot as being taken for being 12 years younger than I actually am is really very flattering (also I'd thought to take my passport with me so proving that I am in fact 29 wasn't a problem) Inside I had a thoroughly lovely evening with some easy going friendly people before heading on to Perth's gay club, dancing a bit and meeting a man who was really awfully friendly indeed, whose phone number I got at the end of the night and who I very much hope to see again in the near future.

There've been plenty of relaxed and friendly daytimes too, I've spent a lot of time exploring Perth on foot (which is remarkably easy to do and very rewarding) visiting some of its excellent parks and generally soaking up the city and the sun (the latter steadily and through a good coating of sunscreen) I'm reliably informed that I must get some even stronger sunscreen before venturing to the beach, which I'm hoping to do soon and where I intend to swim in the sea a lot and generally enjoy myself.

All in all being here feels a bit like like being on another planet, but a very welcoming and relaxed one where I can readily converse with the locals (because we speak if not quite the same language then at least cross-compatible ones,) and where I already know most of the little functional details of getting around and generally functioning. Things like like how to how the pedestrian crossings work (the same as at home, but with different buttons and a rather startling noise,) and how to pay for things*. It's very different here in a way I'm very aware of all day, and yet it's never utterly alien, in spite of the otherworldly flora and fauna sprinkled liberally through the city and the almost perpetually blue skies.

Later in the month I'm planning on hiring a car and exploring the south coast and some of the Western Australian countryside which should be quite spectacular, and before long I'll get round to uploading some photographs too but for now I'm going to go out and enjoy another afternoon in this comnfortably odd and quietly engaging city.

* That part took a little while: Australian tills have chip & PIN like card readers but they're not for credit or debit cards at all, and the mag-stripe readers always ask which account I want to use because Aussie banks supply one bit of plastic for accessing all your accounts instead of one per account. There are plenty of little things like that happening which are all unfamiliar enough to make me feel like I really am somewhere completely other, without making life difficult or uncomfortable.

Friday, November 03, 2006

almost forgot...

My venerable O2 number (the one I've had since 1998, intend to keep, and am emphatically not publishing online) is now off duty for the duration of my trip so you won't be able to reach me on it from now until January. Instead I've got an Australian SIM with a local number so any one who needs to get hold of me can do on +61 416 369108

another short one

Perth is fantastic. I am hungry. Lunch, and sunshine are back outside so you'll have to wait for more detail than that.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

swift, like airport

Just a quickie: while the free (w00t!) internet terminals here at super-eficient Singapore Airport are (unlike the rather seedy little web cafe my last post -see below - was typed in) capable of publishing blogger posts (something to do with cookies I suspect) they are also time limited and have no seats at them. Which means that in 15 minutes while I could gfo to another terminal, my legs would probably go to sleep.

Singapore's been fun, (if a little hotter and stickier than I usually like my environment to be) but I'm pleased to be on my way to where the real adventure begins. Perth here I come!