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Bill Leithhead's WA Trip Diary
Segment 8 - Days 41 to 46 - Perth Day 1 to Perth Day 6
© William G. Leithhead 2006

Day 41    Sunday, September 23rd, 2001
First day touring around Perth

This morning in Perth it was still raining on and off, but not very cool, reasonably mild, and the weather gradually improved during the day, though still showery. Glenyce folded washing which she had done late yesterday, and I lay in bed quite a bit, reading and listening to the radio. Then I phoned my older cousin, Jim Rogers, with no luck, and we had a recovery day.

Later in the day we found out from Leanne, in Melbourne, that my elderly Auntie Elsie was in Joondalup Health Campus, and off we went for a visit. We tried to buy flowers, but everything seemed closed; we did get a card. Travelling north to Joondalup, we were again struck by the open, friendly, modern plan of Perth, the clean streets and the new, well-kept look of the houses and shops in general. In particular, the way the Mitchell Highway is arranged in north-south lanes actually straddling the electric railway line, with the stations in between the roadways, built on two levels with pedestrian overpasses. Joondalup itself was particularly attractive, and reminded me of some of the best aspects of Canberra.

Elsie is in hospital with low blood pressure and suspected stroke, but is still bright and lucid; she was glad to see us and chatted a great deal. Her son Jim also phoned while I was in there, and I got his contact number, so we can meet soon.

So, after a little rest, a read of the paper and so on, Glenyce cooked scrambled eggs after a delicious Carnarvon avocado, and we discussed touring plans for the immediate next few days. Poor Glenyce has a resurgence of cold symptoms, and so we hit the hay.

Day 42    Monday, September 24th, 2001
Second day touring around Perth

Fluffy clouds with a breeze gave way to a bluer sky, so we pushed off to put 5(!) films in for processing, and went to Hillary's Boat Harbour, a little further north up the coast. Here lies the AQWA (Aquarium of WA), and we spent some time in there. This is a very pleasant, modern aquarium with surrounding tunnels of glass, large numbers of sharks, rays, many kinds of fish, including huge groper, snapper, bream, tailor and many other pelagic and bottom-dwelling fish. This is an excellent display, thoroughly ruined for a while by a large group of schoolkids, mainly aboriginal, who were disruptive, intrusive and noisy. They were infuriatingly unruly for my taste.

There were many other good displays, separately, of ocean regions such as coral-reef, tropical, sandy areas, estuarine, Southern Ocean, and so on. Here could be seen engaging displays of corals, seaweeds, anenomes, coloured fish, salt-water crocodiles, jellyfish (two tanks), seals, whiting, stonefish, blue-ringed octopus, and many, many other kinds too numerous to describe, but which add up to a pleasant memory of a well-designed modern aquarium - except for the damned kids. Later on I saw them with teachers, and I consider the teachers negligent.

Then we wandered around the Hillary's Boat Harbour shopping precinct, harbour and beaches. The beaches are essentially man-made of pure white sand. The boat harbour is extensive and chock-a-block with expensive yachts and cruisers. Surrounding this, built largely over the water, are boutique shops, souvenir and gift shops, and a lot of restaurants, bars, cafés, etc. Feeling very sore in my back, nauseated from analgesics, and cranky with it all, I wandered around with Glenyce looking for some food that was not pasta, or fried "greasy Joe" food, nor too expensive, but with limited success, until we settled on an Asian food bar, whose food we enjoyed.

After that we wandered for a drive back to Trigg Island, admiring once more the fresh, wide roads, the well-planned streets, the magnificent mini-mansions which are being built, putting Melbourne's Doncaster to shame. The large stretches of pleasant coastal suburbs are dotted with houses of various ages which nevertheless all look neat and clean. We think it is a result of the better climate and the advantages of the outdoor living style which that engenders.

Back at Warwick Plaza, I sat on a seat and read the paper while Glenyce shopped in the supermarket, and at 4pm we arrived back at the van. I enjoyed coffee and settled down for a good read of the papers and a good lie down. I went to sleep until almost 6pm.

As a pleasant surprise, which I much appreciated, Glenyce cooked some Coral Cod with vegetables, and it was delicious. Cousin Jim phoned, and we might visit in a couple of days; we plan to see King's Park tomorrow, with a warm day forecast.

So after a rest, a diary-write, and a read, we hit the hay. I think my back is improving after I strained it while comically posing straddling a rock at the Pinnacles. We look forward to our days as they roll around.

Day 43    Tuesday, September 25th, 2001
Third day touring around Perth

With the day dawning warm and bright, we arose and did chores before driving off for a day in King's Park, the botanical gardens and reserves located on a high hill overlooking Perth.

So we whizzed out along the the Mitchell Freeway southwards to Perth, and very soon we watched Perth appear, go around past us, over the Swan River to South Perth, and next thing you know - Bob's yer uncle - and we're in South Fremantle, not Perth! Stopping at last to read the map (couldn't stop on the freeway), we figured out how to turn around, thread our way through Fremantle, over the Swan again, and going north through Mosman Park, Claremont, and so on, which we quite enjoyed seeing. As a boy, I used to go to Mosman Park to stay at my grandfather's place (Will Leithhead), but I didn't bother to try to find it again.

Bill at King's Park
Bill getting a bit familiar with one of the models at the King's Park Wildflower Show.
Nearing Perth, we found our way to King's Park and entered the wildflower show. This was delightful, and we had four hours of enjoyment wandering around the tents containing artists, flower displays, garden and conservation societies, commercial suppliers of seeds and plants, and specialized places such as the society for growing native orchids. Glenyce fell in love with a wildflower polo shirt, and Bill found artist and naturalist Katrina Syme (from Denmark, WA) and had a chat, and bought her book on the Fungi of Southern Australia ($82.50), autographed by her.

We saw an amazing array of different species and varieties of kangaroo paws, orchids, banksias, thryptomene and Geraldton Wax, everlastings and many others. There was a good quality musical program on a stage, and we ate lunch sitting on the lawn, overlooking a lake with programmed fountains, with the Swan River visible in the far distance. Idyllic!

We also went on a wildflower guided tour for an hour, which was a nice diversion, and quite informative. It also gave me a chance to photograph orchids and a variety of flowers new to us.

Perth City by day
Our daytime view of the City of Perth.
Perth city by night
Our view of the City of Perth by night.
After we left, we drove a little further in King's Park, where we took an excellent series of photographs of the fabulous view of Perth and the Swan River. It certainly shows Perth to be a beautiful city - possibly the most attractive in Australia.

Happy and satisfied with our special day at King's Park (via Fremantle), we found our way through Perth to the Mitchell Freeway, which whisked us us rapidly north to Warwick Grove, where we picked up 5 films (168 photos) and submitted another two! Then off we tootled back to the caravan (with a new bottle of sherry), and had delicious steak and vegetables for tea. We also phoned up Leanne and Peter/Gaby, and chatted at length ($$$!).

After a restful time after tea, we hit the hay by 10pm. We plan to look at a Swan River cruise tomorrow, after which we will look for other things to do around this beautiful city.

Day 44    Wednesday, September 26th, 2001
Fourth day touring around Perth

This lovely sunny morning we made a snap decision, after consulting pamphlets, to go on a boat cruise to a winery up the Swan River, which includes a lunch.

Leaving early, we tootled off to Perth and found our way long the west bank of the Swan, through the riverside suburbs housing the richest citizens. So through suburbs remembered vaguely from my youth we ambled; Crawley (baths are gone), Nedlands, Dalkeith, Peppermint Grove and Mosman Park. The houses are a stylish, interesting mixture of Tudor-ish, Art Deco, modern and sort of classical lines, some rather ostentatious, but all imposing, with the most delightful views from streets which are often little more than laneways.

Swan River boat cruise
We're ready for our Swan River boat cruise to Olive Farm winery, where we had a most enjoyable day!
Amazed that we found our way there and back, we further amazed ourselves by finding a carpark in Perth a short walk from the Barrack Street jetties from whence our cruise was to depart. By this time it was summery and humid, ideal for a river cruise. We were first on board, on a quite luxurious glassed-in boat, and were joined by a couple from South Australia, who were good company.

We chatted on many light topics as we four disposed of three carafes of white wine followed by what was described as a "light lunch", but which was a delicious panoply of cold dishes, including prawns and a good range of hot dishes!

So we piled it on and watched the Swan slip smoothly by the country-side, a mixture of farm-like properties, reception rooms and racecourses, the WACA, Burswood Casino, heritage properties and the like. Quite a few people were fishing, and we saw at least two bream being hauled in.

Afrer a while we hove to at a landing at Olive Farm winery, Guildford, where we bunched up at the bar trying their range of wines - it wasn't as if we hadn't already drunk enough! So that was very convivial, and we met people from SA, NZ and the UK, and swapped stories. As twilight started falling, we journeyed back to Perth to the tune of coffee and excellent chocolate mud cakes and orange liqueur cakes, while several of the crew entertained us with songs with actions, to recordings. Glenyce and I got up to dance, and were roundly applauded!

We found our way back to the car park and by some miracle found our way through the labyrinthine freeway system towards home, striking our first traffic holdups en route.

By the time we got home we were very tired, and far too full to eat any tea, so we read and slept, and put photos into albums, etc. This was a very enjoyable day with beautiful weather in a beautiful city.

Day 83    Thursday, September 27th, 2001
Fifth day touring around Perth

Today was another superb day, and we puddled around sluggishly in the morning, Glenyce doing a load of washing. Then having at last pinned down cousin Jim, we went up to Wanneroo to see him at his unit. He was much as I remembered him in my childhood years - the same speech, a bit of a drawl, but hesitant, and the way he holds his mouth is the same. We found it a little difficult to maintain a good flow of conversation, so I guess we've grown somewhat apart over the years.

It was good to catch up on some reminiscences, and I let him know how I enjoyed his company in our childhood - even when he tied me to the clotheline and let the mozzies bite me! He showed us over the units occupied by Elsie and by himself and Eileen, which was nice and spacious, albeit located in a veritable rabbit warren of retirement units. We didn't get to see Eileen or the kids, as their daughter Janine is on honeymoon in Singapore with her second husband.

Floodlit road in Kings Park at night
The main road in King's park was floodlit artistically at night.
We were quite tired by the time we got back to the van and both needed a little snooze before going to tea at Eunie's place in Como: Eunie is a cousin of Glenyce. We got lost in the city again by accident, but found our way to her place eventually. Eunie and her son Rob live in an expensive-looking house overlooking the Canning River where it joins the Swan River at the Canning Bridge. They were delightful, intelligent people who were good hosts, and we enjoyed a lovely 3-course meal with a nice bottle of light-red wine. Her husband, Ken George, who was the Yamaha importer for WA, did a lot of entertainment before he died last year.

After a good three-hour meal we went up to King's Park for the city lights as it was such a beautiful night. We got thoroughly lost but enjoyed shuffling back and forth along city streets at night. At King's Park the view was spectacular, and amongst the canoodling couples I set up my tripod and took time-exposure shots of the artistically-lit rows of trees lining the roadsides.

So home to bed, very tired but contented.

Day 46    Friday, September 28th, 2001
Sixth day touring around Perth

Awakening to a hot morning, we rapidly cooled off when heavy rain and wind arrived. Nevertheless, we debated what to do, and decided to drive to York, about 100km east ot Perth, below Northam.

Alas, we were never to arrive there because in the heavy rain, unfamiliar roads, heavy traffic and the less-than-desirable signage, we got completely lost, accidentally travelling in a rather zig-zag fashion through Morley, Bassendean, Guildford, Caversham, Midland, Maida Vale, Welshpool, Langford, Southern River, Canning Vale, Jandakot and Murdoch. These places are all new to me, but I remember their names from the days of my youth. Then we found the Kwinana Freeway at last, and were able to make our way reliably north to Perth and then to home via Karrinyup shopping centre.

By this time, what with the weather, the traffic and the poor sign-posting, my nerves were a little more than frayed, and my back was killing me as I had been in the car for over three hours. For some reason I wanted some spicy Asian food and at Karrinyup we over-ordered some lovely dishes and scoffed our way through them to the point of discomfort!

The rain had scarcely eased at all, and we were glad to be home at the van, where we both more or less collapsed into a long doze. For some reason we were both very tired and slept for 2-3 hours. By this time we still felt knocked out, and I suppose it was a combination of the activities of the last 3 or 4 days plus the change in the weather.

Anyway, we had an avocado, toast and coffee, wrote diaries, and went to bed with the heater on and the rain on the roof.

© William G. Leithhead 2006