I was told I needed to incorporate some Aussie slang into this post.. So there are a couple terms included below!
I left Melbourne and made my way to Perth (Western Australia) to visit my friend Roland and his girlfriend Lauren. Roland spent a year at UMaine in the same MBA program I was in back in 2010. They picked me up at the airport and we almost immediately headed out to Swan Valley to the wineries. Lamont’s was by far our favorite because Scott was running the show. As he mixed himself a Bloody Mary, he introduced himself as a bitter old man – and to check the trip advisor reviews if we didn’t believe him. He was hilarious! Sarcasm at its finest.
The next day we explored Fremantle – or as the locals call it, Freo. We did a tour of the Fremantle Prison which was interesting – it closed in 1991 and had pretty brutal facilities up until then. If women weren’t working, they were essentially left outside in a cage in the blistering hot sun with no shade. They also didn’t have any hot water for bathing. It was almost as if it was from the early 1900s instead of 1991!
We went out for dinner/drinks to a super cool brewery called Little Creatures right on the water where I tried kangaroo! I also learned that because there is no ozone layer over Australia, sun burns are common. They had massive containers of sunscreen hanging from the trees on the patio.
The following day, after strolling through Kings Park, we headed a little south to Serpentine National Park. We spent the afternoon doing a 13km hike up to the second falls. We wrapped up the day visiting the Serpentine Dam and watching the sunset from a viewing point. It’s wildflower season here so the wild flowers and sheer number of South African water lilies was incredible!
Yesterday we took a drive a few hours north to go the the Pinnacles Desert National Park and a remote beach. The Pinnacles are these rock formations that were formed around 500,000 years ago. There were so many it looked like a little city! It was also the day the flies hatched.. Which made it almost unbearable. I felt like a livestock animal that couldn’t get away from them.
Nearby we stopped for a squiz (a quick look) at Lake Thetis (more like a pond) to see the stromatolites. Stromatolites are similar to one of the earliest living organisms in the world that provided oxygen. A little further north in Western Australia, the Pilbara is home to stromatolite fossils that are 3.4 billion years old.
After the Pinnacles we took the Jeep to Wedge Island. You need a 4×4 to get out there – because it’s essentially off-road, sand dune and beach driving. It was stunning and tropical. The water was crystal clear. We were one of only a handful of trucks on a 3 mile stretch. It amazed me how perfect the beach was in every way and to have virtually no one there. The water was warm enough and the sun was hot, so we enjoyed some relaxation and wine for a while before heading back. Unlike the beaches in Europe, no budgie smugglers (banana hammocks) were seen!
I just arrived in Sydney and will be here for about a week before heading to New Zealand!