Friday, March 13, 2009

Perth

We got off the plane right on time in Perth, and walked from fall into summer. The weather was well over 28 degrees centigrade, and it was warm just walking to the taxi stand where we took at taxi to the Maui rental. The rental was for 10 days, so we bought a National Park Pass as well as renting the awning. Now that we knew what we wanted, and knew the van well, checking it out was easy.

We then drove to Monique and Yuri's house in East Perth, which was nicely located near the river and seemed to be a pretty upscale location. Just as we found parking, Monique and Yuri walked up and helped us move our luggage into their home. Despite being in suburbia, Yuri and Monique managed to keep a European lifestyle despite living in Australia, by being able to bike to work, and not driving very much. Yuri had just bought a Jeep, though, and was working on installing Roo bars. He needed some parts, and so was glad that we showed up with a van, and he and I made a run down to the store while Lisa and Monique took a walk.

For dinner, we rode bicycles to Fraser's a restaurant on top of the hill in Perth. Since we couldn't find a bicycle small enough for Lisa, Yuri did the gentlemanly thing and gave Lisa a lift on the rear rack of his dutch bike. The views from Fraser's was good, as was the food.

The next morning, Monique had a triathlon she was doing as part of a corporate challenge, and we rode to the start line to cheer her on. After that, we packed everything up and drove our van to a caravan park in Fremantle, since we had a dive scheduled on Monday. Lisa's friend Daniel showed up to pick us up and show us his place of work, E Shed markets, the major tourist market in the area. It turned out that Daniel was the general manager for the market, which is owned by ING.

After the tour, Daniel dropped us off at the Fremantle prison, where we had signed up for the 3:45pm tunnel tour with Tara, whom we had met on the Overland track. Monique and Yuri also joined us, and we got to see the underground part of the prison, which was apparently also featured in The Amazing Race TV show. It was quite a fun tour, and when it was all over we got pictures and went off to have dinner with Daniel and his friend A.

Daniel, Lisa, A. and I exchanged travel stories and food longings, since A. was from Singapore and of course, that's what Singaporeans do when they meet --- discuss food.

The next morning, we drove once again to E-shed to meet our dive guides and get fitted for our dive gear --- we were going to dive Rottnest island today! Our driver was late, however, so we ended up browsing at the store --- they had a brochure for Ningaloo Reef Dreaming, an outfit that did dives up North, and also advertised a Whale Shark tour. Since Ningaloo was at least a 4 day round trip drive, we had written it off, but I thought that if we used a plane to get there, it could work out. I called Swain Travel, our travel operator and asked them to look into it for me, and Ningaloo Reef Dreaming as well, to see if Whale Sharks were in season. The big one was that we would lose the use of our camper van without any refund, but a sunk cost is a sunk cost.

The two dives at Rottnest were great --- the water was a little cold, at 22 degrees, but once the wet suits filled up it was comfortable. The dives were along limestone bottoms, so there were a lot of swim-throughs, and a lot of wildlife, though the water did not have great visibility. Still it was fun and Lisa and I thought that since our Great Barrier Reef dive was so disappointing, we could make it up here.

That night, we went to Woodmans Point caravan park, and had dinner once again with Daniel and A. We would head South the next day for Margaret River.
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