I did intend to write a post after my first few days in WA… but I’ve been here three weeks already! Time really does fly when you’re having fun/busy. So instead this is a summary of my first couple of weeks here and some of the things I’ve been up to.
As I said in a previous post, I was fortunate as I didn’t suffer badly with jet lag when I arrived in Australia. I think it was a combination of flying over night as I managed to get a bit of sleep on the plane, as well as not having too long a stopover in Dubai (I was there for just over two and a half hours). When I arrived in Perth, it was nearly 1am so I could go straight to bed and I slept for as long as I needed (until midday!).
I am currently staying at my aunt and uncle’s farm in Bullsbrook, which is about 25km north-east of Perth. My first day here mainly involved meeting all the resident animals: five dogs, five cats, a small flock of sheep, two goats, a pig and numerous hens. One of the cutest (and noisiest) inhabitants is Arnie, a month-old lamb who is currently being bottle-fed as he was rejected by his mother at birth. I had the chance to help feed him – so adorable! I had a tour of the farm to see all sorts of wonderful fruit and vegetables that grow here, such as pink grapefruit, kaffir limes, mulberries and passionfruit to name but a few.
The following day (Friday) we went out for lunch at a place called Feral Brewing Co., situated in the Swan Valley. It’s technically a “brewpub”, which I soon discovered is a popular thing over here. We shared a delicious feast of freshly baked bread, huge green olives, a salad of burrata, tomato and basil, an orange and fennel green salad, a Middle-Eastern inspired cauliflower dish with seeds, currants
and almonds, and skin-on fries with aioli. This was all washed down with beer brewed on site (they have a winery there too). We each chose main courses, so I had flatbread with pumpkin hummus, rocket, grains and a slow-cooked egg (which turned out to be a poached egg).
We returned home in the evening to salty dogs (no, I don’t mean that the dogs had been for a dip in the sea…). It’s a cocktail made with fresh pink grapefruit juice and vodka with a salted rim on the glass – so delicious.
The next day, my aunt and uncle had a few friends around for the evening and we had homemade pizza, wood-fired in their outdoor pizza oven. I made cupcakes using fresh strawberries, which in the absence of most of the required ingredients and without an electric hand mixer, turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself.
On the Sunday, my auntie cooked a huge roast dinner for the family and some friends, which was also lovely. As a vegetarian I didn’t feel I was missing out on eating meat at all, as there were so many different vegetables; pumpkin, courgette cooked with ginger, broccoli and broccoflower, carrots, peas and crispy roast potatoes and parsnips.
The first few days really flew by and before I knew it, it was already Monday. We decided to spend the afternoon in Perth city and planned to go to King’s Park, a botanical gardens and park in the centre of Perth with stunning panoramic views across the city. However, we ended up sidetracked by a trip to Ikea (it was for lunch initially, but who goes to Ikea and doesn’t walk every section?!), followed by K-Mart, which is a bit like Primark in the UK.
Unfortunately, we spent so much time shopping that the others had to return to the farm, but I was free to carry on to King’s Park with my cousin’s wife and her baby (my first cousin once removed). We spent a bit of time there taking photos and enjoying the view, before heading down to the recently regenerated Elizabeth Quay (formerly known as the Esplanade). It was getting dark by this point – the sunset is much earlier here. I especially loved the lighting around the edge of the quay and the bridge that changes colour and it made for some cool shots.
We then decided to head to Northbridge for dinner, the area of Perth where you find all the best nightlife including loads of bars and restaurants. We ate at Guzman y Gomez, a Mexican chain restaurant. I chose a burrito bowl with barramundi, which was very good and extremely filling. We headed home tired and contented after a busy day.
The following day turned out to be busy too as we drove down to Fremantle, a port city to the south of Perth. First of all we checked out the Fremantle prison, which is now a museum – and a really interesting one at that. I was amazed to learn that the original inmates, who were convicts brought over to Australia when it was a penal colony, had to build their own prison from scratch. Literally, there was nothing there when they arrived. Equally fascinating I think is that Fremantle prison was open until as a recently as 1991.
We then headed to the port for lunch at another brewery, Little Creatures, which has a lovely terrace facing right onto the water. They are known for serving incredible pizza as well as beer, so I ordered a pumpkin, pesto, pepita (sunflower seed) and ricotta pizza. On the drive back from Fremantle, we stopped off at City Beach – my first experience of a WA beach and my first glimpse of the Indian Ocean.
On Saturday we went to a the Gidgegannup Agricultural Show. It was a typical agricultural show (I always enjoy going to them) and that’s what I found surprising in a way; that it was so much like one back home. They had all the usual craft and local business stands – I bought an Aussie outback hat (no corks, unfortunately).
We had a look at the show competition entries: flowers, fruit and veg, cakes, chutneys, eggs, arts and crafts. The main difference between this show and one in the UK was seeing the more exotic entries like lemons and passionfruit! There were also animals: llamas, cattle, sheep, goats and poultry.
The next day was a perfect Sunday – relaxing and a roast dinner (just me, my aunt and uncle this time). By contrast, Monday was much more dramatic as one of the dogs – Bella the pug – went into labour in the early hours of the morning, giving birth to three healthy puppies. So, as soon as I was awake a tiny, freezing cold and mouse-like creature was thrust in my hands to warm it up. This was just after 6am and a couple of hours later two more pups were born. One of them was gasping as if its nose was blocked so it was touch-and-go whether it would make it but thankfully it did. Later that day we took the puppies to the vet, who confirmed that three of the puppies are girls and the other two are boys.
That evening my cousin picked me up and I went to his house for dinner. They cooked a delicious meal and I stayed over to save travelling back to the farm that night. The next morning, I went down to Scarborough Beach and spent some time sunbathing and checking out the shops. There’s a lot of regeneration work going on at Scarborough so it looked like a building site, but it was still nice to spend some time at the beach and I got to dip my toes in the Indian Ocean for the first time.
I then spent the next couple of days preparing for my trip up north to Exmouth with Aussie Wanderer Tours. I’m so excited for my adventure, it’s an early start tomorrow as I’m setting my alarm for 5am…