Three Years on the Road
by
Brett Davis


90. Perth Diary

Karen and I spent an entire month in Perth, first staying with Jill and Tony at Ocean Reef, then cycling to the home of Trevor and Katherine - the couple we had met in Karratha. We stayed there for a few days before cycling to the home of Rhonda and Peter - long time friends of Karen - who for about twenty years had been asking her to visit. After two weeks of the good life there, we returned to the home of Trevor and Katherine to give them a hand around the house in return for our keep. The following is a transcription of the diary I kept during our time in Perth.

Day 1.
Warm greeting by Jill, quickly followed by a beer and a coffee. Also a shower, a load of washing (almost all of our stuff). Wrote up the diary while Jill was away picking up her daughter, Josephine. After Tony came home, we had a nice drunken night, starting with scotch and cokes, then white wine, then red wine (two bottles) and a nice dinner of curried chicken and rice.


Tony, Jill and Josephine

Day 2.
Sat around reading magazines, drinking tea and coffee, talking to Jill and Josephine. Repaired the tent where I tore the string off when I tripped over in the dark at the Murchison River. At 3pm Karen and I went for a walk to the coast, past the marina, up to shops and back. Had a couple of bottles of chardonnay with dinner of steak and kidney pie and vegetables. Karen cooked a chocolate cake which we had for dessert with icecream.

Day 3.
Jill drove us to Lake Joondalup at 10am. Almost immediately saw a musk duck in full display - an amazing sight - with its tail coming up and forward over its back before flicking down into the water, simultaneously splashing backwards with its feet and uttering a loud combination croak and whistle. Also had our first look at the Twenty Eight race of the Port Lincoln ringneck. Nearly shit myself when I came within a whisker of stepping on a tiger snake. The first Karen knew of the incident was the sound of me returning to Earth. I listened to my heart beat a tattoo for a couple of minutes afterwards. Glassed a few ducks at the southern end of the lake and casually said to Karen "Oh, yeah, there's a blue-billed duck ..." Karen did not believe me but she glassed the duck and we had another new bird.

Rescued a couple of baby turtles, saw a second tiger snake, eventually reached thirty eight species sighted at the lake. Then came a ninety minute walk back to Jill's where we veged for the rest of the arvo. After champagne, dinner and Sale of the Century, we all went to Hillary's Boat Harbour. Had a pleasant walk around and a talk at a table on the beach. Then back to the house for a look at the fights on Fox Sport, then bed.

Day 4.
Ocean Reef to Mt Pleasant - fifty three kilometres. Up at 7am to say goodbye to Tony who was off to work, then a slow pack-up, goodbyes, photos with Jill and Josephine and out at 10.30am. We had found out that Peter and Mihkala were staying with Mihkala's parents in Perth, so arranged to met Pete on our ride south. Rode down to North Beach to meet him at 11.15am - he was a bit late. Had a bit of a talk to catch up, then all three of us off down the bike path to Freo. Crossed the river and followed bike paths up the river on the south side. Stopped at Maccas for ice-creams - said goodbye to Peter who headed for home. Rain began, then almost stopped as we headed towards Kate and Trevor's. Had a cuppa, helped to fix a bike, had showers then settled in for wine and dinner.

Set up our beds on the floor in an out of the way corner of the lounge-room. Good family conversation with Kate and Trevor, Zac, Jessica and Phillippa. Conversation at the dinner table was hilarious at times as the very bright kids homed in on any mistake - especially when Karen mentioned seeing two snakes walking along beside the lake - how could snakes be walking? Karen has been prone to this same kind of mistake for quite a while - she once saw Gandhi coming back from Melbourne on the bus - it was actually the movie and not the man. The kids cracked up when Karen described our walk around Jake Loondalup.

Had a look at some photos that Catherine (Kate) had taken on a trip to Britain a couple of years previously, and mentioned that she looked like Susan St James who is on my list of best looking women. Kate said that she often heard the comparison, and also with Ali McGraw, who is also on my list. I showed them all my list.

Spent the rest of the night trying to remember the actor who Trevor reminds me of - finally remembered at 6.45am, about ten minutes after waking up - Christopher Walken of Deerhunter fame.


Trevor beside a Peugeot

Day 5.
Informal brekkie then instructions from Kate on how to get into the city via public transport. Left at 9am and soon arrived in centre of Perth. Walked to tourist information bureau, checking out book shops, buying some fruit, and getting a new sloppy-joe for Karen. Found out where the meteorological office was (up the other end of town) so went there. Bought wind statistics on Norseman and Eucla for all the months of the year so we could plan our Nullarbor crossing. Stopped at a binocular shop on the way back to town to price new binos for me.


The Perth skyline from King's Park

Back in town we bought new shoes each, lunched at Hungry Jacks, visited museum to see displays on meteorites and blue whale skeleton, then at 4pm we decided to walk back to Mt Pleasant - about ten kilometres? Booked a ferry cruise for the following Tuesday when walking past wharf. Arrived back at 6pm.

Had a couple of beers with Trevor as we watched the footie - St Kilda beating North Melbourne and had a dinner of chicken legs on our laps. After, sat around table and talked and did some word puzzles on Western Australian towns. Also 24 = H in a D (hours in a day) type puzzles.

Day 6.
Karen went shopping at 9am while I tried to fix a hard disk problem (lost data and cmos) on Trevor's computer. Managed to retrieve everything, but the directory structure had been corrupted. All files still there, but moved to directories created by the system. Located all of his most valuable files, but left him with the job of sorting out which directories did what - a rather time consuming if not too difficult job.

The family shopping expedition resulted in the purchase of a larger screen television and video recorder, with remote controls, so the Saturday game between Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs was watched on much better technology. Adelaide came from five goals down to snatch a last gasp two point victory, getting them into the grand final next week for the first time ever.

Trevor and Kate are not really technologically oriented - the video recorder was their first and they generally frown on a lot of television watching by their kids. Trevor also buys and reconditions old Peugeots rather than wasting money on a new car. He also loves old wood - we were to find out more about this at a later date!

In the arvo, the four adults piled into Trevor's old Peugeot for a drive up into the hills. Visited Mundaring Dam and a nearby pub where the blokes had Guinness, Kate a white wine and Karen a cappuccino - our shout (and bloody expensive too). Back home for a late dinner and a game of Upwords - a very interesting game similar, but totally different to Scrabble.

Day 7.
Mt Pleasant to Parkwood - fifteen kilometres. Up late to pack the bikes, say bye to all the family, arrange another stay sometime later and ride fifteen kilometres along the Canning River to the Parkwood home of Peter and Rhonda, and their two kids, Daniel and Erin (seven and five years old). Karen and Rhonda are old school buddies. Arrived around noon and soon settled in, despite Rhonda's quietness, Peter's hyperactivity, and their dog's chronic fear of strangers.


Peter, Rhonda and family

Swapped all the latest news and listened to Peter talk about his job as a photographer with the Western Australia Dept of Agriculture. Rhonda works Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for the Red Cross Blood Bank. She told us she would be leaving tomorrow night for a two week stay in Sydney! And she would be taking the kids with her! And we could stay with Peter for as long as we liked! Which was a very dangerous thing to say to people like Karen and me...

We paid for a Chinese dinner (delivered) for everyone and watched Who Dares Wins and Muriel's Wedding, then bed on a fold out divan in the front television room.

Day 8.
Borrowed Rhonda's car and drove into King's Park in town. Spent most of the day walking around the gardens, taking photos from the lookouts of the city, plants etc. Karen paid to look at a wildflower display which she said was good, but I gave it a miss. We had a lunch of packed sandwiches on a bench in the kiosk area, talking to a couple of Pommy tourist ladies. Visited Lakes Monger and Herdsman on the way home, seeing a good variety of birdlife but nothing new. Stopped in at shops on the way home to buy supplies and saw a couple of idiot kids on a pushbike - riding helmet-less with one kid on the handlebars. I said to Karen that they were an accident waiting to happen, and the next moment they had a prang in the parking lot. Served them right. Back to Peter's place for dinner prior to Rhonda flying out around midnight.

Day 9.
Into town via Rhonda's car to arrive at parking area at 9.45am, only to have Karen waste ten minutes and almost miss our ferry as a result in attempting to find a cheaper parking spot, unsuccessfully. I keep telling her that sometimes it is better to pay a little extra for the peace of mind it can bring. Had to run to catch the boat - then three hours down river, lunch, three hours back. Highlight of the day was Karen's navigation - spotting a building on one side of the boat, only to have the same building pass by on the other side a few minutes later, with Karen saying it was just the same as the one on the other side of the river! How does she survive? It should have been bloody obvious that the boat was moving around the shoreline of a circular bay and that the buildings were one and the same ... Back home for a stir fried chicken dinner, a couple of wines and a fairly early night.

Day 10.
Peter went to Geraldton early, so we surfaced late and spent the day around home. Karen did shopping and reading, me reading and de-greasing the bikes. Not much else - except still trying to get Taffy (the dog) to be comfortable with us.

Day 11.
History walk in town for two hours in the morning with only Karen and I on the tour. In the arvo we went to the Perth Mint for gold pouring, touching and purchase of a specially engraved gold plated medallion for us to commemorate our cycle trip around Australia.

Day 12.
Drove up to John Forrest national park in the hills and saw a new bird - the red capped parrot - and did a walk up an old train track to Hovea Falls.

Day 13.
Karen went for a swim with Peter - he is a swimming coach and member of a local club - while I watched Adelaide beat St Kilda in the AFL grand final. Usual domestics otherwise.

Day 14.
Repeat of Saturday except for the footy. At 5pm Peter, Karen and I went to "My Best Friend's Wedding" with Julia Roberts, at a suburban cinema then after, drove into the city to King's Park for night viewing of the Perth skyline and back along the South Perth foreshore.

Day 15.
Drove in Rhonda's car to York via Beverley to the home of Mary and Peter. They are the parents of Kate, and we had been invited to spend the day with the entire family at the house - also Kate's sister Selena. A nice sunny day - walked into town - ten minutes - twice. Explored the property and generally had a pleasant, family oriented day.


York

Day 16.
Shopping in the morning, bought a tyre the same as Karen's original front tyre which is still going strong, got money out of bank, paid Peter for two cossies for me, two for Karen and two for Barbara, which Rhonda manufactures. Drove up to Lesmurdie Falls and did a short walk there, and later watched a video - Independence Day - pretty bad.

Day 17.
Drove to the Perth Show, saw a bit of wood-chopping, alpaca shearing, dogs, cats, art, pigs, photographs, craft, cakes etc. Back home watched a video - The Langoliers by Stephen King - just like the book which Karen and I had both read recently.

Day 18.
Drove to Freo, did tram tour, checked out the Roundhouse, Maccas, Maritime Museum for the Batavia exhibition, then to Art Gallery (crap) and Museum (good) especially post war immigration information. Later watched a video - The Mirror has Two Faces - okay.


A part of the Batavia at the Maritime Museum

Day 19.
Into town to return a book to Tony - at work at Woodside - and pick up info from the Main Roads Department. Went swimming at Somerset on the way back with me actually swimming ten laps! Home for reading, playing Lemmings on Peter's computer. Watched yet another video - Pretty Woman.

Day 20.
Karen washed car, I wrote letter, then to Freo after lunch. Visited Energy museum, Bannister Street Art and the museum again to finish viewing the immigration exhibition. Another video rounded out the day - Dead Man Walking.

Day 21.
I wrote a letter to Roche friends in the morning while Karen watched the Bathurst race. In the arvo we drove to the Carine caravan park to see Peter and Mihkala and her parents, Merv and Pam. Watched a video - To the End of the World - which was so lousy we did not finish it.

Day 22.
Parkwood to Mt Pleasant - sixteen kilometres. Said goodbye to Peter before he went to work, and thanked him for letting us stay for so long - over two weeks! Spent the day cleaning up at Peter's place prior to moving out. Karen went swimming while I printed out ten letters about our recent exploits for the overseas people Karen had befriended on her Europe trip in 1989.

Left at 3pm to ride to the Trevor and Kate's. Did ninety minutes work in their garage, helping Trevor tidy up before starting to add a floor to the overhead storage area, then dinner and another video - Michael with John Travolta.

Day 23.
In return for lodging Karen and I are helping Trevor and Kate around the house - working for our keep. Day spent working in garage, me doing joists and flooring for the roof storage area in the garage with Trevor. Karen cooked dinner, impressing everyone with her Mussaman curry of chicken. Watched a video - what a surprise - Michael Collins with Liam Neeson (who is definitely on Karen's list).

Day 24.
In the morning Karen and I walked up to Wireless Hill for the view over the city and the Swan River, in the rain. Rest of day similar to Tuesday, with joists and most of the second level flooring in the garage completed. Chicken Stroganoff for dinner. Watched a video - Sleepers.

Day 25.
Finished all flooring and put all the good wood away. Watched a television show on World War One.

Day 26.
Restacked the woodpiles and swept and repacked the garage. Had a bit of fun trying to hit rats as they ran out of their nests in the woodpile. Dinner at the Indian Palace Restaurant.

Day 27.
Karen cleaned the car wheels while I scraped the paint off the front garage window panes. In the arvo we went for a walk to Bluegum Lake and Booragoon Lake, where we saw some really cute cygnets and equally cute baby Pacific Black Ducks, plus an Australian Hobby. Watched two Kokoda Trail videos - one television show and one of Trevor's trip.

Day 28.
Drove out to Guildford to watch a lot of Peugeots standing around in a park. One of them belonged to Trevor. Had a Devonshire tea for morning tea at a nearby hall, then Kate, Karen and I went out to a couple of galleries where the art was pretty bad. We also visited the Sandalford winery for some tasting and the buying of a couple of good and expensive bottles of wine for Trevor and Kate to thank them for their hospitality. Then home for another walk up to Wireless Hill just before dusk. Watched television in the evening - Heart Surgeon.


Me and Karen outside the Sandalford Winery

Day 29.
Trevor and the two eldest kids were at school today - he is a teacher - with Kate teaching piano at home and Pip having a television day. Finished the garage windows and cut wood for the woodpile. Did shopping and postal stuff at noon. I cooked a dinner of peanut sauce on chicken and vegetables, one of my many specialities. Got bikes ready for leaving tomorrow. Karen watched Reality Bites while I loaded a Dos/Win 3.1/Win 95 upgrade onto Trevor's computer.



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