Sunday, 2 August 2009

Pretty Perth

My first trip to Perth was when I was still in my late teens. Mum suggested going to Australia and we landed in Perth one week later in the middle of a wet, cold winter. I spent all week sulking and giving mum grief, remembering little about the trip except for the wine cruise and pretty petunias blooming everywhere.

Mum has a latent adventurous streak in her that would emerge from time to time. When we were still babies, she went on a 2-week trip that took her from one end of Malaysia to the other, covering almost all the different states along the way. She returned home exhausted from the adventure.

When we were still in school, she went to Hong Kong, Macau, Korea and Japan with her siblings. Our last trip together was an European jaunt to UK, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein some 9 years ago.

In a way, I'm quite similar to her. Sometimes the wanderlust in me is so strong that I would just grab my bags and go without much planning. That was what we did several years ago during the kid's September school break. I booked our flight tickets to Perth on a whim and found ourselves in the beautiful city days later.

I like exploring places on foot whenever I can. We checked into a hotel by the Swan River so that we could plan our activities around the area. We treated ourselves to bacon/sausage/pancake breakfasts by the lovely riverside cafe before heading out each day. We could almost see the zoo across the river.

The Perth Zoo is rather small but an interesting one with a long heritage. More importantly, it is easily accessible, just outside the CBD. We took a ferry from the Barrack Street Jetty which brought us across the Swan River within minutes.

One morning, we took a ferry to the historic port town of Frementle. Along the way, we saw some of the most luxurious waterfront properties in Perth.

I got really excited when we arrived at the port. This is one of the most important ports in Australia for my trading business, so it was great that I finally saw the port in real life.

Frementle is a lively place with lots of attractions. While the museums are a treasure-trove of arts, artefacts and Australian martime history, they aren't exactly stuff that kids are crazy about. So we went off in search of good fish & chips instead. After a satisfying lunch, we visited the markets before heading back to the city.

The highlight of the trip was our visit to AQWA (the Aquarium of Western Australia), home to the world’s largest collection of Western Australian marine life and Australia's largest underwater tunnel.

The boys were fascinated with the touch pools where they had close encounters with sharks, stingrays, turtles and lots of other fishes. I particularly liked the outdoor aquariums which offer a fantastic view of the Hillarys Boat Harbour just outside the AQWA.

I booked several excursions which brought us out to the countryside where we visited animal sanctuaries and vineyards.

During the month of September, the vines were cut down completely, so there was no picturesque view to speak of. We managed to do some wine tasting though and had a couple of BBQ lunches in the park.

It wasn't the best time of the year to visit Cottesloe Beach either. It was way too cold and windy for us to have a good time.

We ended up at Kings Park which boasts of 1000 hectares of untamed bushland, walking trails and cultivated garden spaces. Touted as Perth's favourite playground, the park's stunning location overlooks the city and the silken blue waters of the Swan River.

Fortunately we had arrived at the beginning of wildflower season in Perth. We booked an excursion with a botanical guide who bought us out to the outskirts in search of wild flowers.

We stopped at many sites to walk through bushland where the guides helped us identify rare and delicate wildflowers like the orchids, kangaroo paw, everlastings, banksias and Western Australian Christmas Tree.

We sighted a hedgehog scurrying away when it saw us approaching.

It was cold in the bushland and my toes were freezing in the flip-flops. YK had some problem with his shoes and I gallantly removed my hiking boots for him to put on while I trekked through the forest in my flimpsy slippers.

Some areas that were carpetted with gorgeous wildflowers were a sight to behold!

As you would have imagined, most of the people in our excursion were retirees, possibly gardeners with a strong interest in flora. While the boys and I ran about in the bushland, these oldies were shuffling along, stopping to admire every tiny bloom. It was funny!

Sometimes impromptu holidays like this can be really memorable. While the kids loved the cool spring weather, I wished it was warmer and sunnier. At least it was pleasant unlike the time I was there with mum when it rained all week. What's important is the kids had a great time and put on smiling faces throughout the trip.


Fresh Fry aka 福星 said...

ah, perth. memories abound! =)))

ckl said...

Ha! Looks like you do know Perth quite well so maybe in your next visit you can show me around? :-) Come in April/May, best time of the year in Perth (IMHO)