See photo albums and video related to this blog. So far I have uploaded pictures of Perth City, Fremantle, John Forrest Park, Mount Helena and a video from a football match between Perth Glory and Sydney.
I was staying with my old friends Don and Anne Veal in Mount Helena, which is in the Perth Hills some 40km from the city centre. Getting to the city involves either: a) bus to Midland (but only 2 buses in the very early morning and 2 in the evening) then a train; b) cycle to Mundaring, bus (more frequent) to Midland then train; c) cycle to Midland then train; d) cycle all the way; e) drive. I tried a, b and e, and also cycled to Midland and back one day.
Public Transport: I was very impressed with the Perth public transport system - fast, frequent trains integrated with the buses and ferries. The system is expanding to cope with the fast growng population. A day ticket giving unlimited travel on all trains, buses and ferries in the greater Perth region costs just A$8.80.
Weather: Temperature surprisingly variable - over 40 degC in summer, but can get frost in winter. During my stay (late spring) I experienced hailstones, heavy rain, daytime highs of from 25 to 37, and most days a visit from 'the Doctor'. Not Dr Who, or my GP, but the name given to the fairly strong wind that blows in from the sea every day.
Woolworths is alive and well here! But not Woolworths as we knew it in UK. This is more like Morrisons/Sainsbury. Talking of which, if you think the UK grocery supernarkets are dominated by a few companies, there are only two here (Woolworths and Coles). Cash Converters are a useful type of shop - something like a pawn shop except most stuff is for sale rather than being stored. I got my bike there for A$125. What we would call charity shops are called 'op shops' here. Petrol is much cheaper than UK, but also the pump price is much more variable (between companies and from day to day). eg one petrol station was selling at 112c/litre and another across the road was 130c/litre.
Forest Fires: are a big problem all over Autralia. There are large signs on the roads round Perth indicating the danger level for that day. Some fires are due to natural causes (eg eucalyptus self igniting at high temps); some are due to carelessness (fag ends and bottles thrown from cars); and quite a lot due to arson. Sadly it seems that some of the arsonists are volunteer firefighters looking for practice.
Banks: There are lots of them! A difference from UK is that when you present plastic for payment, you are asked ' current, savings or credit?'. ie one card can access all 3 types of account. Chip and Pin is still voluntary.
Contrary to the 'Sir Les Patterson' or 'Paul Hogan' images, pubs,taverns are in short supply and public drunkenness is rare. This is partly due to clean-up campaigns and recent legislation.
Hoons: The Austtralian word for hooligan. Recently passed 'Hoon' legislation is now in force, allowing heavy on the spot fines for speeding, drink-driving, and numerous other 'hooning' activities such as driving along country roads from side to side at speed (making lots of noise and leaving marks) or heavily scratching the inside of train windows so they become opaque. The media are following the success or otherwise of this legislation with interest.
Animals: I have heard a lot about snakes, but seen none. I have seen lizards, kangaroos (alive and road kill), echidna, parrots (28s and Galahs), coakatoos, kookaburras and now that I'm in Brisbane. turkeys and ibis. Mustn't forget the Australian magpie - just as nasty a bird as the European variety, but even more agressive. I've been buzzed by them on my bike a few times. Some cyclists wear thin spikes on their helmets as a deterrent!