No idea why the photo is sideways, I started this post from my phone and it insisted on making the photo sideways but it wouldn't let me post it without a location so am finishing this from a PC in the hostel and will edit the photo (and add my own photos to all my other entries) once I get home tomorrow.
My last day in Perth was great. I was out of the hostel by 8am (of course!) and walked for an hour via St Mary's Cathedral out to East Perth, then down to the water and back along the waterfront. The waterfront to the East of town is lovely: it is formed from reclaimed land with a long straight footpath right by the water, a cycle path twisting between the trees, a wide palm-lined boulevard for traffic then the grassy strip of Langley park before the waterfront buildings of Riverside Drive. I saw lots of green parakeets; I know they're common here but I haven't been in oz long enough this trip for the novelty to have worn off and I still get excited when I see them sitting in the palm trees or flying past in a flash of bright red, green and blue. I finally feel like I've "got" Perth, I understand the layout of the city, I am familiar with the major streets and I know where I am pretty much anywhere in the CBD. I love to get to this point in a foreign city, it's a goal for me everywhere I visit.
I was at the cycle hire place to get my bike as it opened at 9am. $25 to rent a bike for the whole day, including helmet padlock and a free bottle of water was a really good deal. I cycled to Fremantle by the riverside route, which winds round bays and inlets of Swan river towards its mouth. It took me 2.5h, partly because I got lost a couple of times (the route was a bit confusing), stopped in several places to shed layers (it was warm), to use public toilets and take selfies.
The route was partly on cycle paths, part on "shared paths" ie pavement, some stretches on roads and one very steep flight of steps. This latter was bewildering, I have never before followed a cycle route that involved a flight of steps! I double checked with a dog walker that I was going the right way and he confirmed that it was correct. As far as I can tell, you can pretty much cycle on pavements wherever and whenever you want here with no repercussions, certainly everybody seems to do it and the pavements are wide enough with few enough people that it's not really dangerous. I liked cycling on the pavement, it felt very safe especially as I didn't really know where I was going. Must remember not to keep doing it back home, though!
I generally don't like suburbs much, but the Perth ones I cycled through on this route were lovely. Not at all the uniform boxland of British suburbs, the houses were large and individual, set back from the road and very nice looking. A large lizard thing crossed the path infront of me and I finally got to hear some laughing kookaburras, my first chance of this trip to hear my favourite Australian bird.
In Fremantle, I went to check out the markets, which were cool, but I've been to Freo already this trip and I didn't find it entertaining enough to want to spend much longer than an hour or so more there. I cycled back a different route: out to the coast then up alongside the Indian Ocean, past Mosman & Cottesloe beaches. It was absolutely gorgeous. It was sunny and warm, the beaches were white and the sea aquamarine (in contrast to the river I cycled out past, which had been distinctly brown in places), the path wove alone the top of the dunes and it was one of the loveliest bike rides I've done. People on the beach in bikinis- not bad for "winter"! After leaving the coast I turned inland and picked up the bike path that ran alongside the railway tracks back into the city centre; it sounds unpleasant but it really wasn't, it was safe and nice and flat and it was really cool to see the succession of stations / suburbs going into the CBD.
I returned my bike then walked back into town. Pedestrian crossings in Australia are weird - it takes an unnecessarily long time for it to be your turn to cross and everybody just stands there waiting!! This would never in a million years happen in England, where people dash across the first chance they get but when I did this in Australia I was literally the only one. Perhaps it's symbolic of the laid-back lifestyle of Australians compare to the British, in their willingness to wait vs my impatience to get on with things.
I went to get a bubble tea & pick up a few Australian essentials to take home with me. I had planned to go to the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts but it was closed for installation, then I went to go the WA Art Gallery but it was also closed as it closed at 5pm and it was already 4.45pm. So instead I trekked up William St to check out the "other" Hyde Park, which was very nice in the setting sun, then came back slowly, stopping to browse in the oriental shops along the strip.
An early night then I got up at 6am to make the most of my last two hours in Australia before leaving to catch my flight and found it was pouring with rain!! I wandered a little bit in the drizzle, then sat under an awning outside the library with a takeaway coffee, using the free Wi-Fi to attempt to post this entry from my phone. The area including the library is really nice, it's the Cultural Centre and includes the library, museum and art galleries. There are nice coffee stands and lots of outdoor seating, street performers and art installations, it's a cool place to hang out, even at 8am on a rainy Saturday. I'm leaving in half an hour or so to catch a bus to the airport for my 2pm flight back to the UK; I'll arrive in Exeter at midday on Sunday then back to work Monday morning.
Goodbye Australia, I will be back! I won't miss your pedestrian crossings, the longdrop toilets or the flies but I will miss your weather, your accents, peanut butter, vastness, wildlife, uniqueness & lifestyle. I'm staying home to work and study towards a Masters for the next two years so won't be doing much travelling, but as soon as that's done I will be off again. I've already got my next trip to Australia planned out (Broome to Darwin then from Perth round the southwest corner of WA, across the Nullabor plain to Adelaide then over to Tassie) but I must return to S.E. Asia first, so it may be a few years. I will be back, though.