Perth

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Perth was our next advertised port of call. Our visit to Perth wasn’t actually so. The port is Freemantle from where one can get to Perth. Perth is a place we never went to, so I suppose, Perth wasn’t really our next port of call after all: it was Freemantle. But Perth was advertised, so Perth we’ll call it – but really, it was Freemantle.

We had elected to take an excursion, not to Perth but to Caversham Wildlife Park followed by a visit to Sandalford Wineryvineyard for some always welcomed wine tasting. The best bit was that the excursion didn’t start until after lunch so we could have a relaxing morning starting with a lazy breakfast in a [relatively] empty restaurant while everybody else was out exploring. After this, we went ashore just to get a picture of us in port. And then ‘view’ the Queen Mary 2 that had parked behind us, back-to-back, or stern-to-stern for those with a nautical bent J.

She may regret parking behind us later!

Having had such a late, and rather hearty, breakfast we opted to skip lunch though I did promise myself I would need to hunt down some food on my return, scheduled for 16:30. Anyway, with that decision made, we made our way shore side to join our tour bus and tour guide. As we boarded, we were told that we were the last excursion to leave and would most likely be the last to return which would be just in time for the ship’s allotted departure time so, when we returned, we would be asked to re-board the ship as quickly as possible. No pressure there then! On our last coach excursion, in Adelaide, we had a great tour guide, a ringer for Steve Erwin, but this tour guide was definitely not Australian, or English. She sounded Italian so Italian she shall be. Her grasp of the language was good but not good enough and seemed to have trouble when trying to explain some aspects of the local area: This wasn’t helped by a PA system that worked only half way up the coach with intermittent feedback and even, on occasions, cutting out. For the first hour, we made our way through the city traffic and the myriad of traffic lights, which always seemed against us. Eventually however, we reached the outskirts and, at last left the city behind. Not before however, we caught a brief glimpse of Perth’s skyline, so at least we can we say we’ve seen Perth even if we never actually went there. The one thing we did notice was how dry everything was. This area is known to be hot but this season had been a particularly hot one with no rain for 4-months. (As I’m writing this and looking at the news from Perth –re: the lost Air Malaysian flight MH370 – I get the feeling that the dry spell is most definitely over). The ground was so dry and the grass looked like straw: a far cry from the floods we had left back home in England. How ironic that we in the UK are seeing the most rainfall since I don’t know when yet here on the other side of the world, they’re experiencing heat waves and extended periods (4-months) without rain.

Eventually however, we reached the wildlife park and were told we would have 50 minutes here before we would have to move on to the winery.

As we got off the coach, the wall of heat hit us; it was chuffing hot. 50 minutes I decided would be more than enough.And anyway, we had already seen a group of wild Kangaroos on the way to the park so we’d already got our money’s worth 🙂. As we made our way through the park, it quickly became obvious that once more, Mrs Me (now official) would be happy as there was an abundance of wallabies / kangaroo’s (even white ones) and Koala’s for her to play with.

IMG_3663IMG_3603Mrs Me was truly, once more in heaven and if Mrs Me is happy, then so am I and even better, we still had the wine tasting to come. At this centre there was an abundance of Koala’s and Mrs Me got to fiddle with, not all of them, but enough to sate her appetite for Koala acquainting. After that, it was a quick dash to the Wallaby / Kangaroo section, where once more, we were able to feed them, if they had any appetite of course. And an appetite they did not have. We put this down to the fact that there was a great big bin from which anybody could grab as much food as they wanted for feeding purposes. Clearly, they had had more than enough for one day, though there was one that had some interest.IMG_3643But, before we left, we espied an area with numerous birds, including a Kookaburra.  IMG_3630and, a Wombat called Neil who we simply couldn’t resist having our photo taken with. I’m note sure it was the most flattering of photos, at least from Neil’s perspective: I’m sorry Neil, but Mrs Me did insist on me being in the picture.IMG_3638

Time for the Winery.

In no time at all, we were back on the coach and heading over to the winery where we would have the opportunity to listen to them tell us all about the grapes, the history of the vines, how the wine is stored in barrels for who knows how long, the bottling process, and finally how to taste the wine.  Now, there’s a couple of things you need to know at this point: my parents used to run a pub where we sampled and sold lots of wine and beer, we handled barrels of all sizes (Kilderkins, Firkins & Polypins / Pins). We were also keen gardeners so we know how things grow and I briefly worked in a brewery so I also knew about bottling so if anybody thought I was going to stand around and listen to all that, they were so very, very much mistaken. While everybody else stood around waiting for their ‘lecturer’ to turn up and talk, Mrs Me and I went straight into the shop where a rather attractive (ouch, my ear hurts again) young assistant who was more than happy to let us taste all sorts of wine before we bought some bottles, just for the journey and of course to support the local industries. Having bought what we wanted we went over to the lecture area, which was now finished while the rest crowded into the store. We now had easy access to all the remaining wine plus cheese plus biscuits. We were well sorted. At the allotted time, we made our way back to the coach then had to wait until everybody else had made their choices / purchases before we could leave, now 30 minutes late and 30 minutes before the time we had to be back on the ship with a 45 minute drive ahead of us.

We were going to be late.

Now, I’m sure you can work this out. We had to be back by 16:30, we were 30 minutes from last boarding time so it was therefore 16:00. We had a 45 minute drive back to the ship through the city of Freemantle, just when people are starting to finish work for the day and head for home, or the beach or the bar, etc., etc. The 45-minute drive was going to take longer than 45 minutes. It took 75 minutes. And what an interesting 75 minutes it was to be. Naturally, the traffic took its toll on us as did the numerous traffic lights but at least it enabled me to view the sights of Freemantle. I now know that if I ever want to buy heavy duty diggers, giant earth movers, tankers – of any variety, cement mixers, 18-wheeler rigs or even a WWII tank, the outskirts of Feemantle was the place to go. They also seemed to like their ‘adult shops’ though Mrs Me wouldn’t let me jot down the website address’s. Bulk Billing for various medical services was another frequent observation as well: What that was all about, I really don’t know but as every other one was of a dental nature I took little notice. At last, we reached the ship, late. But as it happened we weren’t the last but the sail away party was set to start in 15 minutes so it was a mad dash back to out cabin to deposit our purchases (fridge magnets, cuddly toys, post cards, etc. the usual stuff) before heading up the terrace bar.

The deck was packed with fellow travellers all waving either UK or Australia flags, either way, the Union Jack was flying, to a mix of English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish and Australian songs all of which got louder and more involving as the sailing time approached. The volume and general boisterousness of our singing, cheering and dancing was in response to the passengers on the opposite deck on the QM2 who just stood there and looked at us in bemusement. Clearly those on Cunard do not know how to have a good time although eventually, they did stoke up a 4-piece jazz band but they had no chance against all the Arcadia passengers in full voice backed up by the Arcadia PA System including LOUD recordings of the ships horn. The songs came and went; the minutes ticked by; the QM2 looked on – in silence; and still, we didn’t move. Then came the dreaded announcement (happens at virtually every port). The ships announcement is made, could Mr so and so from cabin so and so please contact reception. This means that somebody has been ashore but they either haven’t yet returned or they haven’t been registered as returned (it’s normally the latter of course). At this point the vote takes place, all in favour of waiting for them to return shout ‘aye’ (nothing): all those in favour of leaving them behind shout ‘aye’ – without exception, all shouted ‘AYE’. Then we shouted across at the QM2 to ask if Mr so and so was on their ship. They looked back, blankly and said nothing, though a couple had managed to find a flag to wave (obviously previous P&O passengers). The ships announcement was repeated a couple more times before eventually Mr so and so had been tracked down. But still we didn’t move.

 

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And why didn’t we move? We didn’t move because we were waiting for the QM2 to go first as she was in our way. But at last, about an hour and half later, she untied her strings and pushed away from the the side and she was away with us on the Arcadia waving her farewell. And, with that, we also cut loose our strings, pushed away then we had to do a complete turn to face the right way and then we too were off.

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And, as the sun sett on yet another beautiful day, we set course up the west coast of Australia across the Indian Ocean towards Bali, a journey that would take us 3-days.

That was the end of Australia and so for us, Perth truly was our final frontier: for Australia anyway. But fear not Australia, we loved you all. It was probably the best country we’ve visited to date and yes, we’ll be back, with P&O of course.

I never did get any lunch that day 😦

Next Stop – Bali

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