Big trip to Oz: March 2015

????????Last month we were in Australia. It wasn’t a big trip by some people’s standards but it was 3 weeks, we haven’t had a 3 week holiday for ages, and it was Australia which is a long way away. We went to see number 1 son who’s a police officer in Fremantle.

We stopped off for 3 nights in Singapore on the way. Conveniently it’s on the same time zone, it broke the journey and gave us the opportunity to revisit a city which we knew well in the 1970s. It was also a place where I could get the screen on my HTC One repaired for just SGD120 (that’s a little over £60) whilst I waited (actually I waited in a sushi bar just round the corner) instead of a quoted £140 in the UK when it would have to be sent away.

Singapore has changed as you’d expect but it is not the subject of this blog so I’ll move swiftly on.

Australia is very much what you’d expect of it. The people are ‘accommodating’, the weather is good and the food and wine are abundant and first class. It sounds like a stereotype but then stereotypes are based on truth. And Fremantle (Freo) exhibits these features in spades. The main drag is called the Cappuccino Strip, its climate is described as the one that Califonia thinks it has and there are good restaurants and bars in abundance.

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We stayed for several nights in Freo and it really was a great place to unwind. We stayed at the Esplanade which isn’t cheap but it’s in the right place and just about the most pleasant hotel I can remember staying in. We’d stay there again. We enjoyed just walking around, drinking coffee at leisure, visiting the market and recording another Unesco World Heritage Sight visit viz Fremantle Prison which remained in use until the early 1990s. It’s quite an experience to see the conditions in which the convicts lived and to appreciate that it all dates back to the 18th century.

From Freo we made several excursions:

  • Perth its big neighbour. Perth isn’t a big city but it’s most notable for King’s Park which is most impressive and notwithstanding the qualities of the park itself it also affords you great views over the city.????????
  • Rottnest Island a sort of eco-island 30 minutes off shore. You go and hire a bike and you can cover the island easily in a day and you get to see a lot of basic Australian plant and bird life in a natural condition. If you go make sure you end up at Geordie’s for lunch.
  • Cottesloe Beach. It’s a fairly normal beach but we went to see the exhibition of 70 sculptures every one of which is orders of magnitude better the pathetic Snowy Farr statue in Cambridge. They are all good but some were exceptional. The sculptors are international with many coming from Japan.

Our Oz trip was in 3 parts. After part 1 (Fremantle) we got on a plane for part 2: the Northern Territories and the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. That’s a second Unesco tick. Actually it’s a double tick because its both a cultural and a natural site.

????????It really is impressive. First the heat, 35 degrees plus. There’s not a cloud in the sky and yet there are markers on the road which indicate how deep it is when it floods. Second are the roads, straight enough to have been built by the Romans. Then the indigenous people’s monuments of Kata Tjuta and Uluru. We got to see the latter at sunrise and sunset and then the following day we were up early again to walk up, across and then down King’s Canyon.

Finally part 3: Margaret River. That’s south of Perth and Bill Bryson describes it as being like the best of Herefordshire and the Ardennes. With different plants and better weather I’d suggest although we did get some rain. It’s a bit of an agricultural theme park with wineries, cheese outlets and chocolate factories, sheep shearing and raptor flying. And because the raw materials are so good we had some super meals there.

The outstanding restaurant was Morries (http://www.morries.com.au). We’d got a discount voucher from the hotel so didn’t expect much??????????????????????????????? but the food, the service and the ambience were outstanding. It isn’t the most expensive restaurant in Margaret River but we reckon it is the best. The scene was set when we couldn’t get a table on the first night so reserved for the next night and left a phone number. As we went off looking for another we got a call to say that a table had been freed up. That was a good start and it got better all the way.

We came back in one go albeit with a change of plane in Singapore. That was hard work and it seemed to take for ever as we flew over countries where you’d really rather not land. But finally that endless flight did come to an end and we returned to Cambridge on a very cold March day.

There’s a set of 45 photos at https://flic.kr/s/aHsk9wYJMB.

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