Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Windy City



We arrived in Perth with a mandate to visit friends of Karen’s on the south side of the city (actually, they live in Fremantle). We were running late, and could not find a suitable caravan park that allowed children, so we stopped overnight at Quinns Rocks caravan park, on the northside. What an excellent spot; we considered later that we should have stayed there longer.

One of the consistent factors we have been dealing with as we travel down the west coast of Australia is the wind. And Perth was to be no different! At all of our campsites, we have had to peg in the tent! A new experience for us……

The next day we found a caravan park south of Fremantle at Coogee Beach (they accepted kids), and booked in for a week. As well as visiting Karen’s friend, we also sent out some resumes looking for work for Daniel, and enquired about some minor repairs to our Troopy. It also has an unusual fault:

Since about February 2011, it has had an inconsistent wobble in the steering wheel. It can occur three times in a day, and then not for months. Sometimes the wobble is so bad, that it scares the wits out of us, and Karen refuses to drive at all. Lately, this fault has become more and more persistent, and can almost be brought on at will now. We found a mechanic that agreed to inspect the vehicle, and they proceeded with some other maintenance issues.

After two full days with the car, the problem was still not resolved and three mechanics were completely puzzled. They had previously seen vehicles with the same fault, but nothing they had done made any difference. We drove the car for the weekend, booked in for another week in the caravan park and returned the beast to them on Monday.

By this time we had all new wheel bearings (water damage, fancy that!), all new brakes (never been inspected!), new front shock absorbers and a host of other new parts. Eventually it was discovered that the steering damper was the cause of the fault and it was replaced. The mechanic refused to give us the bill until we were happy that it was fixed, and only charged us for 9 hours labour. If you ever need your Land Cruiser fixed in Perth, call TLC in O’Connor – they are fantastic! However, with the bill totalling almost $3000, we suddenly NEEDED to find work, and urgently!

A call came in from one of the emailed resumes, from Esperance. We’ll be headed there next week. In the meantime, we had a quick look around Perth (which reminded us very strongly of Brisbane) and Fremantle.

PB243816The fact that we were staying in a beachside campsite lent itself to beach exploring and swimming. PB243817However, the wind was so cold, that we only managed one such expedition to the jetty. The water is crystal clear and we joined the locals in jumping off the end of the jetty for a few hours. A dolphin fin rushing toward us through the water caused a little consternation, but all was calm once we figured out what it really was.

The sunsets from the beach were amazing, and way too many photographs were taken, but some of them are stunning.

We also managed a few walks along the beach, and there is always listening to the sound of the surf pounding the beach to rock you to sleep each night…….


We also spent some time exploring the Fremantle waterfront district. Here we discovered the Maritime Museum Shipwreck Gallery, where artefacts from several local sites are on display. The WA coastline was treacherous in the past, and hundreds of ships sank off the coast. One of the most famous of these, is the ‘Batavia’. The remains of the ship’s hull is on display, with some of the cannons and other items that were on board. One of the most fascinating is the sculptured doorway that was on its way to the royal palace in Batavia (now Jakarta), which has been fully erected to its original standing.

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After the Gallery, we walked down to the Roundhouse, which is the oldest permanent structure in Western Australia. It was a prison, and was built by convicts. The kids all had a go in the stocks and each little ‘cell’ had its own display detailing life in the early Swan River Settlement.

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A short walk to the dock area, revealed two tall ships in the harbour. One is the sailing ship ‘Leeuwin’, which you can book a tour on. Each of the passengers helps to run the ship as she sails into the Indian Ocean for the tour. A modern tall ship adventure in the offering. The other ship was the HMB Bark Endeavour, which we had visited whilst in Darwin.

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Just along the wharf we inspected the WA Maritime Museum in all its splendour. The kids really enjoyed the deep water diving section, where all manner of new and old technology explained the evolution of deep water diving equipment over the past 50-60 years. They particularly liked the display where they could drive a small submersible craft and watch their progress on the live video feed. The highlight of the museum though, was a tour on the naval submarine ‘Ovens’. A full sized submarine, sitting right there on the docks. ‘Ovens’ was used as a covert operations vessel during the cold war period, delivering SAS commandos to secure locations around the globe. Our tour guide took us into the front torpedo hatch and explained everything in detail. From the size of the bunks in the staff quarters and functions of the galley, through the emergency evacuation procedures and the control room.

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Back inside the museum, we discovered Australia II. The children knew nothing of her glorious victory in the Americas Cup win in 1983, so we regaled them with the story. It was fantastic that the museum had gone into so much detail with the display, even matching the crew members on board, to the winning crew.


A favourite display would have to be the Sandman Panelvan which demonstrates the surfing culture that grew rapidly in Perth in the 1970’s. when you touched the van, it started rocking up and down, and then we noticed the bumper sticker that read “If this van’s a rockin’, don’t bother knockin’.”


There were many other interesting items, including a few boats that you could board, steam engines used in the ferry boats, a large section on the fishing industry and transport ships and more. We only spent a day wandering around Fremantle, but there is so much more to see……next time……

Back in Perth city, we visited Kings Park. This is the Botanical Gardens that also house the War Memorial, a magical setting with the city of Perth as its’ backdrop. The Botanical Gardens has many different areas to explore, including playgrounds and garden sections from each of Western Australias’ regions. There is even a Boab Tree from the Kimberley, with a plaque describing the process of relocating it. After several visits to Kings Park, it fast became a favourite spot to spend a few idle hours.


The wind has not let up, and it’s time we headed for the Esperance job. Until next time…


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