Where the hell do I start? From the beginning I suppose.
After the usual 26-hour tortuous flight via Abu-dhabi and Brunei to down under, I walked through Perth airport into stifling 32 deg. heat at 9pm local time. Quite a jolt from the minus 2 deg C I'd left at Heathrow.
My friend was waiting there to meet me and led me out to her car, where the biggest cockroach I'd ever seen was sitting on it. No problem, just brush it off. Shit, they fly. Like ruddy doodlebugs. That woke me up a bit quick smart. Oh yes, I'm in Oz now. Nothing is the same over here.
The house we are staying in belongs to her daughter, and is a lovely
place built of solid Jarrah wood, suspended on stilts in a large plot of land
by the beach. It has been continually extended by a variety of owners, and consequently
is still in a semi finished condition. There is no toilet door, just a sheet
hanging on a pole across the proposed doorway, so I soon learned to whistle
loudly when in attendance. There is a huge verandah at the
back where we have our bbq's, and a covered terrace running all around.
For the first week here we just bummed around the local area of Perth and its surrounding suburbs, giving me an opportunity to take in some of the fabulous beaches and scenery this end of the world.
The climate in Perth around early summer is unbelievable, never getting below the low 20's at night, and rising to the high 30's in the day.
For the first week, I slept with the bedroom front shutter door wide open to the world, with only the flyscreen between us and the beautiful Southern night sky. The stars down here are awesome, and they twinkle like nowhere else I've ever seen. On my first night of arrival, we sat on the beach till nearly 3am sharing a cask of wine, and staring up at the Milky Way. Within a couple of minutes, I'd seen a shooting star, and also a Satellite slowly moving across over us. In the morning one gets woken up really early (4.30am) by the hordes of squawking Galas that flock around. Quite a novelty seeing wild parrots hopping about the garden. Gives you an incentive to get up though, and take an invigorating walk along the beach before the sun really gets hot.
Sunbathing is not an option here during the day, the sunshine is so fierce after about 7.30 am, you have to cover up and splosh on as much slip, slop, slap ( oz for suntan lotion) as you can muster. Even so, I still got quite red for the first few days till I realised the error of my ways. Soon bought myself a silly hat and wrap around shades. Looked like a true blue Ossie ocker straight away.
Went fishing off the rocks of the local harbour several days running. A real piss off, because although I could see these huge fish meandering about just a few feet away from my bait, it was always nicked by the hordes of tiny blowfish before the whoppers got a look in. A bonus was that a family of dolphins came into the harbour to feed. Beautiful to just sit here on the rocks and only just a few feet away these wonderful mammals were diving and jumping amongst schools of fish for their breakfast. Also large pelicans and cormorants flew in and around the bay, scavenging what they could from the fisherman.
The sand on the beaches over here is almost pure white, just like the ads show it. Only snag is it gets so bloody hot, you cannot walk on it for long. The dance of the epileptic sand fairy comes to mind.
The sea is crystal clear, and I mean like pure glass. In many places you can see straight to the bottom, even though it is God knows how deep. Very disorientating at times. I wonder what they do with their sewage?
Food is extremely cheap by UK standards, especially fresh fruit and veg, though Aussies still bitch about it. I have never in my life seen such a variety of things to buy. The size of things is also amazing. Imagine a cabbage over a foot wide. Melons and pumpkins the size of large televisions. Incredible.
The BBQ is king, and most evenings are spent outside as the sun goes down with the mouth-watering smell of sizzling T-bones wafting up your nostrils. Gorgeous...Not good for the diet, though.
My friend has a lemon tree in her back garden, and I experienced the pleasure of picking fresh lemons straight off the tree to cut up and place in my cocktail. There is also a large grape vine growing all over her terrace which will give us a good feed of grapes by Xmas. Her next door neighbour has a HUGE banana tree growing in his garden. Amazing!
The house we are staying in (my friends daughters home) has a huge olive tree in its front garden, and large paw-paw trees in the neighbours garden. The owner was on Holiday in Bali for a month, and he asked us to pick as much fruit as we liked. Wow, fresh paw-paw...delicious, still warm from the morning sun.
Haven't seen any of the infamous evil poisonous spiders and snakes that Oz is famous for, though I'm sure they are here. I'm certainly not going looking for them. The flies really get up your nose, and I mean quite literally. That is a most definite down side to Australia. Nothing you can do about it, just put up and shut up. You end up adopting the customary Aussie wave across your face every few seconds. I thought people were just being friendly, but soon got the hang of it. Get one in your mouth, they taste bloody horrible.
Mosquitos! Don't talk to me about mossies. On my second night here, sitting by the barbie I was quite literally eaten alive by the bleedin' things. I counted 27 bites all over my body. Once again, I soon learnt. Light up the citronella cones, and smother myself in anti mossie cream. Had no trouble since, but a hard way to learn. They were itching like a bastard for over 10 days, especially the ones on my bum. Most embarrassing, going everywhere scratching my arse.
Driving at night here is a bit hazardous, since the kangaroos have no sense of self-preservation. They will quite happily hop out from the bush straight in front of you, and just stare at you like rabbits as you home down on them. The roadside is littered with the decomposing corpses of roos who have strayed into the path of a car. Hit one of the bigger ones and you'd really know about it. It's a gamble who would come off worse. Without a 'roo bar, you are taking a big risk at night on the road.
One night we went down to visit a friend and ex colleague of mine who has emigrated out here last summer, for a good few drinks and a chat. He has settled in well, and looks fit and well tanned. He is currently renting a very nice house with the essential swimming pool out back for his family but intends to start looking seriously at buying a place of their own after Xmas.
He told me they have a resident spider that comes out onto their patio during the evening that's as big as your fist. Try and splat it, no chance. It sees you coming and just legs it. Well, 8 legs it. Gives him the willeys, but he is coming to terms with it. My friend says it's a jumping spider and quite harmless, although that hasn't made him any more relaxed about the close encounter.
His wife has got a job quite easily because she is a nurse, but 5 months on; Alan is still looking for work. He hasn't even had the decency of a 'Dear John' letter from several of his job applications. Although he is a qualified toolmaker, with loads of Aerospace engineering experience, it means nothing here. Aussies are very protective of their own workforce, and tend not to recognise any qualifications earned abroad. Incredible really, he may end up selling ice creams on the beach, though he did not seem the least concerned. I think he's still enjoying the novelty of an extended holiday, and is quite happy to let his missus go off to work and stay at home as a househusband. I'm sure she will soon get cheesed off with that though, and give him a shove. We have arranged to meet up again later on during my stay.
We intend to load up the car up with camping gear during my second week, and take a hike up North for a while. Stopping off on route at some of the numerous beauty spots for a night or two. It is a horrendously long way, and I still haven't yet come to terms with driving over 2000 kilometres through endless roads of sweltering outback bush to get there. Basically Lands End to John o' Groats and back, and that is just a small part of Western Australia. Hell, this is a huge continent.
I have already taken God knows how many piccys and loads of videoing, and may soon have to buy more film. Going to cost me a fortune in developing them but will be worth it.