A few closing thoughts from the beautiful big empty country…

THAT serves you bloody well right, mate, for posting pictures on Facebook showing sunshine on sandy coves and other holiday snaps to cause envy to break out like a rash.

Today the rain is lashing down and yesterday we abandoned plans for a return visit to King’s Park in Perth. Instead we walked in the rain to a late breakfast with our daughter, then went to see a film (Ali’s Wedding, an Australian-Iraqi rom-com, if you can believe such a thing, and quite wonderful, too).

You don’t think of rain when visiting Perth, but you should if you come in August, the rainy month here – just like home, in a sense.

Mostly the weather has been good, at least, to visiting Brits. Sunny and sometimes warm enough to burn, but nothing too extreme.

“This isn’t hot,” our friend said, when I edged out of the low afternoon sunshine one day.

August here is wet, Christmas is hot and the temperature in February can approach 90°F. And that’s another confusing thing: we left Britain at the start of September, just as summer gave up the fight, and we have spent nearly three weeks here in spring, only to return tomorrow to darkening autumn.

Today we fly home, leaving Perth at 5pm local time. Thanks to being seven hours ahead, we are due to land in Manchester early on Saturday morning. That makes this my last travelogue, as commuting to Howden and Horsforth offers little potential for wander words.

We have loved our time in Perth, and here are a few passing thoughts. People here are very proud not so much of being Australians as being Western Australians, with loyalty to state being stronger than to country.

A bit like Yorkshire in a way, only writ enormously large, for Western Australia is vast. Perth, the state capital, is the most isolated city in the world, with its closest companion being Adelaide 1,367 long miles away. If WA were a country, it would be in the top ten in the world in terms of size. And, seeing as we went there, the jetty at Busselton is the longest wooden jetty in the southern hemisphere, running to just over a mile.

Oh, and King’s Park, which we didn’t return to yesterday thanks to the rain, is the world’s largest city park, much larger than Central Park in New York.

Here’s another telling statistic. The endless vastness of Western Australia is home to around 2.5m people, while the cramped confines of London contain approaching 10m people.

Yorkshire Tea is hugely popular here, thanks to the number of relocated Brits, and coffee shops are everywhere, much like home. The beer is good, much better than when I visited the east of Australia more than 30 years ago. Like the coffee, craft beer is plentiful, although it comes icy cold and isn’t hand-pumped.

The people are friendly, open and chatty. The centre of Perth is quite small, with huge banking skyscrapers dwarfing the older buildings, and it is easy to navigate, and there are more bars, cafes and restaurants than you could visit in half a life-time. The food is good and yesterday’s brunch featured the “best BLT in Perth” and between mouthfuls of proper bacon, sourdough toast and salad, I couldn’t help but agree. The veggie options have been good, too – and our first meal out was at a vegetarian cafe, all tasty fresh goodness to banish the awful stomach memory of airline food.

Anyway, we’ve loved our time here and hope to return one day, but other people’s happiness doesn’t write well, so it is time for me to shut up and wait for the jet-lag to hit.

Leave a Reply