THE car we hired was a lurid colour. We couldn’t settle on the tone. I suggested vomit yellow and my wife said it was a sort of green – if so, a green that should never be seen. But it was easy to spot in a car park.
We picked the car up in the middle of Perth, close to the highway. All I had to do was drive to the end of the road and take the second turning on the left. I took the first turning on the left.
This left us having to go around a huge block in the middle of the city, unsettling with me jumping and lurching. Most cars in Australia are automatics and I hadn’t driven one since a holiday to the States years ago. I kept using my left foot on the brake, pushing my leg down as if operating the clutch on our car at home, throwing my passengers forward. Then I remembered that the left foot is redundant in an automatic: do everything ‘right’ and the car behaves.
We reached the highway and headed south to Busselton for a weekend break with our daughter.
The day before, we’d been for a walk with our friends M&A in the John Forrest National Park on the Darling Scarp, east of Perth, named after the Victorian explorer and first premier of Western Australia. The walk was same but different: like the walks we do at home, but through pea-gravel scrublands with wonderful bursts of spring flowers (and a kangaroo or two).
Afterwards we had tea and cake in a roadside café – same but different again, with a road train rattling by filled with live sheep. The stink reached across the road.
At the holiday village in Busselton, the wi-fi was rubbish so this is a catch-up. The town is famous for its jetty, built 152 years ago and running to 1.841 kilometres. The jetty has been restored and rebuilt and in parts you can see the old wooden structure in the sea.
A train runs the length of the jetty, but we walked along, watching as Saturday anglers fished for squid, whose black ink stained the jetty. As we returned, the mist came down and the land disappeared, yet by the time we had lunch in a restaurant overlooking the jetty, the sun was strong enough to burn us a little as we ate outside.
The next day, we had breakfast in a bush café, then went into Dunsborough for shops, a gallery and so on, and a walk along the beach. It was a bit chilly and as everyone keeps telling us, it is winter here, or only just spring, and they’re keeping their coats on, even as I go out in T-shirt and shorts, shivering with defiance. Days have been warm or a bit chilly. Sometimes there has been rain.
After Dunsborough, we visited an olive farm and a brewery/winery in Eagle Bay in the Meelup regional park, then walked along a coastal path below the Cape Naturaliste lighthouse, looking for whales.
And we saw some – too distant for photographic proof, but there all right, exposing a fin or flashing a tail, and blowing water out. Now that was a thrill, and mysterious to think of those huge creatures mostly hidden from sight, but shyly announcing themselves as we watched from the path.
Yesterday, I drove the vomit-yellow-green Toyota back to Perth, and we travelled expensively by taxi from the car hire place to our Airbnb in Fremantle, named after Captain Charles H Fremantle, who arrived to claim the place for King George IV in 1829. We arrived to claim the place for ourselves for a week.