Our third and final stop in Australia was Perth.
Perth is in southwestern Australia and it is one of the most remote
cities in the world, many hundreds of miles from any other
Australian or southeast Asian city. It also holds another
distinction. Perth is the farthest place on the earth on land from
Philadelphia. If one were to go from Perth in a straight line
through the center of the earth, he would emerge near Bermuda. That
means that Perth is the end of the earth, the last stop, as far as
you can go. Any direction you go from Perth is coming back. In
practical terms, this was the mother lode of frequent flier miles.
We were more than 11,600 miles from home.
is a beautiful place with lots of water all around. It doesnt
extend very far inland but it does go up and down the coast of the
Indian Ocean for more than 40 miles or so. Almost everyone lives
near the beach. We spent much of our time near the downtown area
next to the Swan River which is part of something referred to as
"Perth Water." Theres a spacious
open area next to the river
about 300 feet wide in front of our hotel. The downtown area starts
next to the open area and is not really that large. Traffic is
relatively light compared to what we see in the U.S. It reminded me
of a lot of what San Diego looked like when I lived there in 1970
while in the navy. While we were in Perth there wasnt a cloud in
the sky and we understand thats the way it is much of the time.
Summers can be very hot and winters pleasantly cool.
The first Europeans (a Dutch navigator, Willem de
Vlamingh) arrived in the area in 1696 or 1697 but a colony wasnt
established until 1829 by the British. Perth is named for the city
in Scotland of the same name. The original settlers were free
people, unlike in the east. However, the hardships and a labor
shortage created the need for the convicts to come about 1850. Their
labor was used to build public buildings and infrastructure. Even
so, because it was so remote, transportation to Perth terminated in
1868. Things changed in the mid 1890s with the discovery of gold.
Funny how gold does that. (We have the San Francisco 49ers name from
the gold rush but Perth does not have a football team called the
Perth 92ers more on that soon). The gold brought prosperity to the
area and with it, lots of
Victorian buildings were constructed. Many still exist. Soon
came telegraph cables connecting Perth to London and South Africa,
and eventually the railroad was built to the east.
Just west of downtown there is a large open space
on a hill called
Kings Park. Theres a
memorial there to Australian veterans of World War I. The view
from there looking toward
downtown and the
expanse of the Swan River toward South Perth is beautiful. In
the park there are lots of hiking and biking trails all within a few
blocks of the central business area. While walking in the park near
the cliff, I encountered a gardener tending to some plants. She
offered me a map of the park. A thought went through my head but it
seemed trite so I kept my mouth shut. Then I heard her utter the
same words I was thinking. "Sometimes I take it for granted," she
said, "but I have the best office in town."
Perth has several square blocks in the downtown
area that are pedestrian malls. Lynn and I have seen these now in
many places, in both the English and non-English speaking worlds,
and they seem to work everywhere but in the U.S. Ill never
understand why. They are bustling with people and have lots of
shopping activity, restaurants, and outdoor entertainment. I am
frequently referred to as "the mule" in our house. This isnt
because Im stubborn (although I most definitely can be such). Its
because of a mules other function. Lynn shops; I lug. She went into
some shop and I took advantage of the break in the action to sit on
a bench. An old man was sitting on the bench next to me. He leaned
over and said something to me. In other places, I cant always
understand the locals but I learned to speak reasonably fluent
Australian a long time ago so I engaged this fellow in a brief
conversation. "Youre not from around here," he observed. I agreed
"Where are you from?" "Philadelphia," I said. "Wheres that?" And
here I thought we were world famous.
There was one website, no longer available, about the history of
Perth that had this little blurb.
But back to football. Football is a big deal
here. They dont play American football or the similar Canadian
variety. Its not even anything close to soccer. Aussie Rules
Football, as its called, more closely resembles rugby, I think. The
local team is called the
West Coast Eagles. Thats right, sports fans, The Eagles! Theyre in first
place in the AFL. At this
site, there's even a reference to the "most annoying teammate."
Sound familiar? In doing a little research for this piece, I
discovered theres also a team in Sydney called the
East Coast Eagles.
So there you have it. Sydney and Perth. Theyre not Chicago but
theyre my kind of towns. How bout them Birds??
See all my pictures of Perth.
See a video from Perth