Perth – January 2020

After the first part of our 2019 – 2020 family holiday and a flight hampered by smoke from the bush fires on the East side of the country, we arrived in Perth and were greeted with hugs and balloons and two chatty grand daughters Frankie and Mica. We had spent time with Nel and the girls in Griffith (Johan was in the USA at that moment), before the family’s move to Perth and the reunion was happy and fun. We rented a car and followed them home, in the Swan Valley area. In the next 10 days we spent time with them to see some more of Perth and surrounds. (Activities in no particular order)

Perth and surrounds

The google map gives you an idea about Perth. Kids and grand kids live in the Caversham area (NE) in the Swan Valley. We visited Kings Park and the foreshore (red marker), Fremantle and Rottnest Island. Other trips (not on the map: Hilary Beach and Mandurah (north and south of Fremantle respectively), a family visit in Guildford and wine tasting trip in Swan Valley)

Perth inner city

While our son Johan had to work, Nel and the girls took us to Perth inner city and the Elizabeth Quay Foreshore. Once again – it always strikes me how neat and well maintained Australian city centres are.

First stop was Kings Park and Botanical Garden sitting on top of the hill and overlooking the city like a sentinel. It was a beautifully sunny day and the views over the city and the Swan river were stunning. 

Sightseeing with two little girls needs extra variety and our stay at the Park was short. We only walked around in the area indicated by the red circle and the park is definitely on our bucket list for next time.

From Kings Park we drove to Elizabeth Quay, with its waterfront entertainment ambiance: restaurants and coffee bars, boat rides, playgrounds and more.  

The girls had worked up a healthy appetite and we grabbed a spot at one of the seaside restaurants for a hearty fish and chips meal. Being at the riverside, the seagulls know exactly where the food comes from and the colony hanging around at our restaurant was cheeky and brazen and even made an attempt stealing food from the plates while patrons were still at the table, much to the delight of Frankie and Mica.

After our meal, we walked towards the Island Playground.  The kids got some climbing time at the maritime inspired playground with its ropes, log steppers, slides and more. The walls of the playground are decorated with a mural telling the Noongar story of the Black Swans of the Swan river.

We continued our sight seeing walk over the Elizabeth Quay bridge and the First Contact bird sculpture, and back to the esplanade in front of the Spanda, a sculpture that represents ripples in the water.

We couldn’t pass the handcrafted Venetian Elizabeth Quay Carousel for the kids with its beautifully painted horses, carriages and decor. This is like stepping back in time and I think every child must have a ride on one of these at least once in their life. It’s just everything fairy tales are made of: fantasy horses, mirrors and colours and Victorian elegance.

With the young ones pegged, we went home for a deserved R&R.

Fremantle

Another day, when Nel had to sort out stuff for the kids, we went discovering on our own and took a ride to the coast to visit Fremantle – or Freo as the locals love to call their town. As our Fremantle was a discovery day on its own, you can read all about it in the separate Fremantle blog post.

Hillary Beach & coastal drive

One day we drove out to Hillary Marina Beach so the kids could play with their cousins in the bay protected by the breakwater. There were scooter drives and  jumping trampolines and  – being at the seaside – a fish and chips lunch. 

First time we went there we hitched a ride with Nel and the girls, the second time we went in separate cars and when Nel took the girls home, we took a drive South along the coast. We stretched our legs at beautiful Trigg beach, we passed beautiful coastal suburbs and not so beautiful industrial areas … and we were back in Fremantle. We stretched our legs at beautiful Trigg beach, we passed beautiful coastal suburbs and not so beautiful industrial areas … and we were back in Fremantle, with its quirky combo of classical buildings and amazing murals ( Octopus at the old naval stores and East West designs to name but a few) and public art.

Mandurah sunset

Later in the week we drove to Mandurah where Nel’s sister and parents live. We had a great afternoon playing with the kids and driving around to see the suburbs and beautiful houses on the canals. Almost home we saw heaps of kangaroos making themselves at home in peoples front yards and being totally at ease. Obviously they know they’re not being hunted in the suburbs.

We had told the family that we had seen the sun rise at the east coast and wanted to see the sun set at the west coast. So, just after supper, Nel’s sister took us for a short walk to the beach to see the sun go down on the other side of Australia.

Swan Valley markets and wine

On Saturday we went to the Swan Settlers Market and had a great time browsing the vintage collections and the arts & crafts. We grabbed some coffee and had a choice of artisan food stands to find the perfect lunch.

Image courtesy of Settlers Market

When the kids went home afterwards we decided to dive around to see some more of the Swan Valley wine lands and do a little wine tasting, while we were at it.

We spent time at Riverbank Wine estate, which by chance offered two of our favourite beverages: coffee AND  wine. We tasted a few wines inside the winery and afterwards took a cup of coffee outside to enjoy in the sunshine next to the dam.

On our way back home we made it by the skin of our teeth at the Faber Wines cellar door.  A passionate cellar master took us through a very thorough tasting session and we walked out with yet another few bottles of wine to enjoy at home. 

Image (bottom) courtesy of Faber Wines

Rottnest Island

And on Sunday we went with Nel’s sister and her family on the boat to Rottnest Island. We took a ride on the boat out of Fremantle and arrived 45 minutes later at the island, surrounded by the bluest, turquoise waters (fair enough, most coastal waters of Australia that we’ve seen so far are brilliant blue and turquoise.)  We first walked around a bit and had lunch. The island is renowned for the quokka’s, a small marsupial the size of a cat and although there are signs everywhere requesting NOT to feed the quokka’s, the quokka’s know where the tourists eat and are easily to be found near the restaurants nibbling on leftovers or taking a snooze under a tree.

After lunch we got us some bicyles to discover the island on wheels. No vehicular traffic is allowed on the island, apart from the local tour buses, suppliers to the restaurants and shops and of course – the bicycles. I was a bit nervous as it had been approx. 15 years since last we had been on a bike, but its like the saying goes: riding a bike … you never forget.

It was a beautiful day for a bike ride with ups and downs – hills I mean. Obviously I’m not as fit as I wanna believe I am and one or two of the uphills literally stopped me in my tracks. The two girls got a lift in a trolley behind mom Nel’s bike, with an occasional switch over to Dad’s bike.  We stopped at the Henrietta Rock lookout point to walk down to the beach. The coast is rough and rocky interspersed with lovely sandy beaches and turquoise blue water… paradise!

When we returned the bikes we still had an hour or so before the boat ride back to Fremantle and we took the kids to the beach right next to the quay. The water was balmy and wonderful and the kids enjoyed their playtime in the water.

Last day and evening in Perth

On our last day (it usually has to be the last day) we had to be in the city for some administrative and bank stuff and we spent another few hours there. Doing our business, we were referred to a shop  “just right there” and when we went through the door/gate, we felt like we stepped through a time warp: Ye London Court. A most exquisite medieval street with  shops and little places for food and coffee.

When we finished our business we took a leisurely walk back to the foreshore, past a few of the public art pieces in the city centre: The Mob and  Memory Markers at Stirling Park.

When we visited Elizabeth Quay with Nel and the girls a few days ago, we couldn’t miss the distinct and elegant Bell Tower. Being on our own we grabbed the opportunity to have a look inside. 

The entrance is decorated with 100’s of Love Locks. From higher up in the tower we had an amazing view over the Swan River.

Our last evening we took the kids and grand kids out for supper at Outback Jack’s in Perth Northbridge. There was a challenge on the menu: eat “the challenge” in 30 minutes and get you meal for free. Although Johan was very tempted, his desire to take on the challenge faded when he realised that the challenge was about 1 kg steak! I stuck with a game platter entree to taste some unusual meats (emu, crocodile, camel, kangaroo and more). When Johan and Nel took the kids home for bed time routine we had a last evening stroll on Elizabeth Quay where we saw the funky, ever changing light games of the Bell Tower.

Goodbye … again

Next day, unfortunately, it was time again to say goodbye to the family.  After a last cup of coffee, and lots of hugs and kisses from the girls we had to make a move to the gate.

We flew to Sydney – from clear blue skies over Perth to dull smoky skies over Sydney, caused by the still blazing fires in NSW. Next day we flew back to South Africa.

Before, during and after our 2019-2020 family holiday, bush fires have been raging in Australia. Thank you to all firefighters and volunteers who worked relentlessly to combat the raging fires. 

Read more about our other trips and destinations during our 2019 – 2020 family visit in Australia.

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