I’m in Darwin – its 23 degrees, but feels like 27 with the 70% humidity, which really isn’t all that bad. It’s good to be back in the tropics.
Yesterday I had a lazy morning and got to downtown Perth via a little ferry, kind of like the sea bus, that deposited me right at the Barrack St. Jetty, and right in front of the Swan Bell Tower at noon – when the bells started to ring! Despite the on and off rain, it was still a warm day, and I hurried to the tower to see what I could see, which turned out to be a lot, as the tower is the only one in the world where you can see the bell ringers AND the ringing bells! The ringers rotated for about and hour, ringing out different tunes across the city, and the 6 storey high observation deck provided excellent views of the city and river.
After reading all the signs, I started wandering again and found my way to the Perth Mint, which was from 1899 to 1970 a branch of Britain’s Royal Mint. The tour on offer was short but interesting, and the opportunity to see literally millions of dollars of gold bullion, and hold a 12kg bar of gold was worth the trip.
Perth’s CBD is small and compact for its 1.6 million people, easily walkable, and if you don’t feel like stretching your legs, there are three CAT (Central Area Transport) lines that are free and will take you everywhere you could possibly want to go in and around the city and its immediate suburbs. The rain had cleared up by the afternoon, and I took another wander over to the post office to send the obligatory postcards home, before meeting up with a friend, James, whom I met in Mozambique back in January. We had a couple of beers and it was fantastic to catch up with someone met while travelling. So often we travellers spend only one or two days with each other, learning the others’ stories, hearing about their lives and sharing moments in far away cities only to split up and never meet again. Of course the rain started just as it was time to walk back to the ferry, but the journey was a good one anyway, especially since I met a fellow Canadian to chat with along the way.
This morning Carmel and I went for a nice walk to grab some milk, and then it was a bit of a mad dash to get ready and get to the airport on time. They were already calling for final check ins when I arrived, but both my bag and I made it successfully to Darwin. The itsy-bitsy airport, with its two baggage conveyers, was very quick to unload, and in no time I was on a shuttle in the hot afternoon sun with other travellers heading into the city. We got to chatting a bit on the way, and a couple behind me asked where I was from in Canada. “Vancouver” I replied, “Are you from there?”
“No”, they said, “But I used to live in Kamloops for a while” the woman added.
“Oh Kamloops, do you know the Arduini Shoe Store? That’s my family”
A look of recognition passed over her face, followed by a smile: “Yes I do!”
Crazy small world.
My hostel is a bit grimy, but luckily not overly loud, and there is a fellow Vancouverite in my room. After I checked in and got sorted, Mel and Sue (my bosses from Maddies back in Naracoorte) and their sister/daughter Claire came and picked me up and along with Will and Bob (Mel and Claire’s boyfriends) we all went to dinner at a local Mexican restaurant. George, of course, was in tow. We had a great night chatting and relaxing over a few jugs of sangria.
Tomorrow they’re off to Kakadu, and I’m headed into town for some sightseeing and suntanning in the Top End.