Flight is at 3.50pm and 5h later we are landing in Perth. After a brief stop at immigration because you have to write all of your first names on the visa (and get it right the first time) we collect our car, lovely White (not for long) Toyota Corola. Australian regulations are nice as long as you live together, both people can drive the car without any additional fees!
Tonight we are staying in Northbridge, in Perth. We find a pub for a late night drink by the fireplace! He yes, it's Autumn in Australia!
Thursday morning, we are on our way south, a 3h drive to Margaret river, the wine country! After getting lost a couple of times (signs are rubbish and my co-pilot is asleep...) we do make it to the tourist information which gives us a huge map of all the wineries in the area.
We pick one with a restaurant and head for lunch. Mission of the WE:
no Asian food!
We are at Vasse Felix, a winery which seems to do more or less every grape varieties. We decide for some Cabernet Sauvignon, very nice! It appears that the Australians have developed the same technique as the French, they export the crap wine and keep the best for themselves!
The food is beautiful, this is a good start!
The rest of the afternoon is spent on the sea front, enjoying a walk on the beach, watching a guy training for kite surfing and trying to get to some waterfalls which don't seem to exist...
On the drive back up to the main road, we meet a kangaroo!!!! He is just here, a few meters away from the road, happily eating. We make our way back to Margaret river to check in our hotel and have a nap to be ready for the next food and wine session in the evening. ;-) It is non stop! This time we are going for White wine, we try to delicious Semillion (that's a first, never tried before!), some lovely Sauvignon blanc and some more classic Chardonnay. Food is lovely as well, slightly less posh than at lunch but at least we understand what the waiter says! (the local accent as been a real problem all WE...) Friday morning, the objective is to drive back up to Fremantle enjoying the coast. We find a surfer spot and we spend some time looking at the locals enjoying their favorite sport. The water is fairly cold and the big rocks and waves prevent me from going for a swim...
Next stop is Cape Naturaliste at the north west of WA. We go for a walk near the light house and we get to a point where at the right time of the year whales can be spotted.
A couple of hours later, we are in Fremantle, 20km south of Perth, known for its Market and its prison! So first stop is the Market!
Nothing really exceptional in the market (a small camden town type market) but the town seems lively, we end up in a bar full of locals singing and dancing country music, it's good fun! After being turned down at what the Lonely planet calls the best Indian restaurant in Australia, we decide to go for seafood on the harbour and to put our new knowledge of Australian wines in practises:
another good diner with mussels, scallops and crayfish.
Saturday, we have a huge breakfast outside in the sun before heading to south beach, Fremantle's swimming beach. The place is indeed protected from the big waves but unfortunately it makes it quite boring and doesn't warm up the water! Anyway I do manage to go for a little swim when R decides to make friends with the seagulls. Then we go back to the city centre to have a look at this prison! It's an elegant building made of limestone. The tour is good, the prison only closed in 1991 and it is incredible to see in what the inmates were forced to live in the 90's. No running water, tiny cells, temperature reaching 50C! It's impressive as well to see the execution chamber where they used to hang people. The guide even tells us that he met the Singapore executioner the day before who had executed 28 people in the last 6 months!!!! We better behave ourselves in Sg!
After a little lunch and a taste of a few different beers at the famous Little Creatures brewery on the harbour we drive up north to Perth. We check in our hotel, close to Subiaco and we go to Cottlesoe for an ice cream on the beach at sunset. The place is known for its fish and chips but really we can't eat anything anymore...
On the evening we go out in Subiaco. We pass the oval where they play football (this is Aussie football we are talking about) and not cricket like at the Oval in London. We get to the main road of Subiaco where there are a few nice bars and restaurant, first we have a drink at Hotel Subiaco (which is not a hotel), I try the Australian sparkling wine, not bad, not bad... and we have dinner at an Italian restaurant.
Sunday. It is finally time to explore Perth. First stop Kings park a huge park with botanic gardens and a splendid view over the rivers. We can already see the cones of the Redbull air race. Because this is the reason we came to Perth: a couple of years ago I fell in love with the Redbull air race in London and when I looked for the ones in Asia for this year, the one in AbuDhabi was already completed and the next one and last one in the area was Perth before moving to Rio de Janeiro.
After Kings park we make, with difficulties, our way across town to the south side of the river to get a better view on the race from 12pm to 3pm. The weather is beautiful, blue sky, 33C (autumn is nice down here!) and no wind. The race is as exciting as usual and we have a fantastic view. Between races there are plenty of demonstration: Quantas planes, old aircraft, the army, it's brilliant!!!
For the end of the afternoon, we have a tour of the main buildings in Perth, this is quickly done... there are only a couple of nice colonial buildings remaining.
To end up a nice WE, we go back to Cottlsoe and have a final ice cream at sun set before heading back to the airport for another 5h flight back to Singapore.
A beautiful WE and a lot of sport ahead of us to shake all of these calories!!!