Thursday, September 11, 2008

DAY 4 off in Rottnest Island

Weds 10th September 2008
Sunny, 21 deg C

I got down to the ferry terminal too early for the 0930 ferry since my watch was 15 minutes fast for some reason - good job it wasn’t the other way around. The boat gets accross to Rotto in 25 minutes and goes very quickly, fairy skimming over some big waves; I think it’s probably a hovercraft.

On arrival at the main (only) settlement on Rotto it was drizzling lightly, and felt very cool - I didn’t fancy riding the 20 or 30km around the island cold and damp - but it cleared a bit so off I went, and in fact although it was overcast for a few hours it didn’t rain much again.There are virtually no vehicles allowed on the island other than for repairs and maintenance, and it was bliss not to see any at all, all day, other than the tour bus once every half hour. Many peope hire or take their own bikes, and it’s very safe cycling. I bought a few snacks at the well-stocked bakery and watched the Quokkas (small rat-like marsupials common to Rottnest) bumming food off the punters. One was feretting around in a mothers bag which was stashed under her toddler’s trolly but she didn’t seem bothered; weird. I didn’t see any out ‘in the wild’ but I’m sure they’re there somewhere.

The ride around was a delight, with a succsession of little white sandy beaches appearing between weirdly-shaped rocky little limestone cliffs, and I think I must have stopped to have a look at all of them. The sea was a beautiful shade of blue, especially once the sun came out at around 1300, and with the deserted white beaches, very photogenic. The road undulates over the sand dune system as usual, but there are no difficult hills. The road is the usual double lane, just for the buses I guess.

I cycled around 35km around the little island. I enjoyed Rottnest very much, and given good weather I wouldn’t have any trouble spending a few days here. I’m sure it’s very much busier in the summer though, which might detract from it’s appeal, for me at least.

It rained some more in the evening and felt very cold to me, so lots of layers on again.

DAY 3 off in Fremantle

Tues 9th September 2008
Sunny, 21 deg C

Didn’t do too much today apart from wander around Fremantle and sit around in the warm sunshine - gather ye rosebuds whilst ye may - I’ll be back in the UK this time next week!
In the morning I visited the WA Maritime Museum, a huge modernistic building on the harbour front; free admission. There is a lot to see including plenty about the history of boats and ships in this area starting way back with the first presumed visitors before European settlement, including how they were built out of whatever materials were to hand. Among the boat exhibits are examples that have made history by winning major races or sailing around the world single handed, as well as local ferries and such that were retired here after long service. I hadn’t fully appreciated the deep and long connection between boats and Fremantle, although it’s clearly evident from the thousands of yachts moored around here that it’s hugely popular as a berth. The wind here too lends itself to sailing with the reliable ‘Fremantle Doctor’ - a persistent and fresh SW/W wind that also cools the place down during the hot summer.
I had a disappointing lunch at the Pure and Natural cafe in the mall; the rolls looked delicious in the counter but when it finally arrived it had been utterly flattened in the toaster, far beyond the normal gentle searing. And the latte was horrible - without any foam, just white insipid liquid which went straight back for a refund. I should have taken the roll back too but suffered it through. This is very unusual in my experience in Oz where the quality of the food (well, away from some roadhouses) has been very good. It had been clear that the woman serving me didn’t know what to do; she was fiddling about with the coffee for ages.
I corrected the error with a proper latte from around the corner along with some very nice carrot cake, so all’s well that ends well lol. I also checked out where to get the ferry over to Rottnest Island, and finished up booking for tomorrow. Later on I wandered up the Swan River again, finding even more little jetties and places I hadn’t seen the other day. This is a great p-lace to explore by bicycle.
After a leisurely beer at a riverside pub with my new novel (Jessica by Austraian author Bryce Courtenay - a great read) it started a bit cooler so I started to head home. I had another wander around the nicely restored fishing harbour and found a Baskin-Robbins ice cream place - how did I miss that? Actually, although I had to have a 2-scoop sundae for old times sake it didn’t go down as well as at Darwin where it was much hotter. It’s the same with iced coffee too - after craving for all those hot months, they just don’t have the same appeal now that it’s coolish. It’s warm enough between say 10 and 4, but outside these times I’ve had to add a layer of clothing or two. It’s often a relief to get into my sleeping bag at night.