Perth, Western Australia, Australia
August 3-6, 2023
August 3, 2023:
Arriving in Perth
Our Australian journey began in Western Australia with the quaint city of Perth. After a flight from Tokyo, we landed in the most remote modern cities in the world. Perth sits on Australia’s mostly empty west coast, actually it’s closer to Bali, Indonesia than it is to Sydney, Australia.
We transferred from the airport to downtown and spoke to an interesting girl from our flight on the way. She was from Germany but had an unmistakable American accent. Turned out her mom was American but lived in Germany. Not a story you hear every day!
The city is a strange place to be. It’s modernized, updated, industrialized, but ghostly empty. Their metro station is fit for a heavily populated city yet was hardly used. It seems like it’s the only place worth going if you happen to be a Western Australia native. The streets grew surprisingly lively at night. Friday and Saturday had a “college-town” feel as young people gathered for food, drinks, and entertainment.
We found our hostel was unfortunately, disappointing upon check in. It was run more like a frat house without any sign of staff or cleanliness. It’s a bit of a hard pill to swallow coming from Asia, where everything is 10x cheaper. It’s a bit frustrating when things like hostels are priced what a 5-star hotel in India costs, but for the quality of a shady motel.
All was forgiven when we went to get dinner. After Japan it was a blessing to be in a country that thoroughly understands allergies! We went to a fun sports bar serving burgers and beer. I had a veggie burger and lager, and Lawrence got a burger on a gluten free bun and a cider! We’ve had a nearly perfect allergic reaction-free run in all of Australia. It certainly felt like a breath of fresh air, especially for Lawrence.
We also got to watch our first bit of a game in the FIFA Women’s World Cup. I’m not usually big on sports, but there was something more exciting about watching the games knowing Australia was co hosting the Cup. We would go on to follow the games through the finals. It made for a nice pastime (plus an excuse to go to bars).
August 4, 2023:
Elizabeth Quay and Downtown Perth
Today we really got to exploring around Perth. Maybe we’re over-romanticizing English-style cities, but man oh man did it feel good to walk down a huge, car-free sidewalk and read road signs written in English.
We started the day with some breakfast and coffee, then found Lawrence some dairy pills in probably 2 minutes flat. We looked for these things in every pharmacy for weeks in Korea and Japan!
Next, we took off to walk the small city. We went down to Elizabeth Quay, looked at the miniature harbor, took a stroll through a park, and finally walked through the storefronts and skyscrapers.
The Perth Mint
Lawrence had mentioned walking by the Perth Mint, thinking we’d just look at the outside and keep moving. We were pleasantly surprised that they offered daily tours and were given all the 411 on the Mint’s history.
Initially it was founded to mint the surge of gold coming in from the west coast gold rush in Australia. Eventually, the Australian government took control over all the minting of official currency. The Perth Mint was allowed to continue to produce collector’s coins out of various precious metals.
We got to look through the small museum exhibits which featured some of the largest pieces of gold, silver, and platinum. Then we got to the best part of the tour: the gold pouring! We watched a live melting, molding, and cooling of a gold bar in the original foundries that still lay in the Mint today.
There are tons of fun things to see at the Perth Mint besides the gold pouring. We tried our hand at lifting a gold bar, found out what our weight was worth in gold, saw the largest gold coin in the world, and even got to press a souvenir faux-gold coin!
The Barbie Movie
After a rest and some dinner at the hostel we jumped on the cinema bandwagon. We went to the theatres to see The Barbie Movie. The area around the theatre was lively and fun, and the cinemas themselves had a classic old-school movie vibe to them. It was great to sit in a packed theatre again! We both thoroughly enjoyed the film and can see why it made a billion dollars at the box office. Even if some of the Australian movie goers didn’t quite get the American jokes, I cackled enough for all of them. Finally, movies are back!
August 5, 2023:
Western Australia Museum Boola Bardip
Our one and only destination for today was to the Western Australia Museum Boola Bardip. It took a good couple hours to really get through all the exhibits here. The main exhibits focused on Australian culture. What I didn’t know about Australia is the intense, difficult, aboriginal history woven through the different territories.
Aboriginals have been on the land for hundreds of thousands of years before British colonization. The aboriginals faced an overwhelming amount of racism once Europeans invaded. They were forced off their land, made to assimilate, and perhaps worst of all, the young aboriginal children taken from their families to be raised by “proper” white families. This kidnapping of children from the 1970’s is known specifically as the Stolen Generation, as they were taken not just from their families, but from their stories, their history, and their culture. Passing down information through stories is a huge part of aboriginal Australian culture. It is how they communicate generationally. Everything has a story, a name, and a meaning.
To this day Australia provides a kind of disclaimer before showing any media. The disclaimer announces the recognition of the rightful owners of the land to be the aboriginals. Often naming a specific tribe of people for the specific location. We’ve heard it on bus rides before announcements, on movie screens, tours, shows, you name it!
Another interesting disclaimer you’ll often see is specifically for aboriginal people. It is a brief line explaining that the following media may contain, names, voices, or images of those that have since passed. In aboriginal culture you do not speak the name of the person once they have died.
Aside from history the Western Australian Museum has tons of exhibits on the wildlife in Western Australia; past and present! That means models of dinosaurs, a megalodon, giant birds, plus skeletons of extinct cousins to the kangaroo, and even a blue whale!
We honestly could’ve used another hour or two in this museum. We got to the earth and space section (Lawrence’s bread and butter) with less than an hour to spare and had to breeze through it quick.
August 6, 2023:
Kings Park and Botanic Garden
After a morning of Australia prep including, finding hostels, booking busses, and planning activities, we decided on one last outing before our overnight flight to Sydney. We walked up to the hills of Perth to the Botanical Park where we got lovely skyline views. We walked through the nature paths and even saw a real baobab tree! I had only ever seen fake versions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom up until now.
The Women’s World Cup
We went back to the hostel to shower and pack up before we headed to our next stop. We still had a few hours until we needed to be at the airport, so we decided to get some dinner at the same sports bar while watching the soccer match of the evening. This one was a doozy, U.S.A. vs. Sweden.
Oh, so close. Sweden had an MVP goalkeeper who saved numerous on-target goals from team U.S.A., while Sweden only made a handful of attempts themselves. Sweden ended up winning in penalty kicks. Even still just barely making it over the line for a ball the U.S. goalkeeper caught. It was a nail biter, and a bit of a shame the U.S. Women’s team lost, especially while we were there. That would’ve been a cool moment to show some American pride. Oh well. On to Sydney!
We made our way to the airport for a not-quite-long-enough-to-get-a-full-nights-sleep flight from one end of Australia to the other. The next day, we would be in Sydney!