Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

Family Fun In Bassendean

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

I woke early this morning (0630) and left The Princess to sleep while I went for a long run along the foreshore. It was another beautiful morning and after warming up the muscles I set off into wind for the 5km or so run. Running along the foreshore on a bright sunny morning was a bit of a change up compared to the running that I do in HK and I really enjoyed the view and the flat running path.
I returned to the apartment around 0730 and was surprised to find The Princess up and sitting on the balcony enjoying breakfast – and I was thinking she was Sleeping Beauty this whole time.

We dined on the balcony again and sucked up the delightful views once more. In fact we have been so taken by the weather and relaxed starts to the day that we have decided to extend for a day here in WA. The east coast and the rather ordinary weather over there can wait!

We had arranged to catch up with a friend and his family today so after breakfast we sorted ourselves out, did some domestic chores and got ready for the day out in Bassendean (a suburb of Perth). Of course, to start the day we needed our chai latte and flat white so before we set out for Andrew and Rebecca’s place we paid a visit to The Boatshed and picked up two brews and a couple of Anzac cookies.

The GPS made easy work out of the directions to Bassendean and before we knew it we had arrived at the Michaelson’s residence in eastern Perth. Getting out of the car felt like stepping into the Arabian desert so we were thankful that we bought the swimming attire for a post lunch swim.
This was the first time that we actually met Andrew, Rebecca and the two children – Kiah and Lachlan. The Princess and Andrew had been communicating for over 12 months as a part of the coaching course we completed in September and it was a real treat to be able to put a name to a face and meet these wonderful people.

The hospitality and ambience was wonderful and we enjoyed spending the afternoon sipping wine, eating a beautifully prepared home cooked meal and taking a dip in the pool. Being entertained by the children and sharing stories with them was also a highlight of the day!

A big thank you to Andrew, Rebecca, Kiah and Lachlan for sharing your home and delightful cooking with us!

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Freo, Family and Florentines

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

Rising to a beautiful summer morning and dining on the balcony is starting to become a habit. Oh, how I love being conditioned to this type of lifestyle. With my Princess on the other side of the table, the breeze blowing gently across our bodies and the morning vistas penetrating our waking eyes I can say that this is a lifestyle that I aim to become accustomed to.
We had arranged to meet up with my brother, Steve, and his partner, Casey, today so after breakfast we sorted ourselves out and packed our things before heading out the door around 10.30.
The Boatshed coffee machine was calling us again so we drove down to the foreshore and placed an order for a latte and a Chai tea latte. Of course no morning tea would be complete without a little yummy side order of a bakery piece so this morning we ordered a very tasty square of Florentein biscuit. We enjoyed sipping our brews and nibbling on the tasty chocolate covered biscuit during the 20 minute drive to Fremantle.
We had planned to meet Steve and Casey around 1300 however we intentionally arrived a little early so that we could take in some of the weekend market experience of Freo’. After parking the car we set off in search of some of the local shopping venues. Needless to say it wasn’t long before The Princess was trying on some tops and bottoms. It was nice to walk around the streets of Freo and to check out the variety of wares on offer. We didn’t buy too many things for it is always a challenge to keep the suitcases to a reasonable weight – particularly with internal flights.

We dropped our purchases off at the car and walked the short distance to Clancy’s Fish Pub – the venue for today’s lunch. We almost bumped into Steve when we walked into the bar – we surprised each other to the point that for a couple of seconds we didn’t actually “see” each other. Steve and Casey were dining with friends of theirs, Brett and Susie, out the back of the pub so we joined them under the gum tree and settled into some easy conversation over a light drink or two.
None of us had eaten so we ordered some light salads to share. The Princess ordered a Shanghai chicken salad (can’t get away from the Asian theme) and I settled on a very nice pumpkin salad.
It was great to catch up with Steve and Casey and to meet their friends. It was also great to sit back and relax in the ambience of another Aussie outdoor pub setting on a beautiful summer afternoon here in Perth.
We said our goodbyes around 1530 and The Princess and I returned to the streets of Freo in search of nothing in particular. However, given the lack of caffeine in my system, one of the first “ports of call” was a coffee shop. One of the lovely things that Freo is known for is the Italian influence. Many years ago Italian migrants settled in this area and made Freo their own. Their influence on the culture of the city is tangible. The proliferation of Italian restaurants and eateries means that the choice of good coffee houses is huge. We settled on a place called Florentina’s and took a street side table from which we were able to enjoy the “moving sidewalk” . The coffee was great and The Princess surprised me with some delightful Italian biscotti’s.  Mmmmm – Freo dining late on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
With the caffeine levels at an appropriate level and the bill paid up we headed for the indoor markets. Unfortunately it was a little late in the afternoon and the markets were starting to wind down. However, we did get to take in some of the ambience and the interesting things on offer. The Princess bought some “stocking fillers” for the Canadian family members that will be joining us next week in Australia.
The Sail and Anchor, an historic Freo pub, is located across the street from the markets and it offers some lovely boutique beers and a great pub environment. So, after the markets closed, we ventured across to “The Sai”l and sampled a beer. The Princess is not too partial to beer so she settled on a Chambord martini while I ordered a local pale ale. Keeping the theme of outdoor dining going, we sat out on the beautiful old first floor balcony and sucked in the atmosphere of the late Saturday afternoon crowd and street noise below.
With the threat of a parking meter attendant writing us a ticket we left “The Sail” and walked back to the car and continued our tour on four wheels. I showed The Princess a little more of the historic town of Freo in the dwindling light before heading north along the coastal highway back toward Perth. We were not particularly hungry however, as we drove through the beachside suburb of Cottesloe I asked The Princess if she wanted to eat some fish and chips on the beach by moonlight. Needless to say, it didn’t take too long for her to respond in the affirmative. We found a lovely little fish and chippery and purchased a piece of hake, two potato scallops and a very nice dim sim and headed across the road to the beach. Now there is something unique about eating a very tasty feed of fish and chips by moonlight on the beach with my Canadian wife. In short, it is a treat that one has to savor.

After dinner we rolled up our shorts and walked along the water’s edge. The waves were rolling in and we delighted in getting wet in the Indian Ocean water. The beach was lit by floodlights and the seagulls were flying at low level to stay in the light. It was an interesting sight to see gulls flying at night – white darts in the inking blackness. We collected quite a bit of sand on our legs from the walk on the beach so we made use of the beach showers to get rid of the remnants of soft sand before returning to the car.

One of the wonderful things about Perth is the proximity of the beaches to the city so it wasn’t too long before we were pulling into the driveway of our apartment building. The day of activity and dining meant that we were ready for a quiet night back in the apartment and an early night – I plan to be up early tomorrow for a run along the foreshore.

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Swan Valley, Wine and Sun

Friday, December 10th, 2010

We ose from our lovely slumber around 8:30 and dined out on the balcony again. We are eating light breakfasts – some Weetbix and fruit with some mango yoghurt over it. Very nice indeed. Sitting out on the balcony in the fresh morning air is a real treat. The views are stunning and the company is delightful. We enjoyed a lazy morning around the apartment before packing our camera gear, water and wallets and heading out the door around 11.30.

Today we decided to take in a tour of the Swan Valley – a wine area that is about 20 minutes from the city centre. We stopped at The Boathouse coffee shop (the place we went for morning tea yesterday) and bought a couple of takeaway coffees and a very tasty melting moment. Mmmmmm. With coffee in hand and melting moment melting in mouth we drove north along the Canning Hwy toward Swan Valley Information Centre in Guilford.

The drive was over in 20 minutes (light traffic here in Perth!) and before we knew it we were being helped by the friendly tour guides in the info’ centre. In addition to the local touring maps, we walked out with a few Xmas gifts for the family – reminder to self – make sure The Princess brings her wallet! The Swan Valley wine trail is quite short so it didn’t take long before the first winery on our list came into view.

Our winery of choice was the Sandlford winery – one of WA’s oldest wineries. We took a look through the cellar before settling into the tastings. We were served by a German girl named Julia and a Scottish guy named Ricky. Both of these servers were on working visa and they obviously enjoyed their jobs. They knew their stuff and we really enjoyed the tasting and non tasting discussion we had with them. We sampled the full range of Sandlford wines and complimented the tasting with some cheddar cheese and crackers – a great way to spend a sunny Friday afternoon. A few of the wines left their mark on our pallets so we made sure we purchased a bottle each of the ones we enjoyed.
After whetting our appetites with cheese, crackers and some delightful wine we took a few photos of the stunning grounds that surrounded the cellar area then rejoined the drive north. Our aim was to find a place to have a late lunch however after stopping at some of the delightful eateries that were recommended by the tourist info staff we learnt that most of the kitchens close around 3:00pm. Our late start to the day plus our extended wine tasting resulted in the day getting away from us so it was closer to 3.30 by the time we were ready to dine.
Fortunately one of the boutique breweries in the Valley, Elmars, was open and it was here that we sat out under the verandah of the building and dined on some sumptuous German sausage meals. The rather large meals were just what we needed to compliment one of Elmar’s beers. The potted citrus plants, white river gums and noisy native parrots provided the perfect backdrop to the outdoor dining venue.
We rolled our full bellies out of Elmars around 5.00pm and went in search of a local honey producer. However, time beat us again so we continued our drive and paid a short visit to the Midland’s shopping area instead – an interesting experience that included The Princess witnessing a local native kid stealing some food from one of the closed dining outlets. Needless to say, we didn’t stay in the complex too long.
The short drive back to our apartment meant we were home in time to witness the beautiful sunset from our balcony. A great way to wind up a wonderful day out in the Swan Valley.
After unpacking the wine and some of the other goodies we purchased we took a walk down to the local pub – The Windsor with the view to listening to some live music. However, the queues were rather long so we changed our minds, bought some take away coffees and returned to the apartment for some port and a lazy holiday evening at “home”. In reality this was far smarter choice and just what we needed after a long day out.

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Kings Park and Freo

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

We woke around 0830 after a very sound sleep and enjoyed a healthy breakfast on the balcony overlooking the Swan River. Another glorious morning – cloudless skies and lovely cool temperature.
After letting breakfast go down (and whilst sorting the internet connection) we got ready for a walk/run.
The complex we are staying in has rear access to the foreshore so we walked through the beautiful gardens and down the steep stairs to the manicured foreshore below.
We took a short walk to Mends St to check on some banking then Roey set out on a run and The Princess meandered along the river bank and took photo’s.
Roey ran for about 20mins before meeting back up with The Princess and then we took a
short walk to the Boatshed Restaurant for a morning “brew” (coffee and chai latte) and a scone with jam and cream.  Ah holidays! We haven’t found a Starbucks yet!
After morning tea we strolled along the beach and collected shells. The variety of shells and their colours resulted in The Princess collecting quite a few (understatement).
Returning to the apartment we showered and prepared for the day then went and sorted out our banking. We are investing in an IPO and needed to get some monies transferred to the east coast.
With money transferred we were free to explore Perth so we headed off for King’s Park. This beautiful park overlooks Perth city and provides a wonderful platform for taking photos of the cityscape.  The park is also home to the city’s botanical gardens and The Princess and I enjoyed wandering through the gardens and taking photos.  This was The Princess’ first exposure to many Australian native plants and she enjoyed taking lots of photos of the beautiful flowers that were in bloom. It was nice to get the DSLR cameras out again and challenge ourselves with some technical considerations.
From Kings Park we drove to the port city of Fremantle.  “Freo” is a short drive from Perth and it was the next port of call (excuse the pun). I took The Princess on a short drive around the city and showed her, amongst other things, HMAS Leeuwin – the small Navy training establishment that I was based at when I first joined the Navy in 1982. It is now an Army barracks however it has not changed much since ’82.
We parked in the centre of the town and took a stroll to the waterfront cafes. Fortunately we had our jackets with us because it was rather cold.  Each night in Perth  (particularly in summer) the Fremantle Doctor comes in. The Doctor is the name given to the sea breeze that blows in from the Indian Ocean.  It can be quite chilly and tonight was no exception. Needless to say, we chose to eat inside.
I had promised The Princess a feed of Aussie fish and chips for dinner tonight and our place of choice for dining was Cicerello’s – Perth’s oldest fish and chippery. We ordered a piece of battered Barramundi each and some very tasty Dim Sim’s (a delicacy in the fish and chip experience!). The Princess was impressed with the WA version of F&C and enjoyed washing it down with some Aussie red wine too.
After dinner and despite it still being cool, we found a nice ice creamery and had a waffle cone and ice cream dessert. Very holiday focused dining indeed.
The short walk back to the car didn’t use up many calories (thankfully we ran and walked this morning) so we eased our well fed bodies into the car and drove back to the apartment via a different route.
A very pleasant day out that ended in a website update, a coffee and a couple of glasses of port!

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Post Flight Sleep and Beaches

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

We checked into our apartment (a 13th floor pad with 180 degree views of the Swan River and Perth City) around 0930 and given a very comprehensive tour of the complex by Dawn (the on-site manager).  The complex is located opposite the Perth Zoo and just back from the foreshore of the Swan River – an ideal location to spend a week in one of the world’s most remote capital cities.

Given that the flight down from Hong Kong is rather short neither of us slept for longer than 4 hours so we decided to rectify our sleep debit by having a two hour nap before venturing out for an afternoon drive.  Needless to say, it didn’t take too long before our eyes closed and our conscious minds took a break.

Around midday we showered and changed and left the apartment for a drive to Cottesloe Beach and a drive north along the sunset coast tourist drive.

We stopped at Trigg Beach so that The Princess could poke her toes in the Indian Ocean.  She probably regretted this action after realising how cold it was.  The water temperature matched with the cool Fremantle Doctor (the wind that blows here in Western Australia) meant that my not so hardy Canadian Princess was rather chilly.  Maybe we will opt for an ocean swim another day.

We continued our drive north to Hillary’s Boat Harbour and enjoyed the scenic views along the way.  The craggy limestone coastline provides a wonderful contrast to the beautiful blue waters of the Indian Ocean here in WA.

We walked around Hillarys and took a look through some of the boardwalk shops and soaked up the harbour atmosphere before settling on a place to eat a late lunch/early dinner.

A great way to start our holiday here in Perth!!

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Say G’day From WA

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

The Cathay Airbus touched down on Australia soil about 5 minutes ahead of schedule this morning and after the short customs and quarantine formalities we were “free” to start our “walkabout” (Aboriginal name) in Western Australia.

The Thrifty rental car had been booked over the web so we picked up the paperwork for our little Nissan Tiida , sorted out a Vodafone sim’ card for the mobile and made our way to the rental carpark.  Our compact set of wheels was located in said carpark and it wasn’t long before our American surfer dude talking GPS (embedded into my x6 Nokia mobile) was guiding us to our South Perth accommodation.

One of the nice things about Perth is that the airport is located close to the city and the short distance was covered in no time.  The picturesque route to the South Perth apartment took in some of the sights of the Swan River and the cityscape of Perth.  This was The Princess’ first trip to Western Australia and she delighted in the experience of driving past the small city that is located on the beautiful Swan River.

We arrived in the South Perth environs quite early (compared to the pre-arrange check-in time) so we found a lovely little cafe in Mends Street and soaked up the early morning sun whilst enjoying a delightful breakfast of museli, fruit and perfectly brewed coffee.  Mmmmmm- welcome to Perth.

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