So here’s the thing about Perth: I’m not going to bother writing much about it. It’s just difficult and a bit silly to try to scrape together exciting words for “under whelmed.” I went to artsy Freemantle and posh Cottesloe beach and wondered where all the energy was. I walked around Perth’s city center looking in vain for an outdoor patio where I could sip a pint in the sun. And I stayed in two dingy hostels where I was awoken at 5:00 each morning by the moaning of a bird that sounded like some tinny version of Charlie Brown’s teacher. That pretty much covers it. (Besides, I’ve officially arrived in Asia and am feeling both very sweaty and far too behind in the updates to dwell on the past. Right then. Moving on.)
Our reasoning for going to Perth in the first place, honestly, escapes me at this point: I would much rather have spent extra days in Sydney or Melbourne or Apollo Bay. But I do remember why we booked a rental car to extend our time in the greater Perth area to an entire week: flights from Perth to Bali on May 21st were NZ$66. Which is a very persuasive argument when you’re living off bakery paychecks in Arrowtown.
And so, after two pretty uninspiring days in Perth, Hayley and I picked up a little red Kia Cerrato and headed down south to Margaret River. We figured if nothing else, we could ride out the extra days before our flight to Bali visiting Western Australia’s famous vineyards and beaches.
Now, being a native of Sonoma County and a quick study of any pursuit that results in free wine, I’ve visited my fair share of vineyards. I can ask questions just intelligent enough to belie the fact that I’ll find the answers indecipherable, and I can toss around statements like “Wow, look at the legs on that one” while squinting at my glass with empty meaning. But I’ve always been lucky enough to have parental designated drivers when visiting wineries, so being on the other side of the world meant that the whole experience was going to be fundamentally new for me this time. Specifically: we were going to need a big, obnoxious tour bus to shuttle us from vineyard to vineyard.
It turned out this trip was also destined to be different from those back home because I ended up being more excited by the scenery than by the wines. My mother would beamingly tell you this is proud evidence of my NorCal roots, but in this case it meant I just felt like a total jerk every time the guy pouring the Shiraz asked me what I thought. Luckily, I was usually able to get away with half a grin and some sort of effusion about how beautiful the vineyards were. Which, for the record, was no lie:
Our plan for the next day had been to drive from Margaret River to Bunbury, where two couples we’d befriended on our wine bus had invited us to come “fence-hopping” with them at a music festival called (I could not make this up) “Groove in the Moo.” This was obviously the sort of plan Hayley and I would have agreed to only after several rounds of cabernet tastings, but when morning came around we figured we might as well try for legitimate tickets at the festival box office.
Alas, as evidenced by the herds of teenagers who caused me to shock even myself with exclamations of “I can’t believe here parents let her out of the house like that,” the festival was completely sold out. As was all accommodation in the host town. So we drove back the way we’d come, happening this time upon a little seaside town called Dunsborough. For $28 a night, we scored two bunks in a second-floor room overlooking a placid bay and a scattering of evergreens. And so, rather than spending our final night in Australia in Perth, where we were scheduled to drop our rental car off at 7:00 a.m. the next day, we decided to stay a second night in Dunsborough. Because the hostels in Perth? Their backyards don’t look like this:
And, to be sure, I never saw schools of dolphins leaping in and out of the ocean like it was the Shamu pre-show off the coast of Perth.
At 3:45 the next morning, we wrested ourselves out of bed and drove three hours to the Peth airport, arriving in plenty of time to find out our 9:30 a.m. flight to Bali had been delayed until 2:30 p.m. But never mind that. We’re in Asia now… and things are starting to get interesting.