Perth Weekend

Sometimes a weekend trip sticks with you. And when the weekend trip is in Perth, Australia, you're likely to remember it forever.
Seven years ago, I was heading home to my Coogee Beach apartment after a colourful three-day weekend in the Western Australian capital. The trip was a whirlwind affair that my friends and I planned at the last minute when we found ourselves with a few days off work.
We arrived in Perth on Qantas Airlines late in the evening and a gracious old friend whom I'd met in Ottawa picked us up from the airport and drove us to a little hostel - public transit doesn't have a good reputation in that city.  Our hostel, wherever it was, seemed to be in the armpit of Perth but after wandering up some empty streets and following the sounds of distraught voices, we found ourselves in a karaoke bar where we sat for a pint.
On our first day in the city, we took an early morning walk through a downtown pedestrian street where we found some breakfast and a company giving day tours of the region. After signing up for the next day's trip, we hopped on the train out to Fremantle for a fairly leisurely day of shopping and wandering. It's a picturesque little suburb with a huge market and an ominous old jail open for tours.
Later that day we lost ourselves in Perth again but eventually found the big hill (I remember that walk being exhausting) up to King's Park. There is a reason people recommend this place to tourists - it's the best spot in town for picnics, dates or frisbee games overlooking the city.
The next morning we had to meet for the day trip at an ungodly hour but it was well worth the effort. We drove north in a four-wheel-drive bus and visited Yanchep National Park to see some koalas and other wildlife, then drove down the long red Cervantes Road that eventually led us to the Indian Ocean. After some lunch we walked through the mysterious Pinnacles Desert under a blazing sun and, before heading back to the  city, we ended the tour with some sandboarding in the Lancellin Sand Dunes. But to get there, the four-wheel-drive came in handy. The driver - the Steve Irwin of horticulture - took us down a treacherous road and suddenly we were on snow-white sand at the edge of a steep hill teetering and shifting in the sand. Heart attacks ensued and we disembarked for some sand boarding in the dunes.
The final evening was a celebratory reunion with an old university pal at the casino. We celebrated a little too hard and had a painful flight home but all was not lost for that day. As we were flying back into Sydney, I caught a perfect glimpse of my temporary home. I still miss it.

Top photos, clockwise from left: City view from Kings Park in Perth; Indian Ocean; Koala at Yanchep National Park; Lancelin sand dunes; stalled truck in Pinnacles Desert; Cervantes Road toward the sea.
Bottom photo, left: airplane view of Sydney Harbour. 

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