Excerpt from the Journal of Olds – Day 180-182 – Australia – Perth

Our flight was in the afternoon so it wasn’t a particularly demanding day. It was a rare and welcome event to find alcohol complementary so we happily took advantage with a cheeky couple of beers.

We’d picked the cheapest digs we could find in Perth and they were still ridiculous but happened to be in a dump called Hay Street Backpackers. A brief browse at the local market suggested no regional improvement on the cost of living so we grabbed breakfast essentials for the morning and nabbed a kebab on the way back.

Blatant flaunting of the hostel rules meant a couple of tinnies each from the liquor store – it’s odd how beer was the first thing we adjusted our mindsets to shelling out for.

Rob & Gilly had arrived from Indonesia a day earlier and were staying with friends who’d emigrated from the UK around a year earlier. The Monday was a national holiday so we all arranged to meet in Fremantle, home of the Little Creatures brewery which seemed like a logical rendezvous point.

Walking through Perth making our way to the train station made for a really pleasant stroll. The sun was out, the sky was deep blue and the city streets were clean and uncongested. Perth is the largest city in Western Australia by some margin but still only has a population of 1.8 million. When you take into account that Western Australia is the size of Western Europe but has a state-wide population of only 2.2 million you begin to appreciate that Perth is the centre of life in that area. All that said, the centre feels small and almost quaint yet not backwards or under-developed. It felt like there was stuff going on there but that it was measured, controlled and planned from a development perspective. There was a nice, laid back, cool scene rather than a frantic melting pot or sprawling chaos. At the time I remember thinking I’d be quite happy to move there but on reflection I’m not sure it would have everything I’d want from a new home. Given the miniscule amount of time spent there such thoughts and reflections are a bit ridiculous but you can only work with what you’ve got and that’s what I settled on.

Before long we were wandering round the brewery looking for the gang. The place is as much a pub / restaurant / venue as it is a production plant and it’s a very nice spot. We found them in the front beer garden having wandered past them oblivious on the way in. Rob & Gilly’s hosts were Rob & Fi meaning a thankfully limited number of names to remember but a situation ripe for confusion. Rob works for the RAC and when the opportunity to work out in Perth came up they took it. With Fi working too they’ve established a fantastic lifestyle in little over 12 months with a lovely place, a couple of nice cars, a boat, a beautiful pooch called Molly and a whole host of creature comforts. It’s testament to who they are and what can be achieved with a bit of commitment & perseverance in the fabulous economic climate Australia is enjoying right now relative to other places. It gets you thinking…

They’re more importantly incredible people and we had a great time meeting them over the frankly spectacular Little Creatures Pale Ale as well as the now obvious but nonetheless undiluted joy of reconnecting with our globetrotting brother & sister Rob & Gilly.

We considered dining at the brewery but at $9.50 a pint our wallets still winced at every transaction so when Rob & Fi offered the alternative “all back to ours for a barbeque” it was met with a unanimous “yes please!”

A wonderful evening followed. We were reacquainted with Australian wine and couldn’t quite understand why we’d waited so long for that, we got to enjoy a stunningly cooked Kangaroo steak and generally just enjoyed ourselves. After a little wander around suburbia we hopped on a bus and made our way back to the hostel.

The next day was all about planning our west coast road trip. With only loose ideas about where we wanted to go we decided to meet at Perth’s central library and take advantage of the free wi-fi. This proved a mistake as we’d have got a faster connection from two paper cups and a piece of string so after some umming and ahhing we ended up at the only place we knew we could get decent internets – back at Fi & Rob’s house. We outlined a rough route, scored a nice Hi-Top campervan with room for all four of us and picked up separate insurance to cover us for any mishaps.