After three nights on the train, we arrive at Perth 9am on 20 July (my birthday). We are feeling a bit crumpled after our journey and head to Governor Robinson’s a small hostel in inner city Northbridge. It’s a great place, very sharp, clean and comfortable, well-priced and run by a friendly guy by the name of Philip.
Northbridge itself seems to have a heavy Asian influence (Chinese and Vietnamese especially) and we are about a ten minute walk along William Street from the central train station. The weather is surprisingly cool and cloudy. The city itself seems really multicultural. There are a lot of black people around, as well as a strong mediterranean and asian influence. The place seems quite laid back considering its size (1.4 million people).
We have to go down to the doctors (train station – very good service as well) and spend most of the day resting. We eat out at the Viet Hoa restaurant on William Street, very busy and food the real deal – also really cost effective. I feast on roast duck and slurp vietnamese style lemon soda. Nice one.
Perth doesn’t seem to have a massive central city area, with just a few high rises, although the ones they do have are big. There doesn’t seem to be a major city centre focus although the train station seems to be a kind of hub.
On Wednesday we catch the train down to “Freo” (Fremantle) which is an interesting combination of waterfront and port, together with a slightly alternative, possibly touristy and busy town with lots of cafes and shops. The waterfront is enormous, and is home to a large and reportedly militant branch of the Maritime Union of Australia, but I don’t have time to call in on this fast track visit.
Go down to the beach and have my first encounter with the Indian Ocean, but an enormous wind is blowing and huge waves are crashing on the shore. Lunch in the park where there is a sudden torrential downpour and we shelter while watching a young couple have a screaming row in the middle of the grassy field in front of us.
The local train system is modern, fast and cool. Back in Perth later that night we do some more exploring but run into our first negative vibes. The late night train station scene has a bad feel, with groups of drunken people (largely aborigines) hanging out. We retreat to Northbridge but stray into an ugly street full of tacky restaurants, in your face touts and general rubbish. But despite this mixed couple of days, Perth (and Freo) both score high.