This is a post about the second leg of my journey to board the research ship RV Sonne. If you want, you can read part 1 about my 2 days in Hong Kong before reading this.
Part two of the journey went slightly smoother than the first part, with only one hour delay to our flight instead of almost 3 as well as staying clear of Hong Kong airport officials trying to take my temperature. We flew Cathay from Hong Kong to Perth, had a smooth transition through visa and immigration and later luggage check. We had no idea, but we were met by a driver at arrivals (this time no champagne though), as the lovely expedition organisers had sent a driver to take us to our hotel.
When we arrived at the hotel it was well past 1 in the morning, but it had been quite a while since we had eaten. Luckily we managed to track down the local McDonalds and it was all you expect of a McD’s at 1:30 in the morning; half naked youth sleeping in corners or stuffing their faces with fries, rubbish everywhere and a puddle of coke right in front of the counter. Needless to say we went for a takeaway.
The second day in Perth started with a really nice brunch at the botanical gardens. The botanical garden in Perth is more like a park/botanical garden hybrid as you don’t pay to go in and it doesn’t have any large glasshouses or anything like that. Rather, it has lots plants and wildlife local to the different climates you find in Australia. If you ever go to Perth I highly recommend spending half a day in this park keeping an eye out for the many pretty birds living there.
Later in the day we went down to Elizabeth Quay to get tickets for the Rottnest ferry and decided to go and buy some essential toiletries as we would be stuck at sea for 5 weeks with no possibility to nip out to get some shampoo or toothpaste. Perth is the only large city in Western Australia, so I expected shops to stay open to at least 19:00 in the evening. However, it turns out that at 5, everything is closed. It is probably easier to get a camel in small town Norway, than it is getting a toothbrush in Perth at 17:01 on a Saturday. However we did in the end find a very expensive pharmacist that had very expensive shampoo and toothbrushes.
As we walked back to the hotel just after 5 to drop off the most expensive toothpaste in the world, the streets were all of a sudden empty and nobody was out. This was slightly worrying as we still haven’t had dinner and wondered if EVERYTHING closed at 5, fearing we would end up at McD’s again. Luckily two places at Elizabeth Quay were open although I am pretty sure they closed half way through our main course gnocchi. It was good to be forced to bed relatively early though as the jetlag was still lurking.
On our third day we checked out early and had breakfast at Mount Street. I had tacos and cappuccino (seriously good breakfast combination if I say so myself) and David had concentrated sugar in the form of French toast soaked in chilli chocolate sauce. After recovering from the diabetic shock of the French toast we went back up to the botanical gardens armed with 600mm and 135mm and a hope to take some pictures of the colourful birds. However, it was too early in the morning for most of the birds to be out and we only got a few decent shots despite the large amount of fowl we had seen the afternoon before. Slightly disappointed that we hadn’t spotted a kookaburra again we had a slushie and walked back to the hotel. We then went down to the ferry that would take us to Rottnest Island but first we had to manoeuver through crowds in the heat with 30 kg of baggage each, as half of Western Australia had gathered at Elizabeth Quay to celebrate WA day.
However, none of the people that day were going to Rottnest (known as Rotto to the locals) so the ferry was empty except for David and me. Although we were the only passengers on board, we were given a detailed commentary on the expensive properties of the Swan River and associate marinas. When we got to Fremantle, we changed from a river boat to a larger boat for the short stretch of ocean we had to cross and soon found ourselves on Rottnest Island. We had decided to visit Rotto because David had heard they had tiny marsupials there called quokkas. These little animals are only found wild a few places in Western Australia and mainly on Rottnest. It didn’t take long before we saw one poncing around near the beach.
Rotto turned out to be full of friendly tame quokkas and I was happy to find out I could walk around with a 35mm prime lens on at all times both shooting wildlife and landscape. The galas were also easier to shoot compared to the mainland. Most people bike around the island, but you can get around in a day on foot. Walking around also gives you more freedom to explore paths and World War II bunkers hidden in the sand dunes. You have to bring water and some sustenance with you as there is no other shop around except the one you find in the main settlement. In the summer people go snorkelling in some of the bays but during the winter months the activity ceases. This island is great. If you ever go to Perth you have to visit Rottnest. I will let the pictures do the rest of the talking.
After a night at Rotto we were shipped back to Fremantle. We found our hotel relatively easily and went out for some food. The brewery pub we were told to visit didn’t serve food at the time so we tried a place that only served meatballs. A bizarre experience. We called it an early night as we had to be ready at 8 the following morning to be taken to the ship and start the scientific expedition.
Thanks for reading,