One Ocean Remains

Finally a decent weather day in Perth. It got up to about 25 today (around 77 degrees) so we got some errands run and headed to the beach.

Benny Chilling

And yes, there will be pictures finally. Sorry for the delay. I know that it all anyone wants to see.

Benny is in the process of replacing a lost passport, and seeing the hoops he’s got to jump through to do that makes me realize that incompetent, layered bureaucracy is not strictly an American phenomenon. There was some waiting in line at the post office, a few button mashing incidents to get to talk to a real person on the phone, and then a drive up to have an old friend guarantee that the passport photo was in fact Ben Harrison. Dealing with Australian government bureaucrats seemed quite familiar to the American.

These puppies are approximately $4k each.

These puppies are approximately $4k each.

After dealing with those issues though, we headed down to Scarborough Beach to knock around in the waves a bit. Upon arriving at the beach, we realized that we’d just stumbled into the biggest Surf Life Saving event that I’d ever seen.

Surf Life Saving is best described as the Olympifiying of life guard skills. There are swim competitions, surf ski races, direct rescue races and more. Clubs from all over Western Australia were in attendance and it had the feel of AAU Basketball nationals with a trade show attached. The groupings were by year, U19 to U16, and there were multiple events going on at all times while we were there.

Comfortingly, I didn’t feel like it was at all possible to drown with 2,000 teenage lifeguards running around. On a Wednesday no less.

Beyond the events, I had a great time knocking about in the surf while Benny continued to deal with passport issues. Scarborough Beach was particularly blue, with sand that was white and quite soft. The tide was going out while I was there, so the waves were pretty limited to some soft rolling shore dumpers, but I’m sure that a decent swell at that beach would be pretty wicked. I haven’t gotten on a surfboard yet this trip, but that will be fixed by the weekend.

After leaving, I really got to thinking about the significance of being in the Indian Ocean. (Caution: Hackneyed history lesson ahead.) This was, for most of European history the very end of the earth. James Cook voyaged down into the South Seas in 1770 looking for the mythical Terra Australis, a hypothetical continent in the Southern Hemisphere. Terra Australis had been hypothesized since the times of Aristotle and Ptolemy to be a huge landmass which counterbalanced all the discovered world north of the Equator. Cook ventured forth looking for this mythical landmass en route to finding what we now call Australia.

This was literally as far as things went. There was still Antarctica, but the Crown didn’t send explorers out to find chunks of ice, regardless of size. (Cook actually did spot islands off the Antarctic Mainland on the same voyage.) Cook had discovered the end of the inhabitable earth, and here I was, laughing like a fool as far away from home as one could possibly get.

Scarborough Beach North

Thankfully I didn’t have to risk life and limb for 20 months to get here on a wooden sailing vessel, but my first swim in a third ocean did feel impactful. Now I guess I’ve got to make my way to the Arctic Ocean to cross off all 4. Who’s up for Iceland?

Look at that spinnaker

Look at that spinnaker

Perth and the Road Beyond

After 3 full days in Perth, I feel like I’m starting to get a decent feel for the place.

Perth is a booming mining town. There are cranes and new development everywhere, and NOTHING is cheap. Talking to a hilariously cantankerous cabbie yesterday who has lived in Perth his whole life, he said that the development really began about 20 years ago, but has ramped up hard in the past 5 years. Given the commodity prices and torrid Chinese demand in that period, that timeline made sense. The skyline of Perth is probably about 1.5x the size of Indianapolis’ at the current time. Given the number of cranes I’ve seen, I’d expect the skyline to be more Houston than Indy within another 10 years.

When I landed on Friday, Benny and I went to the Nightbridge neighborhood where we met up with some of his associates at the nightclub Geisha. The neighborhood was really bustling with young people, and it had a feeling reminiscent of Austin or Nashville with bar after bar playing live music and people congregating in the 75 degree night.

Sunday we went to a large outdoor concert at King’s Park. Aside from the drizzle, it was a great venue for the concert, and I was excited to find that I’d actually heard of one of the Aussie bands, British India, and got to hear my favorite song of theirs, Plastic Souvenirs. The views from the top of King’s Park over the Swan River and skyline were really fantastic.

Many of the miners make upwards of $150,000, which has definitely driven prices up in Perth. Besides being a Perth native, our cabbie Richard had the greatest singular command of profanity I have ever witnessed in another human being. From his cadence to his colloquialisms, Richard seamlessly wove explicatives into every nook and cranny of conversation. It was a true honor to converse with such an accomplished wordsmith.

Richard complained loudly about the increase in traffic, Perth’s rise from a “country town” to a “blanking blank full of miserable blanking blanks,” and the amount of infrastructure projects that are constantly diverting traffic from one end to another. It was great to have such perspective from a man who had lived in Perth his whole life, and frankly Richard seemed more than happy to converse with someone who wasn’t his wife. He told us that he was born near our flat, which apparently at the time was no more than a “bloody cow pasture.”

We are situated on a bend in the Swan River a few miles east of the city, which I’ve taken to running on in the mornings. Besides the earthy smells one finds near any river, there is the constant scent of eucalyptus and pine emanating from everywhere. There is a well maintained bike/running trail snaking along the edge of the river, which is quite busy. Yesterday as I was running, I encountered a few intrepid fishermen going after broome and flathead.

We’re currently making our post-Perth plans, which right now has us spending a few days on Rottnest Island, in the Indian Ocean west of Perth before flying directly to the Whitsunday’s, where we’ll be meeting up with Ben’s buddy Nick and spending a few days on his boat.

Past that we’ll be heading to Melbourne for a few days while Ben waits for his passport to arrive, and we’ve decided to take a stop over in Malaysia on the way to Vietnam, as many flights stop in Kuala Lumpur anyway, and prices are ridiculously low.