My great adventure
The first of August 2017 my great adventure started. I took a flight from my home country, The Netherlands, all the way to the other side of the world: Australia. Soon I found a job as a live-in au pair in one of the southern suburbs of Perth: Mosman Park. This gave me the opportunity to enjoy West-Australia for a whole five months. Lots of travellers skip the west coast of Australia. Personally, (excuse my French) I think that’s stupid. Now, let me tell you why.
A tour through Mosman Park
If you’re anything like me, you’ll absolutely love the location. From my home at Mosman Park, I walked through a suburb, over the train tracks (public transportation extremely close!) and up a little hill. This whole walk takes about ten minutes. When you stand there at the top of the hill, you’ll see the most amazing view. Every single time I was standing there, I felt butterflies in my stomach and the biggest smile appeared on my face. At the foot of this hill lies the beautiful clear blue/turquoise Indian Ocean.
Apart from a shark here and there, the water is absolutely lovely. No joke, there are lots of sharks in the Indian Ocean, but it’s safe to swim. If you’re still scared, walk a little further to Cottesloe beach. This is a regulated beach where lifeguards protect you from sharks and other absolutely dangerous Australian sea creatures (okay, now I might be exaggerating a little). Or if you don’t like walking or lifeguards for some reason, live by my rule: always make sure there’s someone further out in the sea than you. If there’s a shark, he’ll probably eat the other person first. Totally works!
The beaches are beautifully white and if you hate finding the sand everywhere on (and in) you, Cottesloe also offers some grass lawns to lie on. Stay until the sunset and enjoy it from the beach (or grass). Just watch, you won’t be able to talk anyway. The trees there are filled with parrots making lots of noise at sunset, so you won’t be able to hear a word the other says. But trust me, it’ll grow on you eventually.
Walking in the opposite direction from my home, about 15 minutes, the river runs through a beautiful landscape. Here are hiking paths and it’s a beautiful place to go for a run. If you like sailing, a lot of Australians own their own boat. They love to catch their own (shell) fish. As Australians are extremely kind and hospitable, you can always ask someone if you can go with them on their boat. Beware! The sea can be rough so it’s not the greatest plan for people who get seasick (I might be talking from experience here). For dinner, which you’ll be invited to as well, you’ll eat fresh shark, crayfish or octopus. Yum!
But there’s more… Fremantle!
My absolute favourite city in this area (in my opinion better than the city centre of Perth) is Fremantle. “Why?”, you ask. Well, I love how a city is alive, I love the noise, but I don’t like the feeling of being trapped. In the city centre, there are huge buildings and it’s nowhere near the ocean. Also, it’s much more crowded, filled with businessmen and -women, backpackers, and families. Fremantle is a city, but much smaller and way slower. Everyone is living at their own pace. It’s right on the beach and it has a beautiful harbour.
I was in Fremantle almost every weekend. Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday you can enjoy the Fremantle Markets. I loved strolling from stall to stall. They sell pretty much everything: food from every country, jewellery, art, souvenirs, leather bags, nail art, henna, posters, and other stuff you don’t need. You can even get a haircut or a tarot card reading. With buskers here and there, the atmosphere is cheerful. Outside of the market, there are always street artists and this guy who makes wooden whistles sounding like Australian birds. Totally useless, but sounds kind of cool.
Another awesome thing about Fremantle is that they have great places to eat. Going to Moore & Moore for lunch (they have fresh mint tea!) or to Little Creatures for drinks or food. Little Creatures is a brewery and they offer a wide selection of their own beers. You can choose to do a tasting or go to the restaurant next door and have a decent pint of beer (they also offer free bike rental here! Always nice to take the bike to Cottesloe beach). Their food is absolutely amazing. Frites with aioli, peri peri chicken and the corn cobs were my all-time favourites. Everything is to share so it’s easy to try different things.
If you feel more like going for a lounge atmosphere and lying down on the couch, you can go to Creatures Next Door. Same beers, similar food and different setting. They often have live music or a DJ. And the best part: you can see the sunset while eating. As there are windows everywhere, you can even enjoy the sunset from inside (WA is not always hot at night).
The last restaurant where I have great memories is a pizzeria: Bella Roma. Here you can choose between three sizes of pizza (a friend and I always ate a family sized one with just the two of us, absolutely lovely). Not bad either: on the opposite side of the road is the Ben&Jerry’s and they give you huge scoops!
Of course, there is also nightlife in Fremantle. There are several places to go out and there are always enough people. The atmosphere is nice and I haven’t even seen one fight (something that’s unthinkable in some places in The Netherlands). To be honest, I don’t remember much of those nights I went out, but let’s just say that I had fun!
Conclusion: go to WA
WA is a state that grows on you. Of course, it has a lot more to offer than just Perth and Fremantle. This was my WA and just the beginning. WA is enormous so take your time. Experience the atmosphere, talk to the people and befriend the like-minded ones. Enjoy every beautiful view, snorkel where you can and feel, really feel what WA has to offer. It’s not a place where you step out of the bus, just look at, take a picture and hop back in. It’s a place you have to experience and there’s a pretty big chance it will become your home away from home. Just like it was to me.