Touch down in Perth was an anticlimax if ever there was one, Jas and Mike had been sat in arrivals over an hour waiting whilst I queued to have my passport stamped manually and when I finally got through customs I walked straight past them. It did not feel like I hadn’t seen them in 5 months; our Koh Tao goodbye could have been days ago. But it was fantastic to be back with my Asia travel family. We stopped at Dan Murphys to pick up the goon that would doom my first night in Oz and headed to Bambu Backpackers; the den of iniquity where I would spend my Perth nights and sleep away my Perth days, for the most part. Goon was the downfall of my first week in Perth; I’d be unlikely to make it out of the hostel after goon pong or table tennis so don’t ask me which clubs to visit. But if you want a true party hostel and are prepared to sacrifice all sleep for fantastic nights, free goon (Fridays) and free sausages (Tuesdays) then Bambu (27$ a night) is the place for you. Just make sure you don’t sleep through the entire day and get out to experience some of day time Perth.
Walking through Perth feels like you’re in a TV set most days; an unfaltering sheet of blue sky, mirrored in the clean crisp windows of the skyscrapers and everything sprawlingly spaced out but with a complete dearth of human activity. Even the morning of Australia Day there was no one on the streets, everything was closed, I struggled to find somewhere to serve me a cup of coffee! Forgetting it was Australia Day I’d planned to go exploring with a friend, we wanted a quaint coffee shop to settle in whilst we pillaged my Lonely Planet for an itinerary. We had to settle on a soulless pub just off the main high street. Perth is a beautiful city with plethora of cafes and bars but there really isn’t a lot to do here for a tourist; Lonely Planet boasts 5 sights for the city.
Hoping for some hidden treasures we caught the Yellow CAT (free buses that run regularly throughout Perth) in an out of town direction, alighting near Gloucester Race Course where an evening of harness racing is $12 a ticket. The racecourse was predictably as dead as the Town had been, but we found a beautiful park where the road ran out at the Swan River. Prehistoric looking white parrot type birds were grazing the grass everywhere we wandered, so strange to me being new to Australia and its tropical everyday creatures. The Perth Australia Day celebrations were called off this year when a plane crashed into the river, but with this yet to happen several groups were gathered round the industrial BBQs no Australian park is found without. Even with these groups the park was much less busy than Kings Park, closer to the city centre with its impressive tree lined avenues and expansive views over the city from its hilltop perch. This park was stunning, with bright parakeets chattering in the lush foliage shading us by the river but the burger fumes were making us hungry; venture out this way, but definitely take a picnic with you. The park wraps around an expensive looking estate with manicured flower beds and a beautiful quay where the rippling water begs you to dip your toes in. We had no sun cream, no food and no water; no matter how persuasively the water begged, we had to head back into town for supplies.
My favourite place to snack is Toastface Grillah which serves an incredible gruyere and apple toastie (9$) from beach shack feel cafe down a side alley near Northbridge. Babooshka nearby has a some strange milkshake concoctions which are meals in themselves (triple donut and chocolate bacon 20$) as well as some more appetising looking bagels and brunches. Ever since I visited Indonesia I’ve been trying to find a Gado Gado to rival the one served up by Iz in Warung Jawa 2 in Kuta, Lombok and turned my entire travel family against the dish when I made them join my unsuccessful quest in Bali. Kampoeng Tasik however finally converted them. Right next to Bambu Backpackers, we’d never seen it busy and presumed this to be a reflection on their cooking, but being too lazy to trawl through menus we went there for Gado Gado (15$) on my birthday, and what a fantastic surprise; it was delicious!
I did have a purpose in Perth though, not just to get white girl wasted; I needed a job, farmwork preferably. You can sign up for a library membership in 2 minutes at the city library to use their computers but have a CV saved online as they don’t let you upload from the computer so USB sticks are useless. There are a few backpacker job shops around Perth too which you can try out, but your applications are limited to only a few jobs in each. For a week my friend and I called, emailed and sent online applications to hundreds of jobs in every corner of Australia, with no luck. If you’re looking for farm work out here you need to get your face out there where you want to work is the advice all my employed friends gave me. Pack up and head out to a working hostel, a farming community, somewhere that harvests are currently going on. It became apparent that, especially without agricultural experience, farmers do not want people who have applied online.
I’ve really landed on my feet, a motel in a backend of nowhere town was looking for a cleaner and offered a room in exchange for 5 hours work a week from myself and a friend. We snapped up the chance and 4 days later were speeding down the beautiful open roads to Manjimup; a town surrounded by apples, avocados, strawberries and vineyards. I’ve visited the farms, my face is now out there, with a diminishing bank balance and crossed fingers, let’s see how this goes!