Monthly Archives: May 2024

First time Perth

My second cruise of 2024 was on the Queen Mary 2 from Fremantle to Sydney, calling in at Adelaide and Melbourne. The two drivers for me booking this cruise were a desire to make another voyage on the QM2 and to fulfil my ambition to visit Perth.

The cruise was leaving Fremantle (Perth’s port) on Saturday February 17th; to have some sightseeing time I flew out to Perth from Melbourne on the preceding Tuesday afternoon. It’s a 4hr 15min flight (2721km/1691mi) and during daylight saving a three-hour time difference.

Since 2022 a rail service has connected the airport and city. I stayed at the Holiday Inn, Perth City Centre, a ten minute walk from the station and right next to the heart of the city. I’d happily stay there again.

My stay coincided with a heatwave. With an eye to the forecast temperatures (on the Thursday the mainland temperature would reach 41.7C/107F) I decided to spend Wednesday in Perth, Thursday on Rottnest Island and Friday in Fremantle. I obviously wasn’t going to see everything and the heat was energy sapping.

Having taken a quick Tuesday evening stroll to get my bearings, I decided to start Wednesday by joining the free Convicts and Colonials guided walk, one of nine volunteer-led walks run by City of Perth. Excellent and informative. Highlights included the Town Hall, Government House and Supreme Court.

Next a short walk to Elizabeth Quay, currently being redeveloped. The walk took me through the extraordinary London Court, a mock Tudor open-air shopping arcade built in the mid-1930s by Western Australian mining entrepreneur Claude Albo de Bernales. As his bio records, he amassed a fortune, lost it all, and died as a recluse in the UK. I went back to visit it several times.

From Elizabeth Quay busport I took the free bus to Kings Park, offering a view over the city centre. The park incorporates the Botanic Gardens but given the heat, I went no further than the entrance. Instead I took the bus back to the city to spend the afternoon in the Western Australia Museum Boola Bardip. The new museum building only opened in 2020.

On leaving I realised that my camera was missing – nowadays I generally take photos on my phone, only using my camera where I need either extremity of the zoom lens, so I wasn’t sure where I’d last seen it. A quick retrace of my steps in the museum failed to locate it. I decided to wait a day to see if it turned up.

Thursday, I took a train to Fremantle, then the Rottnest Express ferry. Rottnest Island is famed for its population of quokkas, small marsupials the size of a cat. You don’t have to look hard to see them. The shops have half-height swing doors to keep them out. Touching or feeding them is prohibited, but more than a few tourists ignore the signs, risking a fine.

Friday morning was spent retrieving my camera. It hadn’t been handed in at the museum or at King’s Park. On calling the bus company’s lost property number I was relieved to be told that they had it – it must have fallen out of my manbag on Wednesday’s bus ride back to the CBD. Collecting it necessitated a train ride to Claisebrook depot, but I was glad to get it back. In future I’ll be more careful!

Then off to Fremantle for the afternoon, visiting the Maritime Museum and the E-shed and 1897 markets. Time only allowed a quick look at the outside of Fremantle Prison, built by convicts In the 1850s, then back to the hotel.

My allotted boarding time for the QM2 was not until mid-afternoon, leaving the morning free. A twenty-minute walk from the hotel along Hay Street took me to Perth Mint. The one-hour tour, including a live gold pour, was well worth the cost.

Then back to the hotel to collect my case and, for the third day in a row, the train to Fremantle. Before too long I was aboard the ship, ready for the three-day sail to Adelaide. Hopefully I’ll be back in Perth at some point and be able to see the things I missed this time.