From the minute the airplane touched down in Perth, Australia I’ve felt strangely at home. I’m further away from my hometown than I have ever been before, yet this land of sun on the sea bears more than a passing resemblance to Ventura, California, where I grew up with 365 days of sunshine nestled on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. The ocean is different, with the Indian Ocean being warmer and clearer than crisp vastness of the Pacific, but the surf themed coffee shop where I’m sitting enjoying an iced coffee could just as easily be in California as it could be here on the West Coast of Australia.
Perth is the most remote captiol city in the world, but to live here is not to feel cut off from the world. Perth has everything one could want in a city, from the high rise districts of downtown to white sand beaches just a short train ride away. Just a short drive from the city there is the Swan Valley with its plethora of wineries, chocolatiers, and eateries. For those with a craving for the seaside life the beaches of Cottesole and North Beach offer all the sun and surf that one could want. And if you are feeling a little tired of city pursuits Perth is a city of green spaces settled in the middle of one of the largest, wildest states in Australia.
Australia is still such a wild country that, even in a capitol city like Perth, you are always close to the wilderness. In my first week in Australia I saw flocks of cockatiels to rival the flocks of pigeons in San Francisco, koalas in Yanchep National Park, a most likely poisonous snake in the sand dunes on the way to the beach, and of course, kangaroos hanging out on a golf course, aka a conveniently human-kept kangaroo all you can eat grass buffet. We walked for hours in Kings Park and didn’t even make it from end to end in this 1,003 acre park, one of the largest inner city parks in the world. I would wager to say that you wouldn’t be more than a 15 minute drive to a wild or semi-wild space anywhere in Perth. For a country girl at heart, this freedom from the city while still being so close to the amenities of a big city is the best of both worlds. I finally feel like I can breath here, which is a lovely break from the concrete jungles that normally make up big cities worldwide.
The amazing thing is that I haven’t even touched the true wilderness that is Australia and the knowledge that there is so much more out there, so many more beaches to find and so much more bush to explore, has me jumping at the gun to get started on our great Australian road trip. At the beginning of June, after my time back in the US for my friends’ weddings and my mom’s birthday, Kane and I will embark on our journey up the West Coast, over through the north, and finally finishing on the East Coast. The wilderness is calling and I can’t wait to answer.