It’s been almost three years since two of my dearest friends moved from New York to Perth, Australia. They’ve been back to the States several times since then including their wedding ceremony last fall, but in all that time I had yet to make the journey to the other side of the globe to visit them.
That all changed this past winter when, after a little convincing from the newly weds (and a snifter or two of Scotch), I decided to pull the trigger and book a two week trip to see my friends down under. My stay would extend from late February to early March, which of course is summer in Australia, so I packed some shorts and a bathing suit and hopped on the 24 hour long flight to the island nation.
The journey would take me from New York to Abu Dhabi, and then, after a brief layover, on to Western Australia. I wish I had done a better job of chronicling the flight because it was quite the experience in endurance, but I didn’t take out my camera until the plane was approaching Oceania.
In very cinematic fashion, the view from the plane was mostly obscured by clouds and fog until, at the last minute, the Australian coast emerged from the haze in all its sunburnt glory.
It was about 1:30 in the afternoon when I landed, though from my perspective it was difficult to pinpoint exactly when or where I was. My friend Emile picked me up at the airport and the rest of the day was fairly low key in anticipation of the jet lag that was about to hit me…hard.
Upon recovery, my first taste of Australian culture was a quick train ride from the suburbs of Perth to Freemantle which was described to me as the Brooklyn of Western Australia’s Perth City. After sampling some of the food and the breweries, I have to agree.
One of the more interesting sights to see in the area is Freemantle Prison, a 15 acre, turn of the century penitentiary noted for being constructed by the inmates themselves. It currently serves as a World Heritage Site and tourist attraction, but what was most striking to me is that part of the grounds are used to exhibit what is termed as “insider art;” works of art created by currently incarcerated people across Western Australia.
A couple of days after my arrival, Emile, who is part of a local baseball league, had one of his final games of the season. It’s not the first sport that comes to mind when thinking of Australia, but the great American pastime seems to have acquired quite the fan base in the Aussies.
The following day, we made the roughly 2.5 hour drive north from Perth to Nambung National Park; home of The Pinnacles. This martian-like landscape is formed from enormous limestone deposits in the middle of the desert. How they arrived in such a state is up for debate, but walking amongst them truly feels like being on another planet.
After several days, it felt like we had already packed so much in, but the trip was just getting started…