Thursday, October 23, 2008


Last weekend Jason and I visited Fremantle (about 20 minutes from Perth). Fremantle is self titled as "a slice of the mediterranean on the edge of the indian ocean". Fremantle was the site of the America's Cup back in the 1980s sometime.

Fremantle is a real vibrant and eclectic city... where artists, hippies, business magnates, and sailors all rub shoulders. There are some amazing heritage buildings (reminding me a little ofEurope) and best of all it is a designated tourist area so shops are open 7 days!!!!

Fremantle is located on the mouth of the swan river and enjoys the benefit of the "Fremantle Doctor" which is a welcome afternoon breeze which comes in to cool everyone down on a hot day!

Some of the things to do in Fremantle are the WA Maritime MuseumFremantle PrisonFremantle Fishing Boat Harbour, Cappuccino Strip and browsing through thehistoric Fremantle Markets.

Due to having nearly a month with out being paid Jason and I were still on a strict budget so we just did the free stuff... and plan to return to visit the museum and prison when we have some spare cash.

 Our first stop was the port... we had a special reason for visiting the port as our furniture is coming into Fremantle from Wellington (via Melbourne). We are so looking forward to our furniture arriving!!! Our boat is due in on 1 November and I joked about heading down to the port and watching it come in... but knowing the relocation company the 1 November date is probably at risk.

Next we just wandered around enjoying the water, beaches, sun and quaint surrounds. Here is a shot of the beach and the Fremantle Marina. It was a truly stunning day out there and we were really loving doing something a little different.

We wandered the streets and checked out some of the great clothes shops... I found heaps of things that I would really love to buy... its been so long since we had any spare money I can't even remember any treats for ages. 

We decided to check out the prison and see how much it cost to visit but it was about $24 each which is money we didn't have last weekend so we decided to leave that for another visit. I did however like the tree out the front...
After the prison we wandered through the markets... they were really good markets and we really enjoyed ourselves. I found some great things that I want to get for Christmas presents... we will definitely be heading back here. We did splurge a little and bought Jason some really good coffee! He has really appreciated it this last week as well. It was definitely worth the money.

The fruit and vegetables at the market were really lovely, we already had our food for the week but I must admit to trying a few of the free fruit samples... the mangos were DELECTABLE.

After the markets we were a little hungry so we had our big treat for the weekend... lunch out! Not a packed lunch, but actually sitting in a cafe... its been so long it seemed foreign hehehe but it sure was nice and well worth the $30 that we had put aside for the treat!

Walking through Fremantle we came across a beautiful bed and breakfast for sale (which I loved, and I know my mum would love the look of...) it was quaint, cute and european looking... 

Here is an example of some of the Fremantle archtecture... not a great photo and I couldn't help the sun spots on it... but it gives an idea.
After lunch Jason and I headed back to the train staion via the beach and I came across the most beautiful yellow flower that looked so vibrant against the blue sky. I took about 70 photos of this flower until I realised that Jason was bored as anything... hehehe I can get caught up in it all. I really couldn't pick just one of these flowers so I posted three!!

After the flowers we headed back to Perth on the train... all in all it was a great day! 

Monday, October 20, 2008

Spring in the Valley

Spring in the Valley is the Swan Valley's equivalent of the Martinborough Wine and Food Festival. The Swan Valley is about 40 minutes away from Perth and my new work arranged a bus to this years event. Since Jason and I don't have a car in Perth we decided that it would be a good idea to go on the trip, that way we could see a bit of Perth that we may have otherwise has to wait to see.

Our day started at a leisurely 9.45 am pickup at my work last Sunday. From here we headed out to Lancaster Wines. Here we sampled the first of the local wines, I tried the Chenin Blanc and Jason the Old Vine Shiraz. The Swan Valley is not well known for its whites and I really didn't think a lot of mine. Jason liked his wine though. Here is the entrance to the winery... a very nice setting:
From Lancaster wines we walked across the road to the Margaret River Chocolate Company. The chocolate company has factories in both the Margaret River and the Swan Valley providing an insight into the world of chocolate. There is free chocolate tastings (YUM), interactive displays and viewing windows to watch the chocolate products being made. The shop sold lots of made on site chocolate bars, chocolate coated delights, hand made truffles, novelty chocolates, icecreams, chocolate milk and a variety of cakes and desserts!!! The free samples were fantastic!  I just had some of their hokey pokey and I still think of it as it was that good.
From the Chocolate place we headed to Duckstein Brewery... a little piece of Germany in the Swan Valley where German-style craft beers are brewed on location... the order of the day was to have a Duckstein Brew in the full litre steins! I didn't partake, but Jason did. We got to keep the stein as a keepsake as well:
Jason enjoying his pre-midday litre of beer!

For those of you that know how big Jason's hands are you will see from the following photo just how big his beer was... but he did well to finish it! I just enjoyed the sun and watched everyone trying to down these mammoth beers!

After Duckstein we headed to a nice quiet winery. Where Jason and I sampled fresh massive WA strawberries! They were really nice. About as big as apricots. I really enjoyed this winery as Jason and I relaxed on the side of a hill, overlooking the vineyard and just enjoyed the atmosphere.

After this stop our plan was to head to the Feral Brewing Company. I wasn't really looking forward to this stop... and to my relief it was closed as it was full. So our last and unplanned stop for the day was Ambrose Winery. Jason tasted 4 wines and I people watched...

Near the end of the day a fight broke out outside this last winery. It started between two girls from opposing groups (army chick versus toga girl) and then not long after lots of people joined in. Thankfully all of our group stayed clear. The cops arrived and one person was tasered! We had to wait until the cops cleared the road for us to leave... and so our day ended with a good hearted bus trip home. All in all an enjoyable day in the sun for me and a nice day of sampling local wine and beer for Jason.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Jason's new hobby

Last Sunday Jason and I decided to head to Subiaco to check what all the fuss was about. Subi (as the locals call it) is this funky little shopping precinct with some really cute shops... well it would be if they were open hehehe. You guessed it, closed on Sundays. Apparently in Perth only designated tourist areas are to be open on Sunday's and Subi is not one of those. Anyway our trip was 100% wasted as the small Subi markets were open and Jason got a new hobby. A 10 (or more) year hobby.... its his bonsai tree:
Jason being ever so philosophical decided that the tree represented our new life in Perth... we would need to water it, feed it and take good care of it to grow... but also good things take time!
After  just a couple of days Jason swore that little bonsai was bigger and bushier... so we took a measurement for future reference.... watch this space for updates:
Our little bonsai is a firethorn. A few bits of info about bonsai:
  • bonsai means "plant in a tray"
  • they are outdoor plants and should only be inside for a max of 2 days
  • they need watering once a day in winter and twice a day in summer
  • bonsai does not need direct sunlight
  • new bonsai are best trimmed in April, September, October and November!

Well there's not that much more to say about little Bonsai, his first trim will be in November so we will give an update then.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Adventures of a new migrant in Perth...

So we arrive in Perth Wednesday 1 October at 5pm. Our taxi ride costs us around $10-$12 more than it should (on average), but we don't know any better! The first thing we try to do is find some food. Now coming from wellington (which will now be known as Convenience City) we thought that finding food shouldn't be too hard at 6.15pm on a Wednesday evening in the CBD. Hmmmm bad assumption. Perth essentially closes up at 6pm during the week, is closed on Sundays and there is a serious lack of convenience stores around. All I can say is "Where are all the star marts!!!"

Now flat hunting in Perth has been an experience in itself. We viewed our first one the day after we arrived. So the first thing I found out was that it seems photos can lie hehehe the flat looked 100 times different to what the photos showed... and not in a good way. Flat one viewed and dismissed in just 5 minutes. We decided to walk back to the ferry to get from Victoria Park back to Perth. Over an hour later we were still walking and I was heading into one of what Jason terms me "diabetic phase"... I get VERY cranky when I don't get enough to drink or eat!

The following day our energy was renewed and we were really excited about our flat viewing in South Perth. The pictures made it look really nice on the internet. Arghhhh sounds like de ja vu... and it was. This one I only lasted 2 minutes inside and I had made up my mind. So Jason and I upped the price we were willing to pay for a nice place to live (nearing what we pay a week in our NZ mortgage which is scary).

On our way back home for the evening we picked up a flat application form to see what we needed to apply to rent and I was gobsmacked. First of all you need 100 points of ID. So looking through the form I realise with dismay that a NZ passport, NZ birth certificate, Aussie Marriage Certificate, NZ drivers License and NZ bank card is only 95 points... you need some australian utilities bill, an Aussie bank card (our are 7- 10 working days away), or Aussie drivers licence as well.... We also need 2 (different) personal Perth referees each, we literally don't know that many people here! The other negative factor fir us is that we can't prove a previous rental history and a mortgage history isn't good enough!!!

 Anyway... back to it. In keeping with our current theme our first weekend was spent flat hunting... we got up at 7am to get the paper so that we had time to plot our days route looking at flats (as we were on foot). It took us 2 hours to find a shop open to sell us a paper! But once we got the paper we were set for the day. We found 4 apartments/houses to view, mapped the best routes on google maps and off we went. 

The first place we looked at was in West Perth and was 150 times better than anything that we had so far (but at the top end of our revised rent range). I got the feeling that had we wanted to sign up then and there we would have got the place. However I did have some reservations... namely the big construction site out the front door and verandah... the landlord could not tell us how tall the new building was going to be... I figured it meant that all sun we were potentially going to get would eventually be built out. 

Next stop East Perth.... the total opposite end of the city. We had however learnt from the many KMs of walking of previous days to make use of the free CAT buses within the city so it was a relief to catch a ride. We arrived at this next apartment a little early so found a great little italian restaurant. We shared an amazing woodfired pizza with the best non greasy thin and crispy base you could ever imagine. So no diabetic episodes for me!

This flat was based on wellington st which I must admit I was already biased towards. It was a really cute 2 bedroom place with good storage and on the free bus route. The down side was no air con and a tiny kitchen, the landlord said the kitchen was just fine but in saying that she only ate frozen meals.... hmmm alarm bells.But saying that we were still taken with this place and immediately applied for it.

The next place we looked at nearly made me cry and literally I was disguted about the state of the bathroom. There was no way I could ever consider showering at this place.

So all in all a long day!

We decided to spend the Sunday having a bit of fun so went to Subiaco to explore. Whoops caught out by the no trading on Sundays again!!

After expanding on our rent price Jason and I now decided to increase the radius (from within 5km of city centre to within 10km of the city centre) and we also started looking at 1 bedroom places... 

After extensive internet searching we had now settled on the Claremont/Cottlesloe area as apparantly this is triathlon central. So Jason viewed 4 places at the start of last week and woohoo we found a place. It is a 1 bedroom plus study apartment, with air con and a great deck. It is about 1km from the beach, 200m to the river, 1.4 km to one 50m swimming pool/tri club, 4km to another swimming pool/tri club, a 5 min walk to the train, 50 m walk to the bus, has a car park and has a great kitchen and bathroom. The main downside is the lack of storage. But we decided to take it as it is a real lifestyle choice as well.

Yay so we have a house!!!

So I had to go to the bank and withdraw some money to buy some food (still waiting on bank cards)... I got there at 4.05pm and the bank was closed! 9.30 - 4pm! Another perth trading hours lesson for me.

Late last week I wnt to transfer the rent and bond in advance... and guess what... my internet transfer amount is... wait for it.... $0. I can apply to increase that limit but it takes 5 - 7 work days to process. 

So all in all an interesting first few days... still getting used to the differences to NZ and trying not to say "well in NZ we could do this" too many times.

Well that's all for now... till next time.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

From Pembroke rd to Perth

So Wednesday 1 October 2008 Jason and I had to tick the box on our customs declaration form that asked if we were permamently migrating to Australia! It really hit home what we were doing then!

A quick recap of our journey for you all. About 6-7 weeks ago on a Saturday afternoon I spotted a job ad in the World section of the Dom Post newspaper. It was a job I definitely thought I could do and do well... the only hitch was that it was based in Perth! A few weeks later I found myself in Perth for the job interview and 4 weeks after that Jason and I are in an apartment in West Perth, our furniture is on a container ship somewhere, our NZ house is now an investment property and tenanted, and I am on the eve of starting a new job!!!!

Our flight to Aussie was fantastic as far as flight go. Our first leg was from Wellington to Auckland and then the long haul from Auckland to Perth (about 7.5 hours). We were so lucky on the long flight to get fantastic seats... they were exit row seats and I couldn't even touch the seat in front of us... in fact at one stage I actually said to jason that I thought there was too much room hehehe. We also had an upgraded AirNZ flight with the back of the seat entertainment systems which makes the flights so much better. SO we arrived in Wellington well rested.

My new work has put us up in a great 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment in West Perth for a month while we find a spot to live. Here is our main bedroom:

This is our lounge with the office in the background...a really great place and only 8 minutes walk to my new work! Jason will be able to pop down with my lunch each day :-)

This is the view from our main deck at the apartment. The Swan River is on the right and is the site of the Red Bull air race at the start of November, hopefully we are still in this place that weekend... it will be a prime viewing spot!

The nbext blog will recap the trials and tribulations of the first few days as a new migrant in Perth! Watch this space.