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Beyond the Pale - A 'pale' is a fencepost. The English Pale was a boundary in Ireland marking out the part of Ireland under direct English rule circa 1450 (which included Dublin and environs). Those that lived 'beyond the pale', outside of English rule, were considered out of control and uncivilised. You decide...

Sunday, December 10, 2000

Fragments from the Australia Diaries 2000 (part 32) - Perth


PERTH, THE FINAL FRONTIER

We landed and promptly burst into flames...
Perth is on Australia's west coast and is officially a toaster oven. During the Aussie Summer (Europe's Winter) the city likes to retain a boiling temperature in the 40s. There is a rumour that flies around among backpackers that Perth (due to its inhospitable location - the corner at the edge of nowhere) is incredibly expensive, as it has to import all its food. Simultaneously, another rumour flies in warp speed in the other direction that says Perth is a super cheap place to live, everyone has a beach house and hot tub.

For us, Perth fell somewhere inbetween.


We stayed in a youth hostel across from an Irish pub romantically called 'The Bog'. It seems that every Irish visitor to Perth will at some point end up in The Bog. The night we visited coincided with the arrival of a collection of elderly hippy-dippys. There was a a lot of paisley, tie-dye, long grey hair, jesus sandals , Kate Bush style dancing, people trippin' off their heads on liver medication. Of all my visits to Irish pubs abroad  it was definitely the most visually memorable.

As we were approaching Christmas, I found Perth a great spot to pick up Chrimbo gifts. The city is easy to knock around and there are shops to suit every whim.

Australia, as you should know, was a penal colony in the 18th and 19th century. Britain transported over 165,000 convicts to Oz from Britain and Ireland. If you are Irish or of Irish decent you can look up a list of registered convicts that were shipped to Australia for "crimes" as minor as 'turnip stealing'. Hey, don't judge, we've all been there, sometimes you just get a yearnin for a turnip, your credit card is maxed out, what ya gonna do! You can while away hours looking up this Irish list of convicts on the National Archives Ireland - Australia Transportation Database. The link to which I can no longer find on the National Archives website. Holy disgrace! some Aussie probably nicked it ;o)

Given the convict history, we thought it would be a 'crime' (geddit) to come all the way to Oz and not check out a prison. Fremantle prison, a short distance from Perth, was built using English and Irish convict labour and then conveniently ended up housing mostly these convict criminals. The prison tour is a worthwhile experience and would remind you somewhat of a tour of Alcatraz. The galllows room is particularly spooky and was the only place public executions could take place in Australia up until 1965. <Shudder> Almost within living memory, I emphasize *almost* (cheeky). Lots of Irish rebels were imprisoned there and most interestingly the original AC/DC lead singer (nuts!).

We are in Perth for a week, if we had longer we would travel the west coast. I've heard great things about Broome. Everyone does the east coast but the west coast of Australia is supposed to have less exploited beauty.

However, I was still limping from my fall on the Franz Josef glacier in New Zealand. When I saw the doctors in Sydney about my knee they spent more time staring at my neck (which was still swollen from my fall in the Blue Mountains) and one comment they had made kept replaying in my head, "Well, we don't think it's cancer".... !!!! .....Come again, was that even on the cards?!

I am due for a knee check up in Sydney next week, lets get back on a plane.

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