My journey to Perth started with a healthy dose of panic-induced earliness; having not travelled with luggage since emigrating to Australia, I stressed out that I would arrive late and so had two hours in the Qantas departure gates to kill with some of the worst wi-fi I have ever had the bad fortune to connect to.
I was travelling to Perth with most of my research group to present a poster at AussieMit 2014, the Australian Mitochondrial research conference and my first conference. I was nervously confident that I probably knew what I was about.
Perth itself was incredibly dead when I arrived, on a Sunday afternoon. Most shops had closed at 5 and while all I really wanted to do was sleep, it was still enough of an inconvenience to be an inconvenience.
The city is relaxed. The roads are wider, the houses seem further apart, and the city itself is much greener than I anticipated. The Harry Perkins Institute, where the conference was hosted, is less than a year old and had some incredibly wonderful installations (and a good cafe).
Perth is really into it’s street art – according to a girl who lives there, Perth is trying to become more like Melbourne and went down the “murals and enforced culture” path rather than the “get a load of hipsters together and see what happens” path. Sites such as the one below were pretty common while wandering around Subiaco and Leederville.
The city center, on the other hand, is fresh and open and at this time of year, incredibly Christmassy. Perth put on an incredible show for Christmas, with huge trees, stars, and various constructions of metal and fairy lights residing in almost every window we walked past in town.
It is with great dismay I admit that I have reached the age where I feel self conscious pushing small children off equipment that looks fun, and SciTech was smaller than I had hoped (or perhaps I am just larger than when I was last at a science museum). The inner suburbs of Perth have a fairly great free bus service connecting all of them that goes about every 8 minutes, so I got in from SciTech with no hassles at all.
Koko Black had been recommended to me by the “Urban walkabout” tourist brochures, using language that lead me to believe this was only available in Perth. AS IT TURNS OUT there are TWO Koko Blacks in Melbourne. I had kind of hoped I was eating at some Cool Perth Eatery, but I’m not one to sniff at chains of gourmet chocolate stores. Instead, my Perth Eating Experience was at Wild Duck on Hampden Road during the conference – five courses, one of which included a foam. I wish I could ever remember to take photographs of my food, because it truly was an experience worthy of documenting.
The Law Museum was mostly an accident – I was trying not to be awkwardly early to Perth airport, especially seeing how much I really dislike bad wi-fi. I went for a wander past a lot of construction (I’m sure it will all look great in like three months but it was dusty and uninteresting) and came upon the Supreme Court, which was surrounded by some quite wonderful gardens and the oldest building in Perth and the Law Museum.
Much of the Law Museum focussed on the interplay between Aboriginal and English law, and how West Australia has dealt with that. The Museum definitely made it seem like a genuine attempt to peacefully bring the two cultures together, but history is written by the victor and the violent history of Australia (and large-scale ignorance of it) makes me incredibly uncomfortable. But on the other hand, I sat in the head judge’s chair, so that was fun.
We had walked through Kings Park the night before (everything in Perth is so green, everyone is so fit) and I got to experience more Australian flora and fauna as well as some stunning views of Perth.
Finally, Perth had the cheapest airport transfer I’ve ever had: the train into town from accomodation was $2, and the bus out to the airport $4.40. The bus takes just under an hour, and takes you to terminals 3 and 4.