Getting out of Perth

No, we are suggesting that you don’t go to Perth. It is a nice city. Perhaps it has grown a lot bigger, busier, more crowded since we last set foot there. We like to think about it as – taking a break that includes being outside of Perth.

Why?

Because there are simply so many things to see and do outside of the city. You know that already. But a word of warning. Being situated on the western coast of West Australia state, the distances will be long and the journeys could be a little stifling especially in the summer heat. So choose the time of your visit carefully…

This post is a link to a reminisce of our journey taken many years back. And in some ways we think it is still relevant to share. Because it was made in the early innings of our travel “career” together. Hmm…travel career…sounds catchy doesn’t it? Some people work all their lives building one – you know, a career in some trade or business function. But we seem to have built one out of traveling!

And you would also know that in work life there are some experiences or things one did that led to recognition (promotions, bonus, raises etc). So what got us ‘promoted’ in our travel career? We think it was this journey that provided the big break in our career, of traveling that is.

What was your travel career enhancing journey?

Wine and country

No. The Koala did not fall asleep because of too much wine and cheese.

But Suan almost certainly did. As designated driver, Mel dutifully abstained from swigging too much drink and sipped accordingly. But for Suan it was open season…Time to get the shotguns out of the cupboard! This was how it felt like when we drove through the Bellarine onto the Mornington peninsula during this part (read here) of the short road trip outside of Melbourne.

While it may not be quite France as we had experienced, it was whole different way to enjoy our own little ‘wine tour’ in Australia.

One of the advantages of driving your own is that you can select and winery you wish to stop at. And keep going for as long as you can. Well someone’s gotta “sacrifice”, but hey that’s for the greater good ain’t it? Packaged wine tours on the other hand bring you to that handful of places they have arrangements with. While you might get a little more attention than walk-in customers, you certainly have no choice of where to go! Unless you book a private tour where you let the operator knows where you’d want to go…

But the best private wine tour operator has got to be Mel! Because he will drive Suan anywhere she wants, stop anywhere she desires and dutifully drive her safely home.

Does this motivate you to jump out and do your own “private” wine tour drive now?

How great is the Ocean road?

Did you know that the Apostles of the Great Ocean road fame could have been named “the sow and her piglets”?? Yep. Interesting ways the Aussies come up with names of places. Would that have made the road less “great”? You tell us.

Yippee! We are now onto our Australian series.

Not quite the “The flying doctors” or “Home and away”…heheh, but six (yes 6) handprint stories about the traipsing we have made in the land down under. How do we know about these Aussie drama serials? Well, they did broadcast some of them here in the little red dot long ago. Or as we’d say it here, when policemen wore shorts (they really did – khakis in the 50s & 60s). Heheh, that makes us sound vintage…but we digress. By  the way, it was our grandfathers who watched them and we, as children sneaked in for  peek.

So back to the road.

Why is it that they call it the Great Ocean Road. Because for us it seems strange when it is mostly single lane all along its 243km (well quote Wiki). At least that was the impression when we first got on the B100, aka – the road. What can you see along this great road? What can you do? Will you find anything nice to eat?

Why certainly!

Our little adventure (here) along this stretch of coastal road left us wishing to come back. Wouldn’t you?

Sunday reading

A few interesting nuggets about air travel gleaned from a number of sources.

  • You are asked to pull up the window shades when you land or take off. Why? Most passengers looking out of windows often spot emergency issues as they occur. Also, should the unlikely event take place, an opened window shade allows both rescuer and rescued to look in/out of the cabin.
  • Dimming of lights for landing or takeoff – again this has to do with safety, but believe it or not, it has more to do with getting passengers’ to be able to focus to darkness better than if the lights were all on. Similar to having the shades up to allow natural light in, the idea is to let the passengers in the cabin have less “acclimatization” to light conditions in the unlikely event of an emergency.
    Window shades
    The 787 Dreamliner has no shades

    So this means no need to be hassled to pull your shades up.

  • What about that little hole at the bottom of the seat window? As the windows are doubled paned, the hole is a “breather” to facilitate pressure differentials between the outer pane and the inner one. It is also there is help prevent the window from fogging up.

An interesting term in an article today at the Singapore Straits times – speed grazing.

While that in itself sound provocative, what caught my attention was the fact that Western Australia has a history of making wines for more than 180 years! Specifically Swan valley though. We’ve been to these parts (not technically Swan valley but very close) and it is hot. Sun baked is a more appropriate word to describe the summers here. And it is dry, so much in fact that our skin was itching and flaking off if not for the moisturizers that Suan brought along.

One thing did wonder through my mind. Where do the wineries obtain the vast quantities of water to feed these cash crops? Aside from grapes, there is apparently an abundance of agricultural produce here.

Imagine the burden on the water table, the Margaret and Swan rivers. In recent years you might have heard of the drought that has afflicted Australia, and abnormal weather had wrecked havoc in various parts of the continent at different times. The last I was in Australia was October 2014 to the northern end of Queensland for a military exercise. It’s a miracle to find trees and “savannah” surviving so well in the outback where is seemingly never rains! So this appears to be in many parts of the driest continent on earth.Australia rainfall

This island continent is affected by four main drivers:

  • Cold ocean currents off the west coast (where Perth is located), coming from the Great southern ocean, which means less evaporation from the seas and thus less humidity building up – ie rising to form clouds.
  • Low elevation of landforms which does not “draw” in a lot of nimbus clouds – ie those low altitude heavy clouds that leads to rain. And the fact that despite being higher in elevation, the western part is a plateau.
  • Dominance of high-pressure systems – this one’s a difficult one to understand and requires a little in-depth research as to the reasons the zone around latitude 30°S is subject to more intense pressure.
  • Shape of the landmass – which is interesting, because meteorological studies suggest very little moist air penetrate inland. Perhaps that’s why the great interior of the continent is a mix of desert and savannah vegetation.

In fact it is a an on-going problem in Australia with soil salinity, as irrigation and the depletion of riverine sources of water has led to increased accumulation of salt in the top soils.

Australia landmass
See how the greens hug the coastal fringes of the island

Western Australia is no exception to this and the threat it has on industries such as wine making can be catastrophic. Conflicts could become more prevalent, and like the water wars in California or between states in the Southwest (US), lead to acrimony between people, industry and government.

Great stuff this article worked up an appetite to look into geology and geography, my other “love” aside from history and antiquities.