Posted by: Richard Marshall | February 20, 2018

Australia 2016/ 2017

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With Al, Sal and Claire in King’s Park, Perth

Ever since moving to Southeast Asia I had been planning to head to Australia to visit my family in Perth and Victoria but had never quite got around to it. After seeing the family at Christmas, however, I decided that 2016 was going to be the year, and in fact I ended up visiting Australia three times in the space of about 18 months. Each trip was wonderful and I did a great deal, so it’ll have be a longish post to include all three, but since I’m still several posts behind I’ll do my best!

My first trip was to visit Uncle Al, Auntie Sally and cousin Claire in Perth in June 2016. I took a red-eye flight from KL and arrived very early in the morning, waking my poor family up at about 7 am. The novelty of a crisp winter’s morning was wonderful after years of tropical weather, as were the flocks of cockatoos flying overhead shrieking. It was wonderful to finally see my family’s home in Australia and be shown around some of the sights of Perth. The first day we headed up to have lunch in the Darling Scarp, a low range of hills outside the city. We also headed to King’s Park, a huge park and garden with amazing views of the city centre. Claire had very kindly taken a day off work, so she, Sally and I spent a day exploring the prison in Fremantle. The prison was a grim but very interesting stone building, and we followed up our visit with lunch at Little Creatures brewery, a very pleasant spot by the water. I subsequently returned to Fremantle on my own to explore the well-preserved Victorian town centre. The train trip from my family’s house was very pleasant and it was great to see dolphins in the Darling river as the train crossed the bridge into Fremantle. It was also great to meet Jack, Claire’s boyfriend, for the first time, though I didn’t know then that I’d be returning the next year for their wedding!

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Claire and I outside Fremantle Prison

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The prison

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Typical Fremantle Street

I also headed down to the small town of Bunbury for a night to see my old university friend Russell. He had been teaching there for years, but it had been a long time since we had last seen each other. It was great to see his house, have a barbecue and to catch up. The next day we braved lousy wet weather and terrible hangovers to head down to Cape Augusta, through beautiful winelands and forests. It was a fantastic trip but by the time we were driving back in pouring rain and poor visibility we were pretty exhausted! On one of my last evenings in Perth I was able to meet up with Tracy and Gayle, cousins on my Dad’s side, as well. We were able to catch up after not seeing each other for eight years!

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At Cape Augusta

My second trip to Australia was to visit my Uncle Rob and Auntie Val in Warragul, Victoria in March 2017. I was on my way to New Zealand after finishing my contract in Penang was able to arrange a four day stopover in Australia. Rob and Val kindly picked me up at the airport and drove me out to Warragul. The first day Rob took me out to visit some friends of his and see a bit of the Victoria countryside in his Model A Ford, a truly gorgeous car. They also took me on two great day trips. The first was to Phillip Island, southeast of Melbourne. The scenery was beautiful and it was a great chance to do some birdwatching. Just before crossing the bridge onto the island was a place where pelicans were regularly fed, and the island itself was a great place to see waterbirds. While walking around a lighthouse on the island we also saw an echidna. I found it really exciting to see such an iconic Australian animal.

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The Model A

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Pelicans near Phillip Island

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Echidna

The second day trip was up into forested hills around a place called Noojee. The drive up into the forest was fantastic, and I saw lyrebirds on the road, another famous Australian animal. Our first stop was a huge, old eucalyptus tree in the forest. We also visited some waterfalls and an amazing old railway trestle bridge. We had lunch at a very pleasant restaurant with several species of parakeets flying around the surrounding gum trees. Finally, I did also manage to spend a day on my own wandering around downtown Melbourne. I took the train from Warragul to the magnificent Flinder’s Street Station. I first made my way up to Queen Victoria Market to get myself a bratwurst for breakfast, and then just wandered around the city admiring the gorgeous architecture. For lunch I found a pleasant pub just off Federation Square by the Yarra river, read my book and enjoyed a few beers. In the end I spent an extra day in Australia as Emirates refused to let me board my flight to New Zealand, despite the fact I had a visa. The 24 hours spent in a lousy Melbourne airport hotel watching junior Masterchef weren’t the best I’ve spent in Australia, but Mom and Dad helped me out and eventually I did make it to Auckland.

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Rob and I on the trestle bridge

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Flinders Street Station

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The Yarra River and part of Melbourne skyline

My most recent trip to Australia was December 2017 for my cousin’s wedding and for a family Christmas in Perth. Although the trip was only 6 days (I had to return to Vietnam for work) we did an amazing amount. Claire and Jack’s wedding was absolutely wonderful, and we had a great Christmas with all the family too. Overall I had three wonderful trips to Australia and hope to visit again and see more of the country. I’m also very grateful to family and friends for doing so much for me, having me to stay and showing me around. Thank you all so much!!


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