Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Why is Perth so Special to Me?

I feel like this post has been a long time coming, and seeing as we're all talking about places we can't get out of our heads for this month's travel linkup, and seeing as I often get the question of 'Why Perth? What is your link with Australia?' I thought I'd get it all down in this one post. If you're new around here and don't already know, I lived there for a coupla years as a teenager and went to high school there, and to say I'm a little bit in love with it would be an understatement. It's weird how you can spend a short time somewhere and feel like you belong there, as if you were born in the wrong place.

Let's take it back to the beginning. When I was seven years old I got on my first 24-hour flight. We flew with Singapore Airlines, it was Christmas 1997, and it was magical. I'd never experienced anything like it. Sure, I'd been on transatlantic flights to the states, but this was a whole different ball game. I mean, we had our own individual seat-back TVs, that not only showed movies, but also had games on them! For a seven year old this was pretty awesome. After a few days in Singapore at the Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa (which until recently was the only luxury hotel on Sentosa Island), we landed in Perth and Aunty Wyn and Uncle Gray picked us up.

Please excuse the quality...I took a photo of the photo on my phone!
Rottnest Island 1997
I still remember this trip so clearly, and I still remember falling in love with this city. I remember the sunshine beating down on our car as we drove along the wide open roads, I remember meeting a Quokka for the first time, I remember swimming in the crystal clear oceans of Rottnest, and I remember attempting to climb up the Gloucester tree down south and failing miserably.

Albany, Easter 2004

We went back to Perth regularly until in 2007 we moved there. I kept a diary on my computer the first few weeks, and reading it back reminds me of how it was such a dream, I was living out my dream.

I love Perth because ever since I was a child I've felt like it was my safe place. I know it like the back of my hand, and it's familiar. I have so many amazing memories from there; so many birthdays spent there, Christmases, evenings at the beach. Friends. My first love. 

I remember driving to Heathrow airport to get on our one-way flight with a huge grin on my face, watching the sunrise over the fields that run alongside the M25 and feeling so at peace. I remember landing in Perth and feeling that same peace, that pure happiness at being somewhere where I felt I actually belonged.

When I first arrived in Perth before I lost a whole heap of weight.

I love Perth because I've never smiled so much like I did when I lived there. I love Perth because of the memories of walking down to the beach to watch the sunset, and walking to IGA at the back of our house with my brother to buy sweets, or 'lollies'.

Even Australia gets cloudy and cold sometimes during winter!

I love Perth because of my friends there, the friends that made me so welcome, and that gave me so many incredible memories. The evenings in Freo eating ice-cream with Cait and Rach and laughing at the woman inside who judged us for the amount of ice-cream we ordered, the evenings walking around the city aimlessly just for the hell of it. The evenings when we would sit on our beds and just talk about everything and anything. The evenings when we would all cause chaos and just be teenagers (we were the annoying kids who filled the Challenge Stadium fountains with bubble bath...).

I love Perth because of the family roadtrips and family days out, exploring the beautiful country and seeing things I never dreamed of seeing. I love Perth because of the days at the beach running in and out of the ocean trying to get cool in the heat of the summer sun, the Fremantle doctor blowing in in the afternoons and giving us some respite, and bobbing up and down on the ocean behind the waves on the surfboard. Because of the many times spent sipping on refreshing cans of Solo and then laying back in the sand with the sun beating down on my glistening skin until it was dry again.

I love Perth because of the weekend waitressing job I had on the beach, where I learnt how to be nice to people even if they're absolute shits. And where I learnt to appreciate the incredible sunsets I saw every evening that I worked there.

I love Perth because the school I went to there was so lovely in every way, because when my aunty back in England died suddenly from cancer during exam time, the teachers rallied round and were there for me, and because my classmates gave me hugs and made sure I was OK, baked me cookies, and listened to me sob loudly in exams and didn't complain.

Can you spot me?!

I love Perth because there are so many places where you can be completely and utterly alone. Because if I ever need to run and sit somewhere and just think or cry or laugh, I can do that. I love Perth because of the constant beautiful scenery and array of colours that fill the landscape. 

I love Perth because of the sounds of the crows crowing and kookaburras kookaburra-ing, the smell of the peppermint trees after a storm, and the glowing red-orange sunsets that light up the sky like a painting on canvas.

I love Perth because I learnt how to do something I'd wanted to do for years, I learnt how to sail. I love Perth because three times a week I got to sit on a boat on the swan river and watch dolphins swim past as we sailed around Point Walter, from Freshie Bay over to Claremont. In the warmth of the summer sun my brother and I bonded and realised that actually, we could be close.

I love Perth because it was sailing that gave me my first experience of love, from the very first time he plucked me out of the water with his big strong arms because I couldn't lift myself out, I never knew what was to come or the years we would spend together.

I love Perth because it was the place I experienced a pure young love, the rare kind you get in movies and books. The kind you dream about but isn't meant to last, and the kind you can only have when you're young and foolish and reckless. The kind where you part ways, and years later can see each other again with peace in your heart and the knowledge that what you had was real, but not forever.

I love Perth because of the evenings spent with him laying under the stars by the river, wrapped up in a blanket when it got too cold. Evenings spent driving around being silly and laughing, parking at random places to watch the moonlight shine down onto the ocean. The kind of young love you have where you don't care what you do or where you go, as long as you're just with that person. Just sitting on the beach, or driving into the middle of nowhere just so you can talk for hours on the drive there and back.

I love Perth because it made me grow up pretty darn quickly, it gave me confidence, it gave me happiness, and it helped me find myself. I love Perth because whenever I go back it feels like home. It feels like I'm supposed to be there. And it feels as though I should never leave again.

The ugly laughing face I make when I'm really happy.
Perth to me is special for so many reasons, and no matter how many people say 'it's boring' or 'it's so isolated', all I say in return is 'well I love it'...and when they ask 'why?' I just say 'everything', because ain't nobody got time to tell people everything in this blog post.

And every time I miss it and just want to get on a plane and go back, I read a Tim Winton book or look through my thousands of photos, and it feels like I'm right back there again.

Here's a little excerpt from one of my early diary entries:

The beach was quiet, the water glistened in the evening sun and the breeze swept the cool soft waves over my feet as I sat on the soft white sand and looked up at the heavenly sky. It was a beautiful evening with the birds flying low over the ocean and the odd couple walking the dog. I sat and dreamt of home, and thought how contrasting it was, how I was sitting here in perfection while my friends were probably huddling together at school in the icy coldness of Britain. 

At the moment I'll hopefully be back in Perth for a visit in January/February, until then, I'm just gonna keep reading Cloudstreet and living vicariously through my friends out there. The friends that have stuck with me through thick and thin, even when I was an emotional wreck and a horrible person. Another reason I love Perth - my girls are the best.

And the future? Who knows, maybe one day I'll be lucky enough to get to see my own kids live the life I wish I could have had as a child. Who knows, eh.

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  1. I think this is my favourite posts of your of all times, it was so beautifully written and I could really feel you utter love for the city. Would you think of moving back there in the near future?
    Lots of love,

    SilverSpoon London

  2. I clicked on your link to find out what a quokka was, Catherine! They're adorable. I can really see why you love Perth so much and the feeling of space is something that I could do with in London!

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

  3. This is such a beautiful post! I really hope you get to live your dream and move back out there!
    Gold Dust

  4. This is such a lovely post! I went back and looked at old photos and memories from one of my favourite places and it just fills you with such happiness. I've never been to Perth but I can understand how you completely love somewhere so much and feel like you belong there - I feel like that about Africa. You can really see how much you love the place from this post :)

  5. Sometimes your soul just has a home on the other side of the planet. End of.
    What a beautiful post!

  6. I really want to visit Perth after reading this! It's clear how much you love it there, I hope you get to go back soon :)

  7. What a beautiful post!! You have inspired me to write a similar one about my love for South Africa :)

    This is one of my favourite posts of all time :)

    thejewelbeauty.com | A friendly beauty and lifestyle blog

  8. Such a beautiful post full of some lovely reasons why Perth means so much to you! Sounds like an amazing city for kids to grow up in.

  9. What a lovely post, Luxy, so personal and so heartfelt! I loved looking at your photos, you seem like you really had a fantastic time growing up and growing with the city. And THAT orange sky is ACE.

    Honey x The Girl Next Shore

  10. Beautiful place to visit,i like to spend time,fabulous spot,spectacular snapshots,well written,thanks for sharing us...

  11. There is a lot of love for Perth here - thank you for sharing! First love through sailing - that's my girl!

  12. Such a beautiful post Catherine! I've not visited Perth yet but I was seriously thinking of moving there a few years ago as it just looked picture perfect. You definitely look so happy in all your Perth pics xx
    Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes

  13. This is such a beautiful post, it made me so happy reading it. Sounds like you've had some absolutely wonderful times in Perth. I've never had a place in the world that means so much to me before. Hopefully you'll get to visit in Jan/Feb then!

    The Velvet Black | UK Style & Beauty Blog

  14. I love how beautifully written this is - it's writing like this that makes me feel passion for a place before arriving! Thanks for such a personal account of the city.

  15. What a beautiful post Catherine, I've only visited Perth once when I was (in my opinion) too young to appreciate it but you found the place you belong which is wonderful - would you think about settling down there when the time comes? x

  16. Such a wonderful post, after eight years as an expat...I have moved home to Perth. Today was a spectacular Winter's day...19C, full of sunshine and blue sky. There is a lot to love!

  17. Very jealous! There's definitely a lot to love - I hope I'm able to move back soon. Damn the tight Aussie visa rules, haha!

  18. You never know what is around the corner!

  19. Wow! Perth is my home town. I grew up there and my family are there. Whenever people tell me I should go somewhere or other because of the beautiful beaches, I've learnt not to get my hopes up, because I will always compare it with the beaches of Perth. When people say it is isolated, I think 'yes, its one of those secrets, lets keep it that way'. I'm not living there at the moment, because life has taken me elsewhere. But I love it. Thanks for writing about it so beautifully.

  20. Loved re-reading this - you paint a very happy picture :-) I have family in Sydney but I'm thinking next time I visit them I need to get myself to Perth!

    Polly xx
    Follow Your Sunshine

  21. Ahila Thillainathan03/07/2016, 02:35

    Enjoyed reading about all the reasons why you love Perth and it is home for you. #travellinkup

  22. Aftab Pathan03/07/2016, 10:13

    I love this post so much C! It's actually made me want to visit Perth now. I can see why you have a great connection with the Perth, especially as you have made so many memories there and even called it home once upon a time. I hope you're able to move back soon.

    Fresh And Fearless

  23. Wow, your love for Perth is so clear :) I've never visited but the sight of that gorgeous blue water and white sand beaches makes me want to jump on a plane immediately. Thanks for joining the linkup! :)

  24. Travel w/ Penelope&Parker03/07/2016, 19:32

    anywhere that sailing and love meet - that's a good place in my book!

  25. Perth is a fantastic Aussie city. I was actually born there, so will always have that connection and the suburb name in my passport. I really think the isolation is the only downside, which isn't an awful one!

  26. Sometimes your heart just falls in love with a distant shore - there is no rhyme or reason that's for sure!

  27. I definitely need to go back to Australia and explore the West!

  28. Love your post on Perth! I have just moved 'home' after eight years as an expat. Nothing like the big empty beaches and watching the sun set over the Indian Ocean to soothe the soul! It really is a special place. Will tell the dolphins at Point Walter that you said hi :)

  29. I can't remember if I've been to Perth or not (I travelled Australia as a child because I have family there) but I can see that it's a very special place for you. Will you give me a tour when I visit you in Straya? x

    Posh, Broke, & Bored

  30. Beautiful! This really spoke to my heart. Obviously our experiences are completely different but the theme and the feelings you have about a place where you don't live but you so desperately want to sound very familiar to me! I really hope you get to move back to Perth one day, it's clearly your happy place and a beautiful city as well. I only visited there briefly but I thought it was brilliant.


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