Thursday, 26 March 2020

Always a Travel Writer: A Guide to Perth by 16-year-old Me.

With the Coronavirus outbreak forcing us all indoors, I've been doing very life-adminy tasks in my spare time. One of these has been sorting out my multitude of external hard drives containing precious photos and videos from the past almost fifteen years of my life (yep, some of the files I've kept since I was 14 years old). Anyway, I was sorting through a folder the other day and stumbled across a word doc simply titled 'article'. I clicked open wondering what it was, and was shocked to find 'Perth: The best places to shop, eat, surf, beach, swim etc', that I had written on 3rd October 2007 - a month after I started high school there.

Me in the Australian bush in 2007


As a teenager I used to write random stories and articles all the time just for fun with no intention of ever publishing them anywhere, and as I had moved to Perth mere weeks before it was written, I guess I thought I would write a guide to Perth, that then stayed hidden away and forgotten about for 13 years. Well, it's hidden away no more! I've decided to make 16-year-old me very happy, and publish it here on my travel blog (as a 16-year-old I NEVER thought I would have a travel blog someday, let alone write pieces about Perth for big publications like Red Magazine!).

The grammar isn't perfect, the spelling isn't perfect. But I really wanted to publish it without editing it, so please excuse the errors. It made me laugh reading it and seeing what was popular back in 2007 (Uggs for example). I also clearly only had one thing on my mind: Australian men, haha! Also, I was clearly always destined to go into a career in writing and SEO (how funny that I managed Tourism Australia's Global SEO account for 18 months), because the entire article is SEO optimised with clear headings and subheadings!

Me at the top of our road in 2007

So without further ado, here is a Guide to Perth, written by 16-year-old me in October 2007...

Perth: The best places to shop, eat, surf, beach, swim etc.

I started coming to Australia when I was 7 years old, nearly 10 years ago now. I don’t remember much from that first experience, and what I do remember is now unimportant as the country has changed so much. Lets just say, it has grown and adapted to the modern world! I’ve never actually been outside Western Australia, but have been all up and down the west coast. I moved to Perth, WA, 5 weeks ago, and have settled in with the way of life nicely! The people are great, the beaches are great, the guys are hot and the weather is fantastic. Last Saturday it reached up to a high of 30 degrees C, and it’s only the beginning of spring here. 

We had the chance to move here a few years ago, when I was 13, but at that age I wasn’t ready, I was only just finding my feet in Secondary school and had all the usual questions running through my head, ‘What if we don’t come back!’ ‘What if everyone forgets me’ ‘What if no one in Australia likes me!’ So we didn’t. But last year, I felt I was finally ready for something new. A new way of life, new people, new friendships, a new experience. The type of experience that I’ll remember for the rest of my life, and hopefully never regret! 

We visited Aussie land in Easter 07 to look for schools. I didn’t like the idea of going to an all girls school (what on earth is the point of moving to Australia, if you’re not going to meet Aussie guys!?) so eventually we decided on the Catholic co-ed one at Mt Claremont, it was my perfect school! It felt right, I felt the warm vibes you feel when you’re looking at houses and you know you’ve found the right one, I felt at ease, comfortable, as if it was meant to be. 

As we said goodbye to family and friends and boarded the plane, I was unsure if we were doing the right thing. But in my heart I knew we were, after all it was only for 2 years, it wasn’t forever. When we touched down at Perth airport, I could feel my heart warm with excitement, and couldn’t wait to find our own house and start school, yes that’s right; I couldn’t wait to start school!! I actually WANTED to start school! 

On my first day I met some of the kindest and most welcoming people I have ever met, everyone was fascinated by me, and for some reason they all loved my accent and kept asking me to say Scone, because I say it Scone where as they say it as if it were spelt, Scon, if you get what I mean! I felt settled after the first couple of days, and loved every minute of meeting new people and learning about their way of life. They taught me about the best places to shop, eat, surf, beach, swim etc etc. 

Shopping

The town of Subiaco (north of the river) and ‘Garden City’ in Booragoon (south of the river) are the best places to shop, with the little boutique shops in Subi, and the department stores housing the usual designer gear in Garden City (note to self; must buy those ultra cool ‘Bonds’ fashion underwear in Myer and David Jones). 

Eating

Subiaco and Fremantle are the best places to eat, with their little cafes and smart restaurants. Fremantle has a really good brewery restaurant called ‘Little Creatures’ where all the gap year students tend to eat, drink and work. I also found two incredible little cafes, one on Floreat beach and one on City Beach, both overlooking the crystal clear ocean and golden sands. If you ever get the chance to go to City Beach café, I advise the giant Silk Chocolate Truffles, heaven! 

Surfing

Trigg beach and Scarborough beach are the best places to surf! Before you jump to conclusions, don’t panic! Scarborough beach is nothing like the English Scarborough beach, this Scarborough beach is pure heaven, complete with the perfect beach lifestyle and hot surfers to go with it! 

Places to go

Rottnest Island is a must see, even if it’s just a day trip! The best beach there is Fays bay, but watch out for sand flies around midday, they can give some pretty nasty bites! On Rotto they have Quokkas, which are little marsupial animals that come out in mass at night and are very tame so you can easily go up (if you’re gentle and quiet) and pet them. If you go up by the lighthouse at night you can see the Milky Way, which is pretty spectacular, make sure to use a very slow shutter speed on your camera though, and make sure to take a small tripod if you want a good photo of this rare view.

Along the West coast, are Karri Valley (where the Gloucester tree is) , Albany (both down south) and Coral Bay (up north). Driving across Australia is fascinating, whether it’s counting dead Kangaroos along the side of the road, stopping off in a little old colonial town that seems like a horror movie when you step back in time, or driving through bush fires. It’s the little things like that that you remember and treasure. 

Coral Bay is incredible, you can walk out to the coral, and all you need is a snorkel and mask on you head and you’ll be swimming with the fish in no time! Just watch out for the snapper’s though, they tend to go for your fingers and toes! Various people I know have actually said that they prefer Coral Bay to the Great Barrier Reef, because of the difference between how long it takes to actually get out to the coral reef. 

Now, Karri Valley and Albany are way down south, and on the way to these places, if you drive through the red dirt tracks and through the farms and homestead then you can easily pick up a pair of REAL UGGS, for less than $150 AUD (around £65)!! Everyone say YAY!! Uggs actually originate from WA, and so therefore the only real ones available in the world, are the ones actually from WA. So basically the ones you buy off the sheep farms. 

In Karri Valley you have the Gloucester tree, which is the tallest tree in WA, I think…! You can climb up it, and when you reach the top you get a certificate (you may now be saying ‘oooo a certificate, yippee’ but every certificate helps in life ya know!). Also at dusk you can drive around and see Kangaroos ‘boxing’ in the fields. 

Albany is breathtaking, literally! It’s fairly small, but it’s beautiful! One of the best beaches there is Goode Beach, white sand and turquoise ocean. There are also various vineyards you can visit and take tours and go wine tasting. 

Lingo

Don’t make a fool out of yourself by thinking Woopwoop is a real place!! It is not! It is a word they use for ‘In the middle of nowhere’! Also out here they call flip-flops, ‘thongs’ so if you see, ‘no thongs’ on the outside of a café/restaurant it means, no flip-flops! 

Travelling, Sport, Helpful tips and Wildlife

If you’re travelling round Australia you might find Route 1 useful! It goes all the way round (just cutting off a little bit somewhere)…and back again! Also don’t be afraid of the wildlife, I have never seen any snakes or sharks, and the spiders are fine as long as you don’t touch them or disturb them! 

If you like sea life, you can swim with wild dolphins at Rockingham and also go diving etc at Coral Bay and round Rottnest. Go to Trigg beach for surf lessons and DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT leave your shoes outside at night (unless they’re flip-flops)!! If you do something very nasty and dangerous will crawl into it and in the morning you will get a nasty surprise when you put your foot into the shoe! Food and drink are generally cheaper out here, and so are some items of clothing depending where you go. Trips and activities are also much cheaper than what they would be in the UK. 

Most of all HAVE FUN, and don’t worry about dangers the whole time, coz it’ll ruin your trip, just be sensible when it comes to the wildlife. Perth city is only worth a day’s visit, it’s only really one street and just has a Myer (department store) and souvenir shops. Kings park is a great place to go for picnics and a BBQ on the beach is compulsory for all visitors out here, big lol! Also you can visit the football (Aussie Rules) stadium in Subiaco, which is home to the AFL 2006 premieres team, West Coast Eagles.

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