Thursday, 12 April 2012

Island idyll and Test cricket's most remote outpost

More photos and less chatter for you today, as we've had 48 pretty action-packed hours on the Western Australia coast.
Ready, steady, scroll...

Caught the train from Rockingham into Perth. Found a nice spot in Queens Gardens to eat our packed lunch with Cilla and John. Long overdue use of the self-timer function on the camera.

Took a tour of the WACA (Western Australia Cricket Association). It may not be as big or as grand as the Melbourne Cricket Ground or Sydney Cricket Ground, but the WACA has heaps of character and our superb tour guide brought the place to life. In the most remote city on earth, Test cricket has a fitting home for many years to come.

What a great way to chronicle cricketing history. A spliced stump from every Test Match played at the WACA, signed by the players of both sides. England's record there is poor and they even lost in the recent triumphant Ashes campaign.

We were allowed to lead our tour party from the home changing-room onto the hallowed turf. Here we are pictured in front of the old scoreboard, still manually operated.

John casts a critical eye over the off-season square.

The following morning we were up before dawn to catch a ferry from Fremantle to Rottnest Island, which lies 18 kilometres off the WA coast. Upon arrival, our first thought was food and Rachel took the chance to show off her London 2012 hoodie over the breakfast table. Another cafe patron did float the question of whether she was part of the Great Britain team.

We hired bikes and cycled round the island, which offered us great views around almost every bend. There was initially talk of a tandem but separate machines always seemed the sensible option.

Not many people ventured beyond the commercial hub of restaurants and shops surrounding the ferry docks, so it wasn't a great surprise to find this stretch of beach completely deserted once we had pedalled for a few kilometres.

The island was named after these little fellas, quokkas, who people originally mistook for rats. Hence 'Rattenest' and now 'Rottnest'. We came across several of them by the side of the road; they are about the same size as rats but they hop like kangaroos.

My new swimming shorts got an airing. Stopped for lunch on another beautiful beach and went in for a dip. Needless to say, there were no games of bat-and-ball at the water's edge.

Great view. And look at the ocean...

Of course, we couldn't leave without a round of mini golf. The course was a bit scruffy, however, and we weren't on top of our game. To compound matters, we found ourselves stuck behind a group of 'youths' who insisted on playing music through their phone speakers as they went round. When exactly did headphones become extinct? I almost smirked when their playlist reached Chris Brown's 'Turn Up The Music' but I think the irony may have been lost.

Rottnest was well worth the visit. The beaches in the quieter corners of the island could have been postcard spots in the Caribbean, although the more heavily populated areas veered closer to a Butlins or Center Parcs atmosphere. Still, you expect that in the school holidays: the price to pay for marrying a teacher.

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