I’ve been living in this great Southern land for more than a year now, and the tipping point for what feels like a dream has been reached.
With any big change the new ‘reality’ feels completely unreal — this is particularly true if you leave a dark, cold and rainy London and find yourself in sunny Perth.
However, there comes a point where the balance shifts and it’s now what was there before that doesn’t seem quite real any more.
This Aussie adventure of mine is about the lifestyle more than anything. Sure, living in a city in Australia isn’t so very different to living in a city in England — but then it’s the small things that make the difference.
Fish & chips and the sunset
Small things like eating fish and chips at Scarborough beach and watching the sun set over the Indian Ocean — or just getting out of work promptly on a scorching hot day to join the rest of the population swimming in the ocean to cool off.
On any particular day, you will find people swimming in the ocean and playing games on the beach until it gets dark.
Or the lifestyle is things like the annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibition started at Cottesloe beach, and though it’s spread east to Bondi beach and internationally to Denmark, it feels very WA — the setting sun adding an extra element to the art works.
Not just beach…
The lifestyle is not all about the beach life, either.
With friends, we meet up each month for a BBQ in a different spot in Perth — from Leighton beach, to the river foreshore, to Banks Reserve, and Kings Park: going for a picnic every month is something I couldn’t dream of doing in the UK. Unless you didn’t mind having your picnic inside the car or in the rain. And most people in the UK have done both of those things on more than one occasion.
A short drive out of the city takes you to national parks where you can see koalas (they’re not native to WA, it should be noted, so don’t expect to just see them in all parks) and kangaroos.
You don’t even have to travel to see kangaroos — at dusk they will be hopping all over your nearest oval. I hope that the small thrill of seeing koalas and kangaroos doesn’t get ever old — except for the kangaroos that jump into the road when you’re driving.
A longer drive north of Perth will take you to the Pinnacles, but even when you’re standing on a hill in the desert and admiring the rock formations, you can still see the sun glinting off waves not far away.
Driving south from Perth takes you through forest and down to Busselton and its famous jetty, and on to the vineyards of Margaret River — where people will go for a week or a weekend and decide to never leave.
Shorts and thongs
I still stand out as a stranger, here. Although I find myself unintentionally saying words like “thongs” when I mean “flip flops”, and greeting friends with “Hazzitgawn?”, other times I am very conscious of how posh and English I sound when I ask “Please may I have…” instead of the more Aussie “Can I grab…” and being caught off guard when someone asks me “How are you travelling?” when they mean “How are you?”
Summer is waning in Perth and it reminds me of the best times of year in England, when it’s warm and fine. Although I know that winter is on its way and our house has no heating and very little insulation, it isn’t like there will be wintry things like ice, frost or snow in Perth.
Life here has tipped over so that now 30-something years in England now seem like the part that’s unreal.