SWANCON AND NAFF II
by Edwina Harvey
(First published in Edwina's LiveJournal on 17 May 2008.)
PAWS FOR THOUGHT: So, Day 2 of my trip to Perth started early - about 6am Perth time- with the Vet ringing me from Sydney to talk about Keely. She repeatedly said "Yesterday wasn't a proper consultation." as we talked about Keely's predicament. I didn't like the idea that she'd be "caged" (my understanding being she'd be relatively confined - able to turn around, but that was it) for the duration of my abscence. I suggested my neighbour " collect her and take her home. The vet advised against this, said Keely was in a "run" rather than a "cage" and talked about alternative, less intrusive treatment for her. The vet suggested anti-inflammatory medication, followed by a course of Cartrophen. This was a course of action I was happier with. After doing a lot of worrying since leaving Keely at the vets, I got off the phone feeling greatly relieved, and sure that I could finally begin to unwind and enjoy myself.
Seeing as how I couldn't get organized to go on a horse and carriage tour of the Swan Valley wineries the day before (There was a morning tour running that I could have joined, I was told when I phoned up. No cruise from Perth, but they could pick me up from the Guildford Railway Station. I was thinking of times and distances by Sydney standards - expecting Guildford to be 2-3 hours away by train...I educated myself about differences in Perth distances *after* I'd hung up the phone to the horse and carriage tour operator!) I opted to take a cruise out to Rottnest island.
Coming from "Summerless Sydney" I lapped up the hot sunny weather as the boat passed big iron carriers (I presume) all anchored
off shore. Western Australia is blooming from the minerals boom.
I grinned as I realised I was sailing on the Indian Ocean. Wow! Haven't done that before!
The map I had for Rottnest Island offered a "Tea Rooms" I entertained thoughts of High tea (a recurring theme in my life of late!) or possibly cream buns while the ocean rolled by and Rottnest Island came into view.
Disembarking, and seeing the crowds lined up to book things in the visitors centre (and the women lined up to use the ladies loos) I decided to set off on my own explorations, map in hand.
Rottnest Island has few cars, offering a shuttle bus service to get to various hubs on the island. There's also a train line that runs along the centre of the island. If you're after independent travel, theirs "shank's pony" (your feet) or bicycles (BYO or hire.) I soon got the hang of looking *all* ways for bicycles before stepping onto the road!
I hit their "shopping mall" first, looking for a public phone. The helpful lady in the post office/gift shop showed me where the phones were (opposite direction to the shopping mall.) I left a message for my Swancon room-mate, Lucy Zinkiewicz, letting her know I probably wouldn't be at the con hotel until 7pm. Then I decided to give "The Tearoom" a try.
The venue offered a nice restaurant that overlooked the bay, but no mention of "High tea" on the menu, though you could get tea or coffee and cake. My illusion was shattered, so I decided to have an early lunch instead, getting a take-away fish and chips, sharing the very generous portions with the local seagulls and a passing peacock *then* remembering I'd seen a sign about not feeding the birds. Oops!
After that I continued exploring rhe immediate area. Wandering around the back of what had been the Governor's mansion (Now *that's* my idea of a shack by the sea ; - )) I glanced into a courtyard and caught sight of my first Quokka - the small marsupials that the island is famous for. I took a few photos, but thought my camera wasn't working until I found the photos later. Trust me, you're not missing out on much if I don't show them here! They're of the "See that little brown blob in all that shadow?" variety.
I discovered where the train station was. (But you had to book tickets back at the Visitors Centre.), generally got the lay of the land, and was surprised at how quickly I slipped into "holiday" mode, content to just wander around, browse at shops, live life at a slower pace.
The Rottnest Is "Shopping mall" got a more thorough investigation. They had a Subway, a Red Rooster, a Bakery (no, they didn't do High teas eaither!), an expensive clothes shop, a gift shop, the post office/gift shop,(my favourite!) a supermarket that included a liquor store, and a chemist, from memory. I thought it was just the right size to suit the influx of day visitors and holiday makers who stay in the various cabins dotted around the island. It'd be nice to go back there and stay overnight sometime.
With plenty of shade providing relief from the noon-day sun, I wrote the first few of many postcards, stared across the ocean, and generally chilled out.
There's a glass-bottom boat that tours the nearby reefs and 2 wrecks. Like other island features, I'd read up about this, but wasn't sure if I wanted to do a reef tour or not. We'd walked past the boat as we'd all walked up the wjarf onto the island, and now I wondered if I took their 2.30pm tour would I have enough time to catch the ferry back to Perth?
Plenty of time! they assured me when I strolled down to the Visitors centre to ask. The Reef cruise runs for about 40 minutes. So I booked a ticket on that, and spent the intervening time wandering barefoot along the beach, paddling in the waves, then having a siesta in a shaded picnic area.
The Reef cruise occassionally spots dolphins and dugongs. That would have really made my day, but I really enjoyed being below water, and seeing all the reef fish. There were a few hanging around the bottom of the boat even while we were still tied up to the pier. Once we'd headed out a way we were surrounded by schools of fish - flashing silver and darting in and out. It was terrific! There's something mesmerizing about being under water, even when you're not. I get a similar enjoyment from going to aquariums and watching the fish swim past. And these "walk through:" aquariums are a blast! My mind just shifts gear and I relax.
We had good views of two wrecks (Good news, no lives were lost on either of them!) and I filed the experience away for future reference, though I don't know if I'm likely to write a ship-wreck story any time in the future.) The Reef cruise was right up there with my high-lights for the day!
There was still enough time left after I'd got back to Rottnest Island to go questing for a drink. I headed for "The Dome" which I'd passed by in my quest for The Tearooms earlier in the day. Talk about names being deceiving! The Dome had a very good supply of cakes, biscuits, coffees, teas, cold drinks, you name it. I bought a Lemon, Lime & Bitters, and a wickedly indulgent chocolate slice and headed out to their balcony where I soon caught a flash of movement...a Quokka doing the rounds of tables also on the lookout for afternoon tea! See the photo! (when I put it here.) Much better than the morning's efforts!
After that I caught the boat back to Perth, but I didn't quite seem to catch the deluge of people leaving the city centre for their Easter break the way I did when I went to Perth for my first Swancon.
I bought a few edible supplies at a convenience store, reclaimed my bag, and got a taxi to Northbridge. Let the Swancon commence!
I got out of the taxi to see a sea of strangers all talking at tables in the hotel's veranda. Cat Sparks must have been people watching, because she saw me. Lucy Zinkiewicz spotted me as I crossed the foyer and headed for the reservation desk to check in.
Yes, the hotel staff had been quite understanding about her sharing a room with me, and had given her a key (um, swipecard) to the room when she'd booked in. No she hadn't been sitting tired, hot and sweaty, waiting for me to arrive for hours. That was a relief!
Lucy showed me to our room, then took on the role of gracious hostess that she plays so well! "You look tired. Would you like a glass of water? How have you been? What did you do today?"
It's been years since I've been mothered, so I just lap up Lucy's very genuine and warm hospitality, remembering what a great time we had when we shared a room with Monissa Whitely at ConJunction in Brisbane a couple of years back.