Perth and Freemantle, Australia

After finally making it to the airport, and after a flight which took just over four hours, we arrived in the city of Perth – albeit Miles and I on separate flights

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I was particularly excited, not just to experience the West Coast of Australia which is a little more off the standard backpacker route, but because I was being reunited with one of my best mates – Imy and her lovely fiancé Mike.

Imy was part of my group of girls from school and we’ve been mates for years and years. When we were in our early twenties, Imy met Mike (an Aussie and a Perth native) whilst on holiday in Vietnam. The rest is history and they now live in the city with their gorgeous dog Daphne. Imy and Mike are getting married in Italy in a few months’ time, so I couldn’t wait to hear all about how the plans were coming on before we jetted off for their nuptials!

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Imy picked me up from the airport and after meeting Mike at their lovely house we decided to get started with exploring. We hopped in the car and drove down to the trendy beachside city of Freemantle – known locally as ‘Free-o’. Freemantle has a really interesting penal history relating to the time between 1788 and 1868 when about 162,000 convicts were transported by the British government to prison colonies in Australia.

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Many convicts were transported for petty crimes, while a significant number were political prisoners. More serious crimes, such as rape and murder, were punishable by death, and therefore not transportable offences. Once emancipated most ex-convicts stayed in Australia and joined the free settlers, with some rising to prominent positions in Australian society. However, convictism carried a social stigma, and for some later Australians, convict origins would be a source of shame. Attitudes became more accepting in the 20th century and it is now considered by many Australians to be a cause for celebration to have a convict in one’s lineage. Interestingly, around 20% of modern Australians are descended from transported convicts!

Freemantle prison, referred to as ‘the establishment’ was the main convict hub in Western Australia and became pretty notorious. The Prison was a place of hangings, floggings, dramatic convict escapes and prisoner riots. Inmates included imperial convicts, colonial prisoners, enemy aliens, prisoners of war and maximum-security detainees. Nearly 10,000 convicts passed through the ‘establishment’ between 1850 and 1868!

Nowadays there aren’t any convicts in Freemantle and the area has a very cool laid back, quirky arts vibe to it! The four of us drove into the city for a wander. I hadn’t seen Imy and Mike in yonks so we had loads to catch up on! We stopped off for a bite to eat at a cool South American Asian fusion restaurant called Don Tapa in The Mantle; an old warehouse which has been converted into a brilliant foodie hub!. We sat outside in the sun with a few drinks and lots of delicious sharing plates – it was fab!

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Having stuffed ourselves, we hopped back in the car and made our way to the Little Creatures Brewery. We settled here for a couple of hours and enjoyed tasting the delicious beers on offer – it was a SUPER cool spot.

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That evening we drove back to Imy and Mike’s having had a guided tour of the city en route before stopping off at the fanciest supermarket ever; the Boatshed Market in Cottesloe, to get supplies for dinner. Can you imagine if we could get amazing produce like this at home?!

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Mike cooked us up the most incredible meal of Steaks with all the sides, we had a fab evening drinking wine and learning the very addictive game of bananagrams! It was so nice spending quality time with these two and we couldn’t wait to catch up with them over the next few days.

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The next morning, having slept amazingly in Imy and Mike’s incredibly comfortable guest room (NOTHING like a campervan) we grabbed coffee at Ims’ before driving into central perth and stopping off at Mike’s office to say hi. Imy had set aside the day to walk us around Perth and give us the guided tour. I must admit, I knew very little about Perth so couldn’t wait to see what it had to offer.

Imy took us down into the main central hub of the city (via a quick stop off to check on Mike’s suit for the wedding). We wandered around all the main city buildings and took in the scenes down by the waters edge. The weather was lovely and Imy was the perfect little tour guide!

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After stopping for a quick lunch break we headed out of the main city and Imy drove us across to the trendy neighbourhood of Leederville. This cool little suburb is filled with boutiques, coffee shops and book stores – it was such an interesting place to wander around. After a little stroll we stopped off at the Blue Flamingo for a quick drink and an impromptu Daphne photoshoot…!

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That evening, we had a really relaxed time at Imy’s and Mike’s. Miles and I booked our trip up the west coast and we were treated to yet another delicious meal of lamb with plenty of red wine and card games!

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The next morning, Miles and I headed off on our week long adventure up the West Coast up to Exmouth; I’ll write separately about the trip!

A week later, back in Exmouth, Imy picked us up from the centre of town and brought us back to hers for the most amazing meal of pork pho – this honestly was the best thing ever after a week on the road!

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The next day Miles and I were spending the day in Bassendean which I will write about separately.

Back at Imys and Mikes’, it was Miles’ last evening in Australia so we decided to celebrate with a bang!

The four of us headed into central Perth where we met up with a couple of Imy’s friends for an incredible dinner at Long Chim; a brilliant Thai restaurant which is housed in the old state buildings.

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After dinner we embarked on a bit of a pub crawl ending up in a super cool cocktail bar; Sneaky Tony’s where you have to know the password to get in….

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We all had such a lovely evening and it was a definitely fun send off for Miles before he headed back to the UK!

Miles’ flight wasn’t until the evening so we luckily had a bit of time in the morning! Growing up, my cousins back in London had a Croatian au-pair; Zrinka! We all knew Zrinka when we were younger and the families have all kept in touch. Zrinka and her husband, Roger, moved across to Perth from London a few years ago, so we knew we would have to meet up for another Perth reunion!

Miles, Zrinka and I headed to this amazing brunch spot called Sayer Sisters in the Northbridge area of the city. It was so nice to catch up with Zrinka after all these years and it was fab to hear about their life over in Australia!

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After brunch, Miles and I wandered around the neighbourhood, popping into the beautiful shops and stopping off for a coffee out in the sun.

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That afternoon, after dropping Miles off at the airport, Imy, Mike and I went on a little jolly, stopping off, as you do, at the local petshop to admire (try to persuade Mike to buy) the cutest little puppies. Our pleading didn’t work; although Daphne did receive a fabulous new harness so she off course was the winner here…!

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Later that afternoon, Imy and I hopped in the car and drove across to the Kings Park for a little wander. The park was absolutely beautiful; although we could not get over the CROWDS of people playing Pokemon Go! which had just been released in Australia. Imy and I had a wander, walked Daphne, before heading back to the house and making dinner of meats, cheese and the most incredible blue cheese gnocchi! One particular memory of this evening; Miles had obviously left Perth and so I had the bed to myself. Imy offered me a sleepover with Daphne, which was great, until we realised it’s a VERY bad idea to let your dog try blue cheese gnocchi (uh-hum **Mike**) – enough said,

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The next day Imy and I were spending our last day together by driving out of Perth and visiting the Swan Valley! I was super excited!
We had SO much fun in Perth and were spoilt rotten by our incredible friends and their amazing hospitality! Perth was full of reunions, school friends, old family friends and even a group of relatives who I had never met before – it was DEFINITELY memorable. What a place!

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