We returned to Perth on Saturday via Pemberton and the Gloucester Tree. This may not sound very exciting but believe me it was! We climbed up this tree 61 metres tall on metal sticks which someone had ingeniously shoved into the side of the tree. They were about a foot and a half apart and very thin, and there was no safety measure to speak of! Climbing it was great fun, but the thought "what the hell am I doing" did keep running through the mind.
This time we stayed on the coast just south of the city, almost in Fremantle. On our first night we tried out the Cottesloe Hotel but it wasn't the paragon of wonder we had been led to believe! On Sunday we went to Fremantle which was a bit like Covent Garden on a sunny day, lots of street performers and families out for the day. The famous Cappuchino Strip is packed with cafes and restaurants, and the markets were really varied. It's basically a great place to empty the wallet! We found a microbrewery called Little Creatures where we could sample the delights while sitting right beside the vats of brewing beer. The beer was lovely - almost as good as the real thing, and the place had a great atmosphere. We could happily have stayed there for a few weeks!
On Monday we went into the city and got our lovely old banger back from the garage. Helen and her mum shopped then we headed to Northbridge to find food and more beverages. We went to the Brass Monkey which served beer from the Matilda Bay Brewing Co. located just up the road from our flat. It too was very tasty - especially the Dogbolter! The place also had a proper wine bar with loads of local stuff, some of which we recognised from our few visits to some wineries around Mount Barker and Albany.
On Tuesday we spent a long time in the car to go and see the Pinnacles north of Perth. They were well worth the long drive, very surreal and unique. They are basically columns of limestone sticking up out of the desert, but there are literally thousands of them like some kind of sci-fi forest!
We went down the coast to Bunbury on Wednesday to go to the Dolphin Encounter Centre. We went out on the swim tour which lasted about 2 hours, where we saw about 30 dolphins in various groups. Some even swam under the bow of the boat right underneath where we were standing, it was incredible. The point of the cruise was to get into the water and hope the dolphins would swim up to us, sadly they didn't come very close but we did hear them 'talking' to each other underwater and see them in the distance. One did come for a quick visit, and it was worth it to get out there with them anyway.
On Thursday we went on the ferry over to Rottnest Island. This is where people from the city go for their holidays and it was immediately obvious why. Only a few miles from the skyscrapers it's a real oasis, no cars are allowed so everyone has bikes, and there are dozens of amazing white beaches and little bays. We did a bit of snorkelling but compared to the Reef it wasn't that exciting, I think we've been spoiled! We spent the day riding around from bay to bay doing nothing in particular, it was a very relaxing day and the weather was perfect.
Friday was mum's last day so we walked around Cottesloe in the morning (in more rain!) and went into the city for a last night on the town! We returned to Northbridge and the Brass Monkey but this time had dinner at Hog's Breath Cafe (a very Aussie place!) and then went on to the Universal Bar or House of Jazz and Blues, for a few drinks and some live music.