The celebrations lasted long in to the night (and some into the morning) as
thousands of sun burnt poms celebrated this rare win at packed boozers
around the city. We celebrated at a pub just across the road - which was
just as well - and joined others in re-enacting the highlights of the days
events on the pitch. Exact details are, unsurprisingly, hard to recall but
I do remember that at one point it was my turn to be Devon Malcolm and I
started my run up from the pavement across the other side of the road, much
to the amusement of several onlookers - but not to the taxis that had to
brake to avoid yet another drunken pom!
The win had really ignited enthusiasm and soon everyone's attention turned
to the fifth and final test in Perth - a few days and 1,700 miles away. We
had already booked a flight back in Sydney, so were ok, but apparently there
was now not a seat to be had. Greyhound had put on extra coaches but they
were full up too. The Indian-Pacific train which runs across from Sydney to
Perth via Adelaide was also sold out. Tim Rice, big cricket fan and
lyricist, famous for his work with Andrew Lloyd Webber, paid Australia Rail
to put on an extra carriage. Everyone it seemed, wanted to go to Perth.
Our accommodation of choice was the usual self catering affair and was
spacious and cheap. And hot. An enclosed balcony absorbed the scorching
southern sun all day sending the temperature into triple figures (in old
money anyway). Sure, you could open the windows but then you were deafened
by the noise of the eight lane highway just below. Still, as I said, it was
cheap, and it was close to the cricket ground too.
The cricket. Hmm. After the excitement of Adelaide there were high hopes of
an England victory and in levelling the series at 2-2. By the end of the
first day however it was clear that the game was only going one way. England
couldn't hold their catches and the Aussies piled on the runs. We stuck with
it until the fourth day but it was pretty depressing to watch England
capitulate again. Our time in Perth was limited and we had plenty of
sightseeing to do.
One of our days was taken up with a visit to Rottnest Island about 12 miles
off the coast of Fremantle which is again about 12 miles from Perth.
Discovered and named originally by the Dutch, the name translates to Rats
Nest. Now the Island is not inhabited, as the Dutch thought, by rats but by
Quokkas, small cat sized creatures not unlike a Kangaroo. Rottnest Island is
one of the very few places in the world where they are plentiful. They are
very friendly and not at all camera shy as you can see.
There is a bus service and essential service vehicles but the island is car
free. The humble bike is the method of transport for visitors to the island
and the island is manageable this way. At the time, in true skinflint style
we went for the single speed option. If you ever get over here, pay a little
extra and get bikes with gears - there are a few inclines and your legs will
It was incredibly hot too, at least 40 degrees and our water supply soon ran
out. Predictably we were about as far away from the shops as was possible so
desperate measures were called for. Toilets were dotted round the islands
but all had notices warning us not to drink the water from the taps. Well,
we ignored that but soon discovered the reason for the notice - it was salt
water. Eugh! Fortunately, the shops were not as far away as first feared.
The rest of our time was spent doing the usual touristy things - a visit to
the Perth Mint, the old Fremantle Gaol, and day trips to the scorching
beaches along the coast where the sand was almost too hot to touch.
It was time for our flight back to Adelaide, then to join the Indian Pacific
railway for the 27 hour trip back to Sydney. We'd booked a shuttle bus to
take us too the airport and he got us there with literally minutes to spare
- no kidding, they were ready to pull the air bridge back. Thankfully they
still let us on - just as well it wasn't sleazy jet!
We overnighted in Adelaide, then boarded the Indian Pacific the next
morning. Economy class was the choice of carriage and the set up was much
the same as the Ghan. We got talking to one of the crew who told us that
when the train went over to Perth, prior to the cricket, the England fans
drunk it dry - there wasn't an alcoholic beverage to be had apparently!
We saw our first wild Kangaroos whilst on the train, the highlight though
was probably the following morning as we climbed slowly through the Blue
Mountains, ambling past lots of little picture postcard stations on the way.
If I recall right, we had just over a week left in Sydney before our time in
Oz was at an end. The weather wasn't great - as you will see from the photos
it was grey and dull for most of the time - except ironically on the day we
were to fly home.
We spent a lot of time on the ferries in Sydney harbour. Armed with a weekly
travel pass you could get to all the nooks and crannies in the harbour
without worrying about the cost. We went over to Taronga Zoo on the North
Shore, Manly Beach, also on the North Shore, which, had the sun been out it
would have looked fantastic (particularly with some fit tanned torsos to
ogle!). Ditto Bondi Beach as well, although at the time it did look a little
run down. We found a delightful little area called Cremorne Point, again
over on the North Shore. You can sit or lie on a grassy bank overlooking the
harbour and watch the comings and goings of the various cruise and cargo
ships set against the backdrop of the city centre and the opera house.
Fantastic, but all the time there was this nagging feeling that shortly all
this would be over and we would be going home.
Our last night was spent, predictably in a boozer - the Midnight Shift in
Oxford Street, where our journey had kicked off so many weeks ago. The music
was still pounding, the beer was still flowing and the guys were still good
looking (well some of 'em).
I am not ashamed to admit, I shed a tear or two as we got back to the motel
that night. We had had a fantastic trip, eye opening, character defining and
damn good fun. Knowing that it had (as all good things do) come to an end
made us both feel pretty hollow. We vowed though that night that we would
come back again and see more of this wonderful country.
And we did.