Arriving into Perth, the temperatures dropped quite a bit and I started to feel cold for the first time in months. It is actually amazing how a couple of hundred kilometers can shift weather patterns from a two seasons’ climate (“wet” and “dry”) to four seasons. So here I am in an early spring day, using my sweater from Mongolia again. But then, the sun is actually out and the skies are blue. If I would be blunt, then I might say that Perth hasn’t changed much over the period of twelve years since I last visited. But that might offend locals and I think that I spotted a couple of new streets, sights and store displays. The bell tower being the most obvious new tourist sight.
During my stay, I bought a new camera, since my old one was suffering from a couple of mechanical problems. I went through sand storms and the poor “old lady” (as I called my Sony Cybershot DSC W200) had more and more difficulties to take decent pictures – or even open its lens cover and extend the lens. Although I got attached to this pocket sized camera, the 3x optical zoom had always been a bit of a let down – especially when taking landscape pictures.
Therefore, I was looking for something more substantial, without the need of having to carry around a single-lens reflex camera and its various lenses. I am simply not that much interested in photography. So I went for the Sony DSC H50. Going for this model of Sony, I’m able to reuse all equipment (memory stick, charger, batteries and cables).
With a 15x zoom, it really does a descent job in framing the parts of the landscape that I like. Wish I’d bought this camera before. There are a couple of nifty things that are real improvements when taking pictures: The tilting display, shutter speeds up to 1/4000 and direct access buttons for features I would have to go through deep menus on the old camera.
Unfortunately, there is also useless stuff that clutters the menus. I don’t need a smile detector (needed in case the photographer goes brain-dead while taking the picture) or an infrared night shot mode (can’t remember when I last wanted to take pictures inside a dark cinema).
I did a side trip to Fremantle, south of Perth, which would give me some possibilities to try out this camera. This is the place where people from the big city hang out on week-ends. It’s the kind of shiny, well groomed and sterile Disneyland which usually puts me off. This time, I was so busy taking pictures and trying out that fantastic new zoom lens, that I honestly did not have time to see the city.
After a couple of days I left Perth to fly to Melbourne and visit Jace and Ania with whom I had travelled through Mongolia earlier this year. The journey with the budget airline “Jet Star” was smooth. Since all budget airlines provide similar qualities in-flight, I definitely do value the parts of the trip which really matter: Check-in was professional, swift and very friendly. I did not have to wait too long for my luggage upon arriving in Melbourne. Thus, this was a perfect trip meeting my needs.
Another budget carrier is “Tiger Airways“. I flew with them out of Bangkok to Darwin (via Singapore). They ask passengers to be two hours prior to the flight at the airport. However, since their check-in counters open only 90 minutes before – having only two clerks handling a full load of passengers for a A320 Airbus plane – I hardly enjoyed that trip. It seemed to me that I was queuing all day long with them.
After arriving in Melbourne, Jace and Ania welcomed me at their new home. I was given some insight into the local night-life and food. The current hype seems to be “Parma” which looks like an italian “Piccata Milanese” except that you would find chips underneath the meat (instead of pasta). I knew “Parma” from the famous “Parma Ham” (or Prosciutto) – however since everybody ordered this, I went with the flow. And it was tasty, a huge portion and inexpensive. This event showed me, that I probably missed out a lot of local food, just because Australians love to label food differently.
Obviously, the stay in Melbourne was very nice, although all places I wanted to visit (the railway museum and the tram museum) were closed. But Jace and Ania took good care of me and it was a bit sad that I had to leave so early after staying there for only two days – but the travel has to go on. Armed with information from Jace (and other Kiwi backpackers I met back in Perth) about New Zealand, I boarded my flight to Auckland. But that’s another airline story to tell…