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ReportsMonday, 8 July 2002
Karratha --> Mt. Nasura, Perth, Australia This reports contains 27 quality photographs. If they fail to load all at once, just right-click them with your mouse and select 'Show picture'. And of course enjoy the 2,200plus words write up below. Sigh… ;-)
In the previous report about Friday July 5 you could read how I received a free ticket to fly from Karratha to Perth, thanks to Josie Wright at Travelworld. I was also interviewed by GWN for the regional news, which was broadcast on TV that same day.
On Saturday I was the guy behind the computer almost all day, as I really had to work on the end-of-June-reports that I could not write on the road. It took me quite a while to process all those photos and reports, that at the end of the day my head was really stuck in my laptop and I had to call Geoff to get me out of there.
James, the GWN reporter had called Geoff today, to tell him that his report would be broadcast on Channel 7 Perth tonight, so suddenly I was looking at myself again this night.
On Sunday Ron Carey took me out for a ride through his district. He is fairly new as the superintendent and still hasn't seen his entire district since his transfer from the Police District of Perth. That has been a big change. "I ask where the mail is, and I am told that there is no mail," he tells me. "That is unbelievable because in Perth I got stacks of mail to process!" He told his colleagues lately: "I am worried, because I have no worries," explaining that there was always something going on to be worried about when he was stationed in Perth. In the Pilbara Police District not so many things happen.
We visited Dampier again, visit some of his relatives nearby and drove through Roebourne.
Roebourne is probably one of the poverty-stricken places in Australia and it was very discomforting to see. The population exists mostly out of Aboriginal people who have no job and who never had proper education and won't ever have. It's very logic that they just hold up their hand for the welfare money the State supplies to them.
Shops are heavily fenced off and the one and only hotel/restaurant/bottleshop had to close because of all the (domestic) violence it created.
What I saw was terrible. Little kids played on glass covered streets, garden were full with empty cans and houses looked like they would never survive the cyclones that this area is known about. I have seen black people in South Africa in their huts made of collected materials who seem to live better than these Aboriginals.
Roebourne seems to have no life and absolutely no future. Things will never change here, as it would be very hard to change the life of the people whose lost hope has gone on from father to son and from father to son.
Driving out of Roebourne is like leaving one of the most terrible places in the world. Feeling sad. Because it is in one word: sad.
I have to thank Geoff and Debby Reynolds for letting me stay three nights at their place in Karratha (Aboriginal for 'good place', well it is). Geoff is great behind the barbie and Debby made sure that what I ate was healthy. I taught Geoff a few more things about the Internet and made him an addict to this website.
If I look back at these remarkable days, I realize that there was no Shamrock Fruit stall along the highway if Jim had not dropped me off there. I had not seen Dan's pride and joy in the small farm industry and if I had not waved the police car down the road, I'd never have seen anything of this area. Karratha would just have stayed a dot on my map with a name next to it. Unknown to people from another country. I am glad that I am so lucky to have experienced all this.
It only all goes so fast. Before I know I get some other lucky thing thrown in my lap and I can't do much else than to enjoy every minute of it. Maybe that's what makes this website going for me: pure luck. And the faith in people that, I notice along the road, not many seem to have. Everybody seems to be scared of people they don't know, but few know you can actually have contact with them. Like every hitchhiker is an axe-murderer! And how can this mentality be changed in people's minds? I don't know, but I hope my stories do a little bit.
Okay, July 8 now…
Geoff brought me to the airport in Karratha, where I checked in for my flight to Perth at 8.30 in the morning. I flew with Skywest, a former part of the liquidated Ansett Airlines (all the personnel of Skywest got together and bought their company back!) and on board I met the most hospitable crew I have ever seen. The stewards were surprisingly easy-going (not stressed and over-exaggerating their good-mood day) and even leaned over to have a personal chat. With everybody. How excellent, there is no other way to make people comfortable than with personal contact, that's for sure.
The flight to Perth would take three hours and I was surprised that I got a plate of cold food, which I had not expected at all. "Here you go mate," the steward said, "here is your late breakfast or early lunch or whatever you want to call it." And compared with other airline meals I have eaten before I have never seen this much (cheese, bread roll, biscuits, chocolate dipped cake, sliced ham, fried chicken (!), salad, Italian salad dressing and spring water).
A plastic little cup of frozen butter can easily be softened by dropping it in a warm cup of coffee.
Skywest doesn't seem to be an airline that cut backs in the price by removing their food plate and that sure is a good thing!
I had an empty seat next to me and after this early lunch a young lady named Louise suddenly occupied it. Louise's boyfriend pointed at me at the airport in Karratha as that freeloader from TV and Louise wanted to know if that was really me. She was amazed when I told her that her boyfriend was right. Of course I got loaded with questions about my way of travelling and my past destinations.
Every time I gave her a piece of information she gazed ahead of here in moments of disbelief. Funny, but sometimes an occasion like this demands a lot from me. Too many questions can be tiring and it's difficult to understand for people who don't live life like I do, but believe me: it is true.
Lately I met another computer repairman and he totally understood me. He could compare my daily questionnaires on my travels with his own job and he said he wasn't really becoming very happy. You might understand it this way: he repairs broken down computers and people don't really come to his help desk with a big smile and a broken computer. No, sometimes they take their entire pre-loaded anger and aggression of their failing computer and dump it on his desk. Because he is a computer repairman and he just has to go along with it. His smiling back to the customer is just a routine one, but inside - I knew - he was waiting for a person coming up to his desk telling him about the great weather outside and that great footy match on TV last night with slightly mentioning that little problem with their PC. That would be a bit more… life, you know.
I had to point my thumb out to this guy, because he was quite right with all that.
During the conversation with Louise I confessed to her that I was looking forward to the weather in Perth. It's over 15 degrees Celsius less than in Karratha and I couldn't wait to experience some rain again – after months of no rain during my travels.
I arrived that the Domestic Airport of Perth at noon and met up with my first hosts in this big city, Reg and Marijke Simons. "Ramon?" asked a man when I got out of the gate. "Yes?" I answered surprised and suddenly the man pointed his video camera on me and started filming me. I am actually not really used with that… "Welcome to Perth!" the man said, introducing himself as Reg Simons. And to my surprise they were Dutch!
They took me along to their home in the suburb Mt Nasura, 25km south east of the city centre and where I had a foggy view on the skyscrapers of Perth in the distance.
Reg heavily discussed with his wife and me what I would like to see in Perth. They were willingly to show me everything in this with its 163 suburbs (just add a few more every year)!
Perth now has 1,3 million people, but Reg remembers when there were only 900.000 people in this city, when they arrived here twenty years ago.
Reg has been working in the computer industry for [url=www.ibm. om]IBM[/url] and lived a year in America's California, but did not really wanted to return to the economic bad-looking Netherlands in these times. So Reg travelled to Australia in search for a new job and got out of his car in Perth, which he thought would be the best place to live and work and raise their two kids.
He got a job at IBM in Perth, where he became 'redundant' and he retired early in 1992. Now he runs his own computer consultancy agency at home. He told me he sometimes easily spends more than 12 hours a day behind his computers, that busy he is!
Although the Simons had expected me to stay several days at their place (which I didn't know so I had already planned ahead for the coming days), so we agreed together to just drive to the city centre of Perth and have a walk around there.
And what a pleasure that was! After months I was in a metropolitan city again. However Perth ([url=www.perthwa.com.au/perth/citypics/]more photos)is the most isolated city in the world [/url](believe me there isn't much surrounding it), the commercial centre would probably look like any other city. Not that I am so much of a city person, but I like the amount of people.
Better have a few thousand people in a city centre than to feel uncomfortable with six British unexperienced tourists, haha!
And I loved the weather. It's over with the shorts and shirts. It was time for long trousers and wind jackets. At nights a sweater becomes necessary.
Reg parked the car in North Perth and we walked through the restaurant and party district during daytime. When it started raining I couldn't do much else than to stand in it and dance along as the drops hit the street. Finally: rain.
And it's very Dutch rain. It just falls for a few minutes and it's over the next minute. You barely get wet or you get totally soaked. But there will always be sunshine afterwards.
We passed the central train station that splits Perth in halves and ended up in the Central Business District, with the usual skyscrapers, shopping malls and food courts. I immediately perceived that I would not be bored in a city like Perth.
Darn! Maybe I am a city person after all?
Reg, Marijke and me walked through the streets of Perth and I looked my eyes out. Wonderful. Loved this city already! Maybe it is because Perth is not that big as Sydney and not that artificial as Brisbane. And it was very recognizable too. Some parts of the centre easily reminded me of Rotterdam, or of an area in my hometown Zwolle. Stacks of apartment blocks looked like the ones I have seen in Madrid and Barcelona and streets with pubs could only be from London.
We had a drink outside the Moon & Sixpence British pub (Guinness of course!) and drove to Kings Park next. Kings Park is the green patch just southwest of the centre, overlooking the Swan River bay and it actually contains some world wide protected species of plants that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. And it's just a normal public park too.
Reg took me up a high lookout tower, which offered me this great panoramic view on Perth, and it's suburbs. With my list of upcoming places to stay in my hand, I could easily see where I would end up the coming days. Nedlands is around the corner, Peppermint Grove is down there, Leederville is up there and the other ones like Girrawheen and Lesmurdie are all way out there. Wow, Perth is big!
After watching the sunset it was time the return to the humble and spacey home of the Simons. Reg drove his way through the traffic jams that this city has (not surprisingly) and on our way Marijke picked up two giant pizzas for tonight's easy dinner.
After dinner Reg and I both 'locked ourselves up' behind our computers as we had work to do.
What a life computer geeks have, don't they?
Good night Mt Nasura, Perth!