24 hours

December 9, 2007
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What a strange 24 hours in the Ras household.

Last night was the Perth Christmas Pageant, a 2.5km circuit of the city with over 40 floats, numerous marching bands, two Scottish pipe bands, various multicultural community parades, a hotrod parade, circus type bicycles that work perfectly but look as if the rider should crash forthwith and, of course, a MASSIVE float with Father Christmas, Rudolph and all the other nascent biltong on the hoof.

Now, parade was set for 20h30 sharp, late because of the WA Daylight Savings Time which ensures the sun only goes down at around 20h30.

Picture the scene, as a once-off special occasion, all the kids from prams to 12 are allowed to spend a night up with the adults.

Folks stream in from all corners, armed with chairs, blankets [to sit on], eskis [cool boxes], flasks and kids. Tens of kids, thousands of kids, tens of thousands of kids.

The children get pride of place, sitting on the pavement, feet in the gutter. Proud parents perched behind.

All traffic has long since been diverted, the main streets are one massive kids playground.

Hardly a policeman to be seen, no barriers, no health and safety, no over zealous officials.

At 20h30 the parade starts with the weird and the wonderful, followed by increasingly delightful floats and massed marches of various community groups.

Your’s truly was a very reluctant attendee, burdened with cynicism and world weary but after the first float went past with masses of 6 year olds shouting out, “Merry Christmas Everybody”, I was sold and hooked like a trout on Duiwel’s line.

It was a genuinely fun occasion, imbued with the naivite and true awe that only children can bring to an event.

Over 300 000 people attended, with no hassles, no crime, no incidents and all were dispersed withing 30 minutes.

It was fun, it was functional and it was an event in a small city.

So, we wake up this morning to brilliantly clear blue skies, that huge sky effect that one imagines only Africa can produce.

We have a 08h00 appointment at Carine Swamp to hook up with the local Birds WA group and take a gentle meander through the ‘swamp’ for two and a half hours.

The walk starts with a safety briefing – keep your eyes open for snakes, lots of them. Including the Tiger snake and the Brown snake – two of the world’s Top Ten most deadliest snakes.

No snakes but a Nankeen Kestrel was seen to be mobbing a Whistling Kite, never mind seeing the Spotless Crake! Joys abound!

From there we ambled up country, out of the city to the north.

As we meandered past what looked to be a lovely housing community we decided to pop in and view three show houses. Gorgeous and an area that seemed imbued with a “Desperate Housewives” type tranquility and serenity, it was suburbia but suburbia with oodles of attraction.

Moving on, we hit Bushland to the north of the city and strived hard to make the ‘highway’, where you’re allowed to really put foot at the majestic pace of exactly 110 km’s per hour – the maximum allowable speed limit in WA.

P.S. No unlimited speeding fines here – each speeding fine attracts 3 points, 12 points and you are OUT. Never mind any additional points you may have attracted for DUI, dangerous driving etc.

So, we hit the coast 50km’s north of the city and the first order of the afternoon was a dip in the Indian. As we drifted along with a fairly vicious rip, I looked down and a ray no less than 5 foot from one side to the other, with a metre long sting/tail/rod/whatever lazily made it’s way beneath me.

Ever mindful of Steve Irwin, I was out of there like a shot!

{whilst 5 year old kids happily gamboled around the ‘giant’} – Ras 0, 5 year olds 1.

Back on the beach, I happened to look a few yards to our left and, lo and behold, two magnificent sea eagles glided past us and set down on the reef about 40m out. Awesome birds.

Enough of the beach, we had an appointment at 19h30, so we made our way back inland, only to discover a sign reading, “Whatever National Park”. It was too irrestisble, so we headed on into it and landed up at a lake in the middle of the bush. Fantastic birdlife on the lake from Pacific Black Ducks to Yellow Spoonbills.

Just as much wildlife off the lake too as we chanced upon one South African party after another.

Then we rounded a tree and, lo and behold, a veritable feast of kangaroos. Luvverly juvverly.

Back to Perth, rush upstairs, quick shower and we’re out again heading towards the Esplenade for a FREE concert of the West Australian Symphonic Orchestra.

Bring your own picnic basket, chairs, vino etc., settle yourselves down wherever you wish and relax.

The Lord Mayor[ess] opening proceedings and, bang. straight into the performance.

All topped by Puccini’s Nessum Dorma, all against a backdrop of the Perth city skyline, all under a brilliantly starlit night.

Sjoe, it’s been a tough 24 hours in Perth! ;-)

{P.S. The highlight was watching 5 South African surf skiers demolish the Aussies in their premier event!]

{P.P.S. I’m finding it impossible to go into the sea here without thinking of sharks. Big sharks. Big sharks with gaping mouths. Big sharks with gaping mouthes and no dental problems. Yet the sea is constantly alluring and I love being in the ocean. Sharks 1, Ras 0.}

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9 Comments

  1. avatar Rasputin says:
    December 9th, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    The 10 deadliest snakes in the world

    2 – Eastern common brown snake

    4 – Eastern tigersnake

    —————–

    We’re not east, by any imagination, but those are two very prevalant snakes here in Perth.

    Imagine that, think of the deadliest snake you know, maybe a boomslang or cobra or spitting cobra.

    Uh huh, they ain’t got nothing on these beauties!

    On our first walk around the lake behind us, we came across two Tiger Snakes – on ONE walk!

    WE now walk, or cycle, with trepidation.

    Geez, the 4th most deadliest snake lives literally right behind us and is known to wander into this complex.

    Then again, we have a South African shop less than two clicks from here, one that sells potjies!

    Plus, every supermarket sells boerewors, most sell biltong and droewors.

    Rooibos is abundant, essentially you can get whatever SA treat you want, from Peppermint Crisp to Chakalaka.

  2. avatar cab says:
    December 9th, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    sounds bloody great!

    actually its at time like this i need to ask wtf i am doing in this shithole, its -2, bucketing it down with rain and the only snake in town is in my broeks and its not even deadly.

  3. avatar Rasputin says:
    December 9th, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    the only snake in town is in my broeks and its not even deadly.

    Comment by cab — December 9, 2007 @ 6:04 pm |Edit This

    Don’t be modest now, Cab!

    Seriously though, it’s chalk and cheese in terms of lifestyle – AS LONG as you’ve done the cultural thing in Europe! Architecture, art, history.

    If those are ticked, come home to the Southern Hemisphere, it’s where we all really belong.

    I spend an inordinately amount of my time these days in shorts, t-shirt and slip slops.

    And if it all gets too much for you and you need a culture break – go to Europe for heaven’s sakes! Just for 3 weeks, you’ll see more than living there for 3 years.

    However, you’ll spend more time going to Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, French Polynesia, Bali etc etc etc Japan.

    And Perth is an easy ride to Johannesburg.

  4. avatar cab says:
    December 9th, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    sounds very nice, it really does, culture thing i will be done with in 2 or 3 years, only so much one can handle, want to go back to SA, but seriously considering Oz, wonderful lifestyle and have some very good pals there (sydney).

    think u might have inadvertantly found a very nice place in perth with all the SA things and its rural nature – shorts, t-shirt and slops – really do miss that. perth sounds even more laidback then CPT

  5. avatar skopskiet says:
    December 9th, 2007 at 8:18 pm

    12 users online on this site and no one is saying a g’damn word, you telling me they all just perusing and reading everyone else’s bunkum posts? Without saying a thing?

  6. avatar redj says:
    December 9th, 2007 at 8:47 pm

    What!!!!!!!!!!!

    No load shedding, power outages, broken robots, stolen man-hole covers and floats with at least 5 ethnic talisman.

    Strange that Ras describes a life so normal, yet it should sound like a fairy tale hither.

    For we are all of the same flesh and blood, why then can and does it not work in our beloved Africa?

  7. avatar newbokshields says:
    December 10th, 2007 at 12:35 am

    I also had a wonderful weekend.

    Woke up Friday for a walk on the beach in Uvongo. Back the Freestate had a stopever at Nottingham Road where we ate what must be the best scones I ever tasted. Back in the Freestate I spent all day today in a strikingly beautiful Clarence with the kids playing on a rusty tractor whilst we read the newspaper eating some very good cheese and meat varieties.

    Perth sounds lovely. Would however not change this for anyting.

  8. avatar Rasputin says:
    December 10th, 2007 at 12:47 am

    Clarence is a lovely place.

  9. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    December 10th, 2007 at 1:51 am

    Glad you’re taken to WA… every part of Aus offers something different but all corners equally awesome (barring some burbs outside of the cities)… it truly is the lucky country…

    Back to the snakes… I have never seen more than I have in QLD… where every walk (I kid you not) with the MIL’s dogs yields a Red Belly Black… or worse a King Brown in Summer… I’m no fan…

    Ras the Freo Arts Fest should be pretty soon (if it hasn’t been already)… well worth the train ride from Perth… and well worth hanging around till dusk… when out of nowhere Bangrah dj’s and dancers suddenly erupt and the street party starts… strange…

    Although WA is the psy trance state…lol!

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