Hanging around in Perth: and I'll be here for a while

26 November 2010

I’ve etched “bike tourist”, “occasional Kiwi” and, err, “one-time boy wonder” on my current business card, the “business” for this itinerant cyclist is advertising the address of this website, a guide to Outback Australian bike touring, cycletrailsaustralia.com.au that I’ve cobbled together while in Perth.

Like many Kiwis who lob into Perth intending a short stay the attractions of the world’s most isolated city grow on you. Those weeks rapidly mutate into months/years. There’s a bit to like.

First, well, maybe for your typical South Island New Zealander, used to days of rain and cool conditions year round, is the outrageously glorious weather. Admittedly Perth has the same gale force winds as NZ but those endless days of sunshine have a certain appeal. And springtime temperatures in the high 20°s (80°F+) everyday also has its merits. Winter lasted all of 15 minutes.

Then there is a great 80km Sunday circuit along Perth’s northern beaches, from Ocean Reef to Freo, city style on the sporadic bike paths. While the trail is occasionally vague it’s hard to get lost with the ocean rumbling at your shoulder. The weekend crowds slow you down and the headphone wearers can unpredictably lurch across your path but for the most part the track is wide enough for all types. Between the popular beaches Scarborough and Cottesloe you can crank up the pace and unleash some energy. OK, so the beaches are famous for the Great White shark attacks, one already this season, a diving instructor munched on her posterior, but the beaches are magnificent and well populated, maybe even a couple of hundred surfers out if the swell is up. And summer is swinging around.

Another, sensible shoes, reason is that the Perth economy, or Western Australia in general, is truly cranking due to the China and India induced mining boom. I found a job, hired over the phone: turn up Monday. Now a couple of months on I’ve found a comfortable bed, my own without the close companionship of 5 backpackers, less than a kilometre from the office.

Making hay while that sun is shining.

Reason four, which kinda tips the balance, is the outrageous exchange rate: the Australian dollar is worth $NZ1.30. Make cash here and it’s immediately worth 30% more in NZ, how good is that?

Yeah, I’ll be here for a while before I make that return bike trip back east via Cape York. My aim is to eventually return to NZ on a permanent basis but when you are in Paradise, and know it, what’s the rush?

No hurry at all.