|Charlotte and Joe on the beach at Rottnest Island.|
As many of you will have been aware, Charlotte's parents and brother came over to visit us in Western Australia in October. Yippee! It was fantastic to all get together and see them all again, and for us to have a little 'taste of home' for a short time. Liam did a sterling job of continuing his 9-5 whilst partying each evening and going away each weekend, and Charlotte managed to sneak the odd night shift at work to pay the bills!
The highlights included:
A weekend trip away to the Margaret River, where Charlotte and her parents embarked on a winery tour and Liam and Joe hit the beach (and a brewery). The winery tour was interesting and amusing as we learned about why Ozzie wine is so strong, and Dad tried to enjoy drinking white wine (and failed). The top wines we had included a chilled sparkling Shiraz and a white Port. Yum! Liam and Joe went to Bootleg Brewery, 'an oasis of beer in a desert of wine', and enjoyed a tasting paddle. Sat in the beautiful surroundings of their beer garden (it's pretty much in the middle of nowhere). Margaret River is a funny little town mainly catering for the tourism industry which has been created due to the wine region being so good around here. The River itself is less than impressive (think more babbling brook) but we had a great time on a campsite there; Mum, Dad and Joe in close quarters in a cabin and Liam and Charlotte in Eric the Econovan. We also had a walk along the coast, and saw some kangaroos on the way back, and were treated to an entertaining spectacle of Kangaroo boxing - punches in the nose and karate kicks galore, tremendous!
Another weekend trip was to Rottnest Island, visible from Fremantle on a clear day and accessible by boat. The island used to be a prison and has a lot of Aboriginal history because of this. There is one 'settlement' on the island containing all of the accommodation, shops etc, and the rest of the island is gloriously unspoilt, it's car free roads great for cycling. We all got bikes and whizzed round the island, before going back to the most pristine beach for a bit of snorkelling. The weather was amazing while we were there but unfortunately this did attract a rather substantial amount of flies! The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing in the garden, barbecuing and drinking to our hearts content.
We spent lots of time around Fremantle, showing the Parkers the Fremantle Arts Centre, fish and chipping at Cicerellos, breakfasting at Fidels (eggs florentine – swoon!), beering at Little Creatures, $7 beering at The Monk (scarily the most bargainous drinking option going, nice beer brewed on the premises but bad hangovers!) and walking up to South Beach.
By the end of the visit Liam and Joe were BBQ extraordinnaires, and we had enjoyed an array of BBQ delights including burgers, sausages, chicken wings, steak, halloumi, veg kebabs, salmon, tuna and prawns, not all in the same meal! We also showed them around our local area, walking along the beautiful beaches of Mosman Park, Cottelsoe and Swanbourne up to the Naked Fig for a coffee and huge slab of cake.
We did a night tour around Fremantle Prison – a very informative and humorous guided tour around the old prison at night.
Of course lots of days were spent at the beach, swimming in the sea, and watching Joe swimming and being followed by an eager seal that he was utterly oblivious of (despite about 10 people on the beach excitedly pointing our to it and the lifeguard practically jumping up and down with glee!)
We also met up with Charlotte's Dad's second cousin, Helen, who now lives in near Perth – small world! While up that side of Perth we visited Perth Aquarium (AQWA), seeing all the creatures we hoped not see in the sea. Our favourite was perhaps the sea dragon, Google a picture of it – it's bizarre!
For Charlotte's birthday we went out for a curry not far from where we used to live with Bruno, after starting the night with a couple at Little Creatures, of course. On the actual day of her birthday we had a lovely brunch before heading off to Margaret River.
On our last evening together, the family produced an early Christmas present for us! It was an absolutely massive Esky, perfect for filling with beer and food and ice and throwing in the back of Eric (our campervan) for weekends away. An amazing present and one that we've already made use of and will be invaluable when we hit the road proper in March! Massive thanks to Dad who brought it back on public transport, most probably looking quite absurd (it really is huge).
And in the blink of an eye, almost three weeks had passed and it was time for them to go. Although it was sad to part ways again, we look forward seeing them again in February (and everyone else of course!). But for now, back to the grindstone to save up for our future escapades!