Australia: it’s a big place

This blog is part of Homemade Kids – from June-August 2011 it’s partly a travel story from Lola and Nell

NELL: Australia is really amazing! We are staying with Dad’s sister, Auntie Pam, and we have to take a bus and a train to get to Perth. On the first day we were here we decided it would be good to visit King’s Park (botanical garden). It was very impressive – it was huge and free and they also had a walkway about the height of the trees’ branches which meant you could see birdseye views. We also saw some beautiful, noisy birds in the trees. They are extremely colourful (red, blue, green, yellow on the Lorikeets) and the magpies are very different from English ones – black with white patterns on their heads and bodies, and with longer beaks. The trees are all different as well, it’s strange not being able to identify them. There’s one tree, I don’t know it’s name, the bark feels so smooth you could hardly know it was a tree. Most of the trees with white trunks are gums (eucalyptus) not silver birches, it’s strange. Australia is really nice, and really different.

LOLA: I really like Australia because of the wideness, the big feel of it.  Flying over it was really interesting because we flew over the Great Sandy Desert – the first desert I’ve ever seen. It’s kind of annoying though as you have to drive for ages if you want to get anywhere (we haven’t got a car so it’s a bus and train ride from Aunty Pam’s to Perth). We went to see Fremantle Prison which was really interesting. It was built by convicts (mostly from London at the start, in the 1860s). You could see the ghost of a woman in the chapel – the only woman to be hanged there. It’s a World Heritage Site, that’s interesting as most of the ones I’ve seen before have been landscapes.

Best thing I’ve done so far is paddle in the Indian Ocean at sunset.

NICOLA: Today we met Pete’s first cousin once removed who is the abbot at a Buddhist monastery near Perth. He told us many anecdotes. One was how he used to run a class for prisoners at Fremantle (until it was closed in 1992). Some of the prisoners were in for 20 years and they found the lack of open spaces really hard – everything is small rooms. I guess for anyone used to the huge Australian landscape this cabin fever must be even more painful.

We all went for a walk down to the beach and stopped near a crowd of galahs (white and pink parroty looking birds) because three primary school boys were doing a fundraiser selling jelly snakes for A$2.50. (Tell me why haven’t I ever got the girls selling sweets by the roadside for their school, one for the ideas book?!) What a strange sight we must have looked to those kids: four Brits, one cold Ozzie wearing layers of jumpers (that’s Aunty Pam) and a Buddhist monk with shaved head, brown robes and sandals…

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