We had received mixed reviews of Perth from friends and looked forward to making up our own minds on our first visit to Western Australia. It is so different to Sydney or Melbourne, the only other places we know. Noticeably more laid back, it has miles – and miles – of glorious beachfront along its coastline.
And it’s true – be afraid, be very afraid of those deceptive western waves. They look like gentle Atlantic rollers but are occasionally powerful demons. On our last evening, feeling brave we swam in fairly rough seas and I got tumbled over and over again like the rinse cycle in a washing machine. It was terrifying not to be able to get to your feet nor take a breath. Exhilarating for certain but a stark reminder of the dangers of the sea.
Also we were warned to keep an eye out for sharks. The beaches are patrolled but nonetheless you have to be wary. One of our group saw a shark at her end of our stretch of beach; fortunately we did not. Thanks to the increased protection of sharks their numbers are increasing which is excellent but means they are moving closer to shore.
Although Australia is a young nation compared with other cultures, there is an admirable pioneering sense of achievement. I loved the way women were honoured at the beautiful Kings’ Park and Botanic Gardens overlooking the city where views are spectacular by day or night. Fifty-three brass plaques are embedded in the pathway through the Water Garden to mark the contribution women’s groups have made to Western Australia. They were installed in 1999 as part of the centenary celebrations for Women’s Suffrage in WA. One plaque honours the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
In another part of the park, there are two beautiful sculptured limestone walls by the Greek born Australian sculptor, Athanasios Kalamaras. They depict women at various stages of life. and commemorate the contribution of women to the development of WA from infancy to maturity. The memorial was originally named Minmara Gun Gun, an Aboriginal word meaning “A Place Where the Spirits of Women Rest”. In 2000 it was renamed Yorkas Nyinning, meaning women’s resting place, to respect the association of the local Nyungah people of the region.