West Perth, Australia

West Perth, Australia

“A skip [outside an art college] is like a pot pourri of broken dreams.”

Grayson Perry there, I can’t recommend his Reith lectures enough, insightful and funny, elevating him to hero status for me.

I am all the way out West. I wasn’t originally going to head for Perth. The Tests are so close together that everyone from Adelaide would have to head out at the same time, so flights were a bit more expensive, and I figured I could skip this one and head east slowly for Melbourne.

Statue of soldier on a plinth and cannon in front, with grass and shrubs all around, in bright sunshine.
Kings park.

But 26.2 running mate Pegs moved out here with his family over a year ago and his invitation to come and stay was too good to resist. It even included a pickup from the airport, which was such a privilege; for the first time in four months I didn’t have to think once off the plane. I was nearly last off, not succeeding in leaving the book I’d finished “sir, your book!” but managing to drop my jumper, “sir, did you leave a black jumper?”. The message was passed on by radio, I was caught just as I got into the airport-by my yellow bag did she know me. Worse, that was the second time I’d left the jumper behind, so I’m very glad Virgin Australia were on the ball. I managed also to pick up my bag almost immediately and move straight outside, missing Pegs – not easy, he’s taller than 91.3% of the population – exploring the car park for a while and helping a local orient herself with the airport before working out that back by the ‘baggage reclaim’ area was the best spot.

Adelaide started rainy and cool, though I didn’t have any realistic hope that it would wash out the cricket, and sure enough got the message that England had completed defeat after an hour’s play. A few signs of life in the twitching corpse, though; they must have acclimatised by now, they managed to bat a full day, neutralising Johnson, who slowed with time, Prior made some runs, Root looked good, they created (and missed) chances even on a flat pitch and are surely going to roll over this Aussie side one innings without a huge increase in luck. And they sound like they’ve now got really annoyed at their performance. Perth is meant to be bad for England, but if they can just win a toss they might yet do alright, just as they’re being written off. I had a ritual walk around the WACA today.

Wide cycle path leading to the tall spire of The Bell Tower
The Bell Tower.

Arriving in Perth after 10, I poked my toe into the city centre, figuratively speaking, before realising I fancied being away from urbanity. Fortunately the largest city centre park in the world, King’s park, is just a km or so away, so I walked away from the centre to find it. It is on top of Mount Eliza (confusingly, there’s one of those in Melbourne, too), giving a great view over the city. To get up there, I followed a cycle track out of town and under two main roads, then had the choice of heading right to the Botanic gardens or left, to Jacob’s ladder. I chose left, found the long long step climb despite it being hidden by some roadworks, and climbed up. I shared that with lots of people exercising, so waited for a group of three to start up. We had a little tortoise and hare moment, two in fact, with my steady climb closing on the girl up ahead, being passed by a bloke on the run and then passing them both with 20 steps to go.

In fairness, they were both repeating the trip, while I could rest my aching thighs by taking photos from the top. I found a track heading along the hilltop and ended up following Law walk. Though without finding out the story behind the name. The highlight was the plant life, of course, closely followed by the views, though the dramatic drops away from the pedestrian bridge were quite something.

And if you’re ever short of a war memorial, there are plenty up there.

I walked down a steep road to the city, along the river bank and round the Waca. It is another ground surrounded by building work. Just 11 flats left – if you could guarantee to preserve my view of the ground I’d take one, what a gift, though it looks as though there are temporary stands – in full view of the sun, ouch – and crumbling ones, due for replacement with something grander. I’m pleased with a day’s walking, particularly as I’m doing less running in the hope of easing some aches and pains. This year has been my highest mileage year ever, I passed 2008’s 2869 last Monday. I was getting close to that total last year, but would have needed a slightly mad December to make it, so I’m glad to get there. I won’t get to 2000 miles, but ought to make it to 3000km, which seems a nice number.

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