The main thing we wanted to see in Perth was the Swan Tower and its bells from St. Martin in the Fields (see earlier post.) and by the time we got to the tower I thought post would be titled “Perth – meh.” By the time we left on the train back to Fremantle I was more enthusiastic.
We got off the train at the Westminster St. Station and followed the arrows to the Swan Tower. On the map it looked like we would be walking through pedestrian malls and arcades. They were pedestrian and they were malls but they were a string of modern shopping centers connected with sky bridges. Walkways carried us over streets and we could look down and see some older buildings incorporated into the giant shopping malls but a shopping mall is a shopping mall. Finally a sign for the tower directed us to an escalator. We had arrived at Queen Elizabeth Quay, which I thought would be an open green space. It is not. It’s a noisy construction site building more mall, condos and offices. It looked like when it was done it would swallow the Swan Tower.
But the tower redeemed Perth, both because we had such a good time and because from the observation deck we could see some older sections of Perth through which to ramble on our return to Westminster St. Station. We were dismayed to learn that the tower would have to put in baffles to muffle the sound of the bells because some of the Queen Elizabeth Quay buildings will have floors right at the level of the bells.
After a delightful visit with St. Martin’s Bells we went to a café on the bank of the Swan River. The folks sitting next to us were talking about a cruise they had taken to Southeast Alaska and earlier trips driving the Alaska Highway. We got into a conversation. The two couples traveled together a lot. One was from Adelaide and one from New Zealand. They were upset because the last time they had been to the tower it was surrounded by green space that is no more.
They had just completed a road trip across Australia, through the outback and described some of their adventures. I told them about how much we enjoyed Adelaide. The man wished we could be back and talk to some folks in Adelaide because he says Adelaide doesn’t have much of an opinion of itself. He thinks highly of his town,. His main problem is kangaroos getting into his garden. “They are real Pests.” He asked us if we had pests in our yard. We mentioned the bear and how our neighbor carries out the garbage armed with a gun.
He said: “From our time in Alaska we have learned three things, talk to an American about guns, religion, or the man in the Whitehouse.” So we proceeded to talk about guns. (A little background, after a mass shooting in Port Arthur, Tasmania the Conservative government worked out an agreement in Parliament to buy back guns. The agreement included restrictions on semi-automatic and automatic weapons, set a 28 day waiting period, and required background checks. After the restrictions passed there was a drop in gun deaths, including suicides, murders and accidental shootings. There is no proof of causality but the circumstantial evidence is strong.) Being a country with a lot of bush and a lot of hunting in that bush, people still do have guns, including the folks we spoke with. He did not think the restrictions were onerous.
While we were talking Suzi shouted “Is that a truck load of camels?” Indeed it was and the discussion turned to camels in outback Australia. It was a wonderful way to take up part of the afternoon. When we went our own ways Suzi and I had enough time to walk back to the train station by a more pleasing route than through a shopping mall. Our impression of Perth improved.