I first arrived in Australia at Perth, the capital of the huge state of Western Australia. The region is experiencing rapid economic growth driven by a surge in mining and resources. That makes its capital a modern boom town. The population has grown in the last few years from what used to be a quiet provincial capital. Money flows here…the streets are really clean, there’s lots of grass and free wifi in the parks. Still, most of the city are low-rise suburbs and I got the impression that the gleaning CBD was something that just didn’t belong in such a place.
Just South of Perth is Fremantle, a small and nice town popular for its beach, pubs and cafes.
In Fremantle I had the first opportunity to explore an important element of Australian history: a prison. Actually, English convicts were among the pioneering Australian settlers. Today, many Aussies can still trace their roots to convicts.
Fremantle prison shows what prison life was like in the 19th and 20th centuries. They maintain some of the cells from different periods intact. Well, they got somewhat better with time, but not much. Living conditions in the prison were hard. The guided tour covers all aspects of prison life, from the cells or kitchen to lashes or the gallows, where some of them ended their days.
Moving away from the capital, I spent a few days in a rather different environment, Margaret River. This region is famous throughout Australia and internationally for its wines. I bought a bottle and it was pretty good. Outside town you find vineyards time and again.
All the backpackers I met there were working or looking for work in the vineyards or restaurants in the area. Unlike anywhere else I’ve been to, in Australia 90-95% of the backpackers I meet are working with a one-year Working Holiday Visa. They work in one place for 1-2 months, then continue travelling, settle in another place for other 1-2 months and so on, managing to fund their travels by working. A lot of European youths do that, gaining an interesting life experience while improving their English. Unfortunately, this visa is not offered to Spanish passport holders :(.
But other than the vineyards, Margaret River is also a place with a beautiful natural environment, and I took my time to do some hiking around. I also visited some of the caves famous around the region, with huge stalactites and stalagmites!