Tuesday 7th March

We woke up early but it was already hot!  The temperature was to get to 35 degrees.  Having gathered ourselves we set off to explore Perth.  Our apartment was on Hay Street which meant that after turning right out of the building brought us into the centre of town.   The buildings are what we have come to expect of Australian cities – a mix of very modern and old colonial.  We first headed off to the Western Australia Cultural Centre passing major earthworks going on around the station area.  

The Cultural Centre encompasses the Library, a theatre and the Art Gallery. It is the sort of Soho of Perth.  Unfortunately the art gallery wasn’t open so we headed back into town, taking in a coffee stop on a major square where children cooled themselves playing in the water fountains (Keith was very tempted to join in!) and a big green cactus – which cost squillions of dollars and caused great controversy we later understood – acting as sentinel on the road. 

Our next stop was the Western Australia tourist office where I have to report a mixed reception.  We met one very nice lady who was all smiles and helpful, and another who was probably the rudest person we have met in all of our travels in Australia.  We were trying to book a tour for Wednesday to Rottnest Island (known as Rotto locally) but decided to abandon this and her and instead head off to the harbour to book the trip there.  
The Queen Elizabeth Quay is really attractive, although there is still quite a lot of work going on there. We booked our ferry and headed off to the Lucky Shag (Keith tells me this is something to do with Cormorants……) for a beer and lunch.  This all worked out very satisfactorily but I wasn’t certain about being sprayed with a haze of water every few minutes – and Keith was very puzzled to be told that there was no beer on tap as it was too hot.  Hmmmmmmm – there was a good view though!

Feeling refreshed by our waterside experience, we headed away from the water – passing the Bell Tower

And the old Law Courts representing very different eras!

After a bit of shopping we headed home to deposit food purchases before setting out for a tour of the Perth Mint. Here we learnt of a different aspect of Australia’s history – that of the gold rush. While gold had been found elsewhere in Australia and started the hunt, in Western Australia, William Ford and Arthur Bayley were the two lucky prospectors  in 1892 who found themselves caught in a storm that surrounded their tent with water.  When they woke up in the morning the water was found to have left deposits of gold behind.

  This major find in Coolgardie heralded a influx of people to the area. Unfortunately people found that having reached the Swan River Colony (that was later to become Perth) they still had a forty day walk to the goldfields.  They employed all manor of transport to get there – camels, bicycles and some just walked pushing a handcart.  Some did not survive.  Some became rich.  What they did do was increase the size of the growing nation.  Overall the number of new arrivals looking for gold exceeded those who had been transported as convicts!

The gold in the mint is impressive – not least the gold coin struck for Queen’s Diamond in 2012. It was huge – 

It weighs 1 tonne and at today’s value is worth $57,543,966.10.  Not to be sniffed at!!

We were also treated to a demonstration of pouring a gold bar – a very hot business! – and were able to touch a very large gold bar, which is probably the nearest I will ever come to great wealth.  

At this point we adjourned to the cool of our cave – the apartment has very efficient air conditioning!

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