Day one in Australia

Aloha from Australia,

I never finished my thailand blogs, but I wanted to fill you in on my latest adventures! A few months ago I applied for a travel grant from KAUST to attend a conference. After making a list of pros and cons on which to attend, I ended up deciding on ECSA, which focuses on coastal and estuarine ecosystems in the face of climate change. And the best part for me was it’s location, Perth in Western Australia. Since I’ve been a child and before I caught the travel bug, I have always wanted to go to Australia. I don’t think I would have chosen Western Australia on my own so I figured this is the perfect opportunity to check it out. I went to present my poster about sand temperature projections in the Red Sea and how the sex-ratios of turtles will be influenced by climate change. So my research perfectly fit in with the conference theme.

KAUST was able to cover my airfare and hotel costs while in Perth, so I decided to stay an extra week to explore a bit. David decided to take his Eid vacation late and join me as well. We arrived on the 1st of September, and my conference didn’t begin until the 3rd so we had two days together to check out the sites of Perth. We started by walking around the downtown Perth area around Elizabeth Quay. There’s a lovely path along the Swan River that offers a beautiful view of the city. The weather was pretty cold for me, getting as low as 50 degrees F. I’m pretty sure this is the coldest climate I’ve been in for a while. It also made me realize that I’ve been traveling pretty much nonstop since 2014, so it’s been a good four years or so. As a quick summary, my passion for traveling began while study abroad in Turks and Caicos where I conducted Marine Resource Management research (on Caribbean spiny lobster). This also got be stoked on marine science whereas before I was thinking I might want to work in the medical field. Following Turks and Caicos, I returned home Maine to pack up my life belongings and head to Hawaii for the holidays, where my dad had already moved and started work. After a few weeks I went to Tanzania where I studied Wildlife Management for another semester. When I returned it was the summer and I had an internship working for NOAA in Maui. It was probably the best summer of my life getting to explore and live so close to the beach. After the internship I went to Maine to live with the Risbara’s for a bit until it was time to start my senior year of college. I stayed in Pennsylvania while going home to Hawaii for the winter break, and doing community service in Belize for the spring. After graduation Lynda and I did an epic road trip from Maine to California stopping at the iconic National Parks along the way, then shipped my car and belongings to Oahu. In Hawaii when I first moved, I was a nanny for the best family ever for a few months before securing my job at Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology. I went to the Philippines with Kylie and then started my job for 9 months. During this time I traveled to almost all of the Hawaiian islands (except for Lanai) and had such a fun time working. Next it was time for KAUST, and Since starting there I’ve visited 12 countries so I won’t even start to list them. Anyways, as you can tell I’ve been moving around for a while and absolutely loving it.

After waking up and walking around the river side, we headed up to Kings Park botanical garden.IMG_3373IMG_3371 This is a must-see in Perth. There’s a massive park right next to the city with tons of paths and Bush-walk trails. We lucked out because it is the spring here, so all the wildflowers are in bloom.

The entrance is free here so we just walked there from the city and headed to the the visitors center to get a map and advice on the the best trails to walk. We started on the coastal walk Toth a suspension bridge with a lovely view of the river. Many flowers were in bloom so there was a lot to see. We walked maybe around a three mile loop stopping along the way and reading about the plants. We were debating going to the wildlife park but it was too far away to go because it was already about 1 PM when we finished at the park, so we followed the recommendation of a worker at the subway station who said we should head to Cottesloe Beach, and then have dinner in Fremantle.

Public transportation in Perth is relatively cheap and easy. We got a “family day pass” for $12 that allows you on any bus/train for the whole day. We started off on Cottesloe, which has about a 15 minute walk from the train station to the beach. We were pretty hungry when we arrived so we walked along the main road along the sea scouting out the food. Unfortunately food in Australia is extremely expensive. For example, getting a pizza at restaurants is about $26. It’s hard to find meals under $20 but I’m a super cheap person so I try my best. We eventually found an adorable cafe that had vegetarian food. I hate being high Maintenance but most of the restaurants were seafood which makes me sad so I was happy when I found this place. I ordered an amazing sweet potato panini with hummus and other roasted veggies. David got a big sweet potato quinoa bowl and we ate outside and enjoyed the beautiful day. This place even had açaí bowls (for a steep $19) but we decided we would have dinner soon anyways so we opted to walk along the beach.IMG_3478 I had read online that this was one of the best snorkeling/swimming areas in Perth.  Unfortunately I wasn’t prepared for the beach so I didn’t bring my swimming stuff but the coastline itself was gorgeous. And if you know me, you know I love to find shells so I was stoked to see tons and tons of beautiful shells along the shore. I have a hard time passing without admiring their beauty and collecting a few as a free souvenir.

We walked for a bit until we decided to head to Fremantle which was just a few train stops down the peninsula. This is a super cute part of Perth and I highly recommend it if you have time. We found a store that had the cheapest souvenirs that I’d seen, so I did a bit of shopping. There is also an indoor market with all kinds of food stalls and obscure crafts and gifts. This is a main attraction of Fremantle and is a fun stop. I was also super excited to find a Ben and Jerry’s because I have gone almost nine months since I’ve had my favorite vegan ice cream (cookies and peanut butter) so I nearly cried when I saw it as an option. I got a massive ice cream and ate it with a giant smile on face. IMG_3504After walking around and looking at shops we found a vegan restaurant we wanted to try out, so David attempted to navigate us (and we got lost) but eventually we made our way to the Raw Kitchen. It was a bit pricey but the decor was nice and had an emphasis on sustainability that I enjoyed. David got pizza and I got a potato quinoa curry. By this point I was getting super sleepy so we decided to head back towards the train station. But first we grabbed some snacks and a lunch for the following day’s excursion from a 7/11 (everything else was closed). We hopped back on the train and took I back to Perth (~40 minute ride). When we made it back to our hotel room I had a bit of dessert and then attempted to sleep. Unfortunately due to jet lag I was so tired but my body refused to sleep so I watched a bit of television before finally falling asleep at 1:00 AM. Which is we unfortunate because we had to wake up early the next morning for our trip to Rottnest Island. IMG_3517

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