16 October 2003
We tentatively planned to go to Rottnest Island today. It was the only tentatively thing planned on this trip that we hadn't gotten to yet. But...somehow...it's all winding down, we're both "traveled out" and Rottnest just didn't seem that important. I plan to return, if not next year, then the year after, and we can leave Rottnest for that time.
We had a good run at the park this morning. It was a bit of everything--as if the park was starting to say goodbye. We got there to morning mist through the trees, the dogs had a great run, there were spiderwebs, frost on the leaves, and lots of birds in the "bird tree." What's more we had our cameras with us, and Peggy even managed to take a bunch of short movies which she strung together into an almost 10 minute movie of the dogs on their morning walk. It's a perfect memento.
One of the things I will miss most here is the sight of Chippa racing through the bush, jumping over shrubbery, tongue hanging out, ears flapping in the breeze. I've come to really love that dog.
We still have a lot of piddly details to do--computer stuff, and (for me) packing. As I told someone, I have the horrible feeling that putting all this stuff in my suitcase (and the second one I bought) is going to be very similar to stuffing a dozen clowns in a little tiny circus car. I may have to send stuff back.
So, faced with a mountain to pack into a molehill, I did the only logical thing: I went out and bought more stuff.
Despite the fact that I've been here so long, I haven't really been in Perth proper. I've skirted the edges, I've been to the zoo, I've been to the mall, but really hadn't seen Perth. I also thought I might like to go back to the mall and get a few last minute things.
We started at the famous (new) bell tower, which books will tell you is Perth's premiere attraction (though there may be some disagreement among disgruntled citizens, who feel it was a waste of money). The Swan Bells include the twelve bells of St Martin-in-the-Fields which are recorded as being in existence from before the 14th century and recast in the 16th century by Queen Elizabeth I. The bells were again recast between 1725 and 1770 by three generations of the Rudhall family of bell founders from Gloucester in England, under the order of the Prince of Wales who was later crowned as King George II. They are one of the few sets of royal bells and are the only ones known to have left England. From one of London's most famous churches, in Trafalgar Square, the St Martin-in-the-Fields bells have rung out to celebrate many historic events.
England's victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588, the homecoming of Captain James Cook after his voyage of discovery in 1771 and the World War II victory at El Alamein in 1942 are just a few of the momentous occasions marked by the bells. The bells have also rung in the New Year at Trafalgar Square for more than 275 years, and have celebrated the coronation of every British monarch since King George II in 1727.
Commemorating Australia's bicentenary in 1988, the twelve bells of St Martin-in-the-Fields as well as five specially cast bells were presented to the University of Western Australia, the City of Perth and to the people of Western Australia.
The London diocese of the Church of England and the parish of St Martin-in-the-Fields gave authority for the project to proceed. The additional bells cast in 1988 include two from the cities of London and Westminster, who each gifted one bell to the project, and a total of three bells bestowed by a consortium of British and Australian mining companies. Completing the ring of eighteen bells, a sixth new bell was commissioned by the Western Australian Government to mark the second millennium.
The above bit of background came from the bells' home page, which I didn't read until after we returned home, so I didn't know all of that. What I knew was that the bell tower was situated smack dab in the middle of Tourist Central, and we headed for the shops (since the parking ticket machine didn't work and we only had an hour). Instead of paying $6 to enter the bell tower and climb the 6 flights of steps as far up as you can go, we spent most of our time in the shops buying the aforementioned last minute things, and stopping at a take-away to get sandwiches for lunch.
But we did hear the bells ringing, and sat on a bench in front of them, eating our sandwiches and fending off obstreperous seagulls, all of whom were, again, skreeching "Mine! Mine! Mine!"
The time on the parking ticket up (no meters here; you buy a ticket and leave it on your dashboard, even on the city streets), we drove some more, and Peggy took me to the grounds of the hospital where she works. I was very glad to see it because it's much larger than I imagined and it's nice to have things all in perspective (I now also know where Monty works and where Janne works.)
I realized I was leaving this city whose symbol is a black swan, without ever seeing one here. So we stopped by a park which was filled with black swans, ducks, signets, and other birds. The one thing I just love about this place is that it seems there is a park every couple of blocks, all spacious with rolling green hills, beautiful trees, very few people, and lots of wildlife.
In the evening we went round to Monty and Carolynn's for tea. Carolynn had spent 2 hrs preparing a special seafood pie, with muffins for dessert. I had heard so much about these two before I came here and I've been delighted to have the opportunity to meet them and to spend time getting to know them. Our bike ride yesterday will stand out as one of the memorable moments of the trip. It was difficult to say goodbye, but I'm sure I'll see them again.
So having spent a "Swan Lake" sort of day, tomorrow is my swansong day. I've been fighting the weepies for a few days now. But it has been an amazing walkabout and it's time to go home.
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