Pfirst Perth Post

December 3: I clicked my heels together three times and found myself back in Oz…

Well, it was a bit more complicated than that.  I started traveling on Nov. 26 and arrived in Perth on Nov. 28 – that’s over 12,000 miles and 23+ hours of travel (but I got my upgrade to Business Class and I reached the next status level on United, so yay for me!).  It was a long trip, made more-so by the Virgin Australia delay at Sydney Airport. All I wanted to do was get to my apartment and take a shower – wash off the road dust as my Dad says – but we had to await the arrival of our rediverted aircraft… blah blah blah.  Air travel in the 21st century is not what Buck Rogers promised it would be.  However, once we were in the air, the 4.5-hour flight was absolutely lovely: free movies, free hot meal, and free drinks. I watched 33 Postcards and The Sapphires, the latter of which was just nominated for 12 (!) AACTA awards (i.e, the “Aussie Oscars”).

I arrived in Perth and settled into my first apartment, the Drake’s, a “luxury” apartment in the suburb of South Perth.  Directly across the street is the Sir James Mitchell Park on the Swan River and directly across that is Perth CBD. The apartment was okay, with plenty of space to relax in and a nice TV. Unfortunately, there was no Internet access and so I walked to and from the Hungry Jacks to access the free Wi-Fi there.  Anything to stay a little connected, right?  Next time, I’ll stay for the burger with the lot.  On Monday, I moved into my university housing, where I’ll stay for the duration of my trip.  It’s a cinderblock 1-BR apartment, but it has all of the amenities, including housekeeping service every Wednesday.


Perth skyline, as seen from Sir James Mitchell Park

Perth is the capital of Western Australia and located on Australia’s west coast, just 13 hours ahead of the US’s eastern timezone. It’s very metropolitan and growing rapidly, due to the mining business. In fact, home sales have increased by about 30% in the past 12 months, with home values doubling or tripling (or more); the median home price is $795,000 (AUD).  I walked around Sir James Mitchell park at sunset on Sunday and it was filled with Aussie joggers, bikers, walkers… what you would expect in a country where so many people take up some kind of sport.  Ever obsessed with Aussie wildlife, I stalked the cockatoos.

How do you do, cockatoo? (Well, Little Corella)

While in Perth, I will be working with Fred Jourdan in his argon mass spectrometry laboratory at Curtin University. The objective of our work is to obtain formation ages on the lunar samples that were chemically characterized at the ANU last year.  It will be a full three weeks of sample analyses and data reduction and I can’t wait for the results!

What’s the news down here? Well, there was a 4-m shark spotted near one of the beaches here in Perth. A young boy is missing near Darwin, a probable victim of a croc attack.  The Chinese have purchased 30,000 hectares (~74,000 acres) of prime agriculture land in WA to feed its growing population.  A heatwave is striking the entire nation, with temperatures reaching “tops” of 35-40+ (that’s C) from here to Sydney. Bushfires are expected and people are being warned to not leave children or pets in cars.  Oh – and how can I forget to mention the test matches between Australia and South Africa… that’s a Cricket term, BTW.  I’m pretty sure Australia is losing.  On a happier note, it’s nearing Christmas down here, too, and though I’ll never get used to warm-weather Christmases, it’s nice to see the holiday lights and decorations up on houses and businesses.  Perth will be hosting a holiday parade in a few weeks and I’ll be sure to attend. Send me your wish list and I’ll see what I can do about passing it onto Aussie Santa.

Other Links:
Virgin Australia flight attendants can’t call passengers “mate” anymore
Virgin Australia flight attendants have to take etiquette classes
Curtin Uni’s newest radio telescope

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