The following morning we rose early and headed back to the airport to pick up our campervan and return the rental car. It took a good two hours to go through the paperwork, the usual sales pitch for "better" insurance rates, etc. The van is small but nicely laid out and we will only be using it as a sleeping space for about half the time.
We could have opted to rent camp chairs, a table, linens, and such. Rental company wanted $180 AUD for the package. We opted to pass and went to Kmart instead and purchased everything, plus an ice chest, and a tarp and poles for an awning...and we saved $60 AUD. At the end of the trip we will donate it all to a local charity thrift shop.
With more than half our first full day already used up we decided to head into the city center and visit the Art Gallery of Western Australia. We spent some time there viewing a really great collection of local art and were impressed at the quality of the collection and the design of the building.
At the end of the day we followed through on an invitation to visit some Facebook friends we met in Sydney two years ago. They have a lovely home in a northern suburb of Perth and it was great to enjoy their hospitality. They are an attractive, accomplished couple with two beautiful and talented children. We enjoyed chatting about Western Australia, getting some great tips, and firming up plans for our coastal adventure. Stephen is a collector and was very proud of his F-14 ejector seat. We hope we will see them again along the way and extended an invitation to come stay with us in Seattle upon our return.
On our second full day we had a big plan...however we also noted that the tires on our van were shot. After a call to the dealer, surprisingly and without any hesitation, we were sent to a local tire shop for a full new tire change out and alignment. That took up a lot of our day but considering we are driving offroad in a few days, we didn't complain.
The afternoon saw us in the town of Freemantle. A quaint and very historic town from the 1800's a site of the booming fishing industry for years. There we toured the maritime museum and walked along the waterfront and among many of the historic buildings in the city. We stopped at a pub in the middle of the Notre Dame university district for a beverage before heading back home. On the way back we stopped once again at a home improvement store and bought a few more supplies to finish our awning project. A bit overkill to be honest but we do have six weeks and it is going to get hot in those RV parks...and the van does not have air-conditioning in the main cabin. It was a long day.
After our tour we drove the "wine country route" up one side of the Swan River and down the other. Lots of vineyards lined the way. Then is was up into the high country to visit John Forest National Park and walk the railroad trail. The Swan View Tunnel was a nice surprise. When we reached the water falls there was not a drop of water to be found. However the four mile hike through the hills was great. At the end of the day we stopped once more at the local market to complete our bulk supplies, load up on things we were told we won't see in the bush, and came home to relax once more in our lovely apartment.