Here we are in the Golden West, where the suburban trains are fresh and bright, the roads free of potholes and level crossings, and the verges free of rubbish and discarded appliances… and Western Australia’s mineral royalties just keep on rolling in. What’s more, the sun never stops shining. Who needs Melbourne, anyway?
This must be our 12th home exchange to date, and we find ourselves settled in an immaculately-kept home right alongside the Perth-Fremantle railway. We have also taken advantage of our hosts’ holiday bungalow in the South West seaside town of Dunsborough, half an hour from the much-hyped wine region centre of Margaret River. Slick cellar doors made less impression than the awesome surf beaches of the Indian Ocean coast and the luxuriant wildflowers of Cape Naturaliste.
And as for roadside verges – in eastern Australia the accepted euphemism is ‘nature strips’ – in this part of Perth, some householders compete to plant theirs out with the State’s celebrated endemic wildflowers, extending their private gardens onto the kerbside with kangaroo paws, everlasting daisies, vermilion-red banksia bushes and varieties of ground-hugging grevillea.