Western Australia: The Way Down

We left Exmouth to head South, stopping at Carnarvon again, this time meeting the campsite Manager who was such a stereotype of Australian Machismo, he made Mike feel positively Feminine.


‘4 hours driving a day? Is that all? When I go home to visit Ma, I drive 19 hours straight, stopping twice for coffee’

Well done, Mick*. I expected him to tell me how he also skinned Roos with his bare teeth, but his 9 year old son misbehaved at that moment, so he pulled him out of the swimming pool by one arm, clipping his ear in one fluid motion. I wouldn’t have messed with him either.


The next rest stop was at Geraldton where we met up with the Murdochs again, making ourselves the scourge of the campsite by sitting up all night drinking wine and listening to music. It’s been a long time since I felt the heat of angry morning glares from other campers, so it was nice to revisit that old familiar feeling. *sarcastic face* 


With hangovers in full flow, we drove South to The Criterion hotel in Perth, leaving a day to explore the city we had previously felt lukewarm about.


Just driving into the place it felt different. Approaching from the riverside area, it was much grander than what we had seen when we had come to the Central Business District (CBD) previously. It had more character and as we turned up a road, we saw the Spider set up and gasped when we saw it- such a contrast between the neat skyscrapers and the industrial alien-like tripod.

Perth Library

Perth Library

Our hotel was just opposite a church and the library, which thrilled the boys. We don’t have any religious leanings, but they LOVE a church- wherever we travel they delight in sitting in the place and soaking up the atmosphere. We walked around and I tested my Theology A Level by trying to remember who was who in all the stained glass.


After lighting a candle for Nanny Kingswood, we headed to the Library. A beautiful, brand new building that made you feel dizzy when you looked up at it. We were welcomed by staff who couldn’t do enough to make us feel at home: the boys couldn’t wait to get involved. We haven’t been using books too much as they are too heavy to carry around, relying instead on downloads on the Ipads.


Seeing a building full of real, life paper books was exciting- and we easily spent 3 hours inside the building checking out the Kids National Geographics, playing with the stuffed animals and playing CBBC games on the free computers. Way to spend a day for free!

St Georges Cathedral, Perth

St Georges Cathedral, Perth

Dinner was at a Malaysian food hall, where we managed to all eat for $20- and after weeks of sausages, what a treat for the tastebuds. We spent the walk to Arcadia talking about the food- I couldn’t stop talking about the food. My belly was so happy my soul was singing. And THEN I heard it.


The sound of the bass was echoing up the street, and I realised it had been along time since we had heard any decent music LOUD. We danced down the road, butterflies in stomachs. We couldn’t get there quickly enough. I am always surprised when they find my name on a guest list- but it was there (bless you, Karen!) and we skipped inside.


For some reason tears sprang to my eyes- the boys just stopped and stared, it was like a reunion with an old, dear friend. I felt such pride that my Glastonbury/ Bristol family had succeeded in bringing the Beast to the other side of the world. Teenagers skipped around us, unaware of it’s significance. Not just a show- but one that managed to fuse dance music, pyrotechnics and acrobatics with the political. Aboriginal culture had been (for the first time?!) successfully married with a 15 metre high futuristic post-apocalyptic version of a spider alien- no mean feat, when you think about it...


Karen reminded me that Barry, the Nyungar tribe Elder came to Glastonbury last year and formally invited Arcadia to perform on the land that has just been handed back to him; the CBD. Not only that, but a remote Aboriginal school from northern WA have all been invited to see the show as guests of honour.


The Nyungar tribe did a performance to evoke the spider spirit, which hadn’t been done in front of foreigners since 1902. The aim: to weave a web of togetherness amongst all people. 


The dance was something spiritual and primeval. In light of current world politics, this dance symbolised hope and a furious connection with heritage- how this can exist alongside the Modern and be something more than just relevant. It was an ancient wisdom being expressed in a way that I had not seen before, with a beat that I could feel in my bones. When the beat dropped it was a rush like any I had experienced before- but this time alcohol free! We were underneath a massive alien spider made of recycled jet engines with a backdrop of skyscrapers and extreme wealth and I was moved to tears. Again.


The world can do with more of this, we said. Then we danced our socks off.


Everyone laughed really hard at me when I forgot what happens in the show and started screaming for ‘somebody to do something!’ A member of the public was NOT being abducted by the aliens dangling off the crane, apparently. Who knew?! The security guard who obviously missed the Briefing didn’t, as he was going nuts… and in MY defence, I am usually distracted, carrying small children and standing on a picnic bench trying to catch a glimpse of the show. Still, pretty embarrassing.


After the show we headed back to rest our dancing legs- satisfied and worn out, with a belly full of love for Perth and of course, Arcadia.

Where we stayed:

Details of our Geraldton and Carnarvon accommodation are here

Criterion Hotel, Perth. Very central and 83 GBP per night.

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