It’s been a little over a month since we arrived in Australia, but times been flying by. We just finished Week 4 of the semester, and our Spring Break is right around the corner. I thought that I would have so much free time on my hands only taking four classes and not having any commitments here in Fremantle, but I’ve been able to keep myself extremely busy.
Western Australia is a pretty incredible place. Perth is known for being the most isolated capital city in the world, but there’s still plenty of things to do throughout the region. Transportation is vital for people getting around W.A., so buses and trains are very accessible and cheap. Back home it would cost me $25 for a ten minute train ride into New York City, but here the same ride into Perth costs $1.28.
I’ve been able to make it up to Perth several times now and there’s so much to do. King’s Park overlooks the entire city and has several monuments dedicated to Australian soldiers who fought and died in the Boer War, World War I, and World War II. Perth also has countless numbers of shops, cafes, and restaurants throughout the city that are great to visit during the day or at night. Claremont, Cottesloe, and Subiaco which are in between Fremantle and Perth also have their own great shops, stores, and beaches.
We’ve managed to keep ourselves busy on the weekends as well, and have taken several trips which have helped us explore Western Australia. Our first trip was to Caversham Wildlife Park where we were able to see and pet kangaroos, wallabies, and koalas. There were also dingos, crocodiles, kookaburras, and wombats throughout the park which were also really incredible to see.
For St. Patrick’s Day we went to Rottnest Island or ‘Rotto’ which is a small island eleven miles off the coast of Freo’. The island has an interesting history, as prison for Aboriginals during the 1800’s and then as a German/Austrian-Hungarian prisoner of war camp during World War I, but is a very popular tourist destination today. ‘Rotto’ is very popular for its beaches, snorkelling, and biking trails; which really reminded me of the Bahamas. The island may be best known however for its most famous residents, the Quokkas. I can best describe them as a cross between kangaroos and beavers, who are completely unafraid of humans and will hop right up to you hoping to get food.
Overall though, my first month in Australia was so much better than I ever could have imagined. I’ve been able to make Australian friends in my classes and playing for Notre Dame’s soccer team in the Western Australian Territory Games, and it’ been great getting to go out and experience Australian culture first hand with them. The next few weeks should be equally exciting for us as well, since we’ve booked a spring break trip to Melbourne and the Great Barrier Reef. Once we get back we’ll begin training for the Australian football or ‘footie’ team that we’ve started as international students called the Yankaroos. Once we get a few training sessions under our belts we’ll start playing local teams in the area, while continuing to work with the local South Fremantle Bulldogs club, who are a semi-professional team in Freo.
Things have been incredible though, and I can't wait for what the next few weeks have to offer.