Flying from London to Australia is strangely like being in an Anglophone bubble. On my flight from London to Singapore almost everyone on the plane was either an Aussie or a Pomme and even in Singapore airport the signs were all in English and the TV tuned to Channel Newsasia with its role call of the most recent Premier League results in perfect Queen’s English.
After almost 24 hours of travelling it’s hard to believe you’ll end up somewhere English speaking. For that amount of effort, passengers from the UK are usually rewarded with exotic spicy aromas, an indecipherable language and locals wearing turbans, wheeling carts or leading donkeys. We expect something different, exciting, perhaps even scary. But my first few hours in Perth I talk to as many Brits as Australians, check into an international chain (the YHA) and am served a drink by an Irishman. It feels like home immediately.
I joined Two Feet and a Heartbeat’s Eat Drink Walk Perth tour as soon as I arrived last night and found that half the group had lived in London so found myself talking about Enfield and the tube network. Determined to appreciate my location a bit more I drank wine from Margaret River but paid as much as I would have in central London which was something of a shock – the last time I was here an Australian dollar was worth about 40p; now it’s more like 60p.
Everything I pay for seems very expensive but Perth has definitely changed a lot since I was here five years ago. So many cool little bars have opened up since the government made it easier to get a liquor licence and the CBD is a lot hipper than it was the last time I tried to get a decent drink in it. Perth only has a population of about 1.5 million people so it can seem overwhelmed by the backpackers and Brits abroad if you go to the wrong areas (Northbridge, namely) but the city centre feels very Australian and you can almost see the mining money pouring in. This is definitely a city on the up and judging by the number of cranes poking their heads over the skyline, it’ll be a whole different place by the time I come back.