Perth - one of the most remote cities in in the world - is 12 hours ahead of Boston and probably as far as you can get from our home town. It may not seem far from Sydney, but it takes just as long to fly there as it does to fly from Boston to California. It's also an expensive city. Companies have to pay people a lot of money to move to such a remote city so wages are high as are hotels, food and everything else. In fact, Perth currently has the highest cost of living of any city in the southern hemisphere.
Margaret River Valley
We spent our first two days in the Margaret River Valley, which is about 3 hours south of Perth. Margaret River is one of Australia's most famous wine regions.
We stayed at a little B&B called Bridgewater. It's owned by an older couple, who gave us lots of tips about the area and about Bali because they had visited the island over 30 times. Both nights we spent in Margaret River brought major wind and rain storms. On the first night, there was also an earthquake (which neither of us felt). On the second night it got a lot more interesting, with category 2 cyclone-force winds ripping through the valley! The house had a tin roof so the rain & wind was incredibly loud and I didn't sleep, fearing that the roof would blow off. The next day trees were down all over the place so I guess we were pretty lucky. Luckily, the rain held off during the day.
On our first day we drove to various beaches along the coast, getting our first glimpse of the Indian Ocean. These beaches are most famous for surfing and serious surfers travel here from all over the world. Unfortunately for us, the wind was so strong and the waves were so crazy that not even the bravest surfers were out. Despite the wind, it was still very picturesque.
Big Day Out
On our second day in Margaret River we booked a vineyard/brewery tour called Margie's Big Day Out. Our group was small - me, Chris and two girls from a town nearby. Apparently everyone was in Freo for the big footy game. Nevertheless we had a lot of fun! Here are the places we visited:
-The Berry Farm (winery) - Great strawberry sparkling wine. Refreshing and not too sweet.
-Stella Bella (winery) - Best staff. We could have talked to them all day.
-Margaret Valley Cheese Factory (cheese tasting) - Yummy sweet chili cheese.
-Bootleg Brewery (lunch)
-Margaret River Chocolate Company (dessert)- Meh.
-Evan's Tate (winery) - Our server was a fab cork dork with a hefty arsenal of adjectives.
-Cheeky Monkey Brewery (brewery) - Great IPA.
We spent the last day in Perth, driving around town since the weather wasn't great. It's a modern city and much bigger than we expected. While we didn't walk around downtown, it looked like there were lots of cute restaurants and shops. We went up to King's Park to see the war memorial and a great (but cloudy) view of the city:
All in all, I'm glad we saw this area, however I don't think it's worth a separate trip out here if you are visiting Australia. If you are into wine, Margaret River might be fun, but we much preferred the New Zealand wine region which might be a closer flight depending on where you are in Australia. Also, Perth is incredibly expensive due to the huge energy and mining boom in the area.