Sunday 3 April 2011. First a two hour flight from Seattle to Los Angeles, a layover that was usually a couple of hours, then a 14 hour flight to Brisbane, Australia. I lost a day in the process, thanks to time zones and the International Date Line, so it was now Tuesday, 5 April. After another layover a five hour flight to Perth on the western side of Australia. It was late afternoon when I landed, over 21 hours in the air, plus a few hours of layover. Note: Many folks don’t realize that Australia is about the same size as the United States, it’s really big.
A taxi ride took me to the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel on Wellington Street, by 2011 I had already stayed at this hotel multiple times, and held a number of seminars in their meeting rooms. Thankfully my room was ready so I dropped off my things, changed my shirt, and headed out for Murray Street, the part of Perth that I am most familiar with.
Walking east On Murray Street the familiarity of Perth did its magic and the effect of the long plane rides faded away. In Perth the first landmark I look for is the Belgian Beer Garden, as Belgian as any pub you will find in Brugge with a nice selection of Belgian beers. I was in Perth for a few days so mussels and frites would have to wait. Right now I had another pub in mind, a few blocks down Murray street, in the area where Murray becomes a walking mall.
The name escapes me, but I have been there many times. It is a comfortable place, with outside tables, and I remember a large tree trunk wrapped in lights. I was in the mood for a pint.
When I landed in Brisbane I called home, from a pay phone using a calling card. (Hard to believe just nine years ago international calls on cellphones were rare.) Tricia answered, confirmed quickly that my flights went well, then told me to brace myself. My mind raced, was something wrong with the house, something financial; our minds go through a checklist of possibilities.
I am rarely speechless, but this did it. Jay was a good friend from church, he was the contractor that had remodeled our kitchen into a beautiful place to cook and eat. Big E Brewery was our meeting point to discuss the world, challenges, and food, which Jay loved as much as we do. Jay was in his 50’s, too young to die, but heart problems do not always check in with birthdays.
I needed to get to a place that Jay and I would have frequented if we lived in Perth. Picking a table in a corner with a view of the street traffic I ordered a pint of James Bogle and a bag of Salt and Vinegar Crisps. When it arrived I made a toast to my friend, “Jay, this ones for you. Will miss you but see you in glory.” Then I did a sketch.
Perth is one of my favorite places in OZ. It is a major city, yet is isolated from the rest of the country by four or five hour flights, with thousands of miles of outback in between. Yet with all of that it is one of the most fashionable of the cities, it is noticeable in how people dress. The buildings and parks are clean and well maintained. It is expensive, over the years I would pay about 2ASD more for a pint in Perth than I would in Darwin, which is one of the less expensive places.
On my trips to Australia I always looked forward to Perth, the seminars were good, as Australian audiences are great. And my rambles along Murray street and Hay street are still vivid in my mind.
I do believe that it was on this trip that I met a friend, Miranda. She had recently arrived from South Africa and helped with registration and organization at the seminars. We had a couple of wonderful chats after the seminars about the state of things in the world and in South Africa, another place that has a soft spot in my heart. We have stayed in touch thanks to Facebook and emails, with all of my complaints about social media it does help us keep in contact with distant friends.
Reality says I will most likely never get back to Perth, nor take the train out to Fremantle where the Americas Cup was held so many years ago. I will probably have to settle on mussels and Frites in Belgium instead of at the pub on Murray street. But I will always remember the many pleasant times I had in Perth, they bring back smiles every time.