We’re staying in Bayswater with a friend that we met in Niseko, Japan. We were fortunate enough that one of his housemates has gone on extended vacation and gifted us her room. When we arrived here last night, our friend, AJ, and his housemate, Matt, were dressed up in their high-visibility work wear, complete with PPE. AJ was in the roof trying to diagnose the phone line for their naked ADSL connection. The two of them were communicating using a walkie-talkie app for their phones – damn funny. They were trying to relocate their ADSL modem to the front of the house, but the internal wiring was a little… random. Lucky that their guest used to do phone/data installations for a living!

20130818_RCH_1215Sunday: Since they were unsuccessful last night, we all suited up this morning to move that phone line. The cabling was a mess, and there was no logic used in their cable pairs. So, we gave up, cut the mess of a connection and started from scratch. And was eventually successful.

20130818_RCH_1217 20130818_RCH_1219 20130818_RCH_1223 20130818_RCH_1225In the afternoon we went to Freemantle to do some sightseeing. By pure luck, we ran in to somebody from the Delicaclub forums. We’d been in contact and were considering staying with him later in the week. Sometimes it pays to have a big/dirty/ugly/recognisable van! He kindly showed us around, taking us through the markets (the food smelt amazing, but we were going out for dinner, so it was looking only). I didn’t expect the markets to be indoors in large halls. There were also plenty of buskers/street performers doing their thing, including this man playing with fire and swallowing swords (our friend, Alex, told us he holds a Guinness record for the number of simultaneous swords swallowed…

20130818_RCH_1229 20130818_RCH_1231 20130818_RCH_1232 20130818_RCH_1233Dinner was at the really cool Little Creatures brewery/bar/restaurant. For something that is actually a fully functional brewery (and a moderate scaled one at that) it was surprising how cool it actually looked, both inside and out. The food wasn’t bad, but a little pricey for what it was. Beer was good though! This place is definitely worth a visit, at least for a single beer (loved the Bright Ale).

20130819_RCH_1237Monday: The goal for this morning was to sort out Risa’s spouse visa. It’s been a frustration from the beginning. We’d been getting mixed messages from the department of immigration, so we thought it easiest to go in and see them. I’ll keep it brief. The Perth offices don’t have anyone that you can talk to face-to-face, so we had to use their phones and call the generic call centre. The first few calls eventually timed out after extended waits. We eventually spoke to an operator, but they weren’t able to tell us anything that we hadn’t already seen in email correspondence with the department. By this stage I was furious. I could feel the inner Falling Down coming out in me. We left disheartened, confused, unsuccessful and angry. I left Risa in town to go get my laptop repaired (some bright pixels on the screen). Just as I was about to start driving I had a lady from the immigration department on the phone. I’d lodged several complaints earlier in the morning, one for the generally subpar communications we’d received, and another for them seemingly losing Risa’s Japanese police clearance report. She was actually calling to give feedback about our application. Apparently they had decided to bypass the temporary visa stage and to instead process her for permanent residency instead!! They hadn’t lost any of our documents, and nothing had expired, they just needed up-to-date information. I couldn’t believe it, I’d gone from near despair earlier in the morning to absolute buzzing joy at this news.

Tuesday: More minor work on the Delica. I wanted to change the location of the solar panel from on top of the rack, to a position in front that would also double as a windbreaker. I had a friend (t0me) from the Delica Club help me with the welding/fabrication. So much space on the roof now… He also helped me reattach the driver’s footstep that came off while we were driving the Plenty Highway in Northern Territory. This was followed by more Delica stuff, including having the bubble in rear tyre inspected (have to wait for BFGoodrich rep to inspect it), oil and filter change and cleaning the air filter.

Dinner was at an awesome little Japanese izakaya called Jun. If you’re in to Japanese food, and you’re in Perth, it’s really worth a visit. Risa gave it her ‘Authentic Japanese Food Approval’. It has so much going for it – it’s cheap, it’s tasty, it’s BYO, and it even smells/looks like an izakaya.

Wednesday: It started with me replacing the fuel filter (which is a horrible job on a Mitsubishi Delica). Another friend from the Delica Club forum (Nickianc) repaired our busted air conditioning. Turns out that I may have helped cause the damage by tightening the belts too tight… also explains the dead alternator… ouch. We also made the most of the opportunity to vacuum all of the red dust out of the van. It was everywhere, but hopefully now that we have AC, we won’t need to drive down dirt roads with our windows down… Boring day, but necessary.

Thursday: First up a trip to the Japanese consulate for Risa to get a document that the Australian immigration department needs to grant her permanent residency.

20130822_RCH_1261 20130822_RCH_1263 20130822_RCH_1242 20130822_RCH_1248 20130822_RCH_1265 20130822_RCH_1269 20130822_RCH_1251 20130822_RCH_1260 20130822_RCH_125820130822_RCH_1275 20130822_RCH_1276 20130822_RCH_1277While we were in the city, we made a trip to Kings Park. In essence it’s not too different to the Botanic Gardens in Brisbane – enormous parkland featuring various flora from around the state. The park is in a beautiful location looking out over Perth and the Swan River – million dollar views I’m sure. We walked around aimlessly for a while, luckily finding a nice treetop walk, an ANZAC memorial (complete with a cheeky duck enjoying the hot tub) and plenty of wildflowers. We were a little early, but the wild flowers were starting to bloom, and in places it was like pink carpet. Not only was it pretty to look at, it also smelt amazing. We also came across this Studio Ghibli-esque sight of caterpillars. I could hear something slapping the ground behind some flowers, and at first sight I thought it was an enormous spider beating its enormous legs onto the ground, but these strange creatures were moving together, with a few of them occasionally lifting and slapping themselves onto the ground (must be some weird protection mechanism…).

From here it was back to the tyre shop (opposite side of town) to have the BFGoodrich sales representative inspect. It turned out that the bubble in the sidewall was caused by us running the tyre under-inflated (which happened when we picked up a nail near Purnululu National Park). Fortunately they offered a 50% discount on a replacement tyre, but that shop didn’t have one in stock… which meant more delays.

20130822_RCH_1279 20130822_RCH_1283 20130822_RCH_1284We made another trip to Fremantle, just because. Risa really loves the look of the town, and I have to admit, the historic buildings are quite charming. Very different feel to Perth, closest Brisbane comparison is probably West End (but by the sea). Oh, and don’t call it Fremantle… it’s called Freo…

20130822_RCH_1288And for dinner, Risa knocked up an awesome lasagne. So good to have oven food after all this time on the road with just two burner cooktop.