Upon returning from our trip to Darwin, Patrick headed back to Gingin to wrap up his volunteer stint at the Australian International Graviational Observatory. That week he managed to finish up the video and even helped with a display at the Gravity Discovery Centre. With 2 weeks left in Australia, we have worked on filling in the gaps on local tourist visits and getting his university life ogranized.
Patrick missed the cutoff date for applying for residence this year so despite making the deans honour list, he does not have residence. After searching on the Mac website, and with Joannes help to visit, he has rented a student housing room in a house right near the university. Looks like he’ll have access to good facilities and be even closer to the Engineering buildings than he was last year in residence.
Rounding out Patricks tourist venues, our first stop was to visit the Perth Zoo and Kings Park where Pat had not been. Patrick and I spent the first part of the day watching monkeys, orangutans and reptiles. Next we had a nice lunch then did the tour of Kings Park, even doing some walks which were off the beaten path and new to me. The horticultural area of the park is quite different now in the midst of winter. The weather has been incredibly wet these days, with rain a daily event, often accompanied by very high winds. But the day held off for the most part and we did not get too wet. We also took a trip to the local stromatolites (which are actually thrombolites here). Not overly exciting to look at, but knowing that the ‘rocks’ are actually living organsims is intriguing.
For Pat’s last weekend here Mike, Patrick & I headed to Rottnest Island. For the first time in many weeks we had 3 consecutive warm sunny days – so even though it was winter, the visit to the island was very pleasant. We enrolled Patrick into an introductory scuba dive for the day. He did not need a diving certificate – just an intro to the equipment and then he dove accompanied by a dive instructor. We headed over to the island on the early ferry. It was almost empty as you can see – and very early as you can see also!
The dive wasn’t till afternoon, so we had the morning to explore the island. We stopped by the bakery for a treat and to check out the quokkas. This little fellow (between Pat & I peeking over the bench) was hoping for some food which we failed to give him.
We visited the Kingston Barracks where we had stayed our last visit to see the defence posts set up in the second world war to protect the harbour at Perth/Fremantle. We also showed him the aboriginal prison (now a hotel) and the local cemetaries.
We dropped Patrick back at the dive shop and once he figured out that the wetsuit goes on with the zipper at the back, he was off on the boat to check out the scuba scene.
He used the underwater camera, but it was difficult to manage when loaded down with diving gear. I can certainly concur – just with snorkel gear it was hard enough to hold steady. He had a fantastic dive despite the lack of quality photos and saw many different fishes and corals. They swam through lots of ‘gorges’ and tunnels and he managed with no problems.
Meanwhile back on the island Mike & I sat back on the beach and relaxed. The beaches were now deserted (it is winter after all), We also checked out the ‘Pilot’ ship as seen here. Since the approach to the Fremantle docks was so dangerous, between 1848 and 1903 ships would be met by a pilot boat. The Pilot (an experienced sailor) would be rowed out to the ship, board the ship and then guide it into the harbour. The pilot boat would follow into the harbour then return the Pilot to the island. The round trip would take up to 28 hours, with no rest in between. The staff on the boats had a very rough life since all their ‘spare’ time when not rowing was filled. They had to provide all the fish for themselves as well as everyone at the prison.
Patrick returned and we headed over to the island pub for a drink before heading back on the ferry to Fremantle. We checked out ‘the shed’s at Fremantle and then headed back home.
We’ve since returned Patricks guitar – he really enjoyed it and the staff at Crescendo Music where we rented from were wonderful people.
Also this week we attended a guest lecture by Sir Roger Penrose at the University of Western Australia in Perth. We had run into Dr. Blair on the ferry back from Rottnest and he told us of this talk being given by one of the leading mathematician/physicist/philosophers of our time. His talk was titled ‘What happened before the Big Bang’. He was an engaging speaker and despite the many times we were each scratching our heads, we all came away with a new view on the life cycles of the universe.
And now we are in the final throws of packing Patrick up for his flight home on Saturday. I think he’s had enough of living with the parents again, and he is excited to be going back to see friends and the rest of the family. And while we are ready for him to return also, we’ll miss him as soon as he steps on the plane. sigh.