Tag Archives: travel

A is for Albany Highway

 

Albany Highway

Albany Highway heading as seen from the northern end, East Victoria Park.

The road to Albany stretches 400 kilometres. I think I have explored about five. At the other end of the highway, which runs through the Wheatbelt and the Great Southern is the fishing port of Albany. I’ll get there one day. Were you looking for a description of the route? Then this post is not for you, dear reader, move on.

My end of Albany Highway has car lots and cafes with quirky names. A is for Antz HQ, my haunt for this morning. The coffee for the day is the Golden Dragon. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I do like the idea of sitting on a barstool with a view of the sky. Or on a milk crate with a view of the playground. Take your pick. The coffee does fulfil its claim of putting ants in your pants.

There are other quirky café names along the highway – The Imp, Brewed, Harvest Espresso. I wonder what witchcraft inspired these first, and I can’t imagine how the words “harvest” and “espresso” conspired to come together. Across the road is a rather exotic Indian restaurant called Jewel in the Park, this is not going to be a rant about things that do not start with “A”.

There is a fine art to crossing the Highway. For the pedestrian, this involves standing at the edge of the pavement, squinting down the road at the approaching driver. This usually elicits one of several responses­ – said driver will a. slightly incline his head or, b. lift two fingers off the steering wheel or, c. blink his headlights. Some drivers will also make shooing motions with their hand or shake their heads vigorously. I expect this is done under the assumption that I may be a tourist unable to correctly interpret signs a, b, and c.

The correct etiquette when all of this happens is to is to scarper across the road, remembering all the while to half-raise one’s hand in salute to the driver. It’s been a decade since I moved to Perth, but I’m still working on the royal road-crossing wave.

albany_hwy_kangaroo.jpg

Crossing the road: The red kangaroo and the black swan by Australia Post, Victoria Park

There is a red kangaroo on Albany Highway, and a black swan. There is a war memorial at one end of the cafe strip and a pub with sculpted mosaic coffee beans in front. Somewhere further down Albany Highway sprawling malls and warehouse style stores give way to forest and farmland. I imagine there will be hills as the highway carves its way past the Darling scarp. I expect there will be a smooth glide down to the Southern Ocean and the port where ANZACs sailing off to the First World War had their last glimpse of home. I imagine it is quiet and calm.

But my end of Albany Highway is busy with cars. A construction site looms large just half a block away, cutting off all views of the sunrise. A pensioner trundles past on his scooter. A friend texts to say she is enjoying a weekend in Albany. It’s just another day in Victoria Park.

After a long hiatus I have resumed my blogging with what is intended to be the first of a series of posts that are an A-Z of Perth. What is your A for Perth? Or the place you live in?

Advertisements

On a Grain of Rice

I confess – I am a rice purist. I am the person who trolleys down the rice aisle in Coles, turning up her nose at bags of long-grained rices of unknown origin and brands that promise a jasmine aroma. Not every long-grain can claim to be a basmati and I don’t particularly care if the sun rises on your Sun rice or your steamed bowl of white goodness could grace a Maharajah’s table. I’ve tried them all and they did not pass this chef’s test or palate.

Only one true brand exists for me – the Dehraduni basmati. Every few months, I make my foray into a little Indian store on Albany Highway in search of a bag of Maharani Dehraduni basmati rice. (Yes, the Maharanis of this world can outdo the Maharajahs any day). The rice comes in a five-kilo pack and so goes a long way for a family two. You can only imagine the tragedy of not finding a single bag on the shelf. Instead, I had to choose between India’s Crowns and Kohinoors – neither of which I was sure was going to be a jewel in my larder. Were I not satisfied with the Indian varieties, I could choose Pakistani basmati instead, which my mother promises me is twice as nice.

Dehraduni basmati brings back memories of a trip to Dehradun in the foothills of the Himalayas, when it was still a part of Uttar Pradesh. It is now the capital of the newer state of Uttarakhand. The town is home to the Doon School, the Indian Military Academy, and the Forestry Research Institute (among other notable institutions) and lies near the paddy fields it is famous for (among other things). We were visiting a mushroom factory (really a work-trip for my father) and also taking in the sights. This included a stomach-churning drive up into Mussoorie and the purchase of a woolen blanket at a market stall there that would one day warm my baby son – the blanket, not the stall. Family photos show me looking down palely at cable cars climbing a misty valley that is home to the writer Ruskin Bond. For the record: heights I do not do.

Now, clutching a bag of India Crown rice, also promising to be Dehraduni basmati, I head to the check out. I am not sure whether aromas of Himalayan hills will waft through my home as I cook my next lunch. To you it may just be another grain of rice but to me it’s a whole story about the places I have gone before and a reminder of how far I’ve come. I hope you enjoy your basmati, wherever you are!

PS: I would stick with the Maharani brand, if I were you, or Daawat *waiting for the sky to fall*. What’s your (basmati) rice story?

 

 

Australia According to Peppa

I’m a bit worried. It’s Peppa Pig, you see. She’s visited Australia recently but her destination is a bit different to the Australia I know. My son is watching Peppa’s adventures with Kylie Kangaroo, over and over again (thank you, ABC’s iView), and he just might be getting Australia a teensy bit wrong.

I’m often described as a person of few words, but my vocabulary is by no means limited. “Bit” is, however, the key word here as Peppa’s Australia is made up of bits and bobs that don’t quite fit together. Australia according to Peppa is a right a puzzle for the resident although it probably fits right in with an outsider’s view of our nation.

Boat on the River

Random photograph of the real Australia: Swan River, Perth

So here we are once again watching another rerun of Peppa’s first outback cricket game, which ends with a six into the lone tree on an endless plain. Is that the Nullarbor? Only, the tree holds an unlikely koala and a possibly displaced but friendly platypus drops in. Then there’s Mummy Kangaroo the marine biologist who finishes a day’s work on the (Great Barrier) reef by salvaging treasure. I’m not sure what Daddy Kangaroo does, but he’s a dab hand at the BBQ and a mean surfer. What a bloke! There’s some (mandatory) boomerang tossing and Kylie lives close enough to the sea to get some surfing in.

I must say that Peppa does justice to her brief sojourn Down Under. I do feel though like I’ve just had a walking tour through Australia the Gift. Peppa’s Australia lies somewhere between rural Queensland and the Northern Territory, I reckon but I haven’t quite figured out where. Well, we are a country that’s a continent.

So let’s take stock. Kangaroos and koalas? Check. Not sure why the former are human-like and the latter not. Platypus and boomerang? Check. Game of cricket (read the Ashes)? Check. Indigenous Australian neighbours, footy matches, and (in the light of the current news headlines) dual citizenships. Well, perhaps not for a viewer of the children’s channel, ABC3.

Did I mention I’m just a wee bit worried? Stay tuned for more Peppa…