We traveled for about thirty hours before landing in Perth. Being the first time either of us had been out of the country, we had no idea what to expect when we departed the plane. Shortly enough, we were ordering an Uber (using the airports wifi) to the address of a woman who we rented a car from. We had found a website online called Drive My Car and decided this would be the cheapest way for us to have a car the three months we were there.
So, here we are in the Uber on the left side of the road, headed to pick up our rental car. We arrive at her house and knock on the door, she answers then goes through all of the paperwork, we get in and load the directions to our Airbnb which we had also rented for three months. I know this sounds simple, but the first day was quite an adventure.
Planning for the Trip
Getting to Australia from the US is a bit expensive. Our tickets cost around $1300 and we flew with American Airlines and Quantas Airlines. Little did we know that Quantas was the top-notch airline in Australia and, somehow, they were the cheapest tickets from the US at the time we were traveling. If you can find tickets that fly Quantas to Australia I would highly suggest flying with them. The seats on the plane are nice and comfy, alcohol is complementary, and they feed you plenty of food! About three months before our trip, we both had to apply for a visa. We decided on the working holiday visa which cost around $350 but is good for up to 6 months. After booking our flight and purchasing our visas, we needed to find a place to stay. We found that Airbnb would be the best option because all apartments require a either 6 month or 1 year lease. After doing some research on the city, we chose to stay in the Perth Hills because it was a little outside of the city and might be better location for two collegiate cross-country runners in the middle of summer training. So, we booked a 3 month stay in a town called Lesmurdie, with a lovely woman named Marie (she even gave us a discount).
Staying in the Perth Hills
After settling into our Airbnb, we took a nap and woke up the next morning, blaming jet lag for taking over our first night in Australia. We started exploring a nearby small town called Kalamunda in the hopes of finding all of the cool places to go. Marie gave us a few maps and sent us on our way. We quickly decided that the Perth Hills may be some sort of elderly community, but our opinion changed throughout the stay.
The road we lived on was called Lesmurdie Falls Road. The first day we walked around the nature park that was located less than a half a mile from our driveway, in the hopes of finding the falls. We did not find the falls and were unsure that there were even falls. Later that evening, we asked Marie our host where we could see the falls. She laughed and said that they were right down the road and just walking straight on the walking paths would take you there. The Lesmurdie Falls were much bigger than I had expected. From the top, you have a perfect view of the city and you can hear the water trickling over the falls. It is really quite a beautiful place to visit. I couldn’t believe that we could go on a short walk every night, listen to the sound of the waterfall, and overlook the city. Since I barely had a job, I spent a lot of time sitting on the rocks, reading, and taking in the spectacular views of the Lesmurdie Falls.
The town located closest to us was called Kalamunda. Our first few times we went to Kalamunda, we decided that the city was very small and did not really have a college age scene. It seemed as if they had a few good places to eat and maybe some small events. After living in the area for a while, we found the Zig Zag Art Gallery. We started going to their exhibits and events (free wine and hors d’oeuvres) and found a paper for an open exhibit called the Makuru. I asked Marie our host about the Makuru show and she told me that it was an exhibit for the aboriginal rainy season called Makuru. She also informed me that she was going to enter some of her own work into the exhibit. I decided that this was going to be my big project while I was in Australia. Make a piece of art to exhibit at the Makuru show in the Zig Zag Gallery. I did some research on Makuru and started getting supplies for my project. I made a paper-casting with recycled cardboard of animals coming to the river and the blossoming flowers of the season. I entered into the show, got in, went to the opening, ate some kangaroo, drank wine, and enjoyed the excitement of showing my art at the Zig Zag Gallery! Kody and I soon fell in love with Kalamunda after we met some friends, discovered the Kalamunda Pub (Kody’s favorite), and the restaurant Dome (my favorite).
Zig Zag Scenic Drive & The Rail Trail
Located just outside of the Kalamunda is the Zig Zag Scenic Drive. The road is a windy one-way, down Gooseberry Hill National Park, that provides wonderful views of the city. It used to be a part of the Upper Darling Range Railway line. The Zig Zag art gallery is named after the scenic drive. The town even closes the road off for a Zig Zag Festival every year. The Kalamunda residents have a lot of pride for the Zig Zag trail. Some of our Aussie friends told us that the road is great to longboard on as well. Along with the zig zag, the rail trail located in Kalamunda was a haven for runners. Once Kody and I found the rail trail, we ran there nearly every day. It is a dirt trail that was also part of the Upper Darling Range Railway line, that has now been transformed into a heritage walking and running trail. For us, the trail became an everyday exercise route because it was flat (compared to the Perth Hill roads), a soft surface, and long enough that different parts can be run each time. To me, I think that the rail trail is one of the towns prize possessions because it provides miles of outdoor scenery for all of the residents. It is also a great place to find wildlife you won’t be able to find in the city. My last run on the rail trail I happened to see a wild bobtail lizard! Both the Zig Zag Scenic Drive and the Rail Trail are key attractions to visit in Kalamunda.
Kanyana Wildlife and Rehabilitation Center
Kody and I booked a tour with the Kanyana Wildlife Center in hopes of seeing more Australian animals. We booked a nocturnal tour ahead of time, because they only have them the first Friday and second Saturday of every month. The tour is $20 for adults and $12 for children. When we arrived, they gave us a small talk about the wildlife center. The Kanyana center cares for sick and injured wild animals from the surrounding areas. They take any animals that have been hit by vehicles or hurt in some way and try to nurse them back to health for release into the wild. On our tour, they showed us almost all of the animals. We got to see echidnas, wallabies, opossums, parrots, bobtail lizards, snakes, and kangaroos. The tour was personal and provided lots of information about the rehabilitation center. It was great to experience all the hard work that the employees do to protect the wildlife in the area. I would highly suggest the nocturnal tour to anyone who is around the Perth area!
The Perth Hills ended up being a perfect location for our stay! The last two weeks we had in Australia we decided to go on a road trip up the coast to the Ningaloo Reef. Check out my blog on traveling to the Ningaloo Reef from Perth.If you have any questions about our trip or the Perth Hills, feel free to leave a comment bellow!