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Friday, 9 September 2016

It’s (Not That) Quiet on the Western Front (1)

Many years ago in a pre - child life, I started writing about the place where I grew up which is Perth, Western Australia. I starting writing to commit to memory all the things I loved about it. I found this old piece of writing today and have decided to post it in excerpts as a homage to the Perth I knew and loved.  Perth has changed significantly in the past five years due to the mining boom. Rampant development and consumerism has affected many parts of the city which I held dear.

So in memory of the Perth I once knew:

Perth

My hometown hugs the shores of the West Australian coastline. She nestles there like a faint diamond amongst the vastness of the state. The fact that Perth is the most isolated city in the world of its size, is useful for dinner party conversation or when someone asks:

Where in Australia are you from?
Perth.
Which side is that?
The west coast. The other side from Sydney and Melbourne. The side no-one visits.
Oh.

Silence.

It’s the most isolated city in the world.
Oh really. I didn’t know that.
Yes. It’s closer to Singapore than its own capital city.

At this point, the consideration that you are from the most isolated city in the world has entered the person’s head. The neurons in their brain come to a silent conclusion:  HICKSVILLE.

Perth is the capital city of Western Australia; the largest state in country
(www.wordtravels.com/Travelguide/Countries/Australia/Map)

Coming from Perth, I’m used to this kind of geographical prejudice. My hometown doesn’t have the international status of Sydney, the unofficial capital of Australia or even Alice Springs, home of the much clambered upon Uluru. People who grow up in Perth have a love-hate relationship with this remoteness.  We dislike the isolation for it breeds cliques and a small town watchfulness. It fails to rate on the international stage despite world class beaches and the best weather in Australia. Perth could disappear tomorrow and would anyone know? But the isolation gives us space to create, develop and initiate away from other influences and trends. It is an immensely creative city with a Mediterranean outlook.

Arriving

When the plane approaches Perth, my nose is pressed up against the window. If it is a daytime descent, the land below looks like an Aboriginal dot painting. If anyone were to doubt the complex physical and psychical connection that the first Australians have with their land, all you would need to do is view the land from an airplane to have those doubts diminish.

The view of Oz from an airplane 
(http://www.japingka.com.au/wp-content/uploads/Marlene-Jap-011996.jpg)

In daylight the clarity of the sky is unlike any other place I have been. The combination of light and space and air forms a blue clearer and sharper than any other. This blue is my homecoming. If it is night, I look for the lights of the Perth skyline. Harder to spot than a vastly lit metropolis like London or Hong Kong, the Perth city lights flare against the inky darkness like a lighthouse beacon guiding the aircraft towards the landing strip. I am always impatient to get out of the plane and the airport; eager for the first few deep inhalations of West Australian air. Dry, crisp and tinged with leaves and sun. Arriving at daytime, the glare of the sun and bright blue sky hits you as you exit the building. You immediately feel as if you have been zapped intravenously with high dosage vitamins.

Breathe in. Out.
Breathe.

I'm back.

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