Tag Archives: Western Australia

The one about FIFO

When we first learned of a potential move to Perth, being the planner that I am, started looking at the rental market in town – I was immediately struck (and perplexed) by the excessive use of the abbreviation F.I.F.O. in many of the listings. Obviously I Googled: “fly in, fly out” indicating that an employment whereby the employee works in a remote area and instead of relocating them (and their families) to the worksite, the employee flies out for a period of time, returns for a similar stretch of time, before returning back to the remote site.

Obviously this was a prevalent way of life (and employment) in Perth given the number of times it was referenced in real estate, but I didn’t realize there was such a culture around this type of employment in Perth until we moved here. The mining industry in Western Australia is primarily what drives FIFO.

Here you can see how FIFO workers across the country fly in (and fly out) of northwestern WA, where most of the mines operate:

Image via The Australian

Given that many of the mines/ports in Western Australia are far from (or in smaller) towns, the FIFO lifestyle is utilized. It is estimated that by 2015, there will be over 63,000 FIFO workers in Western Australia.

A common sight at the Perth Airport (or just Perth in general)  – the “orange collar boom” (image via PerthNow.com.au)

I’ve typically heard that FIFO work is about 2 weeks on, 2 weeks back in Perth. And of course, just like with any type of work, there are benefits and drawbacks, but given the importance of mining to Western Australia, there is never a shortage of news stories on FIFO work and workers. No matter where you stand, however, there is no denying the importance and sacrifice of FIFO workers here in Australia.

And lastly, as a demonstration as to how deeply ingrained and commonplace the FIFO culture and lifestyle is in Australia, below is my new favorite commercial (I literally turn into a blubbering mess any time it comes on TV here) – it features 5 Aussie travelers (flying Qantas of course!), coming home to their families (Qantas’ new slogan is “Welcome Home”), and one of those travelers is none other than a miner, presumably FIFO.

Until next time…

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The one to understand daylight savings in Perth

How misleading of a blog title. Why? Well, Perth does not go through the biannual tradition of “springing forward” and “falling back” an hour. I remember asking some Australian friends if they did DST here and was met with incredulity and scorn – “What’s the point?” was their anthem.

What’s interesting (which I guess is in the eye of the beholder) about daylight savings time in Australia is that some  states do change their clocks, while others (like WA, the Northern Territory and Queensland) refrain. So on the first week in October, Sydney, Melbourne, and the rest of the DST-practing Aussie cities sprung forward (it is spring here after all).

The Australian states, for your reference

After doing a bit of research, I can see why some native Perth folk get heated and opinionated on the subject of DST here: the issue of whether or not Western Australia should engage in daylight savings has come up in referendum and put to a vote multiple times in recent memory (most recently 2009, but similar experiments and subsequent votes took place in 1974, 1985, and 1992). In 2006, the Western Australian government put forth a 3 year trial period whereby Western Australia would practice daylight savings for 3 years and after that period, would vote on the referendum.

In the weeks leading up to the vote in 2009, apparently the campaigning was relentless (timely given upcoming election day in the states – stay strong, North Carolinians who I am sure are sick and tired of hearing campaign ads!). Those in favor of DST were primarily business people, who maintained that it would make dealing with businesses from the east of Australia easier during the summer as it would reduce the time difference. On the other side, those opposed were farmers and many in rural areas of WA, as well as a good chunk of people who just thought it wasn’t relevant in this day and age.

Finally, in what I can call Western Australia’s “hanging chad moment“, the vote was upon them – it was such a big deal that non-voters were fined $20-$50 and the government ending up making a cool $622,000 on said fines. Anyhoo, the referendum to maintain daylight savings in Western Australia was ultimately struck down with 55% of votes against, and that, dear readers, is why Perth does not practice daylight savings.

So to friends and family in the states who recently “fell back” an hour, I am sorry you lost an hour of daylight and I am also sorry that we are now even further in time difference from you (however please bear this new time difference in mind when you decide to Skype/FaceTime/call) 😉 Until next time…

The one with the Perth International (and another move…)

If there are two things Barr and I have extensive experience in it’s:

  1. Clearing our weekends to attend (or just watch) golf tournaments
  2. Moving

We’re exciting people. Clearly. But the two aforemetioned items were a major part of our weekend last week (aside from Halloween partying of course).

First up: a  new house in Perth. To give you some background, we initially moved to Perth thinking we’d be here for three months, return to Dubai in August, and back to the states in September or so. Well, life takes funny and unanticipated turns, and after a whirlwind trip back to Dubai in August (where we packed, cleared out furniture, and officially left the UAE), our time in Australia was lengthened from 3 months to more like 9. Unfortunately, our lovely AirBnB case in South Perth was only ours until the end of October, when it’s owners returned from a 6 month trip, so when we decided to stay in Perth through the end of 2014, we subsequently had to scramble to find accommodation for 3 more months. And while we’d have loved to rack up some much needed hotel points, the hotel situation in Perth is a bit…shall we say, lacking, so back to the housing drawing board. Nothing on AirBnB really fit the bill (or timeframe) this time around, so we found a perfectly adequate townhouse for the next few weeks. And while it’s a tad “tired”, what it lacks in homeyness, it makes up for in location and the fact that it has a DRYER. Y’all, I have been without a clothes dryer since we moved to Dubai, and boy, do you not fully appreciate one until it’s gone!! (Side note: I also miss garbage disposals. Desperately.)

Anyway, last week (and weekend) was full of packing up clothes, deciding what would be sent back to the states vs. staying with us, organizing a new house, etc etc. Each move gets a little easier as we continue to whittle down our belongings…the Blantons officially have “stuff” scattered across the world (thank you to our parents who generously house said items until we return…)

After this lovely transition (I am soooo good with change *sarcasm*), we decided to hop on over to the Perth International golf tournament (co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the PGA Tour of Australasia), which was right up the road from us. The week before, Barr actually ran into Jason Dufner (an American PGA Tour professional) who played in the tournament, on a flight from Sydney to Perth. Unfortunately, Dufner didn’t play too well, but there were a handful of notable players in the field at the Perth International (and some perhaps lesser known European Tour players that we had enjoyed watching at the Dubai Desert Classic and the Race to Dubai).

Race to Dubai

Dubai Desert Classic

Dubai Desert Classic

The Perth International was a great little afternoon activity, and I do love the smaller galleries and more manageable crowds/lines at the European Tour events! And no matter what, you always see a handful of little kids dressed in their orange Puma gear as little Rickie Fowler’s. 😉

Congratulations to Thorbjørn Olesen on winning the 2014 Perth International, and enjoy some shots I grabbed this past Sunday at the tournament. Until next time….

Nice little Perth/Emirates combo - we cover all the bases, y'all! :)

Nice little Perth/Emirates combo – we cover all the bases, y’all! 🙂

You can (kind of) see Perth CBD peeking out in the distance.

You can (kind of) see Perth CBD peeking out in the distance.

Peter Uihlein (U-S-A!) hitting one of his many tricky shots of the day

Peter Uihlein (U-S-A!) hitting one of his many tricky shots of the day

The Perth International

The Perth International

 

The one where it was Halloween in Perth

With October almost over (what?!), in addition to the lack of pumpkins in Perth, I’ve also noted a general missing Halloween vibe. Yes, there may be a bit of an overload of said “vibe” in the states, with entire grocery store aisles loaded with candy and specific Halloween costume pop-up stores, but the other extreme that I’ve noted here in Perth is a bit sad as well. (Side note: check out Lynda’s post on her blog, Longhorns and Camels, discussing the same topic as it relates to Dubai vs. the states)

Candy aisle in a Houston area grocery store. Image via Longhornsandcamels.com

I’m not sure if it’s the seasonal difference here insofar that October falls in spring and that harvest time that is associated with Halloween is lacking or if (per Wikipedia) Halloween is seen to be “too American” and not really relevant to Australian culture, but  something tells me we won’t be seeing too many trick-or-treaters on Friday. So to bring a little of our American influence and Halloween fun and frivolity to Western Australia, Ashlie and I threw a Halloween costume party this past weekend for some of our expat friends. Dress up was encouraged and we had a great time prepping some festive foods. And while the party was supposed to be held in a local park, Perth weather had other plans, but we didn’t let it rain on our parade 😉

Ole!

The pumpkin wasn’t a fan of guac 😉

Rice krispy treat pumpkins

A little Aussie flair with a round of cricket!

The kinda sorta Village People 🙂

Say PRUNE

A gaggle of pirates

Two Halloween beauties

The kidlets taking refuge inside

I hope all my American readers have a great week leading up to the 31st, and eat some candy for me 🙂 Until next time…

The one with the horse racing in Perth

Having a husband who hails from Louisville, Kentucky, the importance, drama, and overall sport of horse racing has been deeply ingrained upon me since pretty much day one of our relationship. Though it looks like I was ready for the races well before I met Barr…

PerthRacesAbbysRoads

The Kentucky Derby (and Churchill Downs in general) is held in great reverence by the Blantons – my first Derby was a magical one, where I learned (sort of) to place bets (I still pick based on the name and/or the jockey’s silks’ color) and wear big hats:

What babies we were!

While we haven’t been able to make it to the Kentucky Derby over the last few years, we have been blessed to watch the ponies run around in the track in Dubai, and now Perth!

Last weekend I attended the Crown Perth Opening Day at Perth Ascot. The crowds were more manageable, the betting a bit different, and the hats a tad smaller, but nothing beats a day at the track.

PerthAscotAbbysRoads4

I only placed one bet the entire afternoon, but didn’t lose any money, which is always a plus!

Those storm clouds managed to hold off until the end of the day

Those storm clouds managed to hold off until the end of the day

And the races and horses aside, the focus was the fascinators and ensembles – WOW! The money, thought, creativity, and time that women put into their outfits and teeny little hats (which are more akin to works of art in my opinion), is mind-boggling.

PerthAscotAbbysRoads

Our little group snagged a table next to the Myer Fashion on the Field fashion show. Y’all: these women aren’t messing around with this – the preparation and rules that go into this competition is hardcore. The winner gets a cash prize and is also awarded an all expenses paid trip to the Melbourne Cup in November to compete in the Australia-wide competition. Suffice it to say that it’s kind of a big deal. Here were the top 3 outfits of the Perth grouping:

PerthAscotAbbysRoads1Personally, I think our group looked just as good 🙂

PerthAscotAbbysRoads2

And just to show you that there were indeed horses there, here is Andi’s Boy, the horse I bid upon (and won!)

PerthAscotAbbysRoads5

A full day of fascinators, races, and fun company – you can’t beat it! Ill have to go back next time with my Kentucky boy (though I don’t think he’ll have the same appreciation for the fashion that the ladies did). Until next time…

 

The one where I picked strawberries in October

Words I never thought I’d say (or type), and yet here we are. After seeing innumerable pictures of folks back in the states picking out that perfect pumpkin, decked out in their fall finest, set against a backdrop of crisp autumn weather and falling leaves, I decided something must be done: I could pine for pumpkins, college football, puffy vests and boots, and the changing leaves of North Carolina or I could make my own fruit picking adventure. (Spoiler alert: I ultimately chose the latter.)

Sad but true

I mean obviously I came to Australia knowing that their seasons were opposite from those in the Northern Hemisphere, but it’s a really odd thing to wrap your head around when you have forever been programmed to associate certain weather/clothes/activities/holidays/food, etc with seasons and months and then it’s all turned on its head. Even Dubai would “cool off” a bit as October, November, December approached. And while I certainly am not complaining about the burgeoning spring and summer weather here in Perth, one can’t help but feel a tug of nostalgia.

But I digress.

So given that pumpkins are a fall harvest food, Perth isn’t exactly a hub of pumpkin patches in the middle of October (spring to them). (Side note: they do sell imported pumpkins in the grocery stores for wistful expat suckers like me…just with a hefty price tag.) So given that it’s spring here, WA does have strawberry picking in full bloom – a good substitute in my opinion!

strawberrypickingperth3

My fellow expat blogger friend, Becca, had gone to a strawberry patch the week prior and returned with a huge haul of gorgeous berries…as many as you could pick and carry for $10! (The price is a key point here given this – a small carton of strawberries in the store here will set you back at least $6).

I was curious as to why the farm/patch (?) would let ordinary folks pay such a reasonable price to pick their own berries when they could sell them at a “better” price to local grocery stores. So after a bit of research, it turns out that these plants have reached the end of their commercial life, meaning that the strawberries are “too red” to be sold to the groceries – the stores need the berries to be less ripe (green) to increase shelf life. Bonus: if you go berry picking, you’re (in theory) getting the strawberries at their peak!

The strawberry plants went on and on and onAshlie, Keller, and I were game. Maybe we wouldn’t get a jack-o-lantern out of the deal, but we could pop over there in our t-shirts and shorts (don’t forget the bug spray and “sun cream”!) and make ourselves some strawberry shortcake in no time. We opted to split a tray and got to work…little K had a great time picking out the strawberries with us. 🙂

Nice little morning picking berries

Nice little morning picking berries

Fresh from the vine

Fresh from the vine

Our haul by the end of the morning - almost too many!

Our haul by the end of the morning – almost too many! (And please forgive K’s cap…) 😉

Cheap labor

Cheap labor

As you can see, we walked away with an impressive stash of strawberries. I can’t imagine having my own box of them!

Washed and ready for eating

Washed and ready for eating

If you’re in the Perth area, the patch we visited was at 263 Old West Road in Bullsbrook, WA, which was about 30-45 minutes outside of the CBD. You can just park on the verge and it’s open 7 days a week from 9AM-5PM until mid-December.

In the meantime, Ill be in the kitchen dicing, freezing, cooking, and baking strawberries – it may not be a jack-o-lantern, but having spring in October isn’t a bad deal 🙂 Until next time…

The one with the truth about pricey Perth

I hope it is crystal clear that I do really like Perth (examples of my continued affinity for this fine city can be found here, here, and here); however, one of the toughest aspects of living in this city would be the exorbitant expense one incurs just by doing the most basic things.

Paris, NYC, and Perth

This was never more evident than when I returned to the states earlier this year and made a grocery store run. In Perth, $100 (USD) worth of groceries creeps up on you quickly – I can barely get out of a Coles or Wooly’s here with 3 or 4 days worth of necessities (and no, not even “fancy” groceries…we’re talking basics) for that amount. No bueno. When I was back stateside, however, I was pleasantly surprised (okay, you could have picked me up off the floor so great was my delight and shock) that I could get twice as much food (and throw some wine in that mix for good measure) for half of  the same amount in Perth. To all Charlotte, NC Harris Teeter’s: I will never take you for granted ever again.

And this is just one example. I could go on and on, but as my dad always told me: nobody likes a whiner 😉 So instead I’ll just give y’all some cold, hard facts:

  • The exact ranking varies based upon which survey is referenced, but Perth has, in the last 7 years or so, always been on a global listing of one of the most expensive cities in the world (check it out here and here if you want your proof)
  • The mining and energy boom (and subsequent wage spikes) in Western Australia is the oft-referenced culprit of these high prices on anything from groceries to rent to a drink to your morning coffee
  • Perth’s isolated location also doesn’t help its cause in keeping prices down; the labor (or do you reckon I should say “labour”?) alone to get certain goods out to Perth ends up costing the consumer dearly

There you have it. And here I thought Dubai would eclipse Perth in daily costs, but no no my friends – Perth “wins” (?) that one every single time. Ahh well. When you have lovely weather, scenery, wine, and people, there has to be some hitch, right? Until next time…

Image via PerthNow.com.au (also, clearly this is an old picture given how the skyline looks now…)

The one with kayaking on the Swan

After a busy few weeks of travel, things have been a tad slower on this side of the island…not that I am complaining! The weather has been incredible over the last month or so, and there is no shortage of fun stuff to do outside here in Perth.

One of those activities was organized by my friend Ashlie. Last week, she booked a few of us kayaks for a little boating fun on the foreshore of the Swan River. Ashlie and Lauren both have little ones who got to join in on the fun too!

The two little buddies taking on the Swan and Perth by kayak!

The two little buddies taking on the Swan and Perth by kayak!

Of course the morning we booked in, it was was bit windy and the water a bit choppy, but the sun was shining and little K even managed a wee nap on the kayak with his mom…wish we had a picture of that – it was the cutest thing! Although I don’t know how he managed to fall asleep as there were several mini “crashes” (Lauren said it was like bumper cars in kayaks), and by the end, all of us were pretty much soaked, but it was still a fun way to spend the morning!

Americans conquer kayaking on the Swan River

American gals conquer kayaking on the Swan River

Ashlie booked the kayaks at XXX in South Perth on the foreshore of the Swan River, just off the running path – you can’t miss it. The guys working there (I believe one was the owner) couldn’t have been more helpful and kind – I definitely recommend it and will hopefully be back again for kayaking…or sailing…or stand up paddle boarding – they have a lot of water fun! 🙂

Happy skippers

Happy skippers, B & K

Happy Hump Day, and until next time…

The one with the Queen’s Birthday

I’m baaaaaaack!! We returned to Perth yesterday morning from a week long trip to Mauritius – it was a bit last minute, but it was a vacation that had been on our bucket list for awhile now, and when the timing worked out, we jumped on the chance. More on that journey later in the week once I wade through the pictures…

Mauritius was paradise

Mauritius was paradise

In the meantime, we have a public holiday here in Perth today! What is the occasion, you may ask? The Queen’s “Official” Birthday.

Hey girl. Happy Birthday, officially!

When I first heard about this public holiday, I was a tad confused as I thought that her birthday was celebrated in the UK in June at the Trooping of the Color (although anyone that is a weirdo that loves the royals like me knows her actual day of birth is in April..duh); however, the Commonwealth countries hold the annual celebrations at a date/season that best coincides with their good weather. June is fall/winter for Perth, so Western Australia holds off until September. September 29, 2014 to be exact!

I get HOW many pieces of cake??

To that end, Western Australia is unique in their birthday timing compared to the rest of Australia. Every Australian state except Western Australia holds the public holiday on the second Monday in June because here in WA we have Western Australia Day on the first Monday in June, so as to not jam pack June (and to align with school holidays here as well as the Perth Royal show – their version of the state fair), Perth and the surrounds ring in the Queen’s birthday on the last Monday in September. There are also some random WA city exceptions.

So there you go! ❤ any excuse to discuss the British royal family 😉 Until next time…

The one where spring arrived in Perth

Last week it didn’t really seem like spring here in Perth. Lame. But what a difference a week makes!

Perth CBD from King's Park

Perth CBD from King’s Park

Cottesloe Beach

Cottesloe Beach

Temperatures have upped all the way to 25/26C (that’s ~78F), with the forecast for this weekend slated to be 32C (91F)! While I don’t miss the oppressive Houston or Dubai summers (or late springs/early falls for that matter), I did miss warm weather and continual sun – what can I say? I must suffer from seasonal depression disorder 😉

I am so thrilled with this sudden shift in temps and sunshine that I took advantage of it this week and spent lots of time outside in two of my favorite Perth outdoor spots: King’s Park (larger than NYC’s Central Park!) and Cottesloe Beach.

King’s Park

King's Park, Perth

King’s Park, Perth

Police on horseback

Police on horseback

Spectacular spring day

Spectacular spring day

One of the floral displays

One of the floral displays

ANZAC Memorial

ANZAC Memorial

A portion of downtown Perth from the park

A portion of downtown Perth from the park

Cottesloe Beach: I love this beach! Clearly it has the turquoise waters and fine white sand 🙂 but I think the forestry (Norfolk Island pines, primarily) and pathways that line the beach on the back make this a special spot.

Cottesloe

Cottesloe

The Cottesloe Pylon

The Cottesloe Pylon

The Indiana Teahouse is a building you’ll see featured prominently in photos of “Cott” (I put this in quotation marks because although a lot of people call Cottesloe “Cott”, I don’t think I’m cool enough to do that yet); the Indiana Teahouse was built in 1910 as an ice cream parlor. Now it’s a little restaurant spot right on the beach.

"Cott" and the Indiana Teahouse

“Cott” and the Indiana Tea House – you can really see those pines that line the beach

Indiana Teahouse building

Indiana Tea House building (and a few sunbathers – they were brave because even though it was sunny, it wasn’t exactly bikini weather!)

Thank you for indulging me with [landscape] photo overload…the scenery was just too good to pass up!

Have great weekends, y’all – and until next time….