Cy­cling Perth

This Aus­tralian city is an ideal place for bik­ing. You can even dis­cover the cousins of camels!

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - ADVENTURE - By MING TEOH star2@thes­tar.com.my

I’VE said be­fore and I’ll say it again. If I lived in Perth, Aus­tralia, I would cy­cle ev­ery day, and even to work.

But that’s only be­cause it’s such a cy­clist- friendly place.

There are many cy­cling paths not only in down­town ar­eas, but also in the sur­round­ing sub­urbs.

Fold­ing bikes are al­lowed at all times on trains as long as they’re folded up and bagged. Even full- sized bi­cy­cles are al­lowed on the train ( ex­cept dur­ing peak hours on cer­tain city routes).

Cy­clists who don’t want to bring their bikes on board the trains can park their bikes at the sta­tion ( there are se­cure stor­age fa­cil­i­ties there) and then com­mute the rest of the way.

All in all, it’s very con­ve­nient to cy­cle in Perth, whether it’s to com­mute to work, or for sports and recre­ation.

De­spite the sun­shine and clear blue skies, the weather was cool while my hus­band and I were there ( it was au­tumn) and this made it pos­si­ble to cy­cle for hours and hours with­out get­ting tired or even per­spir­ing.

We stayed at a friend’s place in the sub­urbs. They had bikes which they hardly used and they were kind enough to lend them to us dur­ing our stay there.

Ex­cept for the days when my hus­band was work­ing, we went cy­cling al­most ev­ery day even if it was to the nearby gro­cery store, restau­rant or park.

ran­dom cy­cling

On our first day there, we pumped up the tyres and put on our hel­mets – it’s re­quired by law to wear a hel­met when cy­cling in Perth.

We de­cided to ex­plore the sur­round­ing res­i­den­tial area. We cy­cled through street af­ter street, pass­ing rows of charm­ing houses with well- tended gar­dens. Un­like in Malaysia, the houses here did not have fences.

The streets all seemed tidily per­pen­dic­u­lar or par­al­lel to one an­other, mak­ing it fairly easy to find our way about with­out get­ting lost.

And even though it was sunny, the air was chilly as we whizzed by and I was thank­ful for my warm cloth­ing and leg warm­ers.

There were hardly any cars or other ve­hi­cles around. There were also very few peo­ple around un­til we came to a field where we saw some kids play­ing foot­ball.

We took a break and watched un­til it was al­most dusk. Then we turned on the bike lights and pro­ceeded on our way back.

We passed by some shops and stopped to buy some food sup­plies. I’m re­ally not sure how we man­aged to get all those gro­ceries back to the house on the bi­cy­cles ( which had no bas­kets), but by some mir­a­cle, we man­aged to!

The next day, we got more ad­ven-

tur­ous and ven­tured fur­ther. We cy­cled past the field where the kids were play­ing foot­ball yes­ter­day.

As we ped­alled along, we no­ticed that the build­ings grew more sparse and the veg­e­ta­tion be­came wilder. We re­alised we were head­ing into the coun­try­side.

De­cid­ing to ex­plore a bit fur­ther, we turned off from the main road. The grey tar­mac of a side road stretched out end­lessly in front of us. There was not a sin­gle car in sight. Large ram­bling houses with huge com­pounds in­ter­spersed with empty land stretched out on ei­ther side of us. We were rid­ing to nowhere!

The air grew even chill­ier and it looked like it was go­ing to rain. We had not brought along rain­coats as we had not ex­pected to cy­cle so far, but once we started, it was dif­fi­cult to stop.

Glanc­ing at my hardy watch, I was shocked to dis­cover that we had been cy­cling for more than an hour though it felt like just a few min­utes. We de­cided to head back home. Just as we were near­ing the house, it started driz­zling.

We were re­ally ex­cited about the day’s cy­cling ex­pe­di­tion. It was like dis­cov­er­ing a gold mine of un­ex­plored cy­cling trails in the coun­try­side! We de­cided to ex­plore fur­ther to­mor­row.

Horses and al­pacas

The next day, dress­ing even more warmly, we set off ear­lier so that we would have more time be­fore it got dark. We rode along un­til we were deeper into the coun­try­side and then turned off at a dif­fer­ent road than yes­ter­day.

As our sturdy bike tyres pounded the grey tar­mac in front of us, rolling farm­houses in huge fenced up com­pounds stretched out on both sides.

We saw sign­boards warn­ing of kan­ga­roo cross­ings and hoped to see some wildlife. We didn’t, but we hit the jack­pot when we got to see farm an­i­mals!

We no­ticed a ranch and paused to take a closer look at the horses. They were friendly and nuz­zled against us as we tried to pet them.

Then, as we cy­cled past an en­clo­sure, cute crea­tures, the size of a sheep or goat and with thick lux­u­ri­ous fleece and huge round eyes, sud­denly perked up and stared at us cu­ri­ously.

We stopped and stared back. They were al­pacas, dis­tant cousins of the camels.

They were rather gen­tle and timid, and did not ven­ture close to the fence like the horses did.

They just kept star­ing at us from a safe dis­tance within their com­pound, so we couldn’t pet them. Ooh- ing and aah- ing in glee at our find, we took some pho­tos of them.

Some farm dogs even paused from their daily ac­tiv­i­ties to stop and stare ( and bark) at us.

For­tu­nately, they were con­fined within their com­pounds and we did not have to try to out­run them!

My hus­band looked at his watch. We had been cy­cling for three hours and the sun was set­ting. Even though we still had lots of en­ergy, we de­cided to head on back be­fore it got dark.

To me, cy­cling means see­ing the sights and dis­cov­er­ing new things, and it had been a fruit­ful ex­pe­di­tion.

the writer went cy­cling al­most ev­ery day while in Perth.

the writer paused for a rest at a nearby field where some kids were play­ing foot­ball.

Grey tar­mac stretched out end­lessly af­ter a turn- off into the coun­try­side.

One of the perks of cy­cling in the coun­try­side near Perth is dis­cov­er­ing na­tive bush plants like this one.

1 Perth is a cy­clist­friendly city, as this mu­ral sug­gests.

3 If cy­clists want to take the train, they can park their bikes at se­cure ar­eas at the sta­tion.

— Pho­tos: ALEX MOI

5 Adorable al­pacas seen at a farm in the Perth coun­try­side.

2 Full- sized bikes like this are al­lowed on trains ( ex­cept dur­ing peak hours).

4 the writer hit the jack­pot when she came across this charm­ing fel­low on a ranch.

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