Nan and Walt's 1999 - 2000 Sabbatical
Report #10, May 10, 2000 - Part II
Australia


We have been in Perth (map - We live near the green area in Nedlands.) for a month now and there is a month to go before we start on our trip home! Perth is a lovely city as you can see from this shot from Kings Park.  Perth is a bit like Los Angeles in that it's center is full of skyscrapers but that occupies just a small area.  The surrounding which spread in all directions as in L.A. are suburban in character.

There is water everywhere between the Indian Ocean, lakes and rivers.  The climate is such that water sports are a big part of almost everyone's lives.  Ocean shores and river banks are lined with open park area encouraging everyone to partake.  Gas barbecues (and the gas) are provided in many of them! We use the park areas a lot as they all have wonderful bicycle paths. (We each bought used bikes for $12! (20 AUD))

The climate is VERY seductive.  Today it is about 24 C (76 F) and winter is fast approaching.  The weather is mostly fine, i.e., sunny.  It is kind of like California in that way as well. In fact, Australia (or at least Perth) feels very much like we are living in the U.S.

  

These photos were taken just after we got here.  Thomas Braunl took us to Cottlesloe Beach just a few minutes from our lovely on campus apartment.  The tall ship under sail is the Duyfken which was leaving for a trip to Indonesia.  It later sustained some damage in the same region that the Batavia sunk! (You may remember some photos of a replica that was built in the Netherlands from an earlier report. There is more about the Batavia below.)  The Duyfken is a replica of the first recorded (Dutch) ship to have sailed to Australia (in 1606).  It was built and is owned by the Western Australia Maritime Museum.

Here is Walt standing in front of the Maritime Museum which he has visited many times!  He's wearing a Zeb's T-shirt.  We understand that if you bring in a photo of yourself in front of some landmark wearing a Zeb's T-shirt, you can a free meal.  So, Walt keeps his T-shirt in the car, just in case!  (Thanks, Carm for the shirts!)

  

The Museum houses the remains of the Dutch ship, Batavia, which sunk off the Australian coastline on its maiden voyage and which was excavated in the 1970's.  The section of the hull that was recovered is quite small as can be seen in the picture on the right. The portico in the back of the room on the right was part of cargo of the Batavia that was recovered.  The museum displays many items recovered from the Batavia and from other shipwrecks, including the canon shown below.

  

The museum also has a submarine heritage section that includes this Oberon class submarine, which is open to visitors.

  

The Maritime Museum is located in Fremantle, just 7 kilometers down the Swan River from Perth.  It sits on the shore and was home to the America's Cup races some time ago.  We heard that the races caused a major cleanup of the area.  Fremantle is now very much like many of the villages of Cape Cod, very yuppyish.  On the left is the Round House, built in 1831, it is the oldest public building in Western Australia and was originally a prison.

The beaches of Perth are subject to shark attacks about once every three years, but these attacks usually take place out in the ocean a bit, not in the public beach areas.  The "Product of Poland" shown above was a victim of one such attack and is on display in a Fremantle fish and chips place.

  

The city center has a lot of traffic congestion, so the local authorities recently added tunnel access from the freeway which is about a mile long and goes from West Perth to East Perth under the city center.  There was a big celebration for it's completion (ahead of schedule) and opening.  The first day it was open to pedestrians and later to vintage cars (You can see the backs of some in the photo on the left.). Walt and I walked the tunnel both ways.

We'd seen many photos of the Pinnacle Desert and decided as it was only a couple of hundred kilometers away, we would make a day trip to visit it.  The formations themselves ranging from two centimeters in height up to four meters are a product of erosion.  But, the area is reasonably small, inundated with the most annoying flies.  We aren't quite sure it was worth the seven hours of driving we did that day to see them.  (Of course, Walt may get a meal at Zeb's out of it.  :-))

  

A couple of weeks ago, we saw an article in the Saturday paper about an auction that was to take place the next day of a collection of phonographs.  We decided to go to the preview.  Walt's model of phonograph wasn't represented, but the two closest ones went for between 500 and 750 Australian dollars.  The collection was absolutely outstanding.

  

Meanwhile, we do spend time at the University of Western Australia where we're housed in the deparment of Electrical and Electronic Engineering ( the Centre for Intelligent Information Processing Systems with Thomas Braunl). Here's Thomas and some of his robots.

  

You might be interested in some of the Australian flora and fauna.  Some of our photos may be seen from the links below:


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Nan C. Schaller
Rochester Institute of Technology
Computer Science Department
102 Lomb Memorial Dr.
Rochester, NY 14623-5608
telephone: +1.585.475.2139
fax: +1.585.475.7100
e-mail: ncs@cs.rit.edu

4 May 2001