Tuesday, August 3, 2010

King's Park, Farmers Market, and Weird Plants

We went to the farmer's market this morning, which was held on the grassy grounds of the Aboriginal college, near the Curtin Institute of Technology. I love farmer's markets, and this was a particularly nice one, featuring just-different enough produce to keep me interested. I'm particularly taken with the delicious passion fruits, tangerines, and butternut squashes.

I love the trees here.

The cool weather is another delight - as someone who is moving to Cambodia, I doubt I'll experience temps this cool and salubrious for a while. I had a fantastic butter croissant. Why have I eaten so few croissants over the years? My life has been as nothing.

Australians take sausages extremely seriously.

Australia has weird plants. This may sound like a minor detail, but it's remarkable how aberrant vegetation can affect the mind when traveling overseas. The trees are different, the foliage underfoot is different, and the flowers are different - it's these things that facilitate one's realization that you are truly Far Away from Home.

King's Park is located on the other side of the river from South Perth, and can be viewed as a sizeable chunk of bushland across the water. It's a very fine park indeed and is the biggest inner-city park in the world- 3/4ths is preserved wild foliage, and half is manicured and attractive gardens and ponds. There's a coffee shop and a couple of restaurants with fantastic views of the city and the water below. There are also an enormous quantity of weird lookin' plants, as well as weird lookin' birds. It is called King's Park, shockingly enough, after King Edward VII of England, renamed from Perth Park in 1901 after the visit of the future King George V, then the Duke of York. The park was formally set aside in 1829 by Lieutenant Governor James Stirling, two years after the founding of the Swan River colony, and has remained such ever since.

The local Nyoongar people considered Mt. Eliza, where the park is situated, as an important meeting place and hunting ground, and dubbed it Kaarta Gar-Up. There is a hilarious signpost in the park which ask the visitor to "imagine how the Nyoongar people felt when they viewed Western ships sailing up the Swan River. What anticipation and excitement..." Or perhaps they thought something more accurately along the lines of "no good can come of THIS."

The botanic gardens at King Park are awesome, and a great way to get a sense for the curious Aussie vegetation that populates WA. There's an amazing sea-green artist designed bridge that stretches over a gorge here, with an unnerving tendency to sway gently when the wind picks up. You can see it all the way from my aunt's apartment in Applecross.

Pink Paper Daisies. The brilliantly colored petals are extremely dry and papery, and thus come "pre-dried." Exceedingly convenient for home decorations.

This very large Boab tree was actually trucked here from WA's Kimberley region in 2008. The tree is estimated to be 750 years old, and landed here after it was determined that a highway was to be built through its old location. The Park sprang at the idea of taking it in, and it was replanted here. The local Gija people performed a goodbye ritual for the tree. The images of the tree slapped onto a flatbed and road-tripping to its new home are not un-amusing.

The alien-like Qualup Bell, which apparently is exceedingly titchy to grow for backyard gardeners. I love plants that resemble alien life forms. Or Pokemon.

Some lovely orange and pink snapdragons.

I believe these weird looking things are in the WA native wild rose family, though don't quote me. Does anyone know?

Asymmetric leaves = ABERRATION OF NATURE. And very cool.

The amusing and reasonably common wattle bird, so named for the red wattles hanging down below its beak. Their calls are incredibly weird and sort of sound like someone going OOK URK GLOOK repeatedly. It's hilarious. They're clever little beasties, and fun to watch.

Highly festive strawberry-like flowers. No clue what the species name is. I suck.

We ended the afternoon with a coffee at the cafe up top, and a look at the surprisingly excellent gift-shop. Picked out a fantastic card for my mom. She'll like it. Then we headed home and roasted chicken for supper. Perth remains civilized.

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