Friday December 27
We are in Perth after a 400km drive back from Albany. Late this afternoon we returned the camper van to the rental firm (after giving it a good scrub and vacuum at a carwash outside of town) and tonight we are staying in a small backpackers hostel in Northbridge.
The day was sunny and the drive was easy. Traffic to Perth was moderate but on the other side of the road was the summer break exodus heading south with camping trailers and fishing boats in tow, and roof racks overflowing with kids' bikes and vacation gear.
It was both sad and liberating to turn in the camper van today. It was a good home for the two weeks we used it. I can't think of a better way to see this part of Australia. Despite its rattles, a transmission that occasionally popped out of fifth gear without warning and its wandering from edge to edge of the lane in a crosswind, we grew fond of it. But now we are light and free again. We can leave our stuff in the room with less fear of theft and we can walk or use public transit. And it is comfy to have a real bed again.
We gave our clever camper van side door bug screen to a couple just setting out with a van at the rental firm.
Perth feels odd. It is Friday, but many shops and businesses are closed, taking the remainder of the Christmas week off. The streets are quiet and the restaurants are not busy, probably because everyone has left town for the beach.
Tomorrow we'll wander around Perth and we'll spend Sunday in Fremantle before we start the journey late Sunday evening to Auckland.