I just arrived in Perth…
For some reason the main flight from Singapore to Perth arrives at 4:30 am. On approach in the dead of night, the view out of the window lets you know just how remote Perth is. At the edge of the city, the web of orange street lights stop dead. And from that, there’s nothing, in any direction. But when you say there’s nothing, there really is no thing, not a single thing. Just black. At least 1600 miles of either bush or the indian ocean are your only options if you fancy leaving. Perth is an outpost, the most remote kind. A city made rich off the very red earth which isolates it. A frontier town where the border’s not a political one, rather one between man, and hot, uninhabitable nature.
The taxi from the airport in the hour before dawn makes you feel like you’re the only human alive. The street lights barely seem to receive enough power to do their job, as though the effort of getting that electricity across this great continent has sapped the lights themselves of the strength to do their job. So you struggle your cases in to your apartment, the one with a single anaemic bulb in the middle of the room and you promise yourself you’ll just sleep two hours, like that pilot you met in Hong Kong last year told you you should, but when the alarm goes off at 10 it sounds like an army of murderers stampeding through your frontal lobe, so you dive back in to your circadian trough.
When once you do emerge, it feels like a new day, but it’s the same day as before. It should be morning but its mid-afternoon and the rest of the world’s going on about its business without a care for your body clock. So you stumble out into the polar opposite of what you thought of the place at 5am. The sea breeze is rolling in, its cutting through the blazing sun and you sweat and you squint and ask of your body what it just can’t quite do - adjust to crossing 10 time zones in less than 24 hours.
Meanwhile there’s people drinking coffee and laughing and speaking in code words about the surf and they’ve got tanned skin and blond hair and tattoos and the cafe owner is playing obscure blues and serving single estate Ethiopian yirgachaffe and you realise every negative observation you made about this place in the dark, eyes bleary from transcontinental travel, was wrong, for the moment at least.