Where to pick fruit around Perth, Western Australia?

Australian Exotics

Unusual, unusual, out of the ordinary, characteristic of the nature, everyday life and culture of remote, little-known countries… This is roughly how the term exotic is defined in the Wiktionary.

Reflecting on a recent trip to the Australian islands of the Indian Ocean, I must admit that this definition fits them well. The uniqueness of what we have seen is another distinctive feature of this distant frontier, inherent not only in the islands themselves and the creatures that inhabit them, but even in the history of their exploration, about which we still have no unequivocal opinion, and so the debate goes on.

In this series, I will try to tell about it – the unique exoticism of distant lands and our journey to the Indian Ocean through the west coast of Australia (West Coast). We’d like to start it this way: stopping half way to the Maldives, from a dank Melbourne winter we got straight into a tropical paradise…

But first things first.

The Far West

From the East Coast of Australia, where the main states and infrastructure of the country are located, the West Coast is separated by many thousands of kilometers of endless deserts and semi-deserts of the most arid continent on the planet, called by a big misunderstanding the Green Planet.

Thirty-odd years ago, when we moved to Australia, there were no direct flights between its east and west coasts. To get to Perth, the capital of Western Australia, from Melbourne or Sydney, one had to fly to Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, first, and then continue the next morning from Adelaide to Perth.

Now it’s no problem at all – three or three and a half hours depending on direction (at those distances the earth’s rotation already makes a noticeable difference!) and you’re there. But West Coast is still far west – peculiar, sparsely populated and little developed region, with distinctive, very different from the east coast mentality of its inhabitants.

Fremantle is the main port of Perth and the entire western region. For many generations of immigrants, it has been the place of first encounter with Australia.

My former boss, who was born in Sydney, first came to Perth when he was well into his 50s, and my husband, who has traveled the world, only this time, when he was in his 60s. I, on the other hand, as the unforgettable Zhvanetsky used to say, have often been and worked in Perth on duty and for long periods of time, getting to know the distant and peculiar West Coast in passing.

Its inhabitants, for example, are convinced that the East Coast – pampered with the amenities of civilization and an abundance of services of Australia, and the inhabitants of Sydney and Melbourne have long lost the skills of survival and the ability to cope independently with the vicissitudes of fate. The West Coast is a different story: it is too far from everything, even the East Coast, so you have to rely only on yourself. “You can leave that stainless steel for the East Coast,” my colleagues in Perth grumbled. But for us, please, give only marine grade (steel with increased resistance to sea salt and other aggressive chemicals) – we do not need unnecessary problems here!…”.

The last two decades have been a Golden Age for Western Australia. The Commodity boom (crazy volumes of mining) mainly for bottomless China allowed Australia not only to easily survive all the global economic cataclysms, but also enriched its western regions to such an extent that the West Coast even began to talk about independence and separation from Australia. During the boom it was not only politicians who went “nuts. Many Australians left their cities, families and professional careers and went west to dig, load and carry ore in the deserts where any work paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Now the situation with China is not very good, people have calmed down, well, and Perth, using the accumulated funds continues to be built and is getting better before our eyes.

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And now let us leave Perth and mainland Australia with it. Four hours more northwest into the desert, this time oceanic, and we’re in one of Australia’s seven outer territories, including its only atoll, the Cocos Keeling Islands and Christmas Island, located a thousand kilometers apart. The translations of the names of these islands do not sound important, so I will use just Cocos and Christmas Island.

Pure exoticism

While few tourists make it to Perth with its population of two million, Cocos and Christmas Island are visited by very rare birds.

For average Australians Christmas Island has a rather unsightly reputation and is mainly associated with the Immigration Detention Centre – a place of detention for illegal immigrants, who regularly try to cross the Indian Ocean and land on Australian shores.

But the public knows little about the fully legal residents – red crabs, which inhabited the Christmas Island long before it appeared on maps and now number in the tens of millions. Nor is it known that the crabs once made Christmas Island a wonder of the world according to David Attenborough.

Unfortunately, we did not coincide in time with the miracle itself (mass migration of red crabs, which lasts several days a year, when the monsoon rains start). So I give you just a picture from the Internet, and the story about these phenomenally unique migrants is still ahead.

With Cocos Islands – the same story. The only atoll visited by Charles Darwin, where his famous theory of the formation of coral atolls was finally formed, is little known to most Australians. Until very recently, there was a small, independent kingdom that was part of the British Empire. Five generations of the dynasty of its founder, John Clunis Ross, ruled the Cocos Islands for 150 years. Not only did they rule, but in 1954 they welcomed Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, to their family estate in Cocos! And then Australia liberated Cocos from the colonizing autocrat, a story we will return to.

Like Norfolk, Cocos and Christmas Island are part of Australia, having a special (and not very clear) status of its external territory IOT (Indian Ocean Territories). The IOT islands are accessible only from Perth, but not without complications – only one airline Virgin flies here, and that twice a week, weather permitting. And the weather doesn’t always allow it, because IOT is located close to the Equator in the cyclone zone, as we have seen on our own experience.

On Tuesdays the plane departs from Perth International Terminal early in the morning and flies in a counterclockwise loop: first to Christmas Island, then to Cocos, and back to Perth by midnight. On Friday the route is clockwise: Perth – Cocos – Christmas Island – Perth. It’s a long drive of more than 14 hours, so there are always two flight crews on board.

First, the plane flies along the west coast of Australia to the north. After two hours it refuels at the last inland Exmouth Gulf and then heads west into the Indian Ocean. I do not know why this is so difficult – we had no problem refueling on each of the islands. It was probably due to the fact that leaving from Perth the plane is loaded with as little fuel as possible with all sorts of stuff for which there is always a high demand on the islands.

Each passenger is allowed one piece of luggage up to 23 kg and 7 kg of hand luggage. You can try to buy extra kilos of luggage, but the airline does not guarantee that they will be accepted on boarding. If the plane is too loaded only the first 23 kg will be taken. Then what to do with the rest, I did not find out.

The airfare from Perth to the islands IOT is like in the pre-Victorian days from Australia to Europe and back, and not on a low-cost airline, but on a “decent” airline like Qantas or Emirates . But much worse is the fact that there are only 120 beds (not rooms, just “beds”) available for tourist accommodation in Cocos Islands, and the quality of those “beds”, to put it mildly, doesn’t quite match their price. What you would normally ask $100 for in mainland Australia, you can get here for $250-300 and sell for a year ahead (or more if you talk about peak season)!

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We got the idea to visit these faraway islands after the covid drama that happened on Norfolk Island in February 2021. After sitting in isolation for 5 out of 8 days, we were unable to snorkel on its coral reef, so the overwhelming desire to somehow fix it in the face of Australia closing off from the world and going deeper and deeper into the covid corkscrew led us to look at the Australian islands in the Indian Ocean.

Having familiarized ourselves with the matter and coming to terms with the size of the expense involved, we decided to act. The situation was aggravated, however, by the fact that everything on the Cocos Islands was “seized” by several travel agencies – despite the victory of Australian democracy over the cursed colonial past, the concept of the free market had not yet caught on there.

And when we were ready to give the agent our seven thousand dollars for airfare, lodging and car rental, Western Australia, including the West Coast with the Indian Ocean islands controlled from Perth, closed off not only from the big world, but from the rest of Australia as well.

In desperation, we decided to switch to the development of still available to the residents of Melbourne national parks (Northen Territory) of Australia, but three days before our departure, Melbourne announced its next (seventh) lockdown, and now not only Western Australia, but also Northen Territory did not want to see us on its vast expanses inhabited by rare aborigines and frequent crocodiles.

And then the covid in Australia bored everyone, but much more serious events began in our distant homeland of Ukraine. With them unfortunate Cocos, Christmas Island and Northen Territory completely forgotten, and only occasionally my husband, browsing the Internet, sadly stated that “there is the same, but more expensive,” and beds on Cocos in the right season is still no …

And suddenly a travel agent showed up who we dealt with last year – one of his clients had canceled a two-week tour booked a year ago to Cocos and Christmas Island, and in the best season for Cocos (in July) and even with a very acceptable quality of accommodation.

This time we decided not to miss out on such good fortune.

Practical-Pragmatic

Quite unexpectedly, after paying for our tickets, the airline sent us detailed instructions on how to transport fruits, vegetables, frozen (!) meat and other produce to Cocos and Christmas Island . As it turned out, this is another unique feature of IOT islands and the subject of heated discussions on Australian travel forums.

It turned out that since colonial times the islands have only feral coconut plantations and chickens, a few luxurious bread trees and still full of wildlife in the lagoon and the ocean.

There are also the occasional banana palm tree or a very unattractive patch of strange vegetables. Everything else is brought here by cargo planes once every two weeks or by containers by sea several times a year.

By the general opinion of experienced travelers (and not custom-made commercials, emotionally selling the authenticity of the islands) the local cuisine even in the best of times was not diverse or exquisite. Which, however, is understandable and expected – with the resulting cost of imported products islanders clearly have no time for gourmet food!

Here are some examples from their supermarkets.

Exotic in the Australian way

In order not to pay astronomical prices for their simple cooking tourists got used to carrying food with them, so that airline companies had to establish already known to us instructions to keep at least some order on board. Unexpectedly our experience to prepare foodstuffs for sailing under uninhabited islands without restaurants and supermarkets turned out to be very useful. This time, however, severe weight restrictions and the absence of a normal stove in the booked accommodation on both islands made the task very non-trivial.

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After much discussion, weighing, recalculating, optimizing and compacting, a menu was created for 12 lunches and 14 breakfasts. The corresponding ingredient list of 70 items was approved. One and a half kilos of chicken breast is frozen and packed according to instructions in the luggage, the weight of each suitcase is adjusted to slightly over the 23 kg mark, and items that did not want to fit in the 7 kg carry-on baggage are scattered in the pockets.

Except for the fact that one of our suitcases was severely injured during the flights and buried on Christmas Island-everything went well. Exotic Indian Ocean islands were perfectly matched with Ukrainian buckwheat from Melbourne (first perfectly microwaved!), German wieners, Latvian sprats, Israeli pickles, and on and on the list.

And planned visits to two local restaurants with koko-Malay delicacies and my favorite roti were cancelled on both islands – due to covid, one closed for good, the other “temporarily.”

To wrap up the topic of food and drink, alcohol remains duty free on all the islands in Australia’s “outer” territories. On Christmas Island it was moreover obscenely cheap, and the choice – just a giant, including my beloved liquor, disappeared from sale in Australia and abroad about 15 years ago.

To conclude the logistics part, a few words about the covid rules. Each IOT island required a certificate of vaccination, permission from the local authorities and 2 negative tests – the day before arrival on the island to board the plane and the 3rd day after arrival. Test results were entered into a single database. Those who were covid-positive were isolated; those who were within 3 rows of the covid-positive on the plane were tested every day. Just in case, therefore, we used super-quality N95 type masks used by medical staff in covid wards of Australian hospitals on planes and airports.

And this time, all was without drama.

Multiculturalism in action

In reviewing a new cycle one always wants, as the classic wrote, to “touch everything lightly.” But the eternal problem of the size of a long-read makes us choose only the most essential or helping us better understand what we see. So a few words about the traditions and culture of the OIT islands – very unusual for Australia and rather reminiscent of the Maldives or Southeast Asia.

The population of the islands is small – about 550 people on Cocos and about two thousand on Christmas Island -e. The vast majority of the inhabitants – the descendants of Malaysians and Indonesians brought in the XIX century from the islands of the Malay Archipelago to work on coconut plantations, and then to extract phosphates, discovered on Christmas Island-e in 1887 in untold quantities. Then came the Singapore Chinese, attracted by phosphates, and finally, in the second half of the 20th century, the Australians, who slowly got their hands on the islands as they struggled with their colonial past.

As a result, in less than two hundred years a small nation of the so-called Koko-Malayans was formed on Kokos, who are Muslims, speak their own distinctive dialect, live on a separate island, and represent 75% of the atoll’s current population.

On the phosphate-mining Christmas Island, the picture is more diverse. The major religions-Muslims, Buddhists, and Christians-are roughly equal in number, and together make up about 60% of the population. The remaining 40% are agnostics and atheists, respectively.

Today this motley international has no problem getting along under the watchful eye of the Australian government, which is obsessed with making their lives even better. But this was not always the case.

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It may come as a surprise to many that since 1901 Australia has officially pursued a discriminatory White Australia policy aimed at attracting immigrants from Europe. Restrictions, taxes or simple bans were imposed on “non-white” immigrants from Asia and Oceania.

However, since the 1950s, attitudes toward “non-whites” began to change, and by the early 1980s, all acts that had legalized racial discrimination were abolished. Australia then announced to the world its commitment to Multiculturalism (the parallel existence of different cultures for their mutual enrichment and flourishing), surpassing even the famous idea of the American “melting pot” that implied the fusion of all immigrant cultures into one.

The OIT islands today are a typical example of this multiculturalism, with all the positive and negative consequences, which we will talk about separately. For now, I will say that all manifestations of authentic SEA cultures are treated here with excessive seriousness: dozens of traditional and adapted to the local specific religious shrines and temples are maintained in impeccable condition (in contrast to the housing for tourists), regular festivals “national minorities” with colorful performances and treats, sometimes even resembling the famous street food (street food) Penang, invite all comers, etc.

This delightful crab sculpture caught our attention from the road.

When we stopped, we saw that both it and another sculpture of the red crab we already knew are set on lotus flowers in one of the Buddhist temples along with traditional elephants. A nearby colorful poster in three languages explained that these sculptures are not only a tribute to local “celebrities,” but also a reminder of our responsibility for them and also a reflection of some more complex Buddhist concept of enlightenment.

Where to pick fruit around Perth, Western Australia?

Which part of Australia has the most fruit

Recently a friend of mine was interested in what part of Australia has the most fruit and the best climate (tropical) to go there to live and work. We started to find out and it turned out that it was the northern part of Australia, namely the city of Cairns and its surroundings (the state of Queensland – Northern Queensland). Almost all the tropical fruits are there! By the way, it’s even more like northeast Australia. 16 degrees south of the equator, it’s even more tropical than even Hawaii.

Cairns has durian (in season), avocado, papaya, mango, bananas, coconuts, jackfruit, marang, chempedac, sugar apple, sour cream apple, rollinia, cherimoya, aki, green sapote, canistel (yellow sapote), passion fruit, pink apple, tomato, rambutan, sugar cane, etc. A lot is not as cheap as in Southeast Asia, but there is almost everything.

Cairns is home to a large market called Rusty’s Market, which is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Even if not every day, but there is a very good selection of fruit, you can definitely find all kinds of tropical fruits. On Sundays they sell everything there at very low prices, since it’s their last working day before the weekend. There are also local farmers’ markets in towns around Cairns, and fruit farms themselves, where you can pick up all kinds of fruit as well.

So, more about the fruit situation in the fruit part of Australia (prices are in Australian dollars, now $1 AUS = 90cents US): – Coconuts can always be found at the markets, $2-$5 ($61 to $152 rub/piece) depending on how many pieces to buy. – Jackfruit is very plentiful from October to February. – durian is about the same, but very expensive. – marang is rare in the markets. – Papaya year-round, very good and tasty, $2.50 (76 rub/kg). if you buy a lot at once, it will be cheaper. – Mango – The season begins in October. A lot of different varieties, very tasty. Sometimes you can not buy mangoes at all, but pick from the giant 100-year-old mango trees growing on the beach or in the parks. From December to March mangoes are only $ 1 (30 rubles / kg), and this is even cheaper than in Asia.

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– peaches – 4 $/kg (122 rub/kg).

– bananas – 2 $/kg (61 rbl/kg).

– avocado – 4 pieces for 2 $ (61 rub)

– grapes – 4 $/kg (122 rub/kg)

Cairns is the best place in Australia in respect of fruit and climate. But if you have plans to work in Australia the only problem is Cairns is a small town and it can be difficult to find a job there unlike in big cities and the capital city. But the fruit is great there. My Australian raw food friends think the best idea in terms of working in Australia is to join the Wwoofing scheme, to work on farms for free food. They accept people who are over 30 years old and have a one-year Australian work visa. If you work on a farm for 3 months (paid work) or 3 months Wwoofing or a mixture of both, this company helps you extend your visa for another year. They also advise you to join the CAirns raw food group on Facebook.

And a little more about Cairns (North Queensland). This place is recognized as one of the best places in the world for the availability of tropical fruits thanks to the efforts of some people back in the 70’s and 80’s. They sent fruit seeds to Australia from endangered areas – the Amazon, Central America, Southeast Asia, Africa. And here in Quinland the seeds go to the Rare Fruit Council. In 1982, our Australian friend Robert was president of this company. So he himself says that Cairns and the surrounding area is home to many very rare tropical and subtropical fruits, and it’s one of the best fruit places on the entire planet. Also in terms of the best combination of fruit-tropics in Australia, “areas from northern New South Wales, Brisbane up to Cairns” was advised.

All of this information was shared by our friends Jeff, Steven and Robert from Australia, as well as Spanish-Italian Zavi, who worked (as an avocado picker) and lived in Australia for a while.

It made me want to go to Australia even more! Always Asia and Asia.

And now some fresh pictures from 2013 of Cairns and the surrounding area. Look at the abundance of fruit there.

Jeff on a coconut palm.

A young Australian coconut.

Cream apple, rollonia, papaya, bananas, passion fruit, pink apple.

Left cherimoya, cream apple and rollinia.

Jeff and jackfruit.

Yes, yes, yes, in Australia, these are soft jackfruits, the same consistency as a chempedak. I’ve never tasted one of those yet!

Green Sapote. That’s a fruit I’ve never tasted before, either.

Citrus.

A raw harvest of young coconuts.

Cream apples.

Green sapote.

An old mango tree.

And here are the mangoes themselves. They are said to be very tasty in Australia.

Fresh mushrooms. Jeff himself comments on this picture like this: “Our local B12 dealer. That is, “Our local B12 dealer.

Canistel (yellow sapote).

Papaya.

Aki… A fruit I dream of trying, too!

Only the white part of it is edible.

Avocado.

Harvesting sugar cane.

Getting juice from sugar cane.

Daintree River. It’s wonderful out there!

View of Cairns from a place called Kuranda Range.

These beauties are called Mossman.

Custard apple.

Rolinia.

Thorntons Peak.

Mossman and a view of Thorntons Peak.

The Daintree River again.

Mungalli Falls.

Morning Jungle.

A snake came to drink.

Cheerful company of Australian cheese eaters.

The website of the above farm: http://www.wwoof.com.au/ This is not so much a farm, but a worldwide eco-program, in Russian called woofing. Membership costs 40-50 bucks a year. They send out a book with the addresses of organic farms around the world. Or for a certain country. Then you make an agreement with the farmer yourself. Working for food and living with the family for about 4-5 hours a day.

And now that such a theme began, read more about real estate in Spain by the sea. Also very interesting information, no less useful than about Australia.

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