Sunday was a big day out for us in Perth. It was Peter's birthday and there were a couple of things we wanted to get up to Perth to see.
In order to get on our way a little sooner than our Sunday routine normally allows, we attended St. John's Lutheran Church which is right in the downtown area of Perth. It's an old congregation that is currently enjoying relatively good health as they are undertaking a $13 million building project to build a office building that will serve their own needs as well as provide significant rent income. We've been wanting to attend a "traditional" worship service St. John's for some time as we haven't attended one since being in Australia. We were glad we went, and found some friendly faces that we connected with.
From downtown Perth we headed directly west to Cottesloe Beach to take in the annual "Sculptures by the Sea" display. It was a beautiful day with mostly blue skies and a top of about 35°C (95°F). We had visited the Sculptures last year and enjoyed it so much that we made sure we saw this year's version. It's copied from an annual event held at the famous Bondi Beach in Sydney. As at Bondi, the Cottesloe organisers invite artists to create sculptures that are then planted in and around this very popular beach. Significant money is awarded to the best and most of them get sold off.
Whilst there, Karl, Dane and I changed into our bathers and played in the surf. Dane and Karl body surfed a few good waves - much bigger waves than we ever get at our reef-protected beach by our house in Warnbro.
By mid-afternoon we were ready to move down the coast a few minutes to the port at Fremantle. The world's largest ocean liner, the Queen Mary 2, was in port for the day. She's in the midst of a 101-day cruise around the world. We weren't the only curious onlookers as Fremantle was flooded with thousands of people who came to farewell the ship that was planning on leaving around 5pm.
The Queen Mary 2 is huge at 1,132 feet long (that's almost 4 football fields long) and 236 feet tall. She's the largest ocean liner ever built (although there are now two "cruise ships" that are bigger). Between passengers and crew, it carries over 5,000 people. We heard that it would cost about $100,000 for a room on the Queen Mary 2 to travel from Australia to England.
As is protocol for big ships like this, there was a flotilla of small watercraft escorting the Queen Mary 2, all led by the port's fireboat with it's water guns spraying into the air. The edges of the waterway into the port were lined with thousands of people waving Aussie flags. It was quite a thrill to see it up close and sailing off into the Indian Ocean sunset.