Thursday, April 21, 2011

Diurnal dilema

All my life I've lived fairly close to a coast.  My childhood holidays were spent twisting knee-deep while hunting for pipis at low tide and recovering from being dumped by waves at high tide.  I've snorkeled, swum, sailed, strolled, deck-chaired and liloed at coastlines in the Pacific Ocean, the North Atlantic Ocean, the North and Celtic Seas, on both sides of the Tasman Sea and at several spots around the Mediterranean Sea. Given that I have the rockpool-loving gene, I've also spent a fair amount of time waiting for low tide so I can peer into exposed watery worlds. Above are some other people I share that gene with.  A year ago we holidayed together at Waiwera and explored the coastline there.

So I thought I knew a wee bit about the highs and lows of coastal life.  Then I moved here to the edge of the Indian Ocean and learned something new.  It turns out that every coast I had ever been to had a trait in common, but that trait does not exist here. 

We discovered this fact after falling in love with the reefs and rockpools that jut out from various points along Mandurah's coastline.

After several perplexingly unsuccessful return trips to explore them, we looked up tide charts online.  Initially we thought a drunkard had plotted them as the scant and random predictions made no sense to us.  The truth is that the regular daily pattern of tide in/tide out/tide in/tide out that we've always known simply does not apply here. This coastline is one of the few in the world to have diurnal tides, or one cycle of high and low tides a day, whereas all the coasts I'd ever lived at or visited before have semidiurnal tides, or two cycles per day. 

Who knew?  Lots of people it seems, just not me (chart above from here). I was feeling a bit of a dunce until I met various locals who thought I was telling porkies with my crazytalk about places with two tide cycles a day.

I had hoped to take our two visitors to explore this coast's rockpools.  Sadly the tides are against us at the moment as low tide is currently falling in the early hours of the morning.  The shorter visitor is quite tempted by the idea of a torchlit midnight rockpooling expedition, but I'm just pleased there are plenty of other options here for making our own fun.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Visitors are coming!

This evening two visitors are arriving to stay with us for two weeks.  Yippee!  In preparation I've been ensuring the house is less of a health hazard and planning an itinerary for them.  We'll be heading up to Perth and out of town a bit, but the Mandurah-based part of the list reads like a brochure you'd pick up from the visitor centre.

We'll go on some scenic walks - that is Creery Wetlands above and Lake Clifton below,

admire the flora

and the fauna.

We'll catch some local wildlife,

and eat it.

We'll go dolphin spotting

and attempt to photograph them.

We'll cool down at the beach,

at Just 4 fun,

and at Aqua bubble.

We'll kayak

and hire a boat for a daytrip down the estuary.

We'll eat fish and chips in a scenic spot and say "This is perfect.  All we need now are some dolphins".

And then the dolphins will appear. (True.)

Heck I'm sold.  I'd go on holiday here! More houseguests are welcome at any time...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Finally a piece of dolphin merchandise I like

This town is groaning under the weight of dolphin merchandise.  Dolphin merchandise is very popular here, just not with me. I've toyed with the idea of setting up a museum of truly dreadful dolphin merchandise along the lines of the Mangaweka Shell Museum or the Bluff Paua Shell House but a) I suspect the only people who'd visit and appreciate it would be my family and friends, b) the exhibits would be far too easy to collect and I need a bigger challenge and c) I'm starting to really enjoy myself here and don't want to get drummed out of town.

I have however finally found a piece of dolphin merchandise I like, but it wasn't in Mandurah.  A while back I found the card above in a shop in Perth.  That shop has just gone into receivership.  That figures.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Home sweet home hunting

I've been house hunting with a view to us buying a house and moving out of the rental home we currently live in.

(If any architecture students would like to see a classic example of what style of house doesn't work in this climate then they are welcome to come and have a cup of tea at my rented hotbox during a 30+ day, of which we had 60 during summer and another 16 so far this autumn.  Depressingly this house, like so many new homes built here, is just a series of design faults with a roof; I dream of taking a concrete-cutter to it to shift some windows around but I won't because I guess then I wouldn't get my bond back.)

My house hunt has not been successful so far.  See if you can work out why.  The picture above and in the mosaics below are of houses in Mandurah and that are currently listed for sale on Domain where I swiped these pictures from.
WARNING: some of you should go and get a bucket before looking any further.

Not all of the houses in Mandurah are pink with orange rooves, but in one Disneyland-like suburb most are. And apparently they aren't allowed to have solar panels on the roof because they are aesthetically displeasing.  The world has officially gone mad.

Truth be told I actually can't afford any of those houses.  Here are a couple I can afford.

Oh groan.  Sorry to inflict that on you but I felt like I needed to provide evidence to those of you who just think I'm being overly picky. Plenty of people here obviously love that sort of house or there wouldn't be so many of them.  I do not love that sort of house.  Of course there are various other housing options in Mandurah and by looking at 793 Open Homes and interloaning every architecture book from the State Library I have identified exactly what option I hope to find a great example of and make our own.

While most of the thousands of new project homes being built here make we want to weep, I love some project homes that were built here in the 1970s.  The houses I love are either examples of some that were designed by a WA architect who teamed up with a local project home building firm, or rather dishy ripoffs of their work. These homes are modest and simple but clever and stylish and thankfully are pretty unpopular given the reaction I get from real estate agents when I describe what I'm looking for. I have found a few examples locally but none were ideal as they were either wedged up against a new main road, in suburbs where the deli (don't get excited, that's just a dairy) is covered with razor wire, simply far too small (boarding school maybe? bunch of caravans in the carport?) or had been hideously molested by unsympathetic "renovators". The one I'm most excited about seeing inside is on my street, a bit neglected, not for sale and currently inhabited by some interesting folk who the police visit regularly.

If you are feeling sullied by the pictures above, do what I do to wash the nastiness away: visit the Modernist Australia blog,

type "Robin Boyd" into Mr Google and roll around in the images,

(I think that pic came from the Boyd Homes group)

get hold of a copy of Green magazine,

or of Sanctuary magazine.


Better still go to a real life exhibition of the work of pioneering local architect Raymond Jones,

who  "isn't impressed by a lot of modern architecture in Perth, saying he's depressed by the proliferation of ugliness" .

He is not alone.