Took a cruise down the Swan River to Fremantle, with a commentary from the captain. Very pleasant on a beautiful sunny day, but not spectacular. Also, the wind was very chilly.
Fremantle is a very busy port, servicing all sizes of freight and leisure ships. Got off at the quay and entered another world. There is plenty of evidence of colonial rule going back to the 19th century. Much more quaint and old-fashioned than Perth. Also, a helluva lot smaller, but quite attractive all the same.
Visited the Fremantle Markets, one of the main tourist attractions. Packed to the rafters, but quite interesting in the range of goods and foodstuffs on offer. I actually bought a new belt there, as my current one is wearing quite badly. Cue jokes about the increased strain it is under…….
Took a walk along the Marine Terrace towards the Shipwreck Museum. This really took me by surprise, as it was a very in-depth record of the huge number of ships, mainly Dutch, that have foundered off the west coast of Australia, mainly in the 17th century in search of the mythical Southland. The Dutch, of course, had colonised much of the Indonesian area, so were looking for more – erm – commercial opportunities. The Dutch East India Company at the time were pretty much masters of all they surveyed in a maritime context.
The main focus was on a ship called the Batavia (this was the name for the city currently known as Jakarta). A harrowing tale of mutiny and murder, (http://museum.wa.gov.au/research/research-areas/maritime-archaeology/batavia-cape-inscription/batavia) but, rather like the Mary Rose, some of the Batavia’s timbers have been raised from the sea and preserved in this museum, along with a huge number of artefacts. The similarity to the Mary Rose is striking, although on a smaller scale.
There was also an interesting room telling the story of the SS Xantho, which had a revolutionary horizontal maritime engine, built in Britain in the mid-19th century. This engine has been raised, de-clagged and rebuilt – a quite extraordinary feat of salvage and a real tribute to the quality of British engineering at the time.
Then along to find some fish and chips, another thing Fremantle is renowned for. Visited Kailis, one of the more famous ones. Like a UK fish and chip shop on steroids. Huge place – very noisy and crowded, but placed an order which arrived remarkably quickly. It was very tasty, and very welcome, but I have had better fish and chips, if I’m honest.
Then visited the Round House. Quite interesting history and I can do no better than refer to their website (http://www.fremantleroundhouse.com.au/history). Also, a nice view down the Fremantle High Street with yellow concentric circles on the buildings (me neither) and some views over Fremantle marina and harbour. Wind was bloody freezing, though, which detracted from the experience more than somewhat.
Then back to Perth on the train from Fremantle station. Easy, painless and pretty quick. Solved the problem of our now-defunct suitcases very simply by donating them to the hotel. They do occasionally get guests whose suitcases have been trashed by the journey, so they were actually very grateful. Win-win situation.
Facing another night of “free” cocktails and canapes for dinner, but we will try and get out for a meal tomorrow night. Honest. Maybe.
Leave a Reply