If you like old maps, are fascinated by pearl luggers, and/or don’t know much about early exploration when this part of the world was New Holland and then The Great South Land, the Western Australian Maritime Museum is your kind of place. I walked out at 5 pm with the staff and sauntered slowly along Bathers Bay to the historic, often-redone Esplanade Hotel. Our tour schedule called for a Dine Around Dinner. For Ruth and me this meant a delightful multi-course, 5 Compass Esplanade repast that lasted until 9:30.
The next morning we had a 3 Compass tram tour of Fremantle that emphasized its enormous port facilities. We saw container behemoths, fishing fleets, 0cean liners, etc. But the only time my ears really came to attention was when the too jolly driver pointed to a ship loading cattle and sheep and told us that the animals were on their way to the Middle East for ritual sacrifices.
A second harbor/port about 12 miles south of town with deep water facilities handles bulk cargo–grain, liquid gas, etc. This Outer Harbor port handles the overflow that will continue to grow as the Inner Harbor reaches its full capacity by 2015. Australia avoids recession as long as China booms.
On the tram we passed the notorious Fremantle Prison that beckons, “STEP INSIDE AND DO TIME WITH US”. But we didn’t. Built by convicts in the 1850s, it ended up as a maximum security jail that didn’t close until 1991. Its Torchlight Tour, not recommended for children under 10 and folks with heart conditions, visits the morgue and gallows and promises “a few surprises along the way!”
Another Freo moniker is “The City of Artists”, and the rest of the morning we ducked in and out of shops and studios looking at stuff made by local artists that we wouldn’t buy because of the cost of Australian Post. A small box of memorabilia that we didn’t need for Western Wildflower Tour, Part 2 that would take us as far north as Monkey Mia cost $75 dollars to mail home, the cheapest rate for delivery in 3 months, maybe.
Perth is only 11 miles up the Swan River from Fremantle and those who took the city highlights tram tour had no choice but to take a lunch cruise up the river. It was about as underwhelming as the tram tour.
Back in Perth by mid-afternoon, Ruth & I checked out the Holmes à Court Gallery & the Swan Bell Tower, both 3 compass attractions, and stocked up on road snacks. We had been warned that the next day would be our longest and get us back to the real subject of this tour, Western Australia’s abundant wildflowers, with a visit to a Wildflower Farm. That evening, instead of enjoying Perth’s vibrant nightlife, we did something mundane but necessary–laundry.