All About Ships

Sat. 4th May 2019

They would not take DaveAs ever, we are not doing things in the easy way. We have three possible days to visit Rottnest Island. Yesterday after arriving in Perth late the previous evening and rush back to meet Tammy for the evening. Today being Saturday when it is likely to be crowded, or when we come back to Fremantle in a fortnight. We have chosen the later but that means there will not be time to see Fremantle then. This is how we come to be on the 910 bus from Perth heading 50 stops (in 45 minutes!) west to the coast, armed with our family day tripper ticket for $12.80. Thank you to the kind bus driver who saved us from paying twice as much for the individual fares.

Fremantle PrisonOur first stop is the prison, the only Heritage Site listed building in WA. It was built in the 1850s and used until the 1990s. After a few obligatory photos, and the chance to put Dave in the chain gang, we moved on as there is so much we would rather see than a touristy tour of life in a prison. The last prison I visited was one Boxing Day in Oxford with Steve as we did not want a trip to see Reading play. We were the only punters on the tour and I still have the mug shot fridge magnet to show for it!

Colours of the MarketMore our scene is the market. What a blast of colour as we entered, from the fruit, flowers, jewellery and clothing. Also the aroma from all the food stalls. A few free nibbles like the peanut butter chocolate (glad I did not ask first but so sweet it masked the nut taste), persimmon fruit and other unusual foods. Too early for lunch unfortunately as the choice here was massive and inviting.

Fishermens monumentIt was noon and we had not yet seen the sea proper. We had crossed rivers and canals on the bus but that does not count. We then headed to the coast passing the statue of Bon Scott of AC/DC fame. As this is an important fishing port we spent a few minutes studying the names on the Fisherman’s monument on a jetty along with the almost lifelike statues of working fishermen.

On this day...Just time to head around the Shipwreck Museum before lunch. Each day they display a list of facts relating to that day in history. It is full of relics from the many ships wrecked along the west coast. The most famous being the Batavia, a Dutch ship wrecked in 1629 with a gruesome story of mutiny and murders. There is even a skeleton of one of the crew on display. Divers managed to salvage the front corner of the ship, which has been reconstructed in the museum. What we also learned was that Batavia is the old name for Jakarta back when it was a Dutch colony..

Remains of BataviaThere is also a gallery telling the tale of Dutch explorers which again was full of many artefacts. We did come away wandering why, after so many Dutch landing it was the Brits influence which remains today. More research required but that can wait for another day. There is obviously a lot of work gone into this museum and for an avid shipwreck follower would be heaven. There is even an ongoing conservation project of the steam engine from SS Xantho which turned over first time even after spending a 100 years underwater. With rumbling tums and Dave’s cold still persisting we moved on.

Canon at the roundhouseBeing revived with a quick lunch we poked our heads into the Roundhouse which was originally an eight prison rooms and a guardhouse, before the inmates were moved to the “new” prison where we started this morning. Nope, still not “floating our boat” so we moved onto the canon which is fired every day at 1pm to enable the townsfolk to know the time. This tradition still continues for posterity rather than necessity.

Front row seatThe ship theme continues at the Maritime museum where there is displayed all manner of vessels, from a commercial pearl lugger complete with armchairs for the bosses, to the Americas Cup winner Australia II. It is quite an extensive informative museum and we soon had information overload. Apparently, this was the second biggest submarine base in World War 2 with over 170 submarines based here through the war. With all the WW2 history covered in UK schools covering Europe it is easy to forget that many other continents were affected too – the clue is in the name!

Wedding with a viewThere were also distractions like a wedding with all the chairs laid out looking out to sea. The guests were milling about in their refinery while the bridal party were blocking the upstairs display having the obligatory photos. We thought the groom could at least have put a suit and tie on! He looked quite casual in open necked shirt and non matching jacket and trousers next to his bride in full length white dress. Still what an odd venue for a wedding but it was not the venue I objected to but the fact that the museum was still open and the two sets of guests just did not mix well at all.

Kyle costumesThe second distraction was the exhibition of Kylie costumes from many of her world tours as well as videos and soundtracks playing. The exhibition seems to be touring all of Australia. Perth/Fremantle may be way west but it does still get many shows, concerts and exhibitions staged here.

Perth at nightWhere has the day gone? If we are to get ready for sunset photography we need to scoot back to the hotel for tripods etc. As our day tripper tickets cover trains as well buses we make our day into a circular trip and catch the train around the North of the bay back to the town centre. Sunset is earlier here at around 5:45pm, so once the photos are done there is time for a beer watching the light fade into night time. Can’t rest for too long after supper as it’s time for the Lava laundry, where I missed the chance of a photo of Dave with his Surface, sat at the table by the washing machines typing away on yesterday’s blog post.

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