Back To The Smoke

Thur. 16th May 2019

The old flour mill - complete with cafe & art galleryWe’re moving on again today, completing our Southern loop and returning to Fremantle (essentially the coastal suburb of Perth – though I’m sure the locals don’t like to think of it that way). But before we head on, York has a couple more treats in store for us starting with breakfast at the Flour Mill Café which is hosted in the old flour mill (who’d have thought). We’re not really given any explanation as to why there is a café (with an art gallery) tucked away on the ground floor of a disused flour mill but they did a ‘small’ brekkie of sausage, bacon and eggs washed down with coffee, so all was good with the world.

Old Town Hall but no Delorean (even in the Motor Museum)!With the day properly started, we’d been told that the other ‘must see’ in York was the old Town Hall building. We do just love this colonial architecture and it’s easy to understand the story of York being the longest established inland town in Western Australia (even though that is quite a few caveats in just one sentence!). The large clock above the entrance outside (and indeed the power lines) make me think of the film Back To The Future – I can imagine Doc Brown hanging outside, trying to couple up the power line before the lightning strikes! Inside, it is also a treat though a bit more austere with ceilings that use (painted) pressed tin to form a pattern with balustrade surrounding the main hall.

Main hall in the Town HallIts claim to fame is that, at the time, it had the largest hall of any building in WA but reading its Wikipedia entry, it does seem to have a chequered history and has been extended over time and renovated in 2000. What impressed us most, however, was (yet again) the ANZAC memorial on the top floor. Lifesize outlines of an ANZAC soldier had been individually painted by the descendants of local people who had served. Around the outside of the room were folders telling the stories of families of those soldiers.

Touching tribute to local ANZACsAnother display in the Town Hall reminds me that we are in the Shire of York (though there is little use of the White Rose emblem and certainly no shrine to Geoff Boycott – can’t think why). The story is that the local countryside reminded the first (British) settlers of their home in Yorkshire that they called their town York. Can’t really see the similarity in the countryside (certainly not the vegetation) myself but on the other hand, the weather is cold, grey, blustery and a bit drizzly, so maybe they did get the naming right!

Fothergills of Fremantle - our kind of placeThere is a bit of excitement / trepidation when Pauline (our host) tells us that there’s been a bushfire nearby and that it was touch & go for a while as to whether they’d close the road we wanted to get back to Fremantle. This was only averted when it started to rain. Nevertheless, we were expecting to see smoke & smouldering bush but, no, all that happened was that we picked up a chip in our windscreen from a stone thrown up by a passing lorry. We’re going to have to ‘fess up to that when we return the car in a couple of days.

Yep, we're trying to do all of this!As we got closer to Perth the roads got busier and for the first time in a fortnight, we had to think about other road users. It was also a reminder that Perth is properly a big city as we spent about 30mins going east to west around the ring road to get to Fremantle. On arrival, we find we’ve picked another quirky gem of a B&B based in a colonial building and jammed full, inside & out, with an eclectic mix of artwork – if you don’t like one piece move on to the next and it may well be to your taste.

No takers for the sun beds in Freo!Talking of taste – we get to beer! Its still fairly cold and grey in Freo (gotta love these Aussies for the ability to rename stuff) but fortunately we have already had a look around the town from our time in Perth. What we did want to do is have a tour round the Little Creatures brewery – especially as their Pale Ale has rapidly become one of our favourite Aussie beers. The brewery itself is very much open plan with as much space given over to a huge bar / restaurant area and we have the time to grab a bite of lunch and have a wander round the docks area before our tour.

Elsie - The LC van (geddit?)We’re fortunate that there’s only one other couple on the tour and so the spiel is personalised and we don’t feel too rushed. The brewery itself is very modern and if we hadn’t seen round other breweries, I’m not sure that we’d be too much wiser about how beer is made – other than that it is moved from one big stainless steel tank to another. What we did like and did learn a fair bit from though was both the talk prior to the tour about the different constituents of beer (and how different types of beer use different balances or types of ingredients). For example, lagers are brewed with a bottom fermenting yeast and ales are brewed with a surface fermenting yeast; or that hops are a preservative but also impart bitterness and that India Pale Ale has extra hops (and therefore extra bitterness) to survive the journey from Britain to India in the days of empire.

Enjoying our tasting with Ian our tour guideThen after the tour we get to try the practical side to match the earlier theory – and try the tasting. Ian, our somewhat quirky tour guide, brings out tasting glasses and some jugs of beer and takes us through the 12 beers (well, 11 beers and 1 cider) that are currently being made at the brewery. The beers were in a whole raft of different styles from the light yellow, flowery and citrus tasting Elsie (named after the VW Combi van/truck) to the stout with its dark, oat and chocolate flavours. All very yummy and relaxing with my personal favourite, surprisingly, being the IPA – yes, bitter but all sorts of flavours around the bitterness. However, as we talked we also learned that whilst Little Creatures might have started out (here in Fremantle) as a small craft brewery (with their original Pale Ale) they have now been bought out by one of the big brewing conglomerates and there are now (or will be) Little Creatures breweries all over the world – including one in London near Kings Cross. Another reminder that we are again back ‘in the smoke’ of a city.

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