Thursday, September 15, 2005

Freo to the locals

Old dock-type buildings in Fremantle

After wandering around Perth late yesterday I realised I'd pretty much done it. So today I took a train out of the city and visited the neighbouring port city of Fremantle. 'Freo' as the locals call it, is about 20mins from Perth, and is a proper working port, with massive container ships loading up right near the centre. The buildings have that old warehouse feel to them, and the ornate plasterwork everywhere reminded me of the restored docks in Hull. That's about it for that comparison though, as it was gloriously sunny and the air didn't have a fishy tang to it. I wandered around for a bit, admiring all the porty-goings on. Both Perth and Fremantle have one major bonus for tourists (and pensioners and students too, come to think of it) in that every bus that crosses the city centre is free. So you can hop on and off as much as you like - provided you know where you're going, of course.

I consulted the famed LP guidebook, and it led me to the 'stunning' and 'fascinating' Maritime Museum of Western Australia. It could quite easily have been both of these things, but unfortunately it was also 'half-closed' for 'renovation', so I'd whizzed around it in about 20 minutes. Still, that meant I went next door into the Fremantle Motor Museum - and that was much better. I'm no petrol-head (still have never got round to driving), but the cars there were great - including some old Formula 1 classics, which really got me interested. The entire collection is owned by one man (presumably a very rich man) - and he was there in overalls tinkering with one of the displays, doing some renovating of his own.

I know I said in an old post that I'm a museum junkie - but I outdid myself in Freo. In the afternoon I went to the Museum of Shipwrecks, and that was the best of the lot. They had all kinds of exhibits - apparently Western Australia is littered with wrecked ships from the hapless Dutch traders who ploughed into the rocky shores whilst trying to work their way up the coast to the then Dutch East Indies (Indonesia). The museum gave the impression that the Dutch were practically hurling their ships onto the hostile shores - particularly the Alhobros Islands (the name means 'look out'). If you're ever in Fremantle I urge you to go - it was fantastic, and I learned all kinds of things I'll be looking out for when I go up the coast on Saturday. But tomorrow - I'm off to look for giant rats...