Wednesday, October 18, 2017


The weather predictions for today look good… No wind, clear blue skies and sunshine and a prediction of 31 degrees for today.  That is all we needed to hear to plan our big day of exploring in Fremantle.

We left home around 8am with a long list of things to do and see.  My back and knee was very sore so I dosed up on some painkillers, so that I could get through the large amount of walking planned for today.

Ian and Kathy offered to take their car today, as we figured it would be easier to find parks for one car rather than two and this would also save a little with parking fees.  

Our first stop for the day was High Street in Fremantle.  Ian and Steve dropped Kathy and I off whilst they went to find a car park.  We were in the old part of town.  Kathy and I both ducked into the Info Centre to get our bearings and to also make sure we were covering those things worth seeing in Fremantle.  

The Old Round House - Fremantle
Our first stop was going to be the Old Round House.  Built as a gaol, the Round House is the oldest building in Western Australia.  Directly below the Round House is the oldest tunnel in Western Australia.  Both were engineering milestones for the early colony.  However, one has to wonder why our first tunnel, had to be excavated directly beneath our first gaol.

The first settlers landed in 1829, at Arthur's Head, Fremantle. Governor Stirling then promptly commissioned the construction of a gaol.  Arthur's Head was selected as the perfect location, as it offered many classic gaol like qualities. Arthur's Head is a prominent coastal limestone cliff, formed from an ancient fossil coral reef.  Just the right mix of sinister geography, to instil fear in the population below. Being located in the bustling maritime precinct, it was never far away from potential criminals, and being close to the ocean there is nothing like the powerful ocean gale to provide the scary “howl” factor.

The building was designed by the Swan River Colony's first Civil Engineer, Mr Henry Reveley.  With an abundance of local limestone, he designed a 12 sided building, containing eight cells and a gaolers residence, which all opened up into a central courtyard.  This allowed all areas of the prison to be observed from a central position.  Using private labour (no convicts available yet), construction took six months, and was completed in January 1831, for an impressive £1603.

How can a Round House have 12 sides?  Most people like to keep a fair distance from gaols, and it was from this far perspective that the building appeared to be round.  Fortunately the name "Round House" was quickly adopted, instead of the technically correct, but linguistically challenging "Dodecagonal House".

Entrance to the Round House is by way of a gold coin donation, and the complex is manned by volunteers who were both helpful and informative.  They even allowed us to take photos with the Public Stocks and Pillory, with one of the volunteers, locking Steve in the stocks for me to take a photo of.  It did give Steve a bit of a taste for how degrading it must have felt for the prisoners as there was no way you could get out.  This same volunteer also bought out the handcuffs and ball and chain for us to play with also.  It did make for some golden photo opportunities.   
Views from the Old Round House
The cannon is fired at 1pm each day...
 The volunteers also informed us about the firing of the cannon at 1pm each day,  which is the same moment the time-ball is dropped. This is a re-enactment of a time when ships needed to set the chronometers by which they navigated.

The Maritime Museum in Fremantle

From the Old Round House, we walked around the corner to the Maritime Museum.  Steve was interested in paying a visit to both the Maritime and the Shipwrecks Museum which are both located in Fremantle.

Some of the many names on the "Welcome Walls" around Fremantle
 As you approach the Maritime Museum, you come across the “Welcome Wall”.  More than one third of Western Australia’s population was born overseas. The Welcome Walls projects pay tribute to those migrants who arrived by sea, landing at Fremantle or Albany, and to the many benefits they gave to their new home, enriching the lives of all Western Australians.  In Fremantle, over 400 panels commemorating the names of migrants who arrived through this area have been erected at the WA Maritime Museum at Victoria Quay. It was interesting to read some of the names of these migrants. 

At the moment there is an exhibition showing at the Maritime Musem called “Escape from Pompeii, the Untold Roman Rescue”.   It was an extra charge to view the expedition, but as we were unable to do a tour of the submarine, due to restoration work being carried out on it, the cost of the exhibition was no more than we would have paid if we had paid to view the museum and the submarine.  

We decided to have lunch first, as it was now lunch time, and we hadn’t had a chance to have any morning tea.  Then it was off to explore Pompeii…. On our way into the exhibition, Steve got accosted by one of promotion guys, who wanted to sign him up for the Roman Army….  He spent some considerable time telling us about life in the army back in the days of Pompeii, and how once you signed up you were signed up for 26 years.  He also showed us the uniforms, the tunic was fully wool, and very hot and scratchy, and the helmet and shield weighed a ton.  He even had a pair of sandals, with the nails in the soles for longer wearing and better grip.  All very fascinating, and made us feel so glad that we didn’t have to go through what a Roman Soldier back then, went through.

Fossilized remains of bodies found in the Pompeii Archeological Dig.
 The Pompeii exhibition was very enlightening, and made us realize that back in those days, Pompeii was a very wealthy and decadent society.  They even had a couple of fossilized bodies on display.  The molten ash hit them so fast, that in cases, you could see where their clothing had wrapped up around their bodies.    

We probably spent far too much time in this exhibition, which came at the detriment of the main Maritime Museum, as we were starting to run out of time.  Honestly, you could have spent a whole day in this museum alone.  We quickly went through the rest of the museum, and then drove over to the Shipwreck Museum.  
Shipwreck Museum in Fremantle
Kathy and Steve check out one of the big anchors on display

 This was another fascinating museum, and well presented.  

The remains of the Batavia

Remains of one of the very first Europeans to visit our shores

The Batavia display was especially interesting.  Batavia was a ship of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). It was built in Amsterdam in 1628, and armed with 24 cast-iron cannons and a number of bronze guns.  Batavia was shipwrecked  along the Western Australian coastline on her maiden voyage, and was made famous by the subsequent mutiny and massacre that took place among the survivors.

The other interesting display was the Xantho Gallery, where we were able to see the conservation and restoration of the SS Xantho steam engine after it spent more than a century underwater.

This was another museum we could have spent all day at.  
By now it was 4pm, and I really wanted to go and visit the East West Design Centre.  My cousin had been to see this place only a matter of a couple of weeks ago, and her photos caught my attention for the amazing artwork that covers the buildings outside.  

Imagine a space bigger than a footy oval, entirely dedicated to furniture and home-wares and you have East West Designs.  It has some amazing furniture and eclectic pieces of work, and although we were not there to buy anything, the staff were very helpful and even offered for us to take photos of anything that caught our fancy.  They opened a can of worms, because I had a ball with my camera in there.  We were there till closing time which was 5pm, but I loved the place and would happily go back there again.

 Our last port of call for the day was the Fremantle Markets.  The Fremantle Markets is a public market located on the corner of South Terrace and Henderson Street. It was built in 1897 and housed over 150 shops for craftspeople, fashion designers, vegetable growers and food retailers in the yard.  It is opened on Fridays, Saturday and Sundays, so we were there on the right day.
Fresh flowers
Fancy Fairy Floss
Dressed to match
We left at around 6.30pm as there was a big storm brewing, and we wanted to get home ( at least a 40 minute drive) to make sure that our awnings were secure and things were put away that might get wet.   The sun was setting as we drove through Perth, and it was quite spectacular tonight. I managed to get these amazing shots of it with the reflections of the sunset on the Swan River…

We were too late to cook our roast dinner tonight, so it was just scrambled eggs on toast.  We were tired and ready for bed, but all of us agreed that we had had a great day and Fremantle is now on our list of favourite places to visit. 


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