Fremantle-Perth and Old Friends

What a wonderful day we’ve had ashore in Western Australia and what a welcome to Down Under!!!!! QM2 docked about 730 and we woke up to bright blue cloudless sky, sparkling blue sea and lots of yachts around us in the harbour.
We could already see that Fremantle was a very picturesque, historic town and such a pleasure to be alongside right in the centre of town rather than in some distant container port which is so often the case.
I’d been messaging with two old friends/ex work colleagues throughout the voyage and we had arranged to meet up here and they had kindly offered to show us something of Fremantle and Perth.
Got the shuttle from the ship into the centre of Fremantle. We could have walked it in 20 minutes.
We were meeting Mark Leigh first who lives in Fremantle. We hadn’t met for about 20 years! We met up in a coffee shop on South Terrace or Cappuccino Terrace as it is called locally. South Terrace is really attractive with lots of Victorian and Edwardian buildings with big deep balconies and terraces, lacy wrought iron railings, tin roofs – that very iconoclastic Australian look. We recognised each other immediately which was a good thing and had a great catch up over some coffee. Then Mark took us on a walking tour around that area of Freo, winding down towards the water and the oldest building in Western Australia, the circular tower, Fremantle Prison. Built in the 1800s it has a few holding cells and also served as a lookout point, the location for the 1pm ball drop/cannon fire which helped ships keep accurate time (and therefore accurate position) in historic times. There were lots of old photographs on the walls and it was interesting to see how Fremantle had grown from pretty much just this tower.
From there we walked through the tunnel underneath the tower which was built to allow the whaling operation to drag the whale up from the water to the whaling station. Came out onto Bathers Beach, a nice little sandy beach. Visited two art galleries. One was exhibiting amazing underwater photographs – the best I’ve ever seen. Absolutely stupendous. The photographer Glen Cowans must have spent years underwater to get some of the shots. Genius.
Mark took us to a craft brewery down on the yachting harbour and we had the first beverage of the day, a beer for Bob and a local cider for me. It was so hot that a nice cold one was just the job. We also had the most massive basket of fries with a garlic aioli dip. Yum!
Walked back up into central Fremantle through a lovely park and called into a traditional Australian pub, where we sat out on the upper level Balcony and watched the world going by below us. It was called the Sail & Anchor. Really an old place.
At this point Peter Paice joined us. Peter lives in Perth, the neighbouring modern city. We had all worked together for a few years ending in 1998 in Doncaster so it was great to hear what had gone on in that time. We walked down the strip to a little restaurant and had lunch there washed down by some more beer and wine. I had calamari.
After lunch we had a quick visit to an art shop to pick up some supplies and then Mark bid us farewell, which was sad to see him go. We mustn’t leave it 20 years more.
Peter then took us by car along the coast and first stop was the famous Cottesloe Beach, and the Indiana Teahouse, a very beautiful and posh restaurant perched above it. The beach is endless, snowy white sand and blue water. We would have gone down but by now the famous afternoon wind had sprung up – the Fremantle Doctor – as known, and the sea was a bit choppy. So we just looked down at it instead. Gorgeous.
Then we threaded our way north and inland along the Swan River to Perth. The Swan River is massive, very, very wide. More like a huge lake as it approaches Perth. Lots of yacht clubs and marinas and very fancy and opulent houses all the way along. We stopped at a waterfront park for a first view of Perth. Lots of people picnicking – a really lovely place. Pete then took us into Kings Park which was just beautiful and on a raised area overlooking the river and with Perth right beyond it. It is a huge park, with a botanical garden element so lots of stunning specimen trees and shrubs and the grass was immaculate. We walked to a viewpoint up there which was also the location for the war memorials and a garden with an eternal flame to Western Australia’s war dead. It was moving to read the names of the men and women and the battles in which they had fallen. Of course, Gallipoli featured heavily but there were many more places all around the globe. Many of the specimen gum trees have small plaques at the base, each naming a fallen serviceman. We thought that was a nice touch.
Had a big cold drink of water up there – those calamari must have been salty, and then Pete drove us around some more parts of Perth. Sadly it was soon time to get back to the ship and we got on board at about 630. Again, sad to say goodbye, and both Peter and Mark had been so kind to us and really given us a day to remember. Many thanks to them. We really, really liked Fremantle and Perth and would love to come back again some time and spend a lot longer. There is clearly a lot to see and do.
So, about 850 people disembarked QM2 today in Fremantle, and about the same number got on. Most are cruising as far as Sydney on a two week taster I believe. Anyway, there will be new faces around the ship.
We were totally knackered by the time we got back on. Didn’t want any dinner and couldn’t face the show. It was a comic impressionist and I fear his photo may be an old one as the blurb says that among his impressions are Gregory Peck, Andy Williams and other stars of the 40s and 50s. I wouldn’t know what Gregory Peck really sounds like to be honest……. Managed to ring both the girls.
Early night as we are up early to go diving tomorrow in Busselton

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