TRAVEL with pat and lew

a day trip to Fremantle

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 19, 2007

Fremantle is described in our guide book as a vibrant port city, with history, heritage, art, culture, and fun.

We train to Perth, walk past shopping streets to the jetty at Swan River, and purchase one way boat tickets to Fremantle – $18 each. The 1 ½ hour boat ride down the broad river on a sunny morning is quite pleasant, with good views of King’s Park as we leave Perth, and beautiful homes along the broad, slow-moving river.

Our first impression of Fremantle is that it looks like a movie set. The buildings are old, maybe 100 years, with odd looking monochromatic flat fronts which look fake but aren’t. There are no people on the street.

A couple wanders by and stops, attracted by our American accents.  We find much to talk about, become friends, and get together 4-5 times before we leave. See * new friends in Perth .

We continue walking and find life in Fremantle. Boardwalk type shops line Cappuccino Strip, the main street. Fremantle Markets, a major attraction, were built in 1897 and reborn in 1975. The shipwreck museum is interesting.

Fremantle Gaol (Prison) is the highlight of the day. Closed for perhaps twenty years, the facilities are depressing and stark, with no toilets in the cells (buckets!) and no running water. The only attractive space is the church. The exercise yards are tiny for the number of inmates the prison once held.

Our tour guide is full of information and humor. Pat tells her about my prison book, she provides her email address, and Linda becomes an enthusiastic serial reader of A Good Conviction.

There’s an ominous hanging room, with gallows and a trap door. A dog, sensing death, will not come into the room.

An exhibit about imprisoned Irish Fenians who escaped in late 1800s tells an incredible story. One prisoner escaped to America. In Boston, he raised money, bought a ship, and hired a captain, then sailed back to Australia, where he rescued seven other prisoners.

For our return trip, we take the train instead of the boat. It costs $1.80 each, and takes less than 15 minutes. Nice day. 

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