After the Big Day Out came to a close, it was time to move on to a bit of WA (Western Aust) tourism. Haydn and I headed to Fremantle, which is a suburb of Perth but really a pretty unique city in its own right. It's a 20 min drive from our Perth hotel and it is not so much frozen in time as it is just preserved so well. The buildings are very circa mid-1800s and Fremantle is a shipping town on the Indian Ocean. There are still places of business with signs like Pearson & Sons Customs Brokers Pty Ltd. I love that stuff -- esp bc that's what they really are still.
Fremantle had quite a sizable prison for the convicts who did things like steal a loaf of bread and whatnot in England. In fact, my quaint and well-appointed accommodation, Fremantle Colonial Accommodation was in a beautiful old terraced house that was built by the convicts and was nearly in the prison's backyard. As I was there both nights on my own, I must admit I didn't sleep all that well knowing the prison was in such close proximity.
Haydn was with me on Tuesday when we went down there and wandered through town and had lunch on the cappucino strip. We dined at Little Creatures Brewery that night, a very hip microbrewery in an old building to do with shipping of some sort. I was going to order some fancy pizza, but I simply couldn't resist the wondrous nachos coming out of the kitchen. Haydn, being a man's man, went for steak.
My Wednesday was the daytrip to Rottnest Island, which...was not a leper colony (but thanks for playing at home!), but an aboriginal prison the colonists put into place around the 1880s. It was a POW camp following WWI, and part of the Fremantle coastal barrier during WWII. Today, it is a pristine, preserved holiday island. I know this because I went on the historical walking tour of the island.
I took a ferry over there and then rented a bike. Only a few commercial vehicles and the local bus are allowed on the island, so everyone is on bike or foot. I took a 4 hour, 26 kilometer ride around one of the quietest places I have been in sometime. Even though there were many bikers, for a good deal of it I was on big stretches of road on my own. The interior of the island is dry scrub and brush, but the Indian Ocean is as blue as anything you can imagine. Startling blue. And there are many quokas, a little marsupial unique to the island, running around.
At one point, I got very very hungry, but then had a Eureka! moment when I remembered the half of the Butterfinger bar in my backpack that Joeley gave me before I left Sydney. She saved me.
It was a beautiful, tiring ride. I took my tour later that day, and even the accommodation there is for the most part old prisons, former warden's cottages, and a former boys reform school. I think I would have not been able to grab a wink of sleep in that place.
But it was back to the Colonial for me that night, and I had a big, huge dinner at the aptly named Mexican Kitchen in Fremantle. It was listed in my Lonely Planet book and I have not been to a Mexican restaurant since my arrival here, so I was very much looking forward to this meal. And I must say, it was pretty darn good. Now, if I was doing a Rachael Ray $40 a Day in Fremantle, I would have failed miserably (unless perhaps converted into American $) because I spent about $20 on food at Rottnest and then my bill at MK was $35. The wonderful, no messin' around margarita was $12.50, and the chips and salsa was$9! ( I wanted to say, "In my country, the chips and salsa are complimentary..." but resisted), and then the fajitas -- the Weds special -- were $14. Fajitas were plentiful and with all the fixins. I walked back through the quiet, dark streets of Fremantle with a very full belly.
And that concludes my sojourn west. I will spare the details of the travel day that included a 3+ hour layover in Adelaide, where the airport is even smaller than Dane County Regional. However, I made friends with the very friendly Joan from Perth, so we passed the time together.
Now it is the weekend and the Winter Olympics opening ceremony (Australia is a day ahead, but we get the opening ceremony a day later, explain that). Trying to figure out if I will miss Bob Costas and the sentimental athlete-who-overcame-adversity backstories, I'm sure I will to some extent. But Haydn told me that Australia has Bruce McIlvaney, "Mackers", so in true Olympic spirit I'm feeling pretty open-minded to it.