Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Two trips to Freo

There's a lot to like about Fremantle, the port of Perth, at the mouth of the Swan River. It is renowned for its preservation of heritage buildings, many of which are built of limestone with ornate facades. Rapid expansion led to a variety of architectural styles which add to the aesthetic appeal of the town. We visited twice and these photos are an amalgamation of both days.

Life drawing with chair
We visited on Christmas Eve and were served croissants and nutella for breakfast at the Firenze Pasticceria e Caffe. Apparently it is traditionally Italian to eat such a thing on this day. I don't know if that's true, but I didn't need much persuading...

Our shopping took us to record shops, book shops and beer shops (we'll get to those...)

Gotta love vinyl!
If there is a heaven, it looks like this
The oldest building in Western Australia is the Round House built in 1830 and used as a prison, with eight cells and a gaoler's residence all opening onto a central courtyard. Naturally, you could be locked up for all manner of offences, from grievous to fairly innocuous, including being out after curfew. 

Each night in the convict era a curfew bell was rung at ten to ten, warning ticket-of-leave men that they had ten minutes to return to their lodgings. Anyone found in the streets after that hour who could not truthfully answer 'free' when challenged 'bond or free' by the constables was thrown into the Round House to await trial before the magistrate the next morning.

Flags flying from the Round House
The highest flag here (flown from the gaff) is the national flag, obviously. The others (from left to right along the yardarm) are Fremantle Football Club (Dockers) flag; Fremantle Volunteer Heritage Guide flag; Fremantle Port flag; City of Fremantle flag; Aboriginal flag; and State of Western Australia flag.

Fremantle is one of only a few port cities that still flies a courtesy flag to welcome vessels of foreign origin. The flag is hoisted to the top of the flagstaff as the vessel enters the heads. It remains aloft for approximately ten minutes and is then lowered.

Hoggy trying out the stocks for size
I'm not sure Nephew Aidan has committed any misdemeanours yet, but it's worth popping him in the stocks on behalf of future infringements
That looks like mischief in the making

In the 1800s whaling was carried out on Bathers Beach below the Round House. As part of the whaling operations, a tunnel was constructed under the Round House to provide whalers with access to the town from the jetty and beach. The tunnel was constructed using the labour of the prisoners in the Round House.

During WWII the whalers' tunnel was used as an air raid shelter, and a secret side tunnel was built to Gunner's Cottages - home to the men (and their families) who manned Fremantle's guns. Somewhat incongruously there is a piano in the tunnel, which works fine (although it is fairly out of tune) as Niece Niamh demonstrated.

The Western Australian Museum Shipwreck Galleries claims to be the foremost maritime archaeology museum in the Southern Hemisphere. The galleries house hundreds of relics from ships wrecked along the Western Australian coastline and the reconstructed hull of the Batavia from original timbers.

The Batavia was a ship of the Dutch East India Company (VOC), built in Amsterdam in 1628 and shipwrecked off the coast of Western Australia on her maiden voyage. The story of the subsequent mutiny and massacre is a fascinating one, which I might blog about at some stage.

Reconstructed hull of the Batavia

There is a fabulous collection of Beardman jugs with cheeky faces, salvaged from the Vergulde Draeck, which ran aground of the Western Australian coast in 1656. This style of stoneware is also called a Bellarmine jug and was popular in Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries for storing food and drink. 

Apparently the image of the bearded face is meant to be the mythical wild man of fourteenth century Northern European folklore. This face went through a design change over the years to become increasingly grotesque. I think they're pretty cute - especially if they're guarding the beer!

The Dutch onion bottles are pretty cool too. According to the museum information they "probably contained wine - the personal supplies of the officers on board or the ship's provisions. Wine was important on board ship - alcohol helped ease life of tedium and hardship, was issued even to ordinary crewmen to help wash down dry salty food, and was often used as medicine, in the belief that it was essential to life and health."

Among the buildings worth visiting was the Sail and Anchor. Besides being an iconic piece of architecture, it has a microbrewery and over 40 beers on tap. Guess which part of that sentence appealed to Him Outdoors?

Him Outdoors and Mr Smartypants sample some of the 42 beers on tap at the Sail & Anchor
The Monk Brewery is another microbrewery that was crying out for a visit. I really like the Christmas 'tree' made of beer barrels. I was not so impressed, however, with the Kim Chi Saison. This beer was created for the 'beer mimics food' event at the Sydney Beer Festival 2013. The idea is to match the best brewers from each state with top-class chefs, who decide on the food they wish to put into the beer. The flavour chosen was Kim Chi, a Korean fermented cabbage condiment, hence the tasting notes:
"A crazy Saison brewed with Pilsner, Acidulated, Smoked Crystal and Rye Malt and the addition of Sorachi Ace hops to mimic the colour and flavours of Kim Chi. Real fermented Kim Chi added as a dry hops adds cabbage, garlic and chilli aromas with a hint of spice on the finish to balance the sweetness of the Saison."
Fortunately I was able to wash away the fermented cabbage taste with a pint of The Chief, which was hoppy and citrusy and full of flavours more favourable to my beer palate.

Of course, we couldn't go to Fremantle without visiting Little Creatures Brewery. The brewery was inspired for a need for hop-driven pale ales the brewers had tasted in the American North West, and the brewery opened its doors (and its taps) to the public in 2001. Since then it has opened another brewery in Geelong and a dining hall in Melbourne. 

As it it is fully owned by Lion Nathan (itself owned by Kirin Holdings), Little Creatures can no longer claim to be a craft beer, or even an Australian one, but it has a lot more flavour than much of the mass-produced product on sale, so I won't hold that against it.

Beer: the question and the answer
The mighty hop and the little creature

Alternative modes of transport...

The Dutch square rigger Dufkyen is thought to be the first European ship to arrive at Australian shores, 164 years before Captain Cook got here. Now there is a full-scale working replica, which offers guided tours and extremely limited half-day sailing cruises. 

Replica of the Dufkyen

For those not so interested in the breweries, the Fremantle Markets are a fun place to visit with over 150 stalls, a Victorian Market Hall (built in 1897) and innovative Christmas decorations. The Junction Corner ice-cream shop was a favourite on a hot day and, as their liquorice and English toffee supreme & pecan flavours have both won first prize at the Perth Royal Show, we felt compelled to taste them.

Old tyres turned festive hanging baskets
Now, I don't know if I'm missing something about the musical nature of Fremantle, but there are free instruments dotted across the port, from pianos in tunnels and markets, to xylophones in malls - curious but creatively entertaining.

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