Date: 8 December 2009 to 15 December 2009
Where I’ve Been: Perth, Fremantle, Bunbury and Margaret River
Where I’ve Stayed: The Emperors Crown – Perth, Pirates Backpackers – Fremantle, Dolphin Retreat YHA – Bunbury and Surfpoint Retreat – Margaret River
I swear the temperature has been getting hotter every day since I arrived in Australia last week! When I arrived it was actually pretty cool but now it has crept up to 40 degrees Celsius and made it a very sweaty expedition lugging my backpack from Perth to Fremantle! In fact over the last week I have done a fair bit of traveling down the West Coast of Australia.
Fremantle – A Hippy City
As I mentioned my first stop was Fremantle and although it is not far from Perth – around 12 miles. You could definitely feel the difference. When I first arrived in Perth I was struck by how smartly dressed everyone was, mainly I guess as the majority of people were working in the city. Fremantle has a much more laidback, almost hippy vibe. As a backpacker I feel more at home here, there are lots of quirky cafes, art galleries, pubs and street performers.
My hostel – Pirates Backpackers – was small, cozy, friendly and slightly crazy, but in a good way! On my first full day I made up for my error the previous week by actually getting the ferry to Rottnest Island.
Quokka Spotting on Rottnest Island
Rottnest proved to be a little slice of paradise. It is 11km long and 4.5km wide and I think I covered most of it on the bike I hired! I worked out I cycled around 22km on my cycle around the island. Once you get off the ferry and cycle for about ten minutes you are frequently on your own – despite it being quite a touristy destination, mainly as there are no cars.
Rottnest has a darker background, that you would ascertain from its now cheery exterior – It was used as an Aboriginal prison from1838 to 1931 and it is estimated around 3,700 Aboriginal men and boys were imprisoned there during this period. Even more shockingly there are apparently as many as 369 graves on the island.
Putting all this aside, I had a great day and a very good workout! I even saw the fabled Quokka – an odd looking marsupial found in very few other places, slightly akin to a large (but slightly cute) rat. There are lots of secluded bays and coves and by the time I got the ferry back at 6pm I was absolutely shattered.
Learning the History of Fremantle Prison
The next day I visited Fremantle Prison, which I hasten to add is not an active prison as it was closed in 1991. The visit was really interesting and I learnt a lot – not least the fact that it was Western Australia’s only lawful place of execution between 1888 and 1984 and more than 40 hangings were carried out during this time.
I did two guided tours – the ‘Doing Time’ tour was an opportunity to come as close as I will ever get (I hope) to experience what it is like to be in prison. We walked through the Main Cell Block and exercise yards, and saw the punishment areas and solitary confinment cells. The ‘Great Escapes’ tour was, as you might expect, all about the numerous attempts to escape the prison. Both tours were lead by former prison guards and both were thoroughly enthralling, funny and at times sad.
If you are interested in your history this is definitely another must see. I rounded of my day was a trip to Little Creatures, a popular Australian brewery for a beer (only one though due to the exorbitant price!).
Pants and Margaret River
After my three nights in Fremantle I head further down the cost to Margaret River, after a one night stop in Bunbury – a relative large and pleasant enough town from what I saw, but it was only a stopover on my way to Margaret River. I did realise whilst in Bunbury that I had rather embarrassingly left some underwear in my hostel in Fremantle (I hopefully will pick them up tomorrow though!).
I spent three nights in Margaret River and in retrospect they were slightly wasted as I did very little there. On the plus side my hostel was lovely and they had Sky Sports so I got to watch Everton’s 3-3 draw with Chelsea with the hostel owner. The hostel was almost entirely empty, which I was surprised about , but he told me up until the day I arrived it had been almost completely occupied by a School that were on a visit there, so I seems like I timed my trip well!
All I really did was walk around the beach and the local area. My hostel was out of the town, so there wasn’t a huge amount I could see and do, but it was very nice and peaceful and I enjoyed my stay there.
Back in Perth, But Not For Long
I left yesterday morning to get the 7.30am bus back to Perth and I arrived at 2.30pm where I checked into the Emperors Crown (where I stayed before), I chatted with a few people who were still there from last week and Skyped my dad.
This morning I checked out and headed back to Fremantle to pick up the underwear I left behind (which was a bit awkward) and I am now at the airport where at 3.15pm I will fly to Sydney to meet with my oldest friend (in terms of the number of years I have known him, not his age) Pete – I can’t wait!