Friday, 30 May 2014

Perth Day 20 & 21 - Heirisson Island

Of Roos and Men.  Marsupial Game of Hide and Seek. Semi-Wild, Half Pets.


As I mentioned in my previous dairy entry Perth Day 3 - Queens Gardens, WACA, Glouster Park that I stayed in Fraser Suites, where it's located at the very east end of Perth, and is therefore within walking distance from Heirisson Island. Naturally I decided to visit it even if it's just an island with nothing to offer.

Map of Heirisson Island, Perth, WA
A fence parallel to the causeway cut across the southern part of the island
The arrow points to the approx location of the entrance of the gate
(Click to enlarge)

As it turned out - after letting my fingers do the walking on the internet - I found out that there're a few things of interests that it would take my fancy. One of such attraction is a colony of 6 kangaroos living in its natural habitat on this island.

Sign at the gate entrance, Heirisson Island, Perth, WA
Sign at the gate entrance

Well, there's still a fence to confine to the southern half of the island. Without it, the roos would simply roam freely onto the causeway and into the roaring traffic. You can see the gate (about 30 m) from the causeway if you aren't sure which side is the south side of the island where the roos live.

I went there eagerly to meet the furry Aussie natives (no, not Barry Humphries in one of his wild impersonation. I think he lives in Melbourne, not Perth). I went there about 5 pm. I walked the trodden sandy path that circles the island as I took pictures like there's no tomorrow (There's only one tomorrow as it was my 2nd last day in Perth). After completed a lap of the circuit, I couldn't see even a roo's tail. They must have told the news of my coming.

Sure, as they're living in relatively "natural" environment, so I don't expect them to come out and pose for my photo, gesturing a "V" sign and say cheese (or whatever their favourite food is). After all, they're not confirmed in a cage as in a zoo so they can't hide from our prying eyes. Well, both roos and men are both in a cage. In this case, a very large cage.

I admit that the sun had started to set, and so visibility wasn't as good. While there're some trees and shrubs in the area, it isn't so thick that they could easily hide deliberately. Still, with their grey brownish camouflage, they could easily blend into the natural surrounding.

While a little disappointed, I did take some nice photos of this magical hour of the day around the island. To comfort myself, I say that even without the roos, the photos made it a worthwhile trip.

Rocky beach of Heirisson Island, Perth, WA
Rocky beach of the Island

Just look at some of these photos of the dusk on Heirisson Island and tell me these aren't lovely pictures.

Yagan statue, Heirisson Island, Perth, WA
Yagan Statue

City skyline as from viewed from Heirisson Island, Perth, WA
City skyline as viewed from the Island
Lovely sunset photo of city skyline. But not as pretty as the crow.

Crow, Heirisson Island, Perth, WA
This makes a good movie poster for either Hitchcock's Birds,
or book cover for Edgar Alan Poe's Raven.
Make me an offer.

A lake in Heirisson Island, Perth, WA
A lake on the island

I couldn't tell while I was taking photo of a swamp (it was actually darker. I overexposed the photo), I could smell the swamp gas, which made me hungry because that's the smell of cooking gas.

A swamp on Heirisson Island, Perth, WA
A swamp on the island

With that hunger call (too loud to ignore), I called it a day.

I decided to try my luck the next day to see these marsupial fellas. And here I was.

As it was my last day in Perth. I can't leave the city without saying goodbye to the kangaroos in Heirisson Island. Okay, I didn't even get to say hello to them yet.

Since I stayed so close by, I decided to come here again to try my luck. While somebody suggested on the net that the best time to go is late in the day during feeding time by the ranger. I went there around 5:30 pm yesterday. I saw the rangers (I think they were) drove away as I watched them from the causeway. So I just missed it (and I was really hungry). And with low visibility, I didn't get to see any of the kangaroos in the island.

I come here around 3 pm today. Being weekend, I could expect more visitors (dunno how much difference this makes as most visitors to this island are overseas tourists). As I entered the gate yesterday, a group of young people was leaving. And as I left, I saw a group of young men entering. Maybe they  - like the kangaroos - knew I was coming (no, no, I wasn't wearing those loud squeaky shoes (at the time)).

The best strategy would be to come earlier, and wait for the feeding time to avoid disappointment, especially if you can only take one trip here.

Indeed, there were several groups of people around the island today. As soon as I arrived, I saw a family gathered around, looking at something. It's a lot easy to spot a crowd than a kangaroos, whose fur are designed to blend into nature. With people, their clothes are designed to stand out.

I think I saw a total of 4 out of the 6 kangaroos on the island (unless the other pair I saw later were the same as the ones I saw when I arrived. It wasn't easy to tell them apart).

A child touch a kangaroo, Heirisson Island, Perth, WA
A cautious touch by a visitor

They don't mind being gawked at, and don't mind being stroke either. I have a feeling they enjoy it. While they're semi wild, and the island isn't exactly stomped all over by huge crowds of tourists, nevertheless, I suspect there're a few dozens of people visit them everyday. So they're quite accustomed to human contact. They're something of wild pets. You can stroke them, but I suggest you wash your hands afterwards. Heirisson Island isn't a name for a 5-star resort; so they don't get shampooed everyday. I only concern about the germ carrying issues.

Are those roos dirtier than money? I'm not so sure. If you're concerning about dirty money, then you should wash it. I don't mean laundering money, I mean washing it with soap. This is ok with Aussie dollar notes as they are plastic money. When I say plastic money, I don't mean credit card, I mean money notes that are made from polymer. I know some people smell or kiss their money. I advice them wash it first. But then the smell of money is probably gone after washing it. In any case, if you don't like your filthy money, give it to me. I like dirty money.

Swamp,  Heirisson Island, Perth, WA
The swamp looks less magical in the day time. Still it's quite breath-taking.
The swamp gas that is.

Shouldn't need more 2 hours to see everything on the island if you're overseas tourists where time are more pressing. It's a small island, and you probably only want to see the southern half of it. If you walk around the island without stopping, I don't think it takes much more than 1/2 an hour.

Remember to turn on volume and closed caption when watching the following youtube videos.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Tra Vinh (茶荣) Restaurant in Perth

Tra Vinh (茶荣) Vietnamese Restaurant
169 Brisbane St,
Perth, WA

Tra Ving (茶荣) is oprated by a Chinese-Vietnamese migrant, and so you can expect their menus contains both Chinese and Vietnamese dishes, despite the restaurant calling itself Vietnamese restaurant.

It locates at 149 Brisbane St, and it's quite close to William St corner. This is the 1st Asian restaurant we saw after hopping off the Central Institute of Technology stop of the Blue CAT bus. We were too hungry to window-shop for restaurants. So we thought we just gave it a shot.

The 1st thing I noticed was how comprehensive the menu was. Most of my favourite Vietnamese dishes - to be exactly noodle soups - are on the menu. Phở (beef noodle soup), Bún bò Huế (beef vermicelli soup in Hue style), Bún riêu (meat rice vermicelli in tomato soup), and so forth are all there. Some Vietnamese restaurants - from Sydney, HK, Singapore to Paris - have some of these dishes, few have them all.

It even has goat or oxtail noodle soup, which I had never seen on any Vietnamese menu. And then when I flipped a few more pages of the menu, I have my answer. Most of the dishes in the last few pages are Chinese. I had never seen the oxtail noodle soup in any Vietnamese restaurants because it wasn't a Vietnamese dish.

Lunch at Tra Vinh Vietnamese restaurant in Northbridge, Perth. Oxtail noodle soup, fried spring rolls, and sugar cane prawns
Lunch at Tra Vinh Vietnamese restaurant in Northbridge, Perth
Oxtail noodle soup, fried spring rolls, and sugarcane prawns

In any case, I decided to give the oxtail noodle soup a try. The verdict? It would be fine if you have a sweet tooth. The soup is way too sweet for my liking, bought about by adding too many dried red dates, which are found in many Chinese herbal soup.

The reason I thought it was a Vietnamese dish (other than that it appeared next to pho, and other Vietnamese noodle soup in the menu) is because Vietnamese cuisine has been influenced by the French cooking, which has an oxtail stew dish (I cook it whenever oxtail is on sales. Actually I posted the recipe for oxtail stew a few years ago when Etta's colleague asked me for it). It was only when I saw the ingredient that I realised it was a Chinese dish.

Well, the French and Chinese eat most of everything that others don't, like frogs, birds' liver and other organs, etc. Oxtail just so happens to be one of the delicacy that both Chinese and French eat. I think it's good to eat every part of an animal, apart from being very nutritious and delicious, it's also quite green. Nothing is being wasted (not even the bones, they make very good soup base).

The other 2 dishes were of standard level.

P.S. I went back to Tra Vinh for a 2nd visit on our last day in Perth. I had to try out their Bún bò Huế (beef vermicelli soup in Hue style). The noodles were a bit soft, and the soup was a bit spicier than I liked. But it was a cold night, so that's not too bad. This noodle soup is called beef in spicy soup in their menu for good reason. Still, it was quite good, and tasted authentically Vietnamese. This soup got a 7.5/10 from me.

Perth Day 14 - Northbridge (Foodies' Day Out)

Crowded Row of Brothels on Roe, Bros.  Dôme Domination.  When is a Town Not a Town?  X Marks the Spot.

  21 °C

I'm guessing that the name Northbridge was born out of the fact that the area is located immediately north of the bridge. And the bridge in question is the Horseshoe Bridge, which is a heritage-listed bridge that was built in 1904.

Horseshoe Bridge, Perth, WA, Australia
Horseshoe Bridge from below
I read a few angry reports (by disgruntle local residents) that they were fed up with the night-life in Northbridge with its drunken brawls and whatnot. I didn't encounter that. Maybe I was lucky. Maybe I wasn't in the right area. Having said that any place with a heady mix of clubs, bars, and other nocturnal activities should expect some rough edges.

Having said that, considering that in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Northbridge was a hotbed (no pun intended) for prostitution. The number of bordellos swelled (no pun intended) to 70 just on Roe St alone in 1930.

Australia is known for its low population and Perth is one of the quiet major Australian city, and in the 19th century, its population was much lower than today. 70 houses of ill-repute (as i imagine it was called in the 19th century) is quite mind boggling.

70?!  You've got to be joking me!

This put Amsterdam to shame (good or bad thing, depending if you ask a tourist or a local resident). Too bad that none of these gentlemen's hangouts left (that i know of).

Piazza, Northbridge, Perth, WA, Australia
Piazza in Northbridge

The Perth's tourism authority and industry promoted Northbridge as a multicultural district, which is - to me - a code word for cheap eats with ethnic variety. There's the Little Italy around the Piazza. We popped into the Dôme - diametrically opposite to the Piazza - to sit out the rain. It was the most unsettled day since we arrived in Perth thus far. (Dôme is neither an Italian, nor a French coffeehouse chain. It's actually a franchise based in Perth. This explains its ubiquity in the city. It gives stronger cup of brew than most American franchises like Starbucks).

Sculpture at the corner of the Piazza on James St, Northbridge, Perth
Sculpture at the corner of the Piazza on James St
Is it a lightning bolt? A tentacle? A twisted and mangled car park barrier post?

Maybe it's the temperamental weather, few people made use of this public space of the Piazza with a giant outdoor LED screen as its main focus (no pun intended). Dôme, on the other hand, was packed. Rain sitter, I presume.

On our 1st day in Perth, we made a quick visit to "Chinatown" in Northbridge. Basically, we went to 2 Chinese shops: Billy Lee's, and the grocery shop opposite it (you can read this in my diary Perth Day 1 - "Chinatown"). With this inconvenient weather (sorry, Al Gore), today is the perfect day to do more exploration of Northbridge where we just eat and shop (for grocery).

I know Chinatown isn't meant to be a literal town. In other capital cities of Australia, it could be just a single street or a city block. Would you call, say 2 shops grouping together, a Chinatown? There must be a minimum number of Chinese business premises huddle together to qualify it a town. I think in Northbridge, the Chinese business have fell below or comes perilously close to this cut off point.

And then I strolled to 64 Roe St and saw this pailou arch (or paifeng) that stands in front of an empty lot that looks like a car park with a solitary dumpster bin standing defiantly in the middle of it like Wyatt Earp in O.K. Corrall ready for a deadly draw. It was a sad sight. I couldn't help but  laughed out loud (I beg your pardon, LOL) in sadness. And then I said to myself, that's it. This is Chinatown. Like 'X' marks the spot, the pailou arch marks the start of Chinatown even if there're only 8 Chinese shops behind the horseshoe shape lane (what is it about Perth and its horseshoe? Australia calls itself the Lucky Country, and I think Western Australia is the luckiest, hence the horseshoe? Well, just horsing around). Even if there is only one shop. Even if there's nothing else but a big dumb dumpster bin (not even have to be made in China. Although it's highly likely), it's still qualified to be called a Chinatown. Comprando? What's 'comprando'? I don't understand. Is that Chinese?

Chinatown pailou, Northbridge, Perth, WA, Australia
the Chinatown pailou  (view towards Roe St)

Well, apparently there're more than 8 Chinese businesses in Northbridge (not counting the ones in Old Shanghai food court). Due to the limit of geographical expansions around the pailou - there's only so many peas can be fit into a horseshoe-shaped pod - more Chinese shops could be found on William St, especially the section between Newcastle and Brisbane Sts. There're other Asian restaurants too, especially Vietnamese restaurants that run by Chinese-Vietnamese Aussies.

We went to a Chinese-Vietnamese Tra Vinh Restaurant for lunch.

After lunch, we walked around some more before heading for the 2 largest Chinese supermarkets - VHT and Dragon Supermarket for some grocery shopping. They're quite close to each other on William St. VHT is looking like a more savvy (at least seems bigger) business with their own website.

What I find quite interesting - more like surprising - when I arrived in Singapore was that Chinese supermarkets in Australia stock greater variety of Chinese products than Singapore's. Many of my favorite Chinese products, take the Hakka brand that specialises in making excellent meat balls, can't be found in Singapore's shops. I've kept my eyes peeled for it in the last 5 years. As it turns out, this Hakka is an Aussie company. Their beef + tendon balls are to die for.

As for why this Hakka beef balls aren't available in Singapore, one possible explanation is their aversion of beef. This is simply not very popular meat. Perhaps because of the high percentage of Buddhists.

Apart from this Aussie made Chinese products, in general, Chinese supermarkets in Australia simply stock greater brands of Chinese products than Singaporean supermarkets. This should be surprising when you consider majority of Singaporean (about 75%) eat Chinese food, and Singapore is supposed to be a shoppers paradise due to it's being an international port where goods flow into it like wine and honey, honey.

We also walked around Northbridge for some mculticultural sights that the tourism authority was telling us and found some.

St Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Perth, WA, Australia
St Constantine and Helen, a Greek Orthodox Cathedral
20 Parker St facing Russell Square
Perth Mosque, Northbridge, Perth, WA, Australia
Perth Mosque
427 - 428 William St

The walking and shopping was just the thing to work up our appetite for dinner. We walked past a crowded Vietnamese restaurant called Viet Hao (越華) not far from the supermarkets on William St. We decided to trust the crowd and gave it a try. After reading through the menu, we sneaked out of the restaurant like a couple of VC guerrillas. Haven't done that for a long while (since the Vietnam War).

Like Tra Vinh, Viet Hao has a menu with a mixture of Chinese and Vietnam cuisine. Of course, I have nothing against Chinese cooking, it's just that we already tried that for lunch at Tra Vinh. Now, we wanted to eat in a Vietnamese restaurant that's cooked by Vietnamese who can't speak Chinese, for a change of taste. I know, we're a couple of fussy eaters.

In both Tra Vinh and Viet Hao, the Chinese names should be dead give-away that they're cooking Chinese-Vietnamese cuisine. Alternatively, we could just look at their shop windows with their descriptions that go something like "Chinese & Vietnamese Restaurants". Apparently, I was blinded from hunger (too much eating apparently can also lead to blindness because of diabetes).

We finally found one Vietnamese restaurant where its name is free of Chinese association - Lido Restaurant. Ok, "Lido" is French, and Vietnamese restaurant owners/operators do like to use it for their businesses. We went in, the female boss spoke only Vietnamese (to her staff), the decor is very Vietnamese, and the menu was free of Chinese dishes. Everything checked out. We stayed put (once again, instead of playing Sherlock Holm, all I had to do was looking up the restaurant that has a very big sign up the top that says "Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine". But then, what fun would that be? Playing Sherlock Holm is my regular appetiser).

This time, I stayed clear of novel dishes, and stuck with the true and tested Phở đặc biệt (special beef noodles soup). My score? 7.5/10. Quite happy. I would give it an 8/10 if they included the usual tendon (yes, it's abundantly clear that I've a weakness for tendon. The mention of 'tendon' makes my knees weak).

A reasonable satisfying day of face stuffing with food day.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Perth Day 13 - Kings Park & Hyogo Friendship Garden


FTZ stands for "Free Travel Zone"
While I'm not a passionate nature lover, I had been to all major parks and gardens in Perth city centre except Kings Park. If you can name them, I've been there. If they don't have a name, they probably just a patch of grass with no points of interests.

I would be amiss if I didn't visit Kings Park, which happens to be the top tourist destination of the Perth city according to most tourists. And the best park in the world according to Bill Bryson (while he's touring Australia right now, promoting his tour). Who am I to argue with that guy? In terms of size, it's quite a bit bigger than the Central Park in NY (4.06  km² and 3.41 km² respectively).

There're many buses go there (by that, I mean buses that drive past or near there). Most buses that run on St Georges / Adelaide Terrace will go past or near there. If you want a bus that actually drive you right inside of Kings Park - one that with the bus route named "Kings Park" - you need service 37. It has 2 stops inside the Park. One just inside the entrance at Fraser Avenue, and the other at Wadjuk car park. This is the terminus stop, and sometimes the bus stops there for the bus timetable adjustments. The same bus goes to the Domestic Airport in the opposite direction (if it doesn't change into service 000 for "Not in Service").

Fraser Avenue, Kings Park, Perth, WA, Australia
Fraser Avenue, Kings Park
A look at the official map (provided by the info centre) shows that Kings Park is basically divided into 3 parts: the Fraser Avenue Precinct, the Botanic Garden, and the bushland. Ok, there's also Saw Avenue Picnic Area, and Synergy Parkland, but these 2 areas are more for the locals than tourists.

The highlights for the Fraser Avenue Precinct is obviously the lookout to the city and the State War Memorial. From here, Mount Eliza, you get some great panorama of the Perth city and Swan River.

View of city skyline from Fraser Avenue Precinct, Kings Park, Perth, WA, Australia
Panorama of city skyline from Fraser Avenue Precinct, Kings Park

State War Memorial, Kings Park, WA, Australia
State War Memorial

View of Swan River, Kwinana Freeway, Mill Point from Kings Park, Perth, WA, Australia
View of Swan River, Kwinana Freeway, Mill Point from Kings Park

Obelisk of State War Memorial, Kings Park, Perth, WA, Australia
Obelisk of State War Memorial

Flame of Remembrance of State War Memorial, Kings Park, Perth, WA, Australia
Flame of Remembrance of State War Memorial

Old Tea Pavilion, Kings Part, Perth
Old Tea Pavilion

Queen Victoria Memorial, Kings Park, Perth, WA, Australia
Queen Victoria Memorial
Sundial showing 1:30, Kings Park, Perth, Australia
Sundial shadow fell on 1:30 (click to enlarge)

The photo of this sundial was taken at 1:47, 23 May (click photo to enlarge). If you look at the correction table's entries, you can see "MAY 1 add 14 mins", and "JUNE 10 add 16 mins". Since May 23 fell between May 1 and June 10, one should add an approx 15 mins, and correct the sundial time to 1:45. Not a bad estimate.

While sundial doesn't break down, and runs on solar energy. It's not very convenient to carrying it around, and can't tell time at night.

If you're interested in sundial and its cultural history, you may want to read my article on Beijing Ancient Observatory.

The highlights for the Botanic Garden are the Pioneer Women's Memorial, Lotterywest Walkway, and the Roe Garden.

These boabs are the star attractions of the Botanic Garden.

Boab Trees

Giant boab at Two River Lookout

Boab tree (Gija Jumulu in Aborigines language)
They are native to the Kimberly region in the north part of WA. This is a very arid region. To survive long period in the desert without water, camels store their fat (not water) in their humps, and the boabs store water in their trunks, which explain their bottle shape (also called the bottle trees for this reason). Indigenous Aussies get water from these natural bottles in their hollows.

Quick trivia: do you know Australia export camels to Saudi Arabia?

During dry season, it loses all the leaves to conserve water. Of course, growing in Kings Park, they probably have green leaves, albeit sparingly  - relative to other trees - all year round. They live a long time and this giant one in the Park is thought to be some 750 years old. It's said to able to live up to 2000 years. They grow very slowly. The young one on the right is probably only 100 or 200 years young.

Pioneer Women's Memorial

Statue of Pioneer Women's Memorial, Kings Park, Perth,WA

Statue of Pioneer Women's Memorial, Kings Park, Perth
Pioneer Women's Memorial

Fountain of Pioneer Women's Memorial, Kings Park, Perth

Lotterywest Federation Walkway

Lotterywest Federation Walkway is an elevated walkway that runs about 600 m long to give an aerial view of Kings Park below.

Lotterywest Federation Walkway, Kings Park, Perth
Lotterywest Federation Walkway
Don't forget to turn on the volume when watching this video clip.

This firewood banksia is native to coastal area of WA. Honey eating birds love these flowers. The inflorescence or cone showing blooming yellow flowers at the bottom half while the flower at the top remain unopened. Bewdiful and looks quite different from your 'typical' flower arrangement.

Firewood Banksia (banksia menzieissii)
Firewood Banksia (banksia menzieissii)
For the energetic, a full day - 9 to 5 - would be enough to see most of everything in the park.

Hyogo Friendship Garden

After visited Kings Park, if you still have more time or energy left, you can head opposite to see this Japanese Hyogo Friendship Garden. Few tourists know this because it's a small garden that tourism authority doesn't bother to promote it. And because Kings Park's visitors usually take the bus home at a stop from within the park, and bypassing this, and never discover it by accident. If you type "Hyogo Friendship Garden" into Google maps, you'll find nothing. It's so new that when I looked up Google Maps' satellite photo and see only a patch of green there.

Location of Hyogo Friendship Garden, Perth, WA, Australia
Location of Hyogo Friendship Garden

I stumbled on it because as I just exited the park's main gate at Kings Park Rd, I saw a nice looking building atop a hill right opposite, obscured by some trees. This, I believe, is the Ging Mo Academy building. You need to see past the ugly office block with the sculpture being the only redeeming beauty. Just keep on walk past this building on your right, and you will come to see this little gem behind the office building and at the foot of the little hill with Ging Mo Academy on top.

Ging Mo Acadeny (top) and Hyogo Friendship Garden (bottom), Perth, WA, Australia
Ging Mo Acadeny (top) and Hyogo Friendship Garden (bottom)
This is undoubtedly a Zen rock garden with a variation. Instead of having gravels being raked to create, usually, wavy patterns that represents streams or in this case ripples expanding from a rock being drop into water; in this garden the raking pattern is replaced by bronze strips. This is a practical solution for a public space. Of course, the whole idea of impermanence is destroyed (no pun intended).

Ripple patterns in a typical Zen rock garden. Hyogo Friendship Garden, Perth, WA, Australia
Elements in typical Zen rock garden.
Chairs on the side of the garden, Hyogo Friendship Garden, Perth, WA, Australia
Chairs on the side of the garden
This garden is a good place for one to rest for the weary body at the end of one journey and get ready for the beginning of another. You can sit here in the green and peaceful environment to contemplate and to recharge. After this, I'm parked out.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Perth Day 7 - Fremantle

The Corporate Graffiti  Left by a Sign-Writer.  Mystery of History.  Reversal of Fortune.

 23 °C

We couldn't ask for a better day. We were lucky, the weather had been a little unsettled for the last few days.

 His Name is Bond, Alan Bond 

Heritage-listed Dingo Flour Mill, Fremantle, Perth, WA, Australia
It had been said that this sign was painted by Alan Bond.
The building is a heritage-listed working Dingo flour mill
in North Fremantle.
Source: Library of Victoria
If it wasn't for the America's Cup, like the rest of the world, I probably wouldn't have heard of the city of Fremantle. The 1983 America's Cup put Fremantle on the map. This is the yacht race when the Australia II made history when it snatched the oldest sporting trophy in the world from the New York Yacht Club after 132 years, ending the longest winning streak in sporting history.

Growing up in the 1980s in Sydney, I can't really separate the name Alan Bond from Fremantle. Born in UK, Bondy is naturalised as a Fremantle local resident (Ok, he lived in just north of Fremantle). I remembered watching Bondy (as he was affectionately called) on TV giving a gesture to raise the yacht's divine keel that won the race. His gesture reminiscent of Mosses' command to part the Red Sea. It was a religious experience for Alan Bond. What he did in the America's Cup was nothing short of miraculous.

In the 1980s, Mr. Bond was the most public figure in the media. Because of the background of his formative years, he was a public figure that was full of character and charisma, quite unlike other suits.

Rose from the humble beginning as a sign-writer, he got his meteoric rise to fame and fortune in the early 1980s when he also involved in the high profile WA Inc scandal, and bankrolling the America's Cup. And when the share market crashed in 1987, Bond also ended his roller coaster ride in that crazy decade in the Australian corporate history.

So you could say that Bondy left his marks all over Fremantle in more ways than one. Like him or hate him, you can't really separate him from Fremantle (not Aussies in my generation).

  Fish and Chips Claim 

Cicerello's, Fremantle, WA, Australia
Cicerello's and its claim of No. 1 in WA
Living in Singapore for nearly the last 5 years, I had a hanker for a decent plate of fish and chips. The last time I had fish and chips was in Glasgow, UK over a year ago. After have had the best fish and chips in a restaurant in Glasgow (who didn't make any lofty claim), I had high expectation of Cicerello's who claimed to serve the best fish and chips in WA.

We headed there for lunch. The view was good. Well, the fish 'n chips ain't too bad either, but it fell short of what I had in Glasgow. Still, if you haven't or often tried fish and chips before, this is a good place to try it.

Cicerello's, Fremantle, WA, Australia
Cicerello's and its giant bronze sculpture

Here are some of the views to feast your eyes while having fish and chips lunch.

Mandjar Bay, Fremantle, WA, Australia
View of Mandjar Bay from Cicerello's

Mandjar Bay, Fremantle, WA, Australia
Another view of Mandjar Bay

 Western Tip of Fremantle 

While we took a stroll around the Victoria Quay and walked around Western Australian Maritime Museum, we didn't have enough time to visit it and took a look at Australian II yacht in its full glory and its legendary winged keel. Next time, perhaps.

Western Australian Maritime Museum, Fremantle, WA, Australia
Western Australian Maritime Museum

Western Australian Maritime Museum, Fremantle, WA, Australia

Western Australian Maritime Museum, Fremantle, WA, Australia

Western Australian Maritime Museum, Fremantle, WA, Australia

Western Australian Maritime Museum, Fremantle, WA, Australia

Fremantle Ports building, Fremantle, WA, Australia
Fremantle Ports building, just opposite the Maritime Museum

 Accident of History 

While it's the capital city of WA, Perth a small city with little to see and do (unless you're talking about mining businesses). Mind you, when overseas friends visited us in Sydney, we gave them the standard reply that cops tell spectators around a crime scene, "there's nothing to see here. Move on". Of course, to us Sydneysiders, Sydney Opera House and the Hanger is counted as nothing, as is being considered as one of the 5 best looking harbour in the world (the other 4 are Cap Town, Rio de Janeiro, Hong Kong, and Istanbul). Never mind all the national parks like Blue Mountains. I guess when we said nothing to see, we were comparing Sydney to Paris, Rome, Beijing, NY, and/or Barcelona.

Anyway, as there're nothing to see in Perth (comparing to Sydney), so I have even less expectation about Fremantle. After all, it's one of a Perth's satellite city.

Having seen the city with its heritage buildings, the harbour, I became baffled why Fremantle isn't the capital city of WA. Instead, it reminds me of Parramatta - a satellite city of Sydney.

And then a thought struck me. Fremantle should be bigger than Perth. It should be the capital city of WA. Well, nothing is as it should be.

Fremantle Town Hall, WA, Australia
Fremantle Town Hall
I reckon this Town Hall is grander than Perth's, reflecting the city past  prosperity

Sydney city sits around the harbour just inside the protected mouth or heads of the harbour while its satellite city Paramatta sits further back in the hinterland at the major river - Parramatta River - that empties into the Sydney Harbour. Not supringly, a harbour city is developed into a bigger city than a river city.

You should be able to simply replace "Sydney" with "Fremantle", and "Parramatta" with "Perth", and I expect the facts in the above paragraph still hold true. Apparently, the centre of importance of the 2 pair of cities are reversed. I'm sure there're historical reason(s) to account for this. As I'm not a historian in the Australian history, I'm somewhat surprising at this development. Well, history works in mysterious (at least surprising) way.

We concluded our Fremantle day trip with a visit to the Fremantle Markets. While it's like a smaller cousin of Sydney's Paddy Markets, the building has more architectural character.

Fremantle Market, WA, Australia
Fremantle Markets

The reason we made the visit to this place was because we may bought something that took our fancy ("that bronze slave girl seems very intelligent for Powerpoint presentation skills"). Something did catch our eyes, and we bought some nuts (I'm nuts about nuts), and some pepperoni and kangaroo. The roo was to die for, wish I could have bought more.

There were some ethic cook food - like Paella and gozleme - if you want to grab some on the go. There were also a relatively large proportion of New Age shops selling everything from organic food, fashion to trinkets. I suspect there's a sizable population of New-Agers in Fremantle.

Tats and kilt wearing Scot with flaming bagpipe.
His performance was hot and smoking !

Overall, a very enjoyable day out.

P.S. Just a pure - but not very surprising - coincident that right after I wrote this post, I turned on TV and picked up the reporting of the race of America's Cup showing the American Oracle Team is being seriously challenged by the Kiwi Emirates Team on WTV (or West TV -  a Perth local station). The America's Cup didn't just put Fremantle on the map, it also put America's Cup into the heart of Western Australian (or Aussie in general for that matter).