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).

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