My daughter-in-law Nikki says that Fremantle is one of her favourite places in Australia – and she actually lived here for some time. We can easily see the appeal after having been here. It’s a lovely spot to wander around: a good shopping centre, nice foreshore, and terrific markets. One day when we were sitting on the grass near the foreshore markets (can’t remember whether they had a specific name… not the ones in the middle of town) we sat in the park for a while and were entertained by the Sambanistas drummers. Nothing like an impromptu concert!
We decided to stay for a week and have a look around Fremantle and Perth, checking into the Woodman Point Holiday Park (recommended by several other travellers).
Others had told us that the public transport system here works really well, so we have left the car behind a few times and tried it out. And yes, we are impressed. A bus leaves from right outside the caravan park for Fremantle train station, where you can hop on a train that takes you to the heart of the Perth CBD; the entrance to Myer is right across the road from the station.
You can mosey around the retail malls, or take advantage of the three free bus loops around the city [Blue Cat, Red Cat and Yellow Cat] to visit various attractions without wearing out your shoe leather. The cost of a Day Rider ticket for seniors is $3.60: this covers buses, ferries and trains in the TransPerth area. Apart from enjoying the efficient transport system, we were vastly amused by the posters! (No doubt locals are so used to them they don’t even notice them any more… but we liked them!)
The undercover Fremantle Markets [accessed from South Terrace in the main shopping area] are held on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and have some great stalls and top-notch fresh produce. With a BBQ coming up back at the park with our friends Janet and Bucko, we bought mangoes and salad ingredients, a blueberry pudding, and a pumpkin cob. All delicious!
One stall that got my business was the My Silver Balloon personalised children’s CDs. What a terrific idea! Most of us are familiar with the personalised children’s books you can buy, where the child’s name is inserted as one of the characters. Silver Balloon songs use the same principle, but it’s a little more complicated: each song had to be re-recorded for each new child’s name – as you can imagine, the inflection and rhythm changes slightly with each name and you can’t just insert the name in a pre-recorded song as you can with text in a book. However, you’re quite likely to find the name of your child or grandchild: they have nearly a thousand children’s names in their catalogue. The songs are lively and fun for kids to sing along, and they’ll be thrilled to hear their own names – and you can listen to it before you decide to buy. I bought CDs as gifts for grandchildren Isaac, Josie and Riley.
If you’re nowhere near a My Silver Balloon stall, you can order them online (and listen to a sample online as well) at www.silverballoon.com.au. You can also download the lyrics to all songs so you can sing along. (The lyrics come with instructions on how to do a search-and-replace with Microsoft Word so you can insert your child/grandchild’s name into all the songs. Neat!)
After travelling through the wide open spaces for months, it was nice to get to Fremantle/Perth and get in some serious retail therapy! Janet and I left Bucko and Rob behind to do interesting things like get cars serviced and wait for the repairman to fix the satellite dish, and headed off to the retail malls and lunch in the city. Target had a 25% off sale, so we figured we owed it to our husbands to save them some money and buy up while stuff was cheap. We couldn’t make up our minds about the colour of cargo pants so we bought two pairs each. That settled it. (I kept hearing Rob’s voice in my head all the time, though: “Remember, every time something new comes in, something else has to go out! Weight, Marg, weight! And SPACE!” I decided not to worry about it right then. I was sure a solution would come to mind.)
Clutching bags of new clothes on the way home in the train, we prepared our case for the defence, working out how much money we’d saved in the Target sale… but of course the blokes didn’t really care. (They just like doing a bit of eye-rolling and muttering about women and shopping. It’s a blokey thing.)
Rosie O’Grady’s Irish Pub: According to Nikki this was a ‘must’ on our list, so we obliged by going twice. Rob and I went the first time after our trip to the markets, and couldn’t resist ‘Drunken Irish Chicken Wings’ for lunch. Then we heard about their Sunday Family Afternoon with an Irish Band and Dance Troupe, so we went back again the next day for that with Janet and Bucko. Half the fun is watching visitors and locals make idiots of themselves dancing a fast Irish jig… and of course the girls in the dance troupe are a popular feature!
All in all there’s a lot to like about Perth and Fremantle. It’s so easy to stay at a caravan park out of town a bit and either drive in or catch public transport. Rob and I also went to see the Perth Mint. The idea was that we might see something there to buy to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary this year (I think the designated colour/stone is RUBY) but there wasn’t much there at all. Therefore we have decided to simply keep our eyes open and buy something that ‘feels right’ for each other when the opportunity presents itself.