Fremantle and footie

Quite a hectic day once we all got of our collective backsides and left the house. We started by popping into Perth centre for some shopping. I decided to spend a decent amount of money on some walking boots and the ones I got seem pretty good. Much better soles for walking on rocks than the $40 trainers I’ve been making do with recently. They get punctured the first time you walk anywhere off the pavement.

We then went to Fremantle Prison, one of 42 National Heritage sites in Australia. The prison only closed down in 1991 so it’s not in bad nick (pun intended). There are four tours available – a general walk around, one concentrating on escape attempts, another taking in the tunnels and a night-time torchlight tour. These vary from 1 1/2 hours upwards and you can buy tickets for more than one at a time to save money. You don’t have to take the tours on the same day, just purchase the tickets. You have two weeks to use them.

Regular tours set off every thirty minutes with around twenty people in them and cost $16. The tunnels tour is nearer 2 1/2 hours. We just did the regular one and it was pretty entertaining. Our guide showed us round most of the main buildings from the “check in” through the exercise yards, various different cells, chapel, gallows room, administration offices and kitchens.

Disabled access is good throughout, though the chapel is up some stairs which you can’t get up with a wheelchair. Instead, there is a guidebook which the staff provide to those who can’t manage the steps showing all the areas they can’t see along with all the information and trivia dished out up there.

There is a series of cells in one of the blocks which have been done out in various standards to show how the living conditions changed from decade to decade. Painting adorn some walls and were allowed in the last few months of the prison’s active life. One cell has several pieces of work as the prisoner incarcerated there was adjudged to be high risk and the painting therapeutic for him.

A replica of the frame used to tie prisoners up while they were whipped has been erected in one of the yards. Punishment was with the cat o’ nine tails as that’s what was used on the ships that brought the convicts over. The “cat” changed as the years went by. Early ones had metal shot at the end of the tails which gouged and ripped flesh. Later versions just had knotted leather which cut the skin on the back, but didn’t pull lumps out. How nice.

Laden with information on prison life, we drove (very slowly and carefully and making sure we paid the parking charges in full) to the Roundhouse, the oldest standing building in Western Australia. It was opened in 1831 and served as a very small and basic prison until the main jail was built in 1850. There was a wedding taking place on the lawn outside in the sunshine. Nice place for it!

In Fremantle itself we took a wander down the streets. One main one was closed off and designated a Smoke Free zone so that crowds could surround the numerous street entertainers without breathing filth in. A sign of how much better Oz is than home is the fact that people paid attention to the signs. Not one ciggy anywhere.

I had the most delicious gelato double-cone (wild berry and passion fruit) and a half pint of Emu at the bar in the Fremantle Market. This is a great little watering hole – and “little” is very descriptive. Live bands play all the time, essentially just busking within the bar, and the beer is good – and very reasonably priced.

Mel and Matt dropped me off at the Oval for the West Coast vs Collingwood game. One of Matt’s old work colleagues had scored a handful of free tickets and I’d somehow managed to be gifted one of them. I was wearing my usual Newcastle top so was effectively a Collingwood fan as they also play in black and white stripes. The thing is, in Oz, supporting Collingwood is tantamount to being a ManUre supporter at home. They’re the team everyone who knows nbthing about the sport support, and none of the fans come from their region. Having said that, Collingwood haven’t won anything in as long as Newcastle United so there the similarity ends.

The game was a lot tighter than the Adelaide / Essendon one I saw last week with West Coast just pipping Collingwood by 12 points at the end, coming from a deficite at half time. Pretty entertaining though I’m still not 100% on some of the rules. During the first half, clouds rolled in over the stadium so heavy and black they looked like an oil fire. This illusion was added to by the deepest red sunset I have ever seen – the light only just peeking through some holes in the cloud. Stunning.

Another difference with the football here is that a season ticket (or “membership”) offers a significant saving over buying individual tickets. My season ticket at home barely saved me a tenner on match-by-match purchase. In addition, it includes travel to and from home games on public transport. Newcastle offer this in the form of an addition pass which – surprise – costs money. I don’t know what other clubs offer.

This is apparently common with many event tickets in the Perth area – festivals, concerts and other sporting events. My single match ticket has “includes public transport to/from match” on the front of it. So a ticket which probably cost less than $30 included anything up to $8 worth of transport as well. Superb.

Using said ticket I made my way to the Carlisle hotel where I’d actually first met Mel. She was out with one of her brothers, her b/f, one of her friends and the usual crowd of regulars, some of whom I met last time. Stella was on special at $5 a pint so I made the most of that and enjoyed a few bevvies before heading “home” and… staying up till 4:30am on the internet.

Some things never change, even when I’m travelling.

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