Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour

Backyard Tourist – Welcome to My Fremantle

 

Sometimes when your next big trip is too far away but the travel itch is compelling you to do something, anything! It might pay to look at your hometown through the eyes of a visitor.

The port city of Fremantle, lies 22kms south-west of Western Australia’s capital, Perth. Initially a separate town, suburban sprawl has connected the two in the past few decades.

Young by European or even US standards, but old in Anglo-Australian years, it was settled only because they didn’t want those cheese-eating surrender monkeys (the French), to colonise part of Australia. They’d been hanging around the coasts and the British, who’d been a bit blasé about the west,  finally gave in to Captain Stirling who was lobbying for a free settlement here.
Two years later in 1830, my 3rd great grandfather arrived at the new Swan River Colony which is why I feel such a connection with the place.

There are three main reasons for visiting Fremantle, the history, the café culture and the art scene. Continue reading

The Great Australian Game

 

If you follow any Australian’s on social media, you’ll probably see mentions of ‘footy’, ‘Aussie Rules’, ‘speccies’ and a host of other foreign words. They’re talking about football, Australian Rules football and… well a speccie’s a speccie but we’ll talk more of that shortly! Here’s a quick run down of the sport which is a lot different to any other contact sport with a ball!

You never know, one day you might find yourself visiting Australia during footy season and may wish to partake in this traditional local custom, whether it be watching the game at a pub (relaxed bar) with a mob (group) of sport enthusiasts over pints of beer, or if you’re really lucky, you can head to a game to experience the electric atmosphere of this great sport of aerial ping-pong.

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A perfect weekend involves beer + pub + footy, if you can’t get to a game

The game was first codified in Victoria in 1859, so it is actually one of the oldest sports of the modern era. It is commonly thought that Australian Rules is an offshoot of Gaelic Football, but while there are similarities, Gaelic football was codified 30 years after the Australian game. More likely is that the sport was influenced by the indigenous game of Marn Grook which involved large teams over an even larger playing area, kicking a stuffed, possum skin ball and punt kicking it to other players. There weren’t many rules in the game but individual players who exhibited outstanding skills such as leaping high over others, were celebrated and this is probably the skill which eventually turned into the ‘mark’ in Australian Rules. This is where a player catches the ball from a kick where the ball otherwise hasn’t been interfered with by other players. Sometimes the player will launch themselves from another players back to gain extra height and if they complete the mark, without dropping the ball, this is known as a speccie (from spectacular).

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Example of a speccy (high-skill, high-altitude mark)

Continue reading

Going Bush…

East Woody Point

The little, tin boat I’m in is starting to feel even smaller as I spot another giant Tuna jumping through the water, chasing a school of bait fish. Hundreds of birds hover above taking turns to dive head first into the turquoise waters hoping to surface with a meal in their beak just as a dozen sea eagles swoop in and fly off with a tasty silver fish in their claws. The top of the waters bubble as the bait fish scramble to get away, but my eyes cannot see the larger fish below herding them towards the shallower waters.
Nearby, a large white crane stands stoically on a flooded sandbank, passively watching the scene around him. Dugongs, dolphins and sea turtles glide through the waters beneath, unseen today, but I know they’re there.

One more creature to spot and then I’ve finally ticked off ‘The Big Five’ out of the wildlife found in this hot and humid, sunkissed land.
Scanning the edge of the water as we potter past slowly in the little, tin boat, I’m hoping to see the fifth or at least the flick of its giant tail as the beast scatters back into the jungle-like foliage.

It’s a pretty remote place here, I’ll give you that, the majority of visitors fly here and even the local people prefer a plane over enduring the very long and very bumpy 10 hour drive down a corrugated bush track to get to the nearest town. For six months of the year, the whole community and surrounding tribal lands are cut off from civilisation by the rising banks of the rivers that flow through the area. Fresh supplies to the community have to be shipped in weekly and heaven forbid if the seas are too rough for the barge to dock in what are normally some of the brightest aqua waters you’ve ever seen!  Continue reading

One of Rottnest's many bays

Shortest Overseas Trip Ever

Looking for an island holiday, with over 63 long, white, sandy beaches and 20 crystal clear bays to choose from, world standard diving areas filled with colourful coral and abundant with tropical fish, with distinct wildlife not seen anywhere else on Earth, an interesting history and that great laid back vibe, with fares from only $45 return?

Have you thought about Rottnest?

To most locals, Rotto is that sandy island full of those weird rat-like animals, off the coast of Perth that they may have visited once or twice with their school or family when they were young.

But after a recent visit, I have found a new appreciation for a unique and beautiful travel destination that is right on my city’s doorstep.  Continue reading