This was a great day. First of all there was the excitement of seeing Australia after our almost two week journey from Cape Town and then our reception on Fremantle which was incredibly warm. The Australian Immigration Officers onboard had already set a great example of approachability and charm in checking all our visas this week and from the moment we left the ship, at about 9.30, everyone put themselves out to welcome us. Volunteer guides directed us, security staff were impeccably polite and, as we discovered, even the Railway staff were as helpful as possible.
We had decided not to visit Perth, preferring to have a relaxing day in and around Fremantle, which has such a good reputation. But first, we walked to the rail station and travelled about four stops on the track to Perth to Cottesloe, a small seaside town and, apparently, one of the main weekend destinations for Perth residents. The fare was just Aus$6 return (about £4) and the beach was an easy ten minute walk from the station through beautiful houses and alongside a picturesque golf course. To steal a quote from PG Wodehouse, Cottesloe looked as if it had just come back from the Dry Cleaners. It was awash with parrots:
We had coffee at the beach and then walked north and south along the beach. It was all very pretty with lots of kids – on a school trip it appeared – having a great time in the Indian Ocean. We might have continued our walk through some pretty sand dunes but were discouraged by the starkness of the notice by the footpath:
We were back in Fremantle by shortly after noon and wandered along the pretty and beautifully restored streets:
The shops were all largely upmarket craft and souvenir shops and were mostly very expensive. I’ve been searching for black shoelaces but I declined to pay the Aus. $24 (about £15) asked for in the only shoe shop in town (I later found some at Coles Supermarket for Aus. $1.50). There was a warm recommendation in the new copy of the Rough Guide for a lunch place called Moore Moore. It was a bit off the beaten track but well worth the walk and we ate chorizo and a beautiful potato cake in a shady courtyard. It was outstanding and the Wi-Fi was like lightning allowing me to return my mailbox to some sort of order.
We visited the supermarket for a couple of pharmacy products and the adjacent liquor store for white wine and half a dozen bottles of local beer (Tooheys) before returning to the ship just before five. We went to the very back of the ship and caught the last ninety minutes of a perfect summer’s day before returning to the room and eating from room service.