Fremantle, WA

Woodman Point Caravan Park is just outside Fremantle, about an hour from Perth. We needed a big city to buy a new washing machine and get the dodgy satnav on the Ranger looked at by a Ford Dealer. We’d recommend this park if you need somewhere near to Perth. It was well set out with lovely green spaces, the only drawback being that our site was very close to the main road and we heard a bit of traffic noise at night.

My twin tub washing machine has done a great job for the past few years but was  playing up lately. The electrical shocks it starting giving me were both thrilling and a little disturbing so we decided it was time to upgrade. Now I have this flash one that is fully automatic, and the electricity seems to stay where it should, both things a bonus.

Woodman Point is a very flat 20k return trip to Fremantle. Actually it’s probably quite a bit longer because we kept finding the bike path ending at construction fencing and having to detour quite a way around it due to the marina there being transformed.

We stumbled across Cisserello’s restaurant which also has an extensive aquarium. It’s free to go in and view and if you’re in the area we would recommend you go, its fabulous.

A visit to Little Creatures Fremantle Brewery was a must for us. Tim loves their beer, especially with the wood-fired pizzas. Their sister brewery, White Rabbit, is in Healesville, Vic.

The Shipwrecks Museum  in Fremantle has some amazing exhibits. To think wood  survived under the ocean for over 300 years. For the maritime history buffs there are a few explanations below.

We visited Rottnest Island, the ferry left from the Fremantle port.

The decision to visit Rottnest Island  was controversial for us, knowing something of its sordid and heartbreaking history.  We have learnt so much more since visiting. Let me share a little with you.

The Whadjuk Noongar Aboriginal people have lived in Western Australia for at least 70,000 years, that’s just going by artefacts found, probably longer. To keep that in context, Europeans colonised W.A. 193 years ago. It’s estimated that up until about 7,000 years ago Rottnest Island was part of the mainland before the sea level rose and it became an island.

From 1838-1902 European authorities imprisoned thousands of aboriginal men and boys on Rottnest Island, often chained at the feet and neck for years at a time.  Many died and were buried in unmarked mass graves on the island. The island became a tourist destination in 1906, tourist were allowed to set up tents for holidays over a site that the aboriginal people knew was a mass grave of their family members. In 1971 the first skeleton was found, many more were discovered and it was recognised as the largest aboriginal burial ground in Australia with around 400 men and boys buried there. But it took 30 years, until 1993, before the area was closed to campers. Only recently has it been transformed, fenced off with a landscaped path around the area and interpretive signs.

Sally Morgan’s  painting “Greetings from Rottnest” (1988) depicts the distress caused to the aboriginal communities associated with the island and whose relatives are buried there.

The museum on the island tells the story of the aboriginal prison and the atrocities that took place. Plans are in progress for areas of significance to be transformed into historical sites so visitors can learn and understand its history while enjoying this beautiful island. That probably sounds bizarre but think of the Port Arthur Memorial Garden, 9/11 ground zero memorial, the Auschwitz Museum and Memorial, and many many more nation wide and world wide. Recognition and acknowledgement of the truth helps heal the damage done no matter what the country or culture.

So our contribution to sharing that history and the beauty of Rottnest Island is to tell the story here.

Some pics from around the island. Most people hire bikes but we wanted to spend more time in the water so we took the bus tour instead. The beaches are pristine, we loved swimming there, next time we’ll go snorkelling.

Can you see the boat moorings? There is a 10 year waiting list to get a boat mooring off Rottnest Island. Often they are passed on in wills and are not cheap to keep. They are in every bay and inlet around the island, in the peak season, summer, the place is full of boats.

The Osprey (Yoorndoordoo) is a large bird of prey, they mate for life and use the same nest for many years. They produce one or two chicks each year. There are about 14 Osprey nests around Rottnest Island, some are known to be over 70 years old and still used. This is one we saw, it was a massive size.

It was a lot of fun trying to get a selfie with a quokka, they aren’t as cooperative as you might think. We didn’t know that quokkas are the only native mammals on Rottnest Island.  A Dutch explorer named the island Eylandt ‘t Rottenest (“Rats’ Nest Island”) because he thought they were rats, thus Rottnest Island. The Whadjuck Noongar People call it Wadjemup, ‘Place across the water where the spirits live’.

Go visit Rottnest Island, when you acknowledge its history, its beauty and peacefulness is even more profound.

Until next time, Cheers from Helen and Tim