Remembering 1997: The Sweetest Year in My Life (Part 9)

After we finished brief city tour, we head to a car park near railway station where we will ride Doddy’s car to Fremantle. This was the first time that I ride in a private car in Australia. Upon wearing the seatbelt, I can feel how tight it wrapped my body. Back then, wearing seatbelt wasn’t mandatory for car occupants in Indonesia. And most seatbelts were actually inadequate, and were just there for formality. Some cars didn’t even have seatbelts! While on the other hand, the mandatory seatbelt usage has been around in Australia for decades.

The car ride itself felt very different to what I had in Indonesia at around that period. It’s very smooth with almost no bump. At that time, car suspension in Indonesia didn’t give smooth ride at all, compounded by the fact that many roads are bumpy. So the smooth and stable ride in a car in Australia was a stark contrast to what I have in Indonesia. Cars in Australia might be similar in class to what I found in Indonesia, but their construction quality were definitely way ahead of what were in Indonesia.

Also, the Australians seem to drive very quickly. They seem to try to get as quickly as possible from one corner of the street to another. Which is why upon departing, drivers would quickly accelerate and trying to reach the maximum permissible speed limit as soon as possible. Although Doddy is Indonesian, he seemed to have adopted Australian driving style.

We went traveled through the main road into Fremantle direction. I can’t recall which roads did we take, but at one point we traveled near the beach with railway lines and busy railway yard on it. As we approached Fremantle, we began to see some ships docked in the harbor. Fremantle is a major harbor in West Australia, and historically it was the entrance point to Australia from Asia before the advent of air travel. It is located right at the mouth of Swan River.

Aerial view of Fremantle. Perth city can be seen in the distance.

Unlike Perth, Fremantle still retain many classic buildings in the town. Many have been refurbished and repurposed. Some are only cosmetically restored and serve as monument of bygone era. The town is pretty much a harbor town which serves as administrative and recreational place for visiting sailor. Originally separate town from Perth, it is now very much part of Perth’s metropolitan area.

The Yacht harbor near Fremantle.

We found one parking place in a car park building near the market. Once we parked the car, we start exploring the small city. It was weekend and the town is quite busy with people. Some are going for shopping, other just enjoying the scene, although there are some who also going about with their work.

One thing that shocked me at that time was occasional public display of affection where couple could freely kiss and fondle in front of people, without drawing too much attentions except from newcomers like us!

The busy main avenue of Fremantle. This photo wasn’t taken in random, I was actually trying to photograph the kissing and fondling couple on the right.

We also explore the town and enjoyed walking around the town.

Miss Maud cafe at Fremantle.

We also trying our new Unidial card to contact my mother back home in Surabaya. I have to say that the phone quality is crisp and clear, despite of the distance. And the card also allowed us to make overseas phone call at discounted price. And the card can also be used for multiple times, as long as we still have the credits.

Trying our new Unidial card.

In front of Fremantle market, there is a daredevil street performance that attracts huge crowds. The street artist really delivers top notch performance, which is why he can make living out of it.

A street artist performing dangerous stunt in front of large crowd at Fremantle market.    

We also wandering around seeing historic buildings such as old fortification named “The Roundhouse”.

The view of High Street, Fremantle, as seen from Roundhouse. Note a dual gauge railway line at the bottom of the picture.

Posing on the Roundhouse. I recently learned that the building on the right was originally built as Fremantle tram’s main depot, before being repurposed into its current form when the tram network shut down in 1952.

And not very far from “The Roundhouse”, there is a large open park named “Fremantle Esplanade”. The park is a popular hangout place for visitors who want to sit and relax while enjoying the scenery. In one corner, there is a unique monument to commemorate Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama.

Vasco Da Gama memorial at Fremantle Esplanade Park. A few years later, additional fin shaped metal structure was added on the top of this monument.

We also browse some souvenir shop, and also enjoying some lunch and drinks in one of its old café. I also tried my camera and new lens to take photo of the surrounding area.

Testing my new camera lens.

While enjoying the meal, I also notice that there seem to be an abundance of seagulls around. Although I’ve seen photos of the birds, it was the first time I see them. They might give interesting fauna scenery in the town, but they can occasionally be a pest as they would scrounge leftover food, or even unattended meal. Not to mention their droppings.

Seagulls flock near Miss Maud in Fremantle.

We also went into a cinema and watch the “Mr. Bean” movie.

Sitting in a cinema in Fremantle, waiting for the movie to start.     

It was the first time I see western movie without subtitle. While Indonesian audience would only be entertained by the slapstick act, I notice that the audience laugh much harder and more frequent than what Indonesian audience would, because they obviously entertained by slang, idiom, or pun that would not be understood by Indonesians, even with the help of subtitle.

I also notice that there is an active railway line that virtually slicing through the Fremantle town center. And it crosses next to the Roundhouse. What is unique about it is the fact that it has 3 rails! All of the railway lines I’ve seen before (in Indonesia) are made up of 2 rails. But why this one has 3 rails? It turn out that this line is what they call as “dual gauge”, which mean 2 different width of railway track share the same line.

Once we’re satisfied with exploring Fremantle, we return back to our car and head south to Rockingham. Doddy took us to see one famous wildlife park near there.

As we drove south, the classic buildings and houses gave way to industrial area of Kwinana. The area to the south of Fremantle is dominated with factories, mills, and also grain loading facilities. Yet, despite the strong industrial scene, there are still some open green areas around the place, which perfectly balanced the scenery. Unlike the industrial areas in Indonesia, which I often found heavily polluted and dirty, in here the place looks quite tidy and leafy.

We later arrive at Rockingham, although we didn’t stop by. Doddy showed us Rockingham’s beach. It is such a nice looking place to enjoy the beach. Although it was in the middle of winter, it didn’t dampen local people’s mood to throng the park. On the sea, there are some private yachts and boats sailing peacefully.

After the brief visit, we head straight to the south of the town. Beyond Rockingham, the scenery is very rural.  We later arrive at Marapana Wildlife World. Despite of its wildlife theme, this place is actually akin to a zoo, where they held many native animals such as kangaroo or koala in an enclosed area.

Emu birds at Marapana wildlife park.

The difference is all animals are not placed in confined space, and instead allowed to roam free within the wildlife park’s fenced compound.

The estate had a very vast space where animals can roam around freely as if they’re in the wild.

Visitors can come and explore the area, and can interact with the animals either by hugging koala or feeding the kangaroo.

Feeding the kangaroo.

Although the sky was gloomy and it was lightly rainy, it didn’t reduce our enjoyment in visiting the place. Perhaps the only thing that partly deterred me was the voracious nature of the animals in consuming the food, so much that I was worried if they would bite my hand!

I have to admit that I was quite scared by the aggressive manner of the kangaroos.

Upon completing our visit at Marapana, we return back to Perth through the main highway. Along the way, Doddy also act as tour guide who show us places that we pass through, or near where we are. Such as the town of Mandurah which is said to be the southernmost suburb in Perth metropolitan area, or Jandakot airport which is one of the important center of aviation training school in Australia (we didn’t get into the airport, we just drove on the nearby highway).

Mandurah waterfront.

We return back to the city through Kwinana freeway. Since we are traveling through the freeway, and didn’t stop by to any places along the way, it allows us faster journey back to the city. This means that we can arrive back to the city before sunset. So we decided to spent additional time by visiting the beaches near Perth.

We made brief stopover at Cottesloe and Scarborough beaches. Since it was in the midst of winter cold weather, most of the visitors’ only sit or perhaps drinking in the café. Due to strong current and massive waves, not many are brave enough to swim, save for a few daring surfers. The scenery reminds me to the beaches in Europe that I see in magazines or TV.

From there we return back to my house, where we were greeted by Shiraj who had just finished his working shift and invited us for dinner. So we drove in 2 cars to a Sizzler restaurant, in the nearby suburb (I can’t recall the name). We enjoyed the dinner in here and it was really nice.

After we finished our dinner, we also paid visit to King’s Park, a scenic park on the uphill section just to the west of the city center. From there, we can see the whole city clearly. It was such a nice place to visit.

Night view of Kings Park. This was one of very few night photos that I successfully captured using my old Canon AT-1 film camera. Film camera was much less forgiving than digital!

Upon completing our visit at King’s Park, we head to the hotel where my father and my sister stay. It is called “Pacific Motel”, and it’s located right next to my college! It was dark, so I didn’t see much of my college, other than the fact that it is the old building next to our motel.

The hotel is an old budget hotel, where the building seems to be built in late 1970s or early 1980s. The accommodation was quite basic, yet comfortable. The hotel looks properly maintained. You get twin bed, hot water shower, heater and TV. The only downside is the rather rude and lousy receptionist service. We asked for extra bed, but they seem to hinder us. So we ended up sharing bed.

After we settled in everything, Doddy and Shiraj bid farewell and return back to their home.

TO BE CONTINUED

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About bagus70

I'm an adventurous railfans who love to seek out the world of railway, beyond the border of my office.
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