Saturday, October 31, 2015

Day 105 - Freo Markets


As it was Friday and the popular Fremantle Markets are only opened from Friday to Sunday, we grabbed the chance to visit them. I have to admit that I am not very used to market life, with all the negotiating etc. Arrived, we first made some rounds through the whole place which wasn't too enormous big, fortunately. The back part was full of vegetables and fresh market things. In the middle part you could find ready-to-eat food, cheese, honey or cupcake stalls. The front hall was full of tourist stores selling Aboriginal art, didgeridoos, boomerangs and the usual stuff. 

As Freo is claiming to support sustainable living in various ways, you can also find some related stalls in the Markets: the coffee stall was fully fair trade, and next to this we found a vegetarian/vegan stall where you could order not only fruit juices and small pastries, but a green smoothie. What do you understand by green smoothie? Broccoli, salad, some green stuff like that from a mixer? Wrong here, it's made of grass. The grass was even freshly harvested (see photo). Maybe a special grass, but grass! I ate grass sometimes as a child, just for trying, and I definitely don't want to be a cow, eating only grass, because it wasn't toooooo tasty, though. And now a grass smoothie? Strange world! But probably I would change my mind by trying, chicken-hearted me. Instead, we indulged in eating a Nutella crêpe.


By the way, these pianos in the beginning were just standing there around, and as one of them already tells: feel free to play! There was a post explaining detailed rules about how loud, how long, how old you must be, which instruments... I think even if my hands would have recovered finally, I wouldn't have dared to play, there were so many people haha ;-)

Nice registration number, though.
We also spotted a car named "FATTAZ"
Our prey: chili pesto, Parmesan, strawberries, strawberry
mango (front), banana mango (back). Yes, they deserve
their name, the banana mango was exactly the banana
version of a mango. Or the other way around... Yum! 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Day 104 - Scarborough Memories

This is the beautiful Scarborough Beach.
Actually I should have remembered all this here, because thirteen years ago we lived for more than four weeks in a house close to this beach. Maybe I was too small (not even 5 y/o), or this stay just wasn't so impressive that it shaped me ;-) Quite sad, though. The playground seemed familiar to me, but I can't tell for sure.
We walked along the beach for more than an hour (me in my black drainpipe jeans, very appropriate...) and couldn't stop being amazed by the water color and the perfect weather, as the day has started with thick low clouds all over.

We had lunch in the "Wild Fig Café", a quite particular place: I have never seen such a menu, the dishes seemed totally mixed together like I would never dare to mix things, but it sounded so great! I tried pumpkin gnocchi which were awesome. Behind each dish they indicated if it was either vegetarian, vegan or gluten free. The Aussies seem to love healthy eating.

Read what is displayed in the female restroom: "With 180° ocean views, a vibrant atmosphere, amazing food, great coffee and stunning sunsets, the Wild Fig Café is the perfect spot to enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner. The Wild Fig is an environmentally & socially conscious café, only using free-range chicken & eggs, recycling whenever possible, serving 100% fair trade coffee & supporting community and international charity projects. The Fig also supports local artists. Funky, vibrant works of art line the interior walls of the café & local musicians entertain with uplifting jazz & smooth soul each weekend!"

At the train station we found another poster, which was less terrific but more terrifying: "We'd rather pick up your phone than what's left of you" - cruel but true. In contrast to Singapore, here the platforms are not separated from the tracks so that you may be inclined to jump on the tracks to pick up your dropped smartphone.

Fortunately we just met "acceptable" animals
(not like horrendous spiders or so), like this
foot-long undefinable reptile.

From the second next beach ("North Beach"), we took the bus back to Perth. Perth has a beach that is at least 100 km long, but there seems not to be a single bus line that runs along the coast. When wanting to go from beach A to beach B, the "shortest" (= longest, but only) way is mostly via Perth city.

In Perth city we decided to try out the Swan river ferry to South Perth. Nicely, the ferry line is included in all Transperth train/bus tickets. On the boat we still had relatively good weather and blue skies behind the Perth skyline. After we arrived 10 minutes later, the clouds became thicker and thicker, in an enormous tempo. We had a coffee and a snack (since ages!) at the riverfront, with a view of the Perth skyline. And because it got cloudy, we decided not to go to Kings Park to watch the sunset, but instead returned to Fremantle.

At home we took a short walk to Memorial Hill around the corner to watch the sunset there (fortunately it was still cloudy so we didn't have to regret not staying in Perth)... Next to suns going down, lights lighting up and people doing exercise, we saw birds hanging around in trees. Literally hanging ;-) Whatever?

Day 103 - Uni Day, Fact Day

Some time at the university, again, to list some of my impressions about the (Western) Australian identity...
  • Every time you think, ok the bus is coming, or, wow a rad car is rolling by, you'll be fooled in most cases. They're just souped-up passenger cars or mini-vans, to have at least a cool sound while driving a junk car. 
  • Among these junk cars you'll discover many classic US cars driving through the streets. Or even light blue Beetles, or cheesy VW buses.
  • The "dwarf-crows" annoy me every time I hear them. It seems like they live all over Western Australia!
  • The bus drivers are extremely friendly and care about every person near the bus stop. And even in a city with almost two million inhabitants the people greet the bus driver when getting on, and thank him when getting off. Mostly with "Thanks man", "Thank you", or "Cheers".
  • It is hard to find a non-tattooed person among those that you spot on the streets or in public transports during the day on working days, or among the staff at cafes and shops.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Day 102 - Doin' Rotto and Pettin' Quokkas

How wonderful this day was! Although it was exhausting we had so much fun. In the morning we hurried to the ferry port and set over to Rottnest. It took us about thirty minutes by boat until we reached the island and grabbed our bikes and helmet. Not much later we got our first (at least the first for me, my father had been there two times before) impressions of the island. The vegetation seems so different from ours! There were even some hills on the island that we were able to manage with our three-gear bikes.

By the way: today was the "maiden day" of wearing my present to my father and me for our trip, two partner look shirts with an old picture of us and the text "dad and daughter on tour". These shirts triggered at least two conversations (e.g. a family from Quebec with three children that were in pre-school age, so that they could travel for one year), and we earned a lot more comments ;-)
Fortunately (different as we thought) it was
very cloudy, otherwise we would have been
roasted all day under the sun. Many former
visitors complained that there weren't (m)any
places to escape the sun for a moment...
In the end we cycled 22 kilometres around the island. At its West End we even spotted whales (that means, we saw the back fin sometimes and the big water fountain, quite far away, but anyway). Whales to our left, a herd of dolphins to our right, we then even discovered little penguins and later pelicans.
The whale's fountain
The herd of dolphins
I have never seen them in real before

Most of the trees were completely bowed from the strong and salty non-stop wind, some of them were even partially leafless.

I can't tell how cute sweet marvellous these tiny creatures are!
We saw them at three different points all over the island, and its said that there live 4000-8000 of them in total on the island. I believe that, except for these so-called quokkas, several gigantic lizards and venomous snakes (and billions of flies!), there doesn't live much on the island.
By the way, we saw one of these snakes crawling to cross the street when we drove by with our bike. I couldn't even warn my father not to roll over it, because I was so shocked and all these thoughts like "omg it's venomous it could kill me" hushed through my mind...that's why I couldn't take a picture, sorry ;-)
At our last station, near the ferry port we found another place where many quokkas jumped around. A man who was sitting there also pointed me to a mom with child sleeping next to their cottage! When I approached them slowly first the mother glanced what was going on, then the child, and they continued to sleep again, lying on their tail, feet and arms on it, rolled together like a ball.
When we drove through the pampa and played with another three quokkas, one of them bit me quite hard... The island is a big nature reserve, because the quokkas are endangered to extinct. The quokkas used to be nocturnal (and still are, where they live on the mainland), but they learned to be diurnal, because like this they can just beg the tourists for food, which actually is strictly forbidden...

Anyway, these animals are the reason why the island is called Rottnest. The first explorer from the Netherlands thought them to be rats, so he called the island the rat nest. Actually, the "rats" are mini kangaroos ;-)


As a highlight of all the animals seen today,
I discovered a peacock walking through the
Rottnest settlement like Here I Am

What I learned? On Rottnest French, Chinese and German is spoken. English mainly for communication between the French / Chinese / German speaking persons.

Day 101 and I saw a Dalmatian - At Curtin University

Today wasn't such a busy day. At home my room is quite dark, even though it is daylight. My room here in Fremantle has a sun-blind which isn't much darkening. When I wake up in the morning to the bird's songs (which sound for me like screaming dwarves), the room is already light but I know that it's early. When I wake up the next time it's always around 9 AM which feels like 11 at least...

Anyway, I joined my father today on his day at the university. It took us around one hour to get there. We had Spanish lunch with my father's colleague from a lonely truck. The campus is a lot smaller compared to that of the National University of Singapore (30k instead of 80k students), but has a lot more green, is more innovative with several installations like this "Learning Curve" or the wooden bench which all are student projects. And all over the campus you can find beanbag chairs to chill in and enjoy the (usually)good weather. A really cool campus with so many little parks and shady places under trees, fancy lunch locations, very modern. So I came to buy a purple sweater from Curtin University.

Unfortunately I forgot to bring a jacket, and it was really chilly outside. We could leave the office (that has a great view of Perth) only very late, because Switzerland switched to standard time the day before, which means that we now have seven hours difference and the Skype calls ended very late. But I still ask myself, why does Australia not switch?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Day 100 !!! The Blessing of the Fleet

We spent our 100-day jubilee celebrating "the Blessing of the (Fishing) Fleet" together with the Fremantle Italian fishing community. For watching the procession we spotted the perfect corner where the crowd would walk past. Hopefully not a bad omen that exactly on that spot, a defect bus barred the road so that the festive procession had to wreath around the bus because TransPerth wasn't able to fix it in time (as we could watch).
The approaching procession, watched
through the windows of the defect bus
standing in their way ;-)
The procession takes place once a year, after its Sicilian example. Many fishermen here are Italian, and in front of the Saint Mary walk two Italian police officers in their uniforms.

We followed the procession all the way to the fishing harbor, where there was already a lot of celebration with BBQ and booze on the boats. The four most nicely decorated boats where blessed with (1) the "Miss Blessing of the Fleet" and her four Girl Misses, (2) a troop of Christ child figures and an entire playing marching band, (3) the argentine Madonna sanctuary carried by women, and (4) the Saint Mary sanctuary carried by men (and guarded by the Italian Policemen). All the four boats then sailed some rounds around the harbor to bless all the fishermen and their boats, then returned back to the pier so that the sanctuaries could be returned to the cathedral - but not before a lot of noise was created by a daylight fireworks at the harbor. 
The "floating-marching band"

We then visited the Shipwreck Museum which was very unfitting we noticed later, but the best time and date. The gallery showed quite interesting stuff like the remainders of Batavia wreck, a Dutch ship which sunk in the 17th century in Western Australia. The Batavia wreckage triggered an incredibly sad story: Since the survivors were not able to find food or water on the arid Western Australian coast, the officers built a boat and sailed to Indonesia for help, leaving women, children and some lesser important sailors behind. One of the men started a tyranny, killing all women and children and many of the men. Some loyal sailors separated from the tyranny camp. When the officers returned with a rescue ship, only by accident the loyal sailors reached the rescue ship first, and the officers brought the mutineers to justice by first cutting their hands off and then hanging them. Cruel times back then.
Some other wreckage victims had not a better fate by being killed by indigenous people, or by just starving on the arid beaches of Western Australia. Good for science however that many items of daily life of the 17th and 18th century have survived at the wreckage sites. There was even a display of German silver "Thalers" from towns such as Brunswick, Nuremberg, Frankfurt or Hanau. We were even more surprised to see coins from Santa Fe and Mexico - an indicator for Global Trade as early as the mid 17th century.

This is the one of the earliest maps of Australia,
when it wasn't clear yet that Australia is an island.
Fireworks at night (8PM...) celebrating the Blessing of the Fleet


Day 99 - Little Faries and Little Baskets, Short Films and Short Skirts

These mystical creatures sweetened many children's day at Esplanade Park around lunch time. They were part of the Freo Festival's Fairy Picnic where I (for a change) felt a little too old among all those pre-school (mostly) girls. It seemed like I misunderstood something in the brochure description, because I certainly did not expect workshops for creating your own glittering magic wand... Some fairies even had big tattoos, but it was cute to see anyway how the children (and probably also the fairies) enjoyed this event.
In the afternoon, my father accompanied me to a so called Bush Sculpture workshop. I wasn't sure whether I would get a place to join the crafting, because you should have received a notification after signing up, which I didn't get. However, I thought maybe someone doesn't show up, which was the case in the end. The first 45 minutes of the workshop were an introduction to the living utensils of the Noongar people, the indigenous tribe that once lived in the Perth area.
The Noongar man demonstrated us (15 persons...) how different everyday objects like containers, wooden shields, or arrows were made and used. He also demonstrated which plants and animal products (turtle eggs, duck eggs) they ate, what to do with a kangaroo fur (and tail!), how to cure injuries with plant products, and how to produce bush glue (see picture below). It was quite interesting, though, but I don't remember all things now, because the man spoke very slurred and with quite an accent. Not too good conditions for a non-native English speaker... The woman was better to understand, though she didn't say too much. She was going to instruct us for the hands-on part of the workshop.
With that reddish stuff in the white box on the table you can create things like this so-called Wardandi knife (the knife part is the sharp stone that is moulded with the reddish dirt to a stick). Where to get the reddish stuff? Just mix (a) charcoal with (b) balga resin (sap from the grass tree) and (c) kangaroo poo, put it on a stick and heat it up, until you have the wished amount of mould mass to form your device.
Of course you cannot only create knives, axes and other weapons, but also small sculptures like these wonderful cute emus, made of the detoxed nuts (head), dried banksia blossoms (body), and other things you find in the garden. Great and innovative!
This is my tiny outcome of this afternoon:
a very tight little basket which should have
gotten bigger - but we ran out of time. Made of
dried but wetted grass and sticks, winded
with freshly split palm leaf strings to keep
the structure and form.

Yes, we love Freo, and we love the Freo Food Truck Festival, too! All around Kings Square food trucks lined up, some more, some less fancy. In the end we grabbed a "mutant sandwich" from the Brazilian truck, and a Haloumi sandwich from the Greek one. Other food trucks were quite innovative, fancy, old fashioned or creative, selling cool stuff like home made hot donuts, or "Eat No Evil" food. And how the sellers fit to their truck is amazing ;-)

We spontaneously decided to buy some tickets for the "Over The Fence" comedy short film festival. Strange short films with subtitles is certainly a nerdy thing to do. In two hours, we saw 14 films from different countries, all intended to be very funny. Some even succeeded in making us laugh. We had a good audience, a girl was laughing almost all the time which was funny too ;-)
Evening out, selfie on a selfie couch, walking home along the Cappuccino Strip. I have never seen SO many short skirts at once. The girls or women that came with her boyfriends where clothed normally, but the singles, gosh. One tiny air blast and everyone could watch the big reveal ;-) and our evening was funnily concluded by a totally drunk man, not getting anything anymore, just hobbling and falling.

Day 98 - Fremantle Prison and Fremantle Festival Opening

Since we were planning to do the 'spooky' torchlight tour of Fremantle Prison, we thought that it may be useful to see it in daylight first. We arrived just in time to join a group of about 30 persons that already had started the tour.

We learned that the prisoners were sent from the UK, mostly from London because the empire wanted to get rid of their scum. Deportation meant to send these people on convict ships to Australia without a return ticket, even after the sentence was done. Even children, the youngest at the age of eight, were sent to the land where nothing was. The first prisoners had to build their own prison by cutting cubes of limestone from the hill. We also were told that the court we were standing on was a place where the prisoners only were allowed to walk if they had a special licence in form of a paper that you had to hold up at any time. If you didn't you were suspicious to not owe such a paper: you heard a threatening whistle, then a threatening shot, and if you didn't show a paper then you were shot immediately. Harsh conditions.
I found this awfully scary
These harsh conditions also showed in the cells. The prisoners had to live here 14 hours a day (dusk until dawn, when there was no electric lighting): a room, about six square meters small, and about 2,2 meters high, furnished with (in the earliest days a hammock, but later) a short thin bed and a bucket serving as a toilet. Since so many convicts tried to end their miserable lives by jumping to death from the upper floors, suicide nets were installed - but not earlier than 20 years after they had been applied for by the prison administration.
Some rooms were full of artworks. One room of an extremely aggressive prisoner was originally painted in light blue to calm him down a little. In the end they even let him paint his walls with very beautiful landscape paintings, as a therapy. Some paintings were also found in the public courts where the prisoners painted situations in which also dead corpses lay around.
During the day the prisoners were sent out to public spaces (with the other prisoners) without shelter from the sun. They hung there, using two toilets for 150 persons, emptying their toilet buckets. Some lucky guys were able to work during some time of the day: many of them got bad jobs like cleaning all the toilet buckets which also was paid very badly. The most trustful and faithful prisoners were sent to the kitchen where they had to deal with knives, scissors and so on. They were not only the best paid, but also got an excellent hygiene, because they cannot contaminate all the prisoners. So they were able to shower and get fresh clothes every day, whereas others could only wash and get fresh clothes twice or three times a week. 
We saw the place where many prisoners received their punishment which often was 100 lashes with the Cat o'Nine Tails. Many had to quit, because the blood loss was too high, and the skin damage was to heavy already (a doctor assessed the condition). The prisoner then was immediately sent to hospital, where they took great care of him, because they didn't want him to die. When he recovered (doctor's assessment) he was given the remaining lashes, if he wasn't finished yet.

The prison was initially built for convicts, poor persons who, e.g., stole food in a store, like that eight year-old boy. That time Great Britain was the global power and couldn't agree with criminal acts like shoplifting or burglary. There was no way back to Europe. There was nothing in Australia except for a deathly desert. No water, no food, nobody, no artificial light! When the sun went down it was dark, candles were too dangerous. Somewhen later the people caused a huge fire in the roof timber as a protest. Electric lighting only came in the 1920s. 
Shortly before the prison was closed in 1991 they even bought tons of barb wire which is unimaginably expensive (they resold it later to other prisons). The reason they decided to buy barb wire is that the prison was more and more the place for really dangerous criminals like rapists or murderers. Fremantle Prison became like a super-max (maximum-security prison). Two stories shocked me: a multiple robber and rapist became a category "A" prisoner after he escaped two times. When he escaped a third time, he got away and raped a 12 year-old girl before he was caught again and died in the prison later. The other story is about the only woman that was hanged here in Fremantle Prison: she was arrested for murdering her three stepchildren by "curing" them with a thought-to-be-good medicine which actually was toxic. A total of 44 persons went to the gallows below.

Two shots from the detention block:
On the left, a regular "furnished" day cell (one toilet bucket, one chair)
On the right, a cell for the really bad guys (not even a toilet bucket) 

Coming back to a happier topic...
...where the barmen wore captain dresses
...where the entire audience was dancing, no matter how they looked, no matter how they danced
...where the music was so happy that the sitting persons danced on their chairs (Perch Creek)
...where the music was so loud that your eardrums danced, too
...where the music was so awesome that I got goose bumps and had to buy a CD
...where the musicians were so friendly that I got some autographs
...where the musicians looked completely different then expected from the balcony (far away)
...where I've seen the coolest stage performance ever
...where I disturbed the friends and himself, a local artist that exhibited a public art in form of a boat in front of Town Hall, eating Pizza which was pretty unexpected and embarrassing, especially that I was left deserted from my father who pretended to enter, too, but then stayed far away lol
...where art means three colorful 3D triangles that are smoking