The weather in Perth is balmy and sunny. We are enjoying a few days of mid 20 Degree Celsius temperatures.
After two days of being here, we haven’t yet seen Yuki, our Japanese daughter-in-law. Apparently, she just can’t be interrupted while she is working. Japanese women rarely make it to senior organisational roles, so dedication and long hours seem to be the norm. I think we will see her tomorrow (Good Friday) as we plan to spend all day together and she will not to be working as her office will be closed. Her work-life balance seems very strange to us. However, we have spent two wonderful afternoons with our son David and his boys.
Yesterday morning, we did a Google search for interesting photographic sites in Perth and we spent the morning visiting some that sounded interesting. Most had some significant historic value.
The first was the Matagarup Bridge – an architectural suspension pedestrian bridge that crosses the Swan River near the new Optus Stadium. It provides pedestrian access between the stadium in Burswood and East Perth. The bridge’s structural shape resembles two flying swans, with the bridge arches representing the wishbones, but it can also be seen as a swimming dolphin, a Wagyl serpent or even a ribbon.
In the middle of the bridge, there were a couple of planting boxes with native bottle brush plants in flower. Feeding on the nectar were a pair of New Holland Honeyeater. I had tried unsuccessfully to photograph these birds a number of times, but this one just sat up for me.
We found the old Mill at South Perth. This is the oldest surviving physical link with the pioneering days of the Western Australian Colony. Grain and flour were vital for the new colony as bread was then the staple food. Many of the early settlers grew their own wheat and hand milled it using a quern. Unfortunately this mill was never a profitable concern. It was not well located in relation to the major markets and erratic winds meant that it was often unable to grind wheat. There were also rival mills.
The property deteriorated over time and despite being resumed by the government in 1929 little effort was made to conserve it until 1957 when a folk museum was established in its grounds. The site was taken over by the City of South Perth, repaired and upgraded and was placed on the register of the National Trust in 1992.
We read about the Swanbourne Hospital that is a heritage listed former mental hospital located in Mount Claremont. It was built in 1904, and was the largest stand-alone psychiatric hospital in Western Australia until its closure in 1972. The hospital was in turn known as the Claremont Hospital for the Insane, Claremont Mental Hospital and Claremont Hospital. The majority of the buildings on the site were demolished. The most outstanding remaining building is Montgomery Hall. It was originally known simply as the “dining hall”. It is quite photogenic.
We caught up with David and boys after lunch, once they had finished their school holiday activities and we had finished a very pleasant lunch and a glass of wine at the Bayside Kitchen at Matilda Bay. Just along the river was the location from which Qantas operated its ‘Double Sunrise flights to Ceylon towards the end of WW2. There was a really good childrens playground there and Orin and Koa had a lot of fun.
The Double Sunrise service was formed in 1943 to re-establish the Australia–England air link that had been cut due to the fall of Singapore in 1942. Royal Australian Air Force personnel were seconded to operate Consolidated PBY Catalina seaplane aircraft under the banner of Qantas. The plan called for flights between Crawley, Western Australia, and RAF Base Koggala in southern Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). The flights were (then) the longest non-stop air route of any airline, taking between 27 and 33 hours. Departures were timed so that the flight crossed Japanese occupied territory during darkness. The crews would observe the sunrise twice, which led to the service being known as “The Double Sunrise”. It was a journey of approximately 3,580 nautical miles or 6,630 kilometres
On the way back to our hotel, we made a detour to the old site of the Sunset Hospital in Dalkeith. This National Trust classified property is a former hospital and aged care facility for poor and homeless men. It was built in 1906 under the name of Claremont Old Men’s Home. It once housed up to 750 men. The design of the house was based on a military model, with buildings made from large stone blocks quarried from local limestone. It included an infirmary, a hospital and a mortuary. The hospital design comprised three main blocks. Each of these had ‘L’ shaped dormitories with an ablutions placed centrally in an inner quadrangle. There were two padded cells in one block. There was also a spacious dining room and laundry which had a further half acre of washing line. Its name was changed in 1943 to Sunset Hospital, and it was decommissioned in 1995. It was classified by the National Trust in 1993 and heritage listed in 1997.
Today, we first went to the supermarket to buy some ingredients from which I can cook a Good Friday lunch for everyone tomorrow. We dropped them into David so that he could keep the food in the fridge. We spent the rest of the day at Fremantle near the mouth of the Swan River that flows though Perth.
We first visited the Western Australian Maritime Museum where several unique galleries show displays of vessels that include leisure boats, handcrafted sailing boats, commercial pearl luggers and other craft that are part of WA’s maritime history. Among them is the boat (Australia II) that won the America’s Cup in 1987. It was the first boat to take the cup away from the New York Yacht Club that mostly adapted the rules so that it couldn’t lose. This boat was the first competitor to win the cup away from the NYYC in 132 years. For some years, its rules even required that competitors actually had to sail their boat to New York to compete and this made them completely uncompetitive in racing.
Another exhibit is an Oberon class submarine — HMAS Ovens, that sits on an old slipway where WW2 submarines were once repaired.
There is a very large marina where boats are stored in high shelves. It fits readily into an environment where boating is a way of life and very popular.
One of the most popular places in Fremantle is the Little Creatures Brewhouse. It makes some really good boutique beers and has a very pleasant atmosphere. We decadently enjoyed a dozen oysters with wine for Jill and a beer for me as a post lunch snack.
Across the railway in another frequently photographed attraction. The Tourist Wheel is among the most popular destinations in Western Australia. It is situated in Esplanade Park on Fremantle’s fishing boat harbour. Customers ride on the 40 metre wheel in fully enclosed gondola’s and get some fantastic views of the surounding bay and downtown of Fremantle.
We are looking for more to come over the next few days.