The sail-in to Fremantle was fun to watch. The swells that had been a mere 10 feet (after the 20 footers that seemed calm) began to subside as we neared protected waters. The mouth of the Swan River was in front of me as I sat perched in the Palm Court at the front of the ship, Deck 12. The sun was shining. The temps were in the seventies and were expected to get up to the lower nineties by afternoon. Our day and a half in the Fremantle-Perth area was expected to be hot but dry—at least until our departure time.
The question we had asked ourselves was “what should we do?” We’d spent a week here in 2010 and pretty much explored the two cities and the surrounding area by car. The final plan of attack was to spend the first afternoon shopping for some things we needed that we wouldn’t have a chance to look for again until Capetown several weeks away. Then we had a choice between taking a Swan River cruise or going to Rottnest Island for the second day.
|Old salt store at Rottnest|
Rottnest Island won out since the only river cruise we could find was from Fremantle to Perth and we weren’t enamored with the idea of spending time in another city environment and in our recollection, we had missed the island the first time. We went to the Rottnest Ferry office at The Market not far from our ship and booked our tickets for the next day. Then we crossed the train tracks that separated the dock area from downtown Fremantle and walked into town to begin our shopping.
Besides a couple of toiletries, I needed to find a hat—the kind with a wide brim and a strap for my chin so if the wind blew on our safari, I wouldn’t lose it to the jungle. I had packed my old Aussie hat. I’m sure I did. But when we went through all the suitcases under the bed a third time, it still didn’t show up. It took quite a while to find one which surprised me. When I bought the original in Australia, I’d had scores to choose from. I finally settled on one that was certainly not going to make a fashion statement concurrent with the level accepted on board ship but then I was taking it into the jungle.
We wound up our afternoon sitting at the National Hotel’s sidewalk tables with a beverage talking to an Aussie who was curious about where we were from and who filled us in on the weather. I thought for a short time he had some elixir to sell us since he kept mentioning a Dr. Freo. Turns out Dr. Freo was the nickname for the afternoon breeze that always kicked up some relief for the heat. I’m not sure what else might have been lost in translation.
The next morning we arrived at our departure point for the ferry to Rottnest and began our day of adventure. It started with déjà vu. “You know, Bob, I remember a ferry like this once before that had a TV with local broadcasts on it. Where was it?”
Our trip over to Rottnest was about a half hour on smooth seas. Once there, we had to wait a bit for the tour bus that we had booked for a trip around the island “in air conditioned comfort.” There were bicycles all over the place as you could also rent a bike or take a boat ride around the island. We opted out of any more boats with six sea days ahead of us and Bob won’t get on a bike any more.
The bus was comfortable and the gal that did our commentary was full of Aussie humor. She kept talking about the “crockers.” Had we seen any “crockers?” At our lighthouse stop, I finally asked her to spell crockers. Turns out she was saying “quokkas.” Hard to say in any language.
The quokkas are small marsupials that are kind of a cross between a wallaby and the potoroo that we saw in Adelaide. They looked enough like large rats to the Dutch who first landed there that they named the island Rottnest—Rats Island.
The bus slowed and stopped for us to see a couple quokkas along side the road where some kids were feeding them. “You know, Bob, I seem to remember an animal like that from before. I think I have a picture of one on the porch of a gift shop.”
We passed a beach and Bob said, “You know, Karen, that looks familiar to me.”
Soon our tour was over and we headed off to find some lunch. I pulled up short as we passed by a gift shop with a porch. “Bob! That’s the gift shop where I took the picture!”
We’d been here before. Five years ago. I have the picture to prove it.