If you had a visitor come to the Twin Cities and you took them on a tour through the city, a boat ride on Lake Minnetonka and finished with a drive down Summit Avenue, this would be a close description of what we did today in Perth and Freemantle.
As described in our tour guide, “ Perched on the serene Swan River and framed by the Swan Valley vineyards, Perth boasts a modern, sophisticated atmosphere. Perth is known as the City of Lights, referring to every light in the city being turned on when John Glen flew his first orbit of the earth in 1962. The action was repeated in 1998 when Glen flew aboard the shuttle Discovery.”
Western Australia covers one-third of the Australian landmass, but with the country’s total population of 22 million only 2 million reside in “WA”. Perth is the fourth most populous city in Australia and a thriving metropolitan area. We began our day with a city tour, highlighted by stops at Cottesloe Beach and Indiana Tea House, where visiting dignitaries are entertained; Kings Park and Botanical Gardens, with a view of the city skyline along the river and a ride through the business district in which we saw a wonderful sculpture of a group of kangaroos all holding briefcases. From there we boarded a boat for a ride down the Swan River and our return to Fremantle, viewing the riverside estates of Millionaires’ Row and numerous yacht clubs along the way. The day was warm, but our guide explained that strong afternoon sea breezes, know locally as the “Freo Doctor” give a welcome relief.
We finished our tour with a drive through Fremantle. It was explained to us that when jails in England became overcrowded, prisoners were sent to Australia to build the cities. This occurred between the years of 1850 and 1868 in a number of places, Freemantle being one of them. Freemantle is the original site of settlement in this area and the Fremantle jail still stands along with many well preserved 19th century, colonial-era buildings. Over the years Fremantle had become run-down and unsafe. The area was renovated when the World’s Cup was held here in the 80’s and is now a destination for shops, restaurants, coffee houses and a large market, originally built in the 1870’s, and housed in a Victoria–era building.
Although many activities were planned onboard to celebrate Christmas Eve, we were tired from our day of touring, had dinner in our room and headed to bed. We could have easily been one of Santa’s first stops.