February 25, 2013 Sea Day
For the most part this was a sea day, as we did not arrive at our destination of Fremantle until 3:30pm in the afternoon. The port city of Fremantle is located on the western shores of Australia near the southwestern corner of the country and is adjacent to the town of Perth. Fremantle has a population of approximately 300,000.
We attended a lecture by Bob Tonkinson about the Mardu Aborigines of the Western Desert region. This desert covers one-sixth of the continent. These groups of Aborigines were among the last people to abandon their traditional existence and migrate into settlements in the 1960’s. Bob spoke of his experience in visiting these people in the desert during the 1960’s and showed some photos of them as well. Today several of the Aborigines from this area have gone on to lead public lives and travel the world discussing the culture and life of the Aborigines.
After we arrived in Fremantle we headed out with several friends to explore the town on foot. From the port the town is very easily accessed and is within a ten-minute walk of the port. The architecture is beautiful with buildings from the late 1800’s on. Many of the buildings are built in stone and brick and have exquisite details and ornamentation. The narrow streets of Fremantle are well kept, clean and pedestrian friendly with wide sidewalks and pedestrian only streets.
After exploring some of the local shops, churches and public city center we headed a few blocks to the coast where we found a stretch of seafood restaurants along the wharf. We enjoyed fish and chips along the waterfront, fighting off the seagulls that were looking for handouts.
Docked near us in the port was a very large cargo ship that transports live cattle and sheep to the Middle East. Due to the religious reasons and culture of Muslims, the sheep would mostly be sold live. Some families might buy several and slaughter them as needed. We heard several different numbers as to how many sheep and cattle the ship might carry but it is many thousands.
We were back onboard the ship by 9:00 to check out “The Wadumbah Dance Group.” It was an Aborigine dance troupe which performed a variety of cultural dances including the kangaroo dance. The quality of the show was very poor and many folks walked out before it was over. However, others who had seen similar shows said that this show was about the same. Perhaps we can’t judge these dances very well or they just don’t appeal to our taste.