A peek at Western Australia - Fremantle

Caroline and I arrived in Perth, Western Australia, after a month in Hawaii.  The flight taught us a couple of things.  Our trip to Sydney in December was on the Qantas low-fare airline, Jetstar Airways.  This time, we were on Qantas, economy class.  What's the difference?  Well, on Jetstar, you pay extra for your luggage, your food, your coffee or sodas, your in-flight entertainment, toilet paper, blankets and pillows, and alcohol.  Okay, I'm kidding about the toilet paper.  It is a no-frills airline, full of young people with backpacks, but the ticket price is hard to beat.  On Qantas, an economy fare includes food, alcohol, current movies, headset, 2 check-on bags, blankets and pillows, sodas and coffee, and flight attendants that didn't appear to be harried.  What would you pay for these amenities?  And is it worth $500 to put up without them for 24 hours?  Here's our trick.  Paying for a ticket?  Choose Jetstar.  Using frequent flyer miles?  Go Qantas.  

The Hougoumont Hotel is located in the center of Fremantle.
Cousin Jim picked us up in Manoa at 7:30 AM for the 15 minute drive to HNL (thanks, Jim!), and we arrived at the Hougoumont Hotel in Fremantle, Perth's port city, at 11 PM (my watch and my brain said it was 5:00 AM Honolulu time).  Since we were going to board the Celebrity Solstice at about 1, waking up a 8 AM gave us about 4-5 hours to explore the city.  What to do?  Fremantle is a port city, so we put on our running gear and headed to the ocean.  After reminding ourselves that the cars and bicycles travel on the wrong side of the road (my mantra in Australia, to keep me from being run over, is "Look right, then left"), we started exploring.

First impressions?  Fremantle is a tidy city, with great beaches, a wonderful coastal trail system, and probably the most dog-friendly place I've been.  We passed areas marked as no dogs (usually near playgrounds), leashed dogs, and unleashed dogs.  There was a very popular dog beach.  And the dogs and their handlers were lined up at the doggie shower to clean off the salt water!

Fabulous beach, dogs allowed!

Lined up for their doggie showers!

Caroline and I ran out 3 miles and back, so we did our 10K for the day.  We passed 1 dead mouse (I had to stop to inspect it... I think it was a house mouse, but I was hoping it was a mouse-like marsupial) and 1 dead European rabbit (a serious invasive species in WA).

It was time for some fruit and toast, a cappuccino, and a shower back at the Hougoumont Hotel.  But the hotel had complementary bicycles, so we had to extend our explorations.  And we discovered that Fremantle also hosted a docked bike share program.

I came across my first indication of a cat control program in an urban area of Australia.  The City of Cockburn had a sign indicating that a cat control program was underway.  I found this information on the city's website:

"The City of Cockburn has many native bushland and wetland areas that act as refuges for wildlife including birds, reptiles, possums and bandicoots. However, the remaining populations of native animals are coming under increasing pressure from predatory imports such as domestic cats.  Studies have shown that for each hectare of urban land there are two domestic cats on average who will each kill eight birds a year. In most suburban areas, only 20 birds hatch per hectare per year. Cats have also been found responsible for 16 mammal and 8 reptile deaths each per year."

"There are a number of steps you can take to protect native wildlife and your cat. The Cat Act 2011 requires that all cats aged six months or over are sterilised, microchipped and registered with the City of Cockburn. Failure to do so may result in a fine. The City provides assistance through a cat sterilisation [sic] subsidy.  Please also make sure your cat wears a collar with bells and does not roam at night.  Each property owner is allowed to have up to three cats. If you have four or more cats, you will need to apply for a cattery license."

So much for cats.  It was time for us to get on the Solstice.  As it was approaching 90 degrees F and the ship was a mile from the hotel, we decided an Uber was in order.  That was probably the best $7.12 AUD we have ever spent!  After standing in more lines, and filling out a form that says we didn't have the flu or any other contagious disease (yes, some people actually declare this voluntarily, and sometimes they have to go immediately into quarantine or are barred from boarding... a surprise twist to their cruise adventure), we boarded the ship.  Since we knew the layout of the Solstice and the routine of embarkation day, we had brought our swimming gear and had the pool to ourselves. That gave us our trifecta of a run, bike, and swim for the day!

All in all, this was a very short visit in Fremantle, but a very pleasant send-off for a 2 month cruise.  I look forward to another trip to Western Australia.



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