Today is our last stop in Australia. Freemantle is a suburb of Perth, and what we could see of the town from the ship was lovely – a lot of older-looking buildings, a lot of trees and grassy areas. We’d booked a walking tour, and as it started, it was already hot out. Our guide told us about something called the “Freemantle doctor,” which happens when the ground heats up quickly, the hot air rises, and the rising air sucks in a cooling breeze from the ocean to the west. It was probably over 90 when we set out, but by about 11:30, it had cooled down at least 10 degrees and the breeze was refreshingly cool.
Freemantle has a lot of pretty buildings that were built during their gold rush, and a lot of them are fairly well preserved. What’s really well preserved, though, is the prison. Apparently, when the rest of Australia decided they were sick of being sent convicts, Freemantle needed a lot of free labor, so the government began shipping the convicts there. The very first thing the convicts had to do was to build their own prison, and the only thing they had to build it out of was blocks of locally-mined limestone.
The prison was completed in 1855, which was not a terribly enlightened time for the criminal justice system. Shockingly, the prison continued to operate until 1991.
After our tour wound up, the Pirate and I peeled off from the group and walked around the district near the university. It was a cool blend of coffee places, used clothing and book stores, youth hostels, fun-looking bars, and a few touristy-looking shops.
I realize that, while I like Europe and the Middle East for the history and the museums, Australia just generally feels more relaxing. There’s no more history here than there is in California, and the Australians aren’t hung up on it. The difference between Australia and Britain feels a lot like the difference between New England and California. In California, we know that people love us for our nice weather and good beaches and plentiful vegetables, whereas in New England, they want you to know how historic they are and look down their noses at anyone who isn’t well versed in their history.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that after setting our clocks forward every few days so that our days were only 23 hours long, I was looking forward to the return trip where our days would be 25 hours long and we could sleep in every day. Even then, I knew that something would suck, I just wasn’t seeing it yet. Once we left Sydney, we started traveling westward and so getting those hours back, and I’ve figured out what sucks. I’m wide awake at 5:30am and nothing’s open – I can’t get a cup of tea or go for a swim or anything. And by 5:30pm, I’m starving for dinner which won’t be served for another hour. Then I’m ready for bed at 7:00pm.