When you head down from Perth city on the train, you reach a point where the land melts away, and where the river meets the sea.. and where the bay at the edge of that sea is just filled with dinosaurs.
They’re always there, plodding along, content in their two roles- to remind you that you’ve entered the port city of Fremantle, and to lure you to join them in quiet contemplation of the sunset.
I grew up in the suburbs, near a swampy river, and a fair distance away from the sea. Still, that distance could be measured in minutes, not hours, and I would argue that most Australians are sea kids.
When you’re by the sea, it hits you on all senses- you feel the sun bounce off the water, hear the screech of gulls, taste salty air. Even as you move away and can no longer see lapping and glistening waves, the sea calls through the suburbs to you. Cloud formations on the coast are different, more spectacular. And on hot summer days, just when you think you can no longer survive the 45 degree swelter, our beloved sea breeze, nicknamed the ‘Fremantle Doctor‘, pays a visit.
And did I mention the sunsets? As a child of the West, I vehemently believe that the sun must set over salty water. When I went to Israel for work, and Andy joined, I spent half a day just sitting and walking on the beach, and in the evening watched the sun go down the right way.
Anyway, we managed to get to the beach a few times, but not enough times, when we were back home over summer.
It was barely warm enough to swim, but it was warm enough to wallow. And it was probably this point, when Andy was with his brother and we were both in the sun and the air smelled like fermenting seaweed, that I most seriously contemplated just missing my flight back to Berlin.
Isn’t it lovely?
Anyway, back to Fremantle, or ‘Freo’ as we call it. Because Australians are lazy, and because we believe that nearly all Proper Nouns should end with an O.
‘This arvo I reckon’d I’d go down to the servo to get a pie with Stevo and Matty, but they only had ham and avo sangers.’
(This afternoon I thought it would be a lovely idea to go to the nearby petrol station convenience store to get a pie with two lovely gentlemen named Steven and Matthew. Unfortunately, the establishment was only able to provide us with ham and avocado sandwiches).
Freo is the major port of Western Australia, and was the first place on the west coast the British claimed in 1829*. Now, it has a mix of heritage, has a nice artsy (and fairly liberal by Aussie standards) core, and, while the central city of Perth has until recently felt pretty cold and barren, feels excessively livable.
*edit: My Albany friends want you to know that Albany was settled first. Although, as another friend pointed out- Albs is technically on the South Coast.
None of these people live there. But they would probably like to. Look at their cool hipster faces!
They also have Kronuts.
Which, ok, firstly I must be pretty much the last person in the world to try Kronuts (Cronuts?). And secondly, sadly, the Kronut place in Freo replaced a burger place that had a spicy-Kangaroo burger that Andy really loves, and was really looking forward to rubbing all over his face when we went home. So that’s kinda a boo.
But you know what, Kronuts actually taste pretty good! I mean, anything that comes with a syringe full of caramel (a delightfully on-the-nose reminder of your future need to be pushing syringes into your body if you keep on scoffing Kronuts at such a rapid rate), is ok by me. Plus, LOOK AT THAT FLAKINESS!
Andy’s folks live in South Freo, a cafe-littered half-an-hour stroll from the Freo city centre. When Andy et Siblings et hangers on (me and Lauren’s boyfriend, Josh) walked into the city to do last minute Christmas shopping one day, it only seemed reasonable that we reward our heavy cardio with carbs.
Awkwardly, the four boys (men?) just kind of stood around and watched Lauren and I stuff oily flaky goodness into our faces.
Andy choice not to partake probably comes partly from the fact that he is a strange little lizard boy who does not understand the miracle of salted caramel… and partly because he was holding out for Japanese noodle soup.
I was also holding out for Japanese food, Takoyaki in this case, but I am advanced enough to have evolved both a ‘mains’ and a ‘sweets’ stomach.
Also, even without this clever compartmentalisation, one always should have room for sweet little dancing octopus balls.
Nice for a rummage, but perfect summer days are not the time to be indoors. And Freo is so much more than just its market.
Which, ok, so this guy is probably just fueling all of Europe’s belief that our country is filled with giant bugs. But! Street art nonetheless.
Did I mention that I currently own a bougainvillea? It is.. not so happy. In fact, it’s the only plant in my house that I both care about and that is eager to embrace death. Which is frustrating. It is currently about 15 cm high and only has two big leaves, one of which is already browning, plus three or four developing leaves. I think the ‘no sunlight, but not too cold because I’m inside’ thing is confusing it. It keeps struggling on, and has maintained a constant shedding-replacement system of two-four leaves for the last six months. I’m hoping summer will perk it up a bit.
As I said, I didn’t take nearly enough photos while I was home, but I didn’t manage to get some Family-Food-Fun shots in. Not from Freo itself, but nonetheless of the Freo Gang. Andy was pretty ecstatic to bond with his siblings over the break, and we were super lucky that Lauren and her boyfriend, who live in Broken Hill on the other side of the country, also managed to take some time off and hit up the West Coast.
Family bonding, in my opinion, should involve at least one ‘icecream adventure’.
^I don’t even know how he managed to find reading material. He’s like some kind of bower bird collecting printed works.
So here’s the thing.
I saw these highly instagrammable Taiyaki from Whisk Creamery on my friend Kim’s feed.
‘Kim’, I said, very seriously, ‘When I am once again on that sweet continent that we call our homeland, we must partake in this delightful treat together.’
Or something like that. I’m pretty sure there was more squee-ing and exclamations used all around.
So anyway, a couple of weeks later, I’m actually in Perth and Lauren also saw the Taiyaki on Instagram and showed me and… well…. I Taiyaki-cheated on Kim.
Until next time Freo!