Perth and its port, Fremantle, were first settled in 1829 by the Swan River colonists as free colonies in contrast to the country’s penal colonies. In Fremantle, many historical buildings remain, from the P&O Building to the Fremantle Prison, the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Western Australia which served as a prison for nearly 140 years, the Round House, the Fremantle Market Hall, where shoppers once arrived by horse and carriage, and the Old Courthouse.
Perth, the capital of Western Australia, which I visited on the first day of our overnight stay, is a 30 minute ride from Fremantle by a commuter train. It is inland from Fremantle and is on the Swan River. I followed a walking tour around the city centre to see both the old and modern buildings such as the Government House, the Supreme Court, the Parliament House, the Cloisters, His Majesty’s Theatre, the Swan Bell Tower and street art.
Then I went to the Kings Park and Botanic Garden which is a fantastic Australian Botanic Garden containing an array of Western Australian flowers, trees and shrubs some of which are on the way to extinction. Plant species are grouped into themed areas. A tree top walkway connects some of them. They range from the Gija Jumulu boab (a type of baobab tree), a 750-year-old relic that was transplanted from the Kimberley region nearly 2,000 miles north to large stands of trees and small garden areas such as the banksia garden. Here are the boab and some of my favourite plants.
The Art Gallery of Western Australia holds 20th-century paintings from Australia and Britain and has one of the world’s preeminent collections of indigenous art as well as the best assemblage of Western Australian art. Its only shortcoming is that the art is arranged by chronological order and not by area of provenance. Here is one of my favourite pictures by the late aboriginal artist Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula called Running water – bush tucker.