Freemantle Market

Bridget had never been to the market in her home town of Freemantle so we decided to have a look.  It is a cross between a farmer’s market and a swap-meet but located in the “old town” district.  The old town area looked like an old western town and aside from the electricity and the paved road I would have almost expected to see a stage coach pull up.  What used to be the old town saloon, hotel and retail shops are all now restaurants and bars.

Inside the market itself I found so much ticky-tack tourist stuff that is almost a requirement to bring back after a trip down under: brightly colored boomerangs, those big long musical instruments that the aboriginals blow into and make deep bellowing sounds, postcards and a whole lot of bad clothing and jewelry.  I mean really bad clothing.  It seems like somebody emptied out a container of clothing from India and they were trying to pass it off as leisure wear.  I suppose that some pot-smoking tree hugger could get away with wearing this crap in Portland but it was really dreadful.  And much of the jewelry was a lot of the same stuff I saw selling in EVERY market in China.  Australians: just because it is expensive where you live, don’t turn to buying imported stuff that is, well it’s just crap.

I’ve seen some odd things in markets before and the strangeness varies from region to region and on that note I shouldn’t be surprised to see Kangaroo jerky for sale.  But what threw me for a loop was that the jerky in question was marketed as Roo Ribs.  I was tempted to try some when the merchant informed me that all of the products on the table were for dogs.  I looked up and sure enough, the Roo ears, ribs, feet and all other parts of Kangaroo meat were designated for Fido.

Just outside the market a street magician entertained children.  He seemed to have a mixed act that included juggling (flaming objects) and he even tried at comedy (heckling tourists who walked away from his act).  As with other parts of tourist Australia, everything was overpriced and the whole place was full of tourists.  I suppose I am a tourist but I am looking forward to breaking out of the tourist zone and getting to see some more of this huge country.

After a long afternoon of shopping and sightseeing we headed over to the marina to the Little Creatures Brewery.  I’m not sure where the place gets its name; Little Creatures is an actual brewery that has a restaurant and beer house thrown right next to the brewing vats.  I was most impressed with the huge volume of business this place was doing.  The entire place was packed to standing room only, the beers were $8 a piece and a small pizza ran a little over $25.  And still, the entire place was full of eating and drinking patrons further highlighting the strength of the Australian economy.  A day or two later I heard two Australian news anchors commenting about the US economy saying it was in a Shambles.  That’s right Obama/Congress, just keep spending – soon it will cost $2 US for one Aussie dollar.


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Freemantle

My host, who happens to live in the suburb of Freemantle, took me for a drive to her home town.  We took a drive through town looking at so many million dollar homes that would sell for about a hundred grand in Texas.  Freemantle is a lovely and quiet town and – as described by my host – is being financially inflated due to the mining boom in Western Australia.  Mining has created hundreds of jobs and the young miners are spending their fat pay on houses, Harley Davidson motorcycles (extremely popular here), exotic cars and at bars and restaurants.  It seemed that ever watering hole was full of blue collar workers watching this Australian Rules Football match or that.  When we finally arrived to park at the beach we found an open spot behind a Ferrari; also parked nearby was a Porsche 911 Turbo, an Audi sports car and some other high-end autos.

We chose a trendy sea-food restaurant and ordered up some lunch.  This was my first experience with a menu that was genuinely Australian.  Australian cooking is a fusion of western, eastern and Indian cooking and I found that our dishes (prawns on one plate, chicken on the other) was like eating a dish that had an Arabic, Indian and western cooks.  There were vegetables and chicken over kos kos, all sorts of eastern spices and a mix that provided so many flavor combinations that it was hard to pin down one from the other.  The food was spectacular and I can’t wait to try some more!

A walk on the beach provided some beautiful views of the ocean.  At first I thought I was looking at a school of dolphins but realized it was the local University’s swim team plowing along through the surf.  The beach had a lovely path, grass parks and little workout stations that would be perfect for Crossfit.  One station had pull-up bars, stair step logs, dip bars, sit-up hooks and all sorts of other stations to get a proper workout.

Just looking at the water made me crave some swimming and scuba diving.  I suppose that I should head north to get in a bit of beach action as the climate here is cooling already…


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Australia is EXPENSIVE!

As I’ve posted earlier, things are expensive in Australia.  Of course I’m in the tourist district so food and drink costs more than outside of the city center but in talking to Australians, shopping at the mall and watching adverts on the TV I can see the high cost of living here.  It bites even worse due to the unfavorable exchange rate.  Only 18 months ago an Aussie dollar would have cost me .80 cents.  Today it hit an all time high of $1.10!  Australia pretty much missed the 2008 world recession and houses in the suburbs around Perth are selling for about a million (three bedroom condo).

In the photo above, aimed at smokers, the price of a pack of smokes is indicated.  At first I thought that they must mean for a carton but I checked with some smokers and sure enough, a pack of smokes costs $15 Australian dollars.  That’s about $16.50 US dollars per pack!  Can you imagine paying $100+ for a carton of smokes?  Some other prices, $4 for a small coffee, $1.50 for a post-card stamp and $8 for a beer.  Yes, a six pack is $50!!!

Another thing about Australia – you can’t find free internet anywhere.  Coffee shops, restaurants and similar type shops DO NOT offer net.  Everything is pay by hour (about $5 per hour).  Ouch.

I’m glad to visit but I won’t be coming back to Australia until the exchange rate improves or unless I’m staying with friends!


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