The pediment of Fremantle markets, like the dedicated website, leaves little room for doubt.
Both highlight the antiquity of the establishment.
With the additional curiosity that the logo on the site is precisely the pediment that, central and elevated in the vast brick building, continues to announce “1897” and proclaim the secular antiquity of the place.
The peculiarities aussies they don't stop there.
Both in the field and online, Fremantle markets strive to match dealers with buskers, the ubiquitous street performers in urban Australia.
Even though they are aware that only the former can generate profits worth mentioning, they maintain an invaluable appreciation for the latter.
For the value of the contributions of the public around them, the buskers ensure the liveliness of the markets and Fremantle as a whole.
Unsurprisingly, as we reach the building's main entrance, a street performer in tight, striped attire, crowned by a bowler hat, indulges in his act. In a precarious balancing act on two stacked pedestals, he commits himself to an acrobatics with everything to go wrong.
Runs well. The artist celebrates it.
At that early hour, with a few children sitting nearby, as soon as he returns to Earth, he knows that the reward will be short.
The Secular Mercantile Protagonism of the Fremantle Market
Inside, in hundreds of small shops and stalls, the market is heading towards commercial fullness.
In true Australian fashion, and Fremantle in particular, most of these spaces, like the small businessmen who operate and represent them, are sources of creativity and irreverence, with names, decorations and products and services to match.
One of them, called Snug as a Bug (from the English expression Snug as Bug in a Rug), displays pajamas, socks, hats and other clothing and accessories that guarantee warmth during the day and hours of sleep.
Right next to a massage stand, a saleswoman in her 50s or 60s is dozing off on duty, with a mini-fan to ventilate her.
Even at 3.50 Australian dollars instead of the previous 6.50, their genuine leather wallets remain unsold.
In a different market, installed in a city garden, we find a “Knicker Parlor”, a stand entirely dedicated to underwear with personalized and unique designs.
The Fremantle market was opened in the distant year of 1897, with the unavoidable Victorian architecture prolific in the downunder.
It is one of two Western Australian town market buildings that survive. One of the few in Australia as a whole that survives in its original use.
The Swan River Colony and the Great Britain – Western Australia Exile Route
Less than a five-minute walk away, around a gate flanked by limestone towers, topped by a clock, the former Fremantle prison takes us back to earlier and darker times in the town.
For more than a hundred years, it remained the main testimony of how the British colony of the Swan River (now Perth and Fremantle) became the priority destination of the British authorities for the banishment of thousands of convicts.
From troublesome characters to the stability of Britain and the expanding British Empire, including many political operatives and saboteurs advocates of Irish independence.
Although Dutch explorers were the first to pass through these almost antipodes, it was the English who claimed them and sought to colonize them.
The city of Fremantle, incidentally, honors Captain Charles Fremantle, the naval officer who claimed and ensured that the coast of New Holland passed to British possession.
In the years following its founding in 1829, largely due to ongoing conflicts with the Noongar natives, the hamlet of River Swan found itself in serious trouble.
Due to these difficulties, the British authorities inaugurated a permanent route of exile for convicts. Between 1850 and 1868, thirty-seven large ships filled with prisoners sailed there.
During 1850, the first convicts to disembark were forced to serve the construction of the immense prison (six hectares) that we now had in front of us and that was only deactivated in 1970.
It's home to a café, an art gallery, a souvenir shop, a museum and even office space and despite (or because of) its violent and segregated past, one of Fremantle's main tourist attractions.
There thousands of British convicts were imprisoned, whipped, chained and hanged.
Resistant and troublesome Noongar aborigines were held in separate wards, as they were in prisons and conversion camps in rottnest island off.
Gradually, the noongar were almost decimated around the Swan River Colony. Thousands remain. Some are more proud of their culture and proactive than others.
On the Edge of the Buskers, Fremantle Street Musicians
In a distinguished public corner, one of them, wearing a hat akubra and a blue-striped shirt with an open collar revealing his almost golden skin, he plays and sings Aussie hits on a guitar that is only slightly lighter.
At a distance shorter than expected, a semi-discordant duo competes.
It consists of a saxophonist dressed in a baggy purple suit.
And a guitarist in classic Australian fashion, adorned by his own akubra, or similar hat, in any case, much more suited to the story of Freo – the affectionate diminutive of Fremantle – than to its creative eccentricity.
In the image of buskers acrobatics, street musicians help to mark the enterprising and pleasurable pace of life in the city.
Simultaneously with its commercial and mercantile bustle, in the arcades, esplanades and terraces of the buildings of Victorian and Edwardian architecture that form the historic center, the famous Cappuccino Street unfolds.
Even so, on the large docks that precede the Indian Ocean, the testimony of how Fremantle made effort and work remains.
Fremantle: From the Swan River Colony to Greater Harbor and City
The settlement was promoted to a municipality in 1883. The following year, massive dredging allowed its fishing and commercial port to become the busiest and most important on the west coast of Australia and, during the 2nd World War, the largest submarine base in the Southern Hemisphere.
From 1969 to 1972, they sheltered in the port of Fremantle and supplied over 120 vessels to the nation with fish. Over time, fishing methods changed and its space in the fishing section of the port gave way to other prodigious arts.
It is there that we wander to the taste of the sea air, when we are surprised by a sudden incandescence from the sky over the Indian Ocean, in a palette of purples, lilacs, reds, oranges and yellows of such an intensity that it colored our memory for a long time.
Success Harbor and its Neon and Gastronomic World
As if the strength of the natural tones of the sunset were not enough, after the sun has let the afterglow reign, the neon lights of restaurants and seafood restaurants that have long been installed on the waterfront of Success Boat Harbour, the former fishing port, shine.
They are authentic gastronomic sanctuaries, idolized and sought after due to their privileged location and the quality of the fish'n'chips, seafood and fish caught offshore.
The bright neon of one Cicerello's Landing proclaims “The Original and Still the Best”.
As far as first-moverism goes, Cicerello's is hard to beat.
The restaurant was created by Salvatore Cicerello, one of the thousands of Italians who emigrated to Australia during the XNUMXth century.
Salvatore resolved his life by dedicating himself, body and soul, to his father Steve's livelihood, fishing for crayfish in the Abrolhos Islands, located further north, off Western Australia.
The nest egg they accumulated from that fishing allowed Steve, like other fishermen, to invest in businesses on land.
Confident in his knowledge of the sea, shellfish and fish, Salvatore Cicerello opened his centuries-old business.
Others emerged, challenging him. These are the cases of Joe's Fish Shack that, today, have the most exuberant of all neons. And the Kailis that, despite being more distant, we also identified.
In a flash, night falls. It gives everything that glittered around the marina absolute prominence.
At this new end of the day, natives, Perthians, expats and visitors renew the frenetic, boisterous celebration of life that has made Freo an Australian party destination like no other.