04 June 2014
The impressive Maritime Museum on Fremantle harbour
Today again dawned fine and sunny, we had decided to head for Fremantle, after exploring the Perth Mint. We walked to the Mint which is a beautiful building and initially had a look at some of the gold, silver and diamond items on display then decided to book for a 45 minute tour of the building. We had time for a morning coffee in the cafe, then joined the next group for the tour. Our guide had a real sense of humour, and was very knowledgeable about the history of the discovery of gold in Western Australia, and how this discovery changed the face of the state.
The statue of William Ford and Arthur Bailey who first discovered gold in Western Australia
Gold was first discovered officially in Western Australia (WA) in 1892 by William Ford and Arthur Bailey at Fly Flat (a previous name for modern Coolgardie). Bailey reported he had mined 554 ounces of gold and received a 20 acre reward claim. This was worked until 1963 yielding 500,000 ounces of gold.
Due to the crushing depression in the east, especially in the older mining regions in Victoria, many travelled to Coolgardie hoping for an easier life. However, they were unprepared for the difficult challenges WA’s environment had in store for them. The Perth Mint opened in 1899 in response to the discovery of rich gold deposits in Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie. It was Australia’s third branch of Britain’s Royal Mint – the others being the Sydney Mint and the Melbourne Mint (both closed). Diggers, who flocked to the then colony of Western Australia in huge numbers from other parts of Australia and from around the world, deposited their raw gold at The Perth Mint where it was refined and minted into gold coins.
Gold refining continually took place at the Mint’s original Hay Street premises until April 1990, when the operation was moved to a modern facility near Perth Airport. Between 1899 and 1931, The Perth Mint struck more than 106 million gold sovereigns and nearly 735,000 half-sovereigns for use as currency in Australia and throughout the British Empire.
We saw a demonstration of how a gold nugget is formed, and many other interesting features at the Mint, could have stayed there longer if we had had the time.
Some interesting photographs on our walk to the Mint, a Georgian style arcade with chiming clock (above left), a statue in the Murray Street Mall (above right) and a skyscraper looms above a heritage building near the Mint (left)
The drive to Fremantle is only about 30 minutes, and we headed directly to the Maritime Museum which is set on Fremantle Harbour. One could spend most of the day there, however our time was limited. We managed to see the Australia II (won the Americas Cup) and other very interesting exhibitions, including a submarine (didn’t go inside it!).
The Model of Australia II (left) and a pearling trawler (right) at the Maritime Museum
Then it was time for a drive around Fremantle harbour, and into the city centre and the “Cappuccino Strip”. The Fremantle streets are narrow, many are one-way, and it was almost impossible to park.
Looking across Fremantle Harbour to the marina and the coast south (left) and (right) the lighthouse at the end of the breakwater and looking out on the Indian Ocean
We managed to find a park on the edge of town so I could take some photographs of the gorgeous heritage buildings, and so interesting to note the differences in architectural style with the Fremantle Buildings and those in Hobart.
Some of the interesting heritage buildings in Fremantle, a different architectural style to those we saw in Hobart, Tasmania
Before we headed back to Perth, we travelled further south to Rockingham to visit Pete’s cousin, Kelly, whom he had not seen for a while. It was great to catch up with her and her family and we spent some enjoyable time with them before saying goodbye and heading back to Perth, arriving well after sunset and marvelling at the beautiful lights of the city buildings along the Swan River.
Only two more days before we head east, and home.