I am a freelance writer originally from Ireland, now living in sunny Perth. I adore crafting, nature, upcycling and exploring all the delights Perth has to offer.
Published March 22nd 2014
Climb aboard for a voyage of discovery
Maritime Museum Fremantle
With the wind in my hair, I set sail for the Maritime Museum in Fremantle. Ok, I set the co-ordinates into the Sat Nav and cruised down the coastal route. My first problem was that the sat-nav took me a very circuitous route to the museum, round and round the little roads of Freo (I would have been better using a compass), then I spent more time circling the car park but failing to find a place. It was back to the little roads of Freo and to a multi-story car park where I eventually found a place on the 9th floor. Still, the view was amazing.
It was a short walk to the museum and after viewing the temporary exhibition in the Gallery that I had come to see (Childhood in an Institution), I decided it would be a shame not to also go around the Museum. The exhibition had been free so I paid my $10 admission fee and began my voyage on the lower ground floor. The Museum follows a historical journey of sailing, starting with the trading routes of the 15th Century and a Middle eastern marketplace. Stepping back in time, the exhibits looked like a Moroccan stage, wonderful colours with great attention to detail. There were also elderly wooden sailing boats.
Middle Eastern Marketplace
The highlight of the floor was Megamouth. A rare and preserved Megamouth Shark that had been discovered at Mandurah in 1988. It looked like a Damien Hirst piece. You could watch a time lapsed movie of Megamouth being transferred to its current tank and moved across Perth to Fremantle in 2010.
Fishing and developments on the Swan River were also depicted leading to an impressive collection of boat models and the famous 1983 winning America's Cup yacht, Australia II at the back of the Museum. Any yacht loving person could happily imagine themselves beating against the wind into victory. For me, more of a landlubber, a video showcasing the yacht in action would have made it a little more interesting.
Full speed ahead
Nonetheless, it was fascinating to see the layout of a racing yacht and the jaunty angle of the 'Parry Endeavour' yacht re-creating a stormy approach to cape Horn made me quite glad of my stationary sealegs.
It was unfortunate that on the day I visited the blinds across the vast glass windows were closed, as there would have been a spectacular view (at least that was one benefit of the car park). There were a couple of hands on activities, a winch, a small wind-type machine and a 'Kid's cove' with books and cushions.
Kids play area
Upstairs there were wooden rowing boats and examples of boat engines. There was also a chance to helm the 'Valdura', which was used as a ferry service on the swan River in the early 1900s.
Captain your own boat
Re-tracing my steps back to the main foyer and ascending a different flight of stairs, I made my way to the upper deck, level 2. Here the stories of the Whaling Industry and migrant passages to Perth are depicted.
Then, bringing us into modern times, an model Oil rig gave interesting information about the growing Oil and Gas industries. Finally, naval defences were shown with stories of bravery, war and weapons including a mock-up of a Submarine. On the day I visited the periscopes were not working, but I still had fun pretending.
You could also view the real-life Oberon class Submarine HMAS Ovens from a window. It is an authentic Cold War-era vessel and you can pay to go on a separate Submarine tour.
The Museum has been thoughtfully designed. I imagine that on a sunny day with the sea sparkling in the distance, the regatta of boats suspended from the ceilings must be breathtaking. I wish I had realised that I could have added $2 to the admission fee for an annual boarding pass. Perhaps I will do this on my next seafaring visit. Only next time, I will avoid the unnecessary circling and navigate directly to a bigger car park. For more information and to find out about the latest exhibits go to www.museum.wa.gov.au.