My mother was born in Fremantle WA. She grew up there, schooled there, played there. Memories of my mother’s family are all centered around this busy port side town. We would often drive from Mt Hawthorn to Mosman Park or Fremantle via Stirling Highway, so we kids could look at the beach. Once we saw the “Dingo Flour Mill” sign, we knew the trip was almost over.
I learned that during the Second World War, this sign was painted over so that the Japanese war ships could not see it, it was considered quite a landmark.
My mother had an Aunt who lived quite near this mill, in an old sandstone home built by the convict trade, and looking West across the ocean. Apparently she had a very laid back approach to life, never locking her doors or windows, even when out or asleep. People would say to her. “Aunty Coral, whatever would you do if the Japanese *did* invade and land on our shores in the middle of the night?” Cool as a cucumber in her relaxed way, she supposedly replied “I would hang out a sign, ‘Rice cooked here’.” The house is still there, the aunt though, of course, long since gone, her Japanese visitors never did arrive.
My great grandmother lived here, in a little terrace house of 2 rooms, high on a hill in Wright St, South Fremantle. My mother has fond memories of this house, so when we visited we were pleased to see it has now been heritage listed. I believe she died here, too.
Mother’s mother, my grandmother, was taken from us at an early age. She was flamboyant, an actress, opera singer and . I don’t remember her healthy, but I do remember her Pavlova! Her and my grandfather lived in Battle St, the house long gone to make way for a car park for the ever-increasing amount of flats, which were built in the 70′s. They moved to this little house in Glanville St, where granddad (GG) stayed even after nanna had passed.
When we went for a visit, there was a for sale sign outside. I was gobsmacked to find out it is listed for around the million dollar mark. My GG was such a practical joker, and driving down the lane behind his home had me remembering the plastic vomit and plastic dog poo he would drop there, and pretend to ‘find’ encouraging us to touch it, smell it or collect it! The lane led past his old garage, and instantly I could remember the plastic finger he had attached to the boot of his car. I could not tell you how many times he was pulled over by the police to have his boot checked.
My GG was butcher, and he had a butcher shop in Glyde Street. I stopped by to have a look. It’s now a rather swish restaurant called “The Twisted Fork” and they have a motto “Plate lickin’ good”. GG would have liked that.
Finally, some time to stop and see the places I played. TheNorth Mole, with the lighthouse, gun turrets and war memorabilia.
The South Mole, it’s lighthouse under repair.
The Round House, where my paternal grandmother was born.
I left Fremantle with a lump in my throat and a feeling of sadness. So many people gone, rooms I will never walk in again, tables I will never sit at, sharing cups of hot tea and stories of long passed relatives. Still, a new generation awaits…