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Life with Lavendar in London town

Thursday, 15 September 2016

It's (Not That) Quiet on the Western Front (II)

If Perth had a heart, then that heart is the port town of Fremantle. From the moment my Dad started working at Fremantle Hospital in 1977, Fremantle, or ‘Freo’ as the locals call it became a backdrop for my formative years.

Fremantle Port

My first memories of Fremantle are eating fish and chips on the Esplanade; a park nestled along the Freo foreshore. Cicerellos was the place to go for freshly battered cod and chips.  My parents would order at the counter whilst I peered into the vast tropical aquarium that was always my highlight during a trip to Cicerellos. Clutching our newspaper bundles, we would cross the rail overpass down into Esplanade Park. Sitting on the grass amongst the Norfolk Pines, I remember the crunchy saltiness and fresh white flakes in my mouth, with the sea breeze cooling us on a sunny Perth day.

Being a port city, Fremantle has always had an outward looking mien. Immigrants from Italy and Portugal settled in the town and contributed significantly in creating the character of Fremantle; essentially a working class immigrant community for whom family was important. These roots of Fremantle’s heritage is still very much visible today. The main road, known as the Cappuccino strip is well known for its proliferation of cafes and restaurants where you can sip and dine alfresco. Gino’s coffee shop reigns supreme on the strip having outlasted other stalwarts such as Old Papa’s and Interfoods. Across the road is Pizza Bella Roma where nightly queues form as people await the opportunity to dine on delicious oven baked pizza and pasta.

Gino's Cafe - still standing 
When I visit nowadays, I find the Cappuccino Strip greatly changed. The street that once held an Italian deli, a butchers, a burial home, a fishmongers and one of the best bookshops in Perth is now dotted with too many ice cream parlours, tacky pubs and tourist shops.  Rents are so high that many local businesses have left. Still, the reputation of the strip precedes its reality and every weekend, the tourists still come and spend their money on ice cream, coffee and trinkets.

The Cappuccino Strip