Precisely at the appointed hour of noon the Orcades was slowly being pushed into position at the wharf at Fremantle. Everyone on board was eager to see the shore after a very disappointing trip across the Bight.
There was very little to see in the flat piece of land ahead as we entered the harbour, which in itself was interesting when it is remembered that it was only opened for shipping as lately as 1900. Previous to this the harbour was only two or three feet deep, but by building a breakwater and dredging, it is now 36 feet deep. In fair weather the berthing is reasonably easy, as tugs can bring large liners up to Victoria Quay in good time.
Fremantle is named after Captain Fremantle, who arrived in the Challenger in 1829 and formally took possession of the Swan River on behalf of Britain. Although Fremantle might prove satisfactory as a port it was immediately recognised as being unsuitable for the site of a city and in 1830 Perth was founded 12 miles inland from Fremantle on the beautiful estuary of the Swan River. Why it is called the Swan River is now something of a joke when there is scarcely a swan to be seen anywhere on these waters.
The drive from the port to the city is far more interesting than the drive from the outer Port of Adelaide to the city there. After passing through the town of Fremantle, where there is an excellent shopping centre, your attention is almost immediately attracted by the up-to-date and beautifully kept suburban houses along the banks of the Swan River. Before the city is reached you pass through King’s Park, an area of 1,000 acres, most of which is still in its virgin state. This park is something of which the citizens might well be proud. Quite recently a new road has been constructed which winds its way through the bush in view of the river as well as down long avenues of flowering gum trees. These avenues must be a beautiful sight when the trees are red with the blossom and the bush on either side is a mass of colour from the many varieties of wild flowers.
From the war memorial we got a lovely view of the city with the Swan River in the foreground. All the beauty spots were pointed out to us as we were driving along in the car with Mr. Ryan, the Burroughs Agency Manager who had come down to the boat with his very sweet wife to meet us. All of this was much enjoyed as we were greatly indebted to Cyril for his kindness until he stopped the car outside a new home close to the city. Turning to me he asked, “Would you like to see the President’s Trophy?” I told him he was not my friend any longer, but we all accepted his invitation to see the valuable piece of silver. It was undoubtedly a beautiful specimen of the silversmith’s art and I very much regretted that New Zealand had not again been successful in winning it.
We reached the city at about 3.30 and left the ladies to find some afternoon tea while Cyril and I went to the office, promising to meet them again at 4.15. However, by the time we had made a couple of calls, inspected the office and had a talk to the various members of the staff, it was just 5.15 p.m. when we arrived at the appointed spot to hear in very decided terms just what our respective wives thought of us. Being Burroughs men we were used to it and so took it well. We then got permission to go out on the roof of the Shell Building to take a photo. of one of the principal streets of the city. In Adelaide the Shell Building overlooked Government House, where I got a very good picture of that part of the city, but in Perth the view was not so extensive, nor the light so good.
We drove through all the business streets and saw some special places of interest. The University was one of the best of these. Not only was it a most unusual piece of architecture surrounded by flower gardens artistically laid out, but it also carried the most interesting fact of being the only university in Australia which is absolutely free to all.
Towards the end of our drive we were passing a cathedral which attracted our attention. Cyril told us it was St. Mary’s, the cathedral where he was married. He offered to show us through and it was gladly accepted. One portion of the building was very old and had been built by the monks themselves many years ago. There was now a new portion which was part of what would eventually be one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the Commonwealth. The stained glass windows were works of art in themselves, but the marble altar work was superb. Even at this hour a number of persons were in the cathedral offering their prayers and we paid our visit as quietly as possible and with becoming reverence. The fact that we do not all worship in the same way made no difference to the uplifting atmosphere of a house of God.
It was now getting dark and as Cyril had arranged for us to dine with him at the Adelphi Hotel we made our way thither. It was a very successful and happy party and we regretfully left the city of Perth to return to the boat, which was due to sail at 11 p.m. We were all impressed with the very prosperous appearance of the city and its people. The shops and departmental stores were bright, modern and busy. The people were well dressed and happy. I would say the state of Western Australia is passing through a prosperous period, which is everywhere reflected in its citizens, their homes and their businesses.