Fremantle and the Highway To Hell Tour

One of the more...eccentric activities on my recent trip to Western Australia was a tram tour we took in the port city of Fremantle, about 20 minutes southwest of Perth itself.

Fremantle is sort of like a suburb of Perth, but it is just far enough away to be its own entity. Its 19th century streets are lined with old facades that were restored in teh past two decades. It looks kind of like a frontier town, or what I imagine streets in San Francisco must have looked like before the 1906 earthquake. In Australia, they call it "gold rush architecture." Basically, it looks like there were lots of saloons, bars and cheap hotels, but now it's all very charming.

These days, the buildings house cute little boutiques, galleries, microbreweries and Fremantle's famous "Cappuccino Strip" of coffee houses, including one where I had a long white (or latte in American parlance), Gino's. The town is also home to the Sail and Anchor Pub, the oldest continuously operated bar in Western Australia, founded in 1898. The other famous sight in town is the notorious Freemantle Prison, which was built by the Aboriginal convicts it eventually housed, and which still stirs up bad feelings (and ghosts!).

The real reason we had come to Fremantle though, apart from enjoying the pub grub and brews at Little Creatures, was to take the "Highway To Hell" Tram Tour of sights connected with ACDC frontman, Bon Scott, courtesy of Fremantle Tram Tours.

As you see from the picture above, the tour starts with the life-sized statue of Bon Scott--he was 5 foot 3, and, let's just say disproportionately endowed. Tee hee. Then we took a whirlwind tour that included his old high school, a glow-in-the-dark portrait of him painted under one of Fremantle's bridges, Fremantle Prison where he was incarcerated for two days, and finally, the grave to which he went at the young age of 33 after an overdose. All the while we were chauffered around town in a huge red tram, with commentary underscored by ACDC's greatest hits.

The tour normally only operates on Sundays, so if you're planning a visit, be sure to time it right. Before you say, "oh, I'm not really an ACDC fan, so who cares?" I will just say that, until I took the tour myself, I had no idea how many ACDC songs I knew by heart, nor what a big fan of the band I actually was. Plus, it sure as hell beats your average tram sightseeing tour. In case you doubt me, take a look at the video below and judge for yourself.