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Blessing of the Fleet Procession

Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour
Sunday 18 October 2009

Every year since 1948, the fishing fleet that docks in the Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour is blessed. There is a large immigrant population from parts of Italy - especially from Molfetta and Capo d'Orlando - and this is a tradition that they have brought to Australia.

This is the head of the procession, which has just disembarked from the fishing boat fleet. There is a band near the front and another bringing up the rear.

Ladies in their finest sea-going clobber.

Apparently there's a Queen/Princess for the day. She doesn't seem to be having a good time.

Synchronise watches! The Queen is followed by the Queen of Heaven. I'm guessing this is the most important Madonna there today.

The building complex in the background is Little Creatures brewery and pubs/restaurants. Half of it was built at the time of the Americas Cup defence and was Lombardo's. It seems that Lil Crits has not only expanded its own buildings, but taken over the former Lombardo's as well.

Someone has to do the blessing.

And they have to be dressed for it. Note the trad hanky on the head of the priest on the right - and the Aussie flag on the left. And I wonder what's in the black bag: an aspergillum?

This is the Madonna dei Martiri of Molfetta, which is carried by men.

Four people carry stands so that the bearers can rest the litter when the procession stops. The bearers of the Madonna di Capo d'Orlando are young women. One of Roger Garwood's photos of the Blessing, and the statue being carried by women is here. There is another one in his book of Fremantle photos, 1994.

The building they're passing was originally built for the Fremantle Fishermen's Co-operative Society in 1947 and I remember buying fish and chips there until a couple of decades ago. Before Dome leased that corner, the restaurant was called The Sicilian. The other end of the building's ground floor was, until recently, possibly the McDonald's that was closest to the sea in the world. It's vacant at the moment. Above that used to be Sails Restaurants, but it's now the Bathers Beach House.

You can't see the most noticeable part of the event. This guy was in charge of the fireworks: single separate blasts going off for a couple of hours, and then a very long string of smaller crackers to finish off with. This was as close as one could get - and it was quite close enough!
On the walk back to my car, I passed one guy in his car looking for a parking-place. He wanted to ask me if I was leaving that area, but he had to use sign language, as I couldn't hear him from a metre away.
A little further along, I met a young pommy guy with his wife and baby. He asked me if the fireworks had finished (they had) as his baby was terrified. His opinion: 'Stupid'.

Garry Gillard | New: 18 October, 2009 | Now: 13 October, 2019