It has given me a great deal of pleasure and no small amount of pride to write the foreword to ‘Lash Me Fair’ by Colleena Presnell – and it’s been both a privilege and a delight to read it.
It has also been quite personal, as I have deep connections with the port city of Fremantle. A century after my forefathers arrived on the ship Rockingham in 1830, my grandfather Vincent was a police officer based at the Fremantle police station living with his young family in the Warders Cottages on Henderson Street – the same row of cottages that Henry Passmore and his own family moved into around 70 years prior. My grandfather lived there with his wife – my grandmother Nellie – and their two young sons, John and David. John was my father.
Fast forward another half century, it is the 1980’s and I am living in the heart of Fremantle and loving everything about it – the smell of the sea, the hum of the streets, the markets and pubs, the diversity of people and of course the omnipresent harbour and comings and goings of passenger ships and container vessels.
In some ways it doesn’t sound too dissimilar to the Fremantle the author described when Henry Passmore lived there in the late 1800’s - but in the late 1900’s, I’m pleased to say there were a lot more home comforts and considerably better food!
I have also been very fortunate and honoured to be a member of the Fremantle City Council since 2011 and Deputy Mayor since 2017. I was very interested to know that Henry Passmore was also a Councillor at the Town of North Fremantle, now part of the City of Fremantle. This helped make the character of Henry feel even more alive to me and it has been fascinating to learn about his many achievements. It is heart-warming knowing the many descendants of Henry and Mary-Ellis Passmore are still honouring his legacy – in particular with this wonderful book written by their great-great-granddaughter.
You will enjoy this book, I am sure – not the least because it reveals a personal slant to a fascinating era of West Australian history but because the author has brought the story to life with real characters (both good and bad!) and real places. She describes the conflict between warden and prisoner, between black man and white and the battles of everyday survival in a harsh environment. Despite the hardships of the early settlers, though, there was joy to be found in the simple things – the smell of salt on a cooling sea breeze after a sweltering summer’s day, the evening fragrance of eucalyptus and a freshly baked damper.
‘I must go and leave the dusk rolling into a large fire ball and the sun disappearing over the ocean beyond this place, leaving in its wake the tall Eucalypts, the Banksia and Wattle trees swaying ghost-like… The sound of insects nestling deep within the Mallee grows louder as the scent of the desert daisy fades.’
I commend to you ‘Lash Me Fair.’
Fremantle, July 2019
Copyright © 2019 Colleena Presnell - All Rights Reserved