Fremantle, or Freo as it is affectionately dubbed, has to be one of my favourite areas in Perth. Spending a weekend in Fremantle is so easily done as there’s simply tons of great things to see and do with a plethora of venues to eat and drink. If you’re heading to Perth, Western Australia, give this a read for a few ideas of the treats that lie in wait for you.
Navigating Perth is pretty simple and is made easier due to the frequent train services that run from the city to all four corners of the greater suburban area. Although taking the train from the city is the easiest (and ok, cheapest too) option, by far the most fun way to get to Fremantle is by boat.
Captain Cook Cruises depart from the Elizabeth Quay jetty in the city. I chose the return option that included local wine tasting on board which cost $40 return. We cruised along the Swan River and I enjoyed hearing the captain’s commentary about the history and settlement of the area, the aboriginal stories and even all about the numerous sailing clubs that now use the river as their home. We docked in Fremantle and in the marina there are several warehouse-like sheds that house several cafés, art and craft stalls and market stalls that are worth a quick look.
This beautiful market building comes alive on Friday through to Sunday and is literally thronging with stall holders, tourists, musicians and locals. Don’t miss the great fruit and veg section that has discounted produce at the end of the day and take your time browsing the many food stalls before picking one to try. The air is thick and the atmosphere alive with the sounds and smells of the market and it’s definitely a fun place to stroll around for a while. Outside you can watch street performers entertain the crowds and it’s a fun place to people watch.
The roundhouse was built in 1831 as Fremantle’s original prison building, a court house and a place of execution. It is the oldest public building in the state of Western Australia It was used to hold convicts until 1886 when it was turned into a police station. There is a nice vantage point from which to enjoy the view of the beach, plus there are also several artist’s residences next to the roundhouse that are worth stopping by to take a look.
Fremantle has an interesting history from its beginnings as the Swan River colony in 1829. Many of the buildings in the local area were built using convict labour sent over from the UK from the 1840s onwards, including the prison itself. A tour in Fremantle prison, which is WA’s only World Heritage listed building, is well worth the visit. You can choose from a general tour of the prison, a look at the tunnels underneath or the spooky night time tour.
The Western Australian Museum – Shipwreck Galleries
Unmissable with a large anchor outside its door, the Shipwreck Galleries is an interesting visit to learn about the perilous ocean that lies off the coast of WA and just how many ships it has claimed over the years. I enjoyed the giant section of hull salvaged from the Batavia, which demonstrates the impressive craftsmanship that went into building the wooden ships of the 1600s.
The Western Australian Maritime Museum
Fremantle’s history is intertwined with the ocean and it has been the site of immigration for many hundreds of years. At the Maritime Museum you can learn about WA’s affinity with the sea and its relationship with Fremantle’s past, present and future as a coastal city and port. Finish your visit with a stroll around the dock area as there is always plenty of commercial harbour activity going on to stop and observe.
Eating And Drinking
Fremantle has a section of road that runs through its heart called the Cappuccino Strip. This area is packed with plenty of choices of bars and restaurants to eat and drink. However, if you step away from that main tourist trap you will be rewarded with many more small, quirky cafes and eateries. I loved Chalkys on High Street and their brunch game was certainly strong.
For a great coffee and a lovely interior, also check out Hush on Market Street, which is only a couple of doors down from the most beautiful second hand book shop that I could easily spend hours getting lost in.
A trip to Fremantle wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the iconic Little Creatures Brewery on Mews Road. You can walk into the brewery and catch a glimpse of the goings on, but for only $12 it’s worth getting the tour to learn about their brewing process and a chance to sample a selection of beers. They also do great pizzas, so it’s worth getting your friends together and heading down to the Great Hall for a meal and drinks of an evening. It was packed to the rafters when I went and had a fun, hipster vibe.
I simply enjoy walking around Fremantle with my neck craned upwards to take in all of the beautiful architecture around me. A lot of the buildings were built in the late 1800s or early 1900s so there are a lot of restored heritage colonial buildings with fresh, muted paintwork and fabulous details.
It’s easy to spend an enjoyable weekend in Freemantle as you will find lots of things to do to fill your time. It has a distinct character of its own that sets it apart from the other parts of the city. Whatever the weather and whatever your timescale, you are sure to enjoy your trip to Freo.
Have you visited Fremantle? What are your favourite spots? Give me more ideas for the next time I visit!
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