Fremantle is a captivating town brimming with history, creativity, culture and fashion. From the moment you first set foot on its streets and the salty breeze known as the Fremantle Doctor hits you, you’ll be captivated by the lovingly preserved sandstone buildings, the colourful shopfronts, and all the city’s nooks and crannies hinting at treasures to be found.
The Whadjuk Noongar people have tens of thousands of years of history, living on the land long before the Europeans arrived in 1829. Convicts were brought in later to build the settlement from the ground up. Three-thousand Heritage-listed buildings remain, such as the Henderson Street warders’ cottages, the notorious Roundhouse penitentiary, and the Fremantle Prison.
Al fresco dining is a mainstay of Fremantle life: take a stroll along Market Street – better known as the Cappuccino Strip – and see for yourself. The burgeoning crowd outside the Freo markets, meanwhile, will draw you in to sample locally crafted goods, and the latest in foodie and artisan trends, not to mention vibrant street performers.
Outside of the city centre is East Fremantle, where George Street buzzes with energy. South Freo is home to South Beach, the hangout for the local pooch-loving community as well as the Fremantle Dockers AFL team. North Freo
has its own appeal, with its cluster of new-school restaurants and antique stores.
The buildings of West End are filled with niche stores, galleries, and cafes; try Wray Avenue’s legendary Italian store, for freshly baked cannoli, cured meats, olives and authentic antipasto.
The sea breeze will draw you to Esplanade Park and across it to the port. There, you’ll find the ultimate fish and chip strip, with huge restaurants filling renovated wharfs and silos.
1. Get spooked on a night tour of the Fremantle Prison.
2. Grab fish and chips at the Fishing Boat Harbour.
3. Buy local produce at the Fremantle Markets.
4. Drink specialist coffee from one of many independent cafes.
5. Soak up the sun and cool off with a dip at South Beach.
6. Learn about Freo’s rich history on a walking tour.
7. Buy local designs from MANY 6160 collective in Kings Square.
8. Shake your booty at a festival.
9. Watch street performers and buskers get up to crazy tricks.
10. Soak up the iconic Fremantle Harbour at a bustling brewery.
For more visit scooptraveller.com.au/Fremantle.
EAT AND DRINK
Start at the Cappuccino Strip for Italian gelato and people watching. For many,
a visit to Fremantle isn’t complete without some local seafood while looking over the harbour, and while Italian is popular on this side of town, you can easily find other cuisines such as Indian and Mexican on the main strip.
South Terrace in South Freo has fabulous brunch places with specialist coffee, as well as Perth’s best hotdogs from Run Amok.
Fremantle is home of the great Australian pub, with laid-back beer gardens perfect for a Sunday afternoon session. It’s also a hub for the microbrewers, with the stylish harbourside Little Creatures a mecca for beer lovers.
Rising stars and hospitality hot shots are making their mark on the town, too: discover North Freo’s small bars, with their mismatched furniture and exposed fittings, plus re-imagined burger joints and boutique bakeries.
Kathy Johnston, South Freo local & creative director at Hilli Creative
1. Head down to the Growers Green farmers market for Vietnamese breakfast pancakes – fresh, crunchy and only $8!
2. The recently opened Modern Eatery has Perth’s best sushi chefs and serves aburi variations like Love Me Tender.
Located only 18km from Perth, Fremantle is easy to get to by car and train, and both take thirty minutes from the city. Buses run regularly from various locations.
Street Arts Festival (photography Max Kordyll).
ST JEROME’S LANEWAY FESTIVAL
International and local alternative acts come to rock out at Fremantle’s Esplanade Park and surrounding laneways. Feb.
WEST COAST BLUES ’N’ ROOTS
This beloved festival hosts some of the world’s most popular acts in blues and roots. This is a must see for enthusiasts of soulful music, and Fremantle Park is the perfect venue. Mar.
FREMANTLE SEAFOOD FESTIVAL
The Fishing Boat Harbour excites the masses with the splendour of the sea. Sip a glass of wine, culinary delight in hand, and gaze over Bathers Beach. Mar.
STREET ARTS FESTIVAL
The Freo streets turn into performance spaces over the Easter long weekend, with more than ten stages presenting international acts in busking, street theatre, comedy, circus and cabaret. Apr.
WINTER GARDEN FESTIVAL
Just because it doesn’t snow in WA doesn’t mean you can’t experience a white winter. Skate across the largest outdoor ice rink in Australia at Esplanade Park,
while the closest thing you’ll get to snow in Perth falls down around you. Jul.
WALK THE ZIGZAG
Enjoy a scenic walk on an enormous scale, and join more than 3000 people who take on the 3km trek. Oct.
In its 110th year (2016), the festival kicks off with the blessing of the fleet at the Fishing Boat Harbour, and fireworks over Esplanade Park, with dozens of events around town. Oct-Nov.
Cool down with more than 250 craft beers and ciders on tap, while the Freo Doctor blows through Fremantle Park. Food-and-beer matching classes, brewing competitions, and tastings will go on all weekend. Nov.
ARTIST OPEN HOUSE FREMANTLE
Explore some of Fremantle’s architectural gems, transformed into gallery spaces over a weekend. The walking trail will take you around South Fremantle homes and cafes to view paintings, ceramics and jewellery works. Nov
Learn about Western Australia’s ocean explorers and sea-monster superstitions, and view historical boats and a real-life submarine at the Maritime Museum.
Explore salvaged shipwrecks found along the Western Australian coastline at the Shipwreck Galleries Maritime Museum.
With its ferris wheel, picnic tables and play equipment, Esplanade Park is a good bet for a sunny afternoon.
Tucked away just below the main strip is every kid’s dream.
The Pickled Fairy & Other Myths is a wonderland where kids can meet a fairy princess, buy enchanted items, or have a party held by a fantastical host.
See a colourful show at the Puppetry Theatre on Short Street. The school holidays are especially packed with performances.
DO AND SEE
The Fremantle Arts Centre is a big gig venue beloved by both musos and crowds. For an intimate setting, Mojos is the place. Grungy and familiar, the bar puts on open-mike nights, as well as local and international acts. In the basement of The Norfolk Hotel hides the den-like Odd Fellow: head down to get up close and personal with great musicians. Committed to the Perth music scene, Swan Basement in North Fremantle puts on rocking gigs that are quintessentially Australian.
With art hanging on the original walls of what was once a women’s lunatic asylum, Fremantle Arts Centre holds many haunting stories. Nowadays it also hosts free exhibitions, expansive music programs, and art classes. Resident artists also live and create at Freo’s Moore & Moore Studios. Have a bite to eat in the quaint garden before perusing contemporary art. There’s an independent institute located on Bather’s Beach, too: Kidogo Arts House is a cave-like building hosting small exhibitions.
Tucked away next to the towering silos of the Little Creatures Brewery, the Comedy Lounge is a quality venue hosting a huge variety of comedians every week. Sip a renowned Little Creatures beer between laughs.
DROP IN ON THE LOCALS
Fremantle Visitor Centre's team of expert guides.
Wander Freo Markets’ fruit and veg section on a Saturday morning, and hear stallholders shouting out the price of strawberries. Bather’s Beach is a great place to catch some of the port movements and watch the sunset over the ocean. The summer evenings bring a sunset street food market.
There are great bed and breakfasts scattered around Fremantle, allowing you to live like a village local, giving your holiday a little personality. You’ll smell the salt air wherever you are in Freo, but if you’re lusting after a beach holiday there are apartments right behind South Beach. If you’re looking for a little history or excitement, Fremantle Prison Youth Hostel (YHA) resides in the heritage-listed Fremantle Prison, the same complex that used to house the Women’s Prison. It’s easy to get around town wherever you stay, most places are within walking distance of the city centre, otherwise Freo’s free CAT buses stop at all major areas.