Perched at the mouth of the Swan River some 12 miles from Perth, Fremantle City offers much to the holiday maker or home owner. For one thing, the climate is delightful. Then there are the charming old heritage buildings, a bevy of museums, many devoted to the city’s maritime past, splendid beaches nearby, fresh seafood, and an artistic culture with local artists and designers. But with so much to see and do, where do you start?
The best place to start is South Terrace known locally as Cappuccino Strip for its wonderful outdoor cafe ambience. Sit here in the morning and sip a coffee and anticipate the pleasures of the day ahead. It’s also a great place for people watching and getting the pulse of the city.
From here it’s just a hop and a skip to the Fremantle Markets. Other than the sights and smells of fresh produce, and stalls flogging books, candles, beads and bangles, bush art, opals and jewellery, it’s also the haunt of buskers and palm readers. It’ a great place to pick up souvenirs or keepsakes. Fremantle Markets opens on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Fremantle’s Maritime History
Next it’s time to explore Fremantle’s maritime heritage at the Fishing Boat Harbour with its host of waterfront seafood restaurants and Indian Ocean views. A great treat is the local Fish n chips. This is a working port and if you time it right, you can see the day’s seafood catch being unloaded.
You’ll find much more about Fremantle’s seafaring past at the Western Australian Maritime Museum. This is situated at the west end of Victoria Quay.
Other historic buildings you shouldn’t miss include the Round House and Fremantle Prison. The Round House, West Australia’s oldest public building, was constructed in 1831 as a prison. It’s set in pleasant grounds and feature’s tours and displays about Fremantle’s early history. It also provides panoramic views over the city to the harbour and the Indian Ocean beyond.
Sights and Walks
Fremantle Prison was a working gaol until 1991. It’s another fascinating heritage building with a range of interesting tours including a torchlight tour and the new Tunnels tour.
Fremantle is a great city for just browsing and wandering. But if you prefer a more organised outing, you can follow the Fremantle Trails, a series of trails and walks which allow you to create a customised tour by using maps, signs, street art and landscaping. Check out the Fremantle Visitors Centre in Kings Square for more details.
And other than walking, the Fremantle CAT bus is the best way to get around. Routes begin and end at the Fremantle Bus/Train terminus. The CAT bus can take you to all the places you’ll need to go such as the Fremantle Museum and Arts Centre and Cappuccino Strip and Fremantle Markets, and the WA Maritime Museum and E Shed Markets. Buses run every eight to ten minutes.
For many, Fremantle city is just a side trip from Perth, but this great historic port city really needs a few days. After all, we haven’t even covered the beaches yet. If you want to stay on in Fremantle, you’ll find a rich and varied range of Fremantle hotels including the Esplanade Hotel Fremantle and the Sundancer Backpackers Perth.