Just 30 minutes from Western Australia’s capital Perth, the port-side town of Fremantle enchants bohemians and adventures for its cultural heritage and access to natural beauty.
Fremantle can be enjoyed as a day trip or longer and if you’re visiting Perth you can easily incorporate it into a 3 Day Perth Itinerary. So start planning your Western Australian adventure for when our borders open once again (hopefully soon!)
Seafarers, artists and misfits
Explore Western Australia’s rich maritime history at the WA Maritime Museum (Victoria Quay), and check out the America’s Cup winning yacht Australia II and the Submarine Ovens, a memorial to submariners who lost their lives during WWII. Take a tour of the Fremantle Prison (Prison’s Gatehouse, Fairburn Ramp) and discover its gruesome past as you visit the gallows where hangings took place at 8.00am on Monday morning’s right up until 1984. Or trek on foot and by boat through the labyrinth of tunnels 20 metres below, where prisoners were ordered to hard labour in the tunnels which served as a water catchment. Make your own great escape to the Fremantle Arts Centre (1 Finnerty St), built by convicts in 1864 as a lunatic asylum, and now features photo exhibits, the largest collection of local and Australian art in the state, concerts, and intimate courtyard performances.
The coast is dotted with glorious beaches but you don’t need to travel far to be a sand-groper*. Bather’s Beach (Fremantle Harbour) is accessed through a tunnel called Whalers Tunnel beneath the Round House, Fremantle’s former prison until it was outgrown by the number of its convicts in 1886, when the Fremantle Prison opened. The beach is split in two by its stone wall and with the Fremantle township right behind it’s an ideal spot for a dip and exploring the town. If obscenely white sands and the calm waters of the Indian Ocean beckon, then swim or snorkel at Port Beach (Port Beach Rd, North Fremantle). Or head to Cottesloe Beach (Marine Parade) for its iconic shady Norfolk pines and endless coastal views sure to keep you warm long after you return home.
*sandgroper: an affectionate term for a Western Australian; a burrowing insect found in Western Australia
Established in 1897 and built in a Federation Romanesque style, Fremantle’s locals flocked to the Fremantle Markets for their fresh fruit and vegetables. Urban legends peppered with the truth about some of the characters frequenting the markets have reached many corners of the globe. The markets attract visitors on a global scale drawn to the 150 stalls offering fresh produce, art, jewellery, clothing, indigenous products, buskers, a pub and cuisine encapsulating Fremantle’s multi-cultural community. Many say that visiting the Fremantle Markets is like experiencing a snapshot of Fremantle through the ages. www.fremantlemarkets.com.au/
Fish, beer ‘n chips
Cast a line from the rocky harbour walls known as the South or North Mole (Fremantle Harbour) but if those snapper, mulloway, or butter fish get away, Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour will serve these and almost any other seafood imaginable anyway you wish; including fish and chips at sunset. Perched on the harbour and brewed onsite are pale ales, pilsners and ciders from the Little Creatures Brewery. If the queues are off-putting, meander through the parklands of the Esplanade Reserve to the one of the state’s first micro-breweries and have a Sail Iron Brew beer at the Sail & Anchor (64 South Terrace) and position yourself on the balcony to admire the passing parade of bohemians and dreamers.
Located about 30 minutes by ferry from Fremantle, Rottnest Island is famed for its cute quokkas and stunning lagoons. The car-less island offers every childhood fantasy and a rich history, not to mention diverse wildlife, walking and cycling trails, water sports, fishing, surfing, swimming, tours, a cute township and an array of accommodation options. Come for the day or stay for longer and enjoy the slow pace rarely found in most tourist destinations. www.rottnestisland.com
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