I can't help falling in love with Fremantle or Freo as affectionately referred to by the locals. The late Victorian and early Edwardian buildings from the 1800s; the allure of golden sunsets by the waterfront; the aroma of alfresco fresh coffee, beer and food; the vibrant contemporary art and live music scene; and the cornucopia of festivals all add to the charm of the town. Freo is an engaging story of colour, creativity, innovation, immersion and bohemian chic that draws you in. There's always something to experience so here are some of the best things to see and do in Fremantle that will make you part of its story.
The historic Fremantle Markets is one of the most well known markets in Western Australia and popular destination for locals and visitors. People visit for the local fresh produce, artisan products, fashion and jewellery, home wares, souvenirs and tasty food stalls. It also comes alive with many events during the year such as Market Days and the Fremantle Truffle Festival.
What used to be the harbour for Fremantle's fishing industry is also a recreational destination with boardwalks, cafés and restaurants. The backdrop of the commercial fishing fleet and open waters make this precinct a favourite destination for local and visitors wishing to sample seafood. Some of the long standing seafood venues include Kailis' Fish Market Cafe and Cicerello's Seafood Restaurant. Many also come for a stroll of the harbour and visit the replica of the Duyfken which was the first Dutch vessel to chart the Australian coastline in 1666.
An educational and entertaining way to discover the sights of Freo is via the Fremantle Tram. The replica 'trams' will take you on a hop-off-and-hop-on tour with 6 stops including the harbours, Fremantle Prison, Fremantle Market and Cappuccino Strip. A commentary provided by the driver will help you discover the history and charm of Freo.
The Bather's Beach Art Precinct around the historic Arthur Head area is home to the oldest public building in Western Australia. Open to visitors between 10.30am and 3.30pm every day (except Christmas Day and Good Friday), the Round House was used to hold any person convicted of a crime in the settlement between 1831 and 1886. A highlight of your visit will be the daily firing of the canon at 1pm. The area around the Round House is also home to a vibrant arts precinct with open studios, exhibitions and workshops. You can meet more than 20 established and highly respected sculptors, painters, photographers, Indigenous artists, ceramic artist and designers who work within the precinct.
A visit to Fremantle is never complete without going to jail. The Fremantle Prison offers you the opportunity to walk the solitary cells of what was a place incarceration for 136 years. You can choose from several tours with experienced guides. The Prison Day Tours provide a glimpse of prison life and share tales of convicts and daring escapes. You can also descend into a labyrinth on a Tunnels Tour and explore the works of art left by inmates during the Prison Art Tour. Kids can also join an exclusive Escape Tour just for children.
Leeuwin Ocean Adventure Foundation offers a 3 hour coastal sail on the STS Leeuwin II from late October until late April. The Tall Ship is a 3-masted barquentine with over 810 square metres of sail and an overall length of 55 metres. You can enjoy the rare experience of sailing on a barquentine tall ship including raising the 16 sails, climbing the bow sprit, taking the helm and going on a ship tour. The sail includes a light meal on board served with tea and coffee, allowing you to kick back, relax and enjoy the picturesque Western Australian coastline.
MANY 6160 project by Spacemarket offers a unique retail experience in a gourmet supermarket of pop-up shops. It is the largest temporary 'space occupation' of its kind in the world with some 20,000 square metres of re-activated urban floor space. You can meet and chat with designers and makers of local labels, and enjoy a drink in the rooftop bar and garden. According to Mayor Brad Pettitt, MANY 6160 represents Fremantle as a hip, bohemian, artistic kind of place that doesn't compete with big box stores and suburban shopping centres.
The Fremantle Arts Centre is one of Western Australia's premier arts institution. It offers FREE entry to its exhibitions and grounds in addition to a regular calender of events, residences, courses and high-quality programs from local, national and international artists.
In addition to enjoying a Little Creatures Pale Ale, you can visit the home of the popular beer company here in Fremantle. Little Creature Brewery houses a bar and restaurant where you can enjoy a tasting of the full range of beers with pizza and other good pub grub. A backyard offers another relaxing space with sunset views of the harbour and live music on weekends. You can also join a brewery tour at 1pm, 2pm and 3pm everyday. The Freo Ferris Wheel offers a view of the entire brewery
The section of South Terrace from the corner of Bannister Street to Parry Street is regularly visited by residents and visitors alike for its many F&B and entertainment offerings. By day, Cappuccino Strip draws visitors with its alfresco dining at the outdoor café's, restaurants, pubs and breweries like Gino's Cafe, Sail and Anchor and The Monk Brewery and Kitchen. By night and especially on weekends, the strip transforms into an entertainment precinct with cabaret and live music until the early hours. It also becomes family central with loads of activities for parents and kids during the street festivals.
Located in a heritage listed Military Drill Hall built in 1896 is the Fly By Night Musicians Club. This iconic venue with a 28 year history of musicians, actors, comedians and circus performers is still being discovered by visitors to Fremantle. Founded by musicians and music lovers as a not-for-profit member based community arts organisation, the Fly By Night Musicians Club has staged thousands of local, national and international artists. Check out the Club for its schedule of performances.
Located in Esplanade Park near the Fishing Boat Harbour is a Ferris wheel that offers 360 degree views of Fremantle town. Previously known as the Skyview Ferris Wheel, the fully enclosed gondolas of the renamed Fremantle Tourist Wheel take you up 40 metres to enjoy views of the picturesque shoreline and heritage buildings of the city.
Fremantle is well known as the festival city thanks to the effort of the City of Fremantle. There are festivals during the different seasons, offering plenty of free and affordable ticketed events for all ages. Some of the notable ones include the Fremantle Street Arts Festival which is the biggest and best of its kind in Australia. The Fremantle Heritage Festival brings you on a journey into the colourful and intriguing cultural past of Fremantle and the Hidden Treasures winter music series offers a line-up of performances in venues along High Street. The longest running community festival in Australia is the Fremantle Festival. Next time you visit, make sure you time it with one of the major festivals.
Fremantle's original and only community theatre has entertained tens of thousands of people over the last 50 years. Today, Harbour Theatre continues to produce full length plays, one-act plays and Christmas Revues all at affordable prices. Its productions have earned many awards in several of the theatre festivals held in and around Perth. All proceeds raised by its productions are channeled back into the theatre to support the continuation of offering quality community theatre to everyone.
Captain Cook Cruises' return cruise from Fremantle to Perth's CBD is an excellent way to kick back, relax and enjoy the Swan River. Join the 11.15am and 3.45pm departures to taste premium wines while taking in the sights of the Royal Perth Yacht Club, Kings Park and homes overlooking the river on route to Perth's Barrack Street Jetty.