The vibrant city of Fremantle blends the old with the new, creating an enriching cultural experience. Maritime, convict and colonial history can be explored in one of the best preserved examples of a 19th century port streetscape, while buzzing markets, restaurants and casual street cafés give you a taste of 21st century life with the locals.
As Perth’s neighbouring port town, Fremantle (or Freo as it is affectionately known) is just a 30-minute drive or train ride from the city. Or, you can hop on the ferry for a leisurely cruise down the Swan River.
If you’re hitting the heritage trail, be sure to include a visit to the Western Australian Maritime Museum, the World Heritage listed Fremantle Prison and Western Australia’s oldest public building, the Roundhouse.
You can take in some classic colonial architecture as you sip your coffee on the Cappuccino Strip. And if you venture into the Fremantle Markets, you’ll experience the exotic aromas, sights and sounds of an icon that’s been bustling for more than 100 years.
Along the shoreline, the redeveloped Fishing Boat Harbour that has been in operation since the early 1900s is still the best place to sample fresh local seafood.
For those who are interested in fashion there are a range of choices from high street fashion to local designers, home wares and a range of unique galleries, including Aboriginal art.
If you’re making Fremantle your base, you’ll find plenty of budget backpacker accommodation, as well as boutique bed and breakfasts, self-catering cottages, apartments and hotels to choose from.
Freo is a town that is proud of its authenticity, anything-goes attitude and creativity.
If you have a couple of hours to fill:
1. High Street and the West End, Cappuccino Strip and Fremantle Markets
2 Tour of Old Fremantle Gaol (surface or tunnels)
3. Take a walk south or east.
If you have several hours to fill:
1. Ferry trip up Swan River
2. Hire a scooter and head up the coast or along the river.
The Old Fremantle Prison and Tunnels
The Old Fremantle Prison is one of Western Australia’s premier heritages located in the heart of Fremantle. The prison was built by convicts in the 1850’s and was closed in 1991 after 136 years of continuous use. It was opened to the public in 1992 as a tourist site. Guided tours are conducted every day from 10am, Candlelight tours on Wednesday and Friday nights are especially good. Walk down South Terrace (The Strip), past the Markets, and left into Norfolk and Parry Street. The prison is off to your right as you walk along Parry Street.
You can also tour the tunnels under the prison. Get into your hardhat, slip into your overalls, put on your boots and charge your headlamps before locking into the ladder system and descending 20 metres into the depths below. Trek through sections of the labyrinth of tunnels by foot, then board the replica convict punts to explore the submerged passageways accessible only by boat.
Bookings are essential, you must be 12 years and pass a breath test. A bit like a subterranean Harbour Bridge Climb! The Tunnel Tour costs $59 for an adult, $49 for a concession and $39 for a child (4-15 years). All tour passes are also available including all four Fremantle Prison tours. The all tour pass costs $99 for an adult, $79 for a concession and $59 for a child (4-15 years). For further information regarding these tours please visit the Fremantle Prison website at www.fremantleprision.com.au Please not prices subject to change.
The Maritime Museum, Main Galleries or Ovens Class Submarine
The museum building opened late 2002. Its shell consists of a composite aluminium-polyethylene sandwich with a lacquered paint finish, and zinc panels in other places. There are 3 parts to the museum. The main galleries, the Ovens class submarine located next door to the main building, and the Shipwreck Galleries in Cliff Street, The Shipwreck Galleries are in a beautiful old limestone building, located at the end of Marine Terrace. They are all well worth looking through. Admission into these attractions costs $10 for an adult, $5 for a concession and $3 for a child (5-15 years). For more information visit their website at www.museum.wa.gov.au/maritime
Fremantle Markets are open on Thursday to Sunday, including the evenings. A bit touristy, but very busy and popular with the locals.
E Shed Markets, in the Museum Precinct. Lots of gifts and touristy things.
River Trips, leave from C Shed Jetty, just down along the harbour front from the Museum, The trips go up river to Perth and you can either take a return trip or catch the train back to Fremantle.
Take a scooter along the river or around Fremantle. Modomio Scooter Hire 12 Rear Norfolk St. Fremantle 6160 T: 94332377
Two golf courses are a short taxi ride from the conference. Point Walter Golf Course is set in bushland and offers lovely elevated views over the Swan River. Fremantle Public Golf Course is also very accessible. To partake in this recreational activity during the week is $15 for 9 holes and $21 for 18 holes and on the weekends is $17 for 9 holes and $24 for 18 holes. For further information contact Point Walter on Point Walter – T 9330 3262, Fremantle – T: 9336 3933 or visit their website at www.pointwaltergolf.com.au
The “West-End” is the historic section between The Esplanade and The Museum. It has the best parts of Fremantle. The best shopping streets are High Street and Market Street. Look out for Kakulas Sister Deli (their Turkish Delight is suburb); Morrison and Mini Morrison for fashion and gifts. Market Street leads into South Terrace – the Cappuccino Strip.
The closest large, shopping mall areas in Garden City. Take the number 154 or 155 bus from the outside of the train station, and at other places throughout Fremantle (30 minute Trip). This is a massive good quality centre with many, many shops. It is particularly strong for fashion. Not open on Sunday.
The best wine store is Wine Liaisons in George Street East Fremantle. It also has excellent gifts/home wares shop attached. Among the best in Perth.
Try a 20-minute train trip to Subiaco (approximately $2.50 per ride on the train). Get off at Subiaco Station and follow your nose into the shops, markets and cafes of this trendy and popular area. While some shops maybe closed on Sunday the area is still popular and busy.
Walks and Runs
See the greater Fremantle area map for some locations for long walks or short jogs.
South of Fremantle loop
Take a loop around Marine Parade, Douro Rd and South Terrace, which takes you past many cafes, art galleries, a chocolate factory and specialty shops, as well as along the coast and past lots of boats. Look out for the excellent Aubergines’s Café at the far end of South Terrace or the Beach Café at South Beach.
River at East Fremantle
Another excellent walk or jog is out of Fremantle to the Swan River along the East Fremantle foreshore. Again there are cafes and pubs along the way, and if you are really lucky the dolphins are occasionally seen in the river. You can also cross the river into North Fremantle. The first part out of Fremantle is a bit industrial, and can be shortened by taking the CAT bus to James Street, or shortened even more by taking the 106 or 158 bus to East Street.
The closest beach is South Beach, which is a long walk down Marine Terrace and past the shipyards and yacht clubs. The CAT bus also goes there. The best beach is Cottesloe Beach – take the train to Cottesloe and walk the 1 km to the beach.
Ideas for Kids
- Heathcoate Park in Applecross has stunning views of the Swan River and City from its high position above the river. If you have young children with you there is a superb playground there, as well as a café and a very good restaurant. It’s easiest by car, and not well serviced by bus routes. The views from here are breathtaking and worth seeing even if you don’t have kids!
- The Fremantle Aquatic Centre is on Ord Street. The CAST bus stops right outside.
- Army Museum But Street. A short (ish) walk from the Arts Centre and Aquatic Centre. Admission into the Army Museum is $8 for an adult and $5 for a child.
- The World of Energy – hands on museum of electricity generation and supply. Very popular with school groups. Admission into the 12 Parry Street T: 9430 5655.