Fremantle exudes a coastal character unlike other beachside enclaves found along the Western Australia coast. This laidback city hums with a distinct charm resonating from its convict roots, maritime past and today’s thriving cafe culture and music scene. It may be just half an hour from Perth, but Fremantle is worlds away when it comes to things to do. Here are the highlights.
Housed in a restored 1850s-era Commissariat building off the Esplanade, Shipwrecks Galleries will delight not only maritime enthusiasts, but even the most steadfast landlubber. You’ll find hundreds of relics from ships wrecked off the western coastline, including the timbers from Batavia, the de Vlamingh plate and countless of treasures from Dutch ships Zuytdorp and Vergulde Draeck.
For a glimpse into Australia’s convict past, a visit to the Fremantle Prison is a must. Decommissioned in 1991 as a maximum security jail, today, experienced guides bring history to life on entertaining tours throughout the grounds and prison cells. For a different perspective, venture deep underground to explore the labyrinth of tunnels lying 20 metres below.
Fremantle’s cafe culture is legendary, and nowhere is that more apparent than the Cappuccino Strip, a stretch spanning Bannister Street to Parry Street. By day, enjoy a bite to eat while people watching from a mix of restaurants, pubs and breweries; of an evening, the strip offers the city’s best after-dark action.
A swift ferry ride from the Fremantle coast is Rottnest Island, a popular holiday isle hugged by secluded bays and beaches. Beyond the beach, you can enjoy everything from wildlife spotting to guided bike tours.
The Fremantle Markets is a destination in itself, open all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Housed in a stately Victorian-era heritage building off Henderson Street Mall, there’s little you won’t find here, from fresh local produce to handmade crafts and antiques. Adding to the lively ambience is a host of street performers.
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A visit to ‘Freo’ is incomplete without an afternoon under the sun with a few frothy pints at Little Creatures. Set on the waterfront at Fishing Boat Harbour, this lauded brewery serves thirsty travellers a tantalising blend of craft beers and ales accompanied by a menu of modern bistro-style fare.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a sceptic or believer, there’s plenty of otherworldly fun to be had on Fremantle’s Ghostly Tour. By tram, you’ll travel and dine in style as you cross the city on a tour of the city’s darkest haunts. You’ll be regaled with folklore and tales of some of Fremantle’s former residents – some may even make an appearance along the way!
From the animated precinct of Fishing Boat Harbour, board Westcoast Jet’s Okiedokie boat for a wet and wild adventure on Fremantle’s waters. It offers passengers a powerful open-ocean ride full of fishtails and slide-outs; wake surfing and 270-degree turns.
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