We hit Fremantle before checking out the Perth CBD for a few reasons. A – we were staying only 6km away, B – we weren’t ready to brave the innards of the city just yet, and C – we heard there were great places for coffee!
Sure, Fremantle is home to a plethora of cafés and the Cappuccino Strip, but it also has microbreweries, pubs and restaurants, heaps of shopping and Western Australia’s largest collection of heritage listed buildings. There is even a bus dressed up like a tram offering ‘tram’ tours (LOL), which is the only reminder of when Fremantle had trams between 1905 and the 1952.
Affectionately called ‘Freo’, it was named after Charles Fremantle, a British naval officer who took formal possession of the mouth of the Swan River in the name of His Majesty King George in 1829. Over 180 years later, the area is now a city with a vibrant, youthful culture with a love of beer, live music and festivals.
Araluen Chilli Festival
As soon as Juz heard about the Chilli Festival coming to Fremantle, she was keen on finding her own space coyote. There was live music and pie making competitions, spicy jams, sauces, preserves, oils, beer and tonnes of food stalls serving up jumbos, paellas, seafood jambalayas and chilli con carne. You could even get chilli ice cream! Juz went with a bowl of creole chicken and chilli beef stew before wandering around the festival with swollen lips and a fire burning deep down inside.
Entry to the festival was $15 for adults and you got a few vouchers on entry, like a free tasting paddle at the Monk Brewery – SCORE!
PLACES OF INTEREST
Established in 1897, the Fremantle Market Hall is a busy and colourful place to stroll around on a Saturday morning. There are heaps of stalls displaying all sorts of fantastic stuff like fresh, local produce, nuts, cheese, knick knacks, clothes, free trade stuff, coffee, lollies and souvenirs. Street performers and buskers are usually out and about on the weekend, and this is where the great John Butler started out before forming his trio in 1998.
The E-Sheds down near the harbour had a completely different atmosphere; sterile, quiet, almost forgotten. We checked out the CY O’Connor statue and purchased a new picnic bag and cutlery case for $4 but that’s about it.
This is the oldest permanent building in Western Australia. It was opened in 1831 and acted as the first prison for colonial and aboriginal prisoners until 1886 when the Convict Establishment (Fremantle Prison) started accept inhabitants other than convicts. The Round House was then used as a police lock up until about 1900. Since then, it has been the home for the chief constable and his family, as well as a port storeroom.
Every day at 1pm, they shoot a canon, which is also known as the Time Ball, and mariners, locals and tourists can set their watch to the daily blast.
This is a fantastic place to learn about all the shipwrecks that happened along the western coast of Australia and is an archaeological goldmine. The galleries exhibit original timbers from the infamous Batavia, a 17th century Dutch ship which sank in 1629. Also on show are various kinds of booty that were left behind, including silver coins, pieces of furniture, crockery, glassware and even intact food jars and bottles with the original foodstuffs inside!
The Shipwreck Galleries are open daily from 9:30am and entry is by gold coin donation. There is a great gift shop at the entrance where you can purchase replicas of coins found at the wreck sites.
The Fremantle Prison was originally known as the Convict Establishment and was built by convicts in the 1850s. It was used as a prison until 1991 and is now open to visitors. The best way to experience the Fremantle Prison is with a tour, and there are four to choose from.
It truly is a must see, must do attraction when visiting Fremantle. The site is drenched in history and fascinating stories. Check out our post on the Fremantle Prison.
If you’re interested in learning the didgeridoo, check this place out. The atmosphere is super-welcoming, they have a huge selection of instruments and they offer free didge lessons! Check out our post on Didgeridoo Breath.
Galati & Sons
Fresh food doesn’t come cheap in Perth so we thought ourselves super lucky to find this place. Cheap fruit and vegetables, cheese, Italian groceries and spices, as well as cannoli, tarts and pre-made meals. WIN!
FOOD & DRINK
Fremantle’s #1 tourist destination – check out our post on the Little Creatures Brewery!
If you’re looking for a place to hang out on a Saturday afternoon, the Cappuccino Strip would be the best place. Pick a café or restaurant and sit outside while you sip on your coffee, enjoy a meal and read the paper. If you have a hot car, this is the place to cut laps and show off your sick stereo.
We sat down at Gino’s and had a coffee while we watched masses of people walk past – youngsters with bare midriffs, couples walking their dog, sight seers, tourists, quirky locals – it is truly a mixed bag in Freo.
This was the first place we went to for coffee while in the Perth area. The recommendation demanded that we have coffee and a bagel, so we had to comply. We entered the relaxed bookshop with the embedded café, approached the counter and advised the bearded barista that we were sent for coffee and bagel. He recommended the cream cheese and Nutella bagel, with the promise that it will “change our day”.
The coffee and bagel were enjoyed outside on the terrace right amongst the chilled out atmosphere. The coffee was delicious – smooth and creamy without any hint of bitterness. We can’t say that the bagel changed our day, but it was definitely divine – chewy and moist with a great combination of cream cheese tartness and sweet Nutella. YUM!
Blink Espresso Bar
Quite possibly the smallest shop in Fremantle, this was another strong recommendation that we had the opportunity to fulfil. Forget about going into the place – there isn’t enough room! All there is between the colourful walls is one energetic man and his tools to make you a fabulous cup of coffee.
Located towards the end of the Cappuccino Strip, The Monk Brewery is a popular stop to hang out with mates while drinking pints of craft beer. There was a bit of a line to go in and we found that they use the scents of an outdoor kitchen cooking seafood paella to lure hungry patrons in.
They have a tasting paddle with eight beers, including a seasonal one, and all their beers are paired with menu items. We were lucky enough to score a voucher from Juz’s entry to the Chilli Festival and got a free tasting paddle.
- Mild – 3.5% a bright golden lager with mild hops and a crisp clean taste.
- Kolsch – 4.9% fruity, sweet entry with a slightly hoppy taste and subtle bubbles.
- Wheat – 6.0% a cloudy beer that’s fruity and yeasty without too many bubbles.
- Pale – 6.0% a deep golden colour with yeast and smooth, lingering bitterness that comes from 100% Australian hops.
- Chief – 6.3% voted the best ale at the 2012 Perth Royal Beer Show, this tropical, full flavoured beer was smoky and had plenty of hoppy bitterness.
- Rauch – 5.3% a deep orange colour with strong smoky characteristics and fruity flavours with toffee.
- Porter – 4.7% a rich, dark ale full of roasted coffee, chocolate and caramel, with mild bitterness and carbonation.
Sail & Anchor Hotel
Opposite the Monk Brewery is a great little microbrewery pub brimming with beer love. They have their own selection of beers, like Monkey’s Fist Pale Ale, Cat’s Shank Kolsch and Lark’s Foot Golden Ale, but they also make Brass Monkey Stout and have a variety of other local beers on tap. The walls are covered in beer propaganda and you could spend hours in there looking at them all and having a giggle.
We went in for their $15 lunch specials and sat down to a steak sandwich and seafood basket. While we were disappointed that the parma wasn’t included in the lunch special that day, we were thoroughly impressed with the tenderness of Dave’s steak and the juicy freshness of Juz’s calamari rings. Their chips were also great – fluffy and crisp with no icky bits. The Sail and Anchor also do weekly food specials like Parmagedon Mondays, Hump Day Pizzas and Nice Rump Thursdays.
Moondyne Joe’s Bar & Café
Named after the notorious jail-breaking bushranger, this great pub is tucked away at the end of Wray Street and has a traditional, relaxing atmosphere with some old school charm. The Governor’s Bar is the perfect place to chill out with a pint and a meal, or have a lively evening while keeping up with the footy in the sports bar.
If you’re budget conscious, check out their $12 Steak Night on Tuesdays – a big, juicy scotch fillet steak cooked how you want with your choice of sauce and a side of chips and salad. We say YES to hot beef injections!
Clancy’s Fish Pub
If you want to steer away from the pub scene and find something a little more open and artistic, check out Clancy’s Fish Pub. Great for after work drinks with mates on the veranda or a day with the kids playing on the lawn out the back, there is something for everyone at Clancy’s. They have a great selection of beers on tap, including White Rabbit White Ale, and the menu features all the pub classics and then some.
Information & Accommodation
Fremantle Visitor Centre – 8 William Street, 08 9431 7878
Woodman Point Holiday Park – 132 Cockburn Road, Munster, 08 9434 1433
Fremantle CAT Buses
There are two free bus services that circulate around Fremantle – the Blue and Red CAT buses. They run every 10-15 minutes and go past major attractions like the train station, Arts Centre, E-Shed Markets, the Cappuccino Strip and the Shipwreck Galleries.