Just a short 30-minute trip west from Perth lies the historic and artistic City of Fremantle.
Oozing hippy vibes from its walls that have stood the time of centuries, Fremantle can rightly claim the role as the birthplace for much of Australia’s great live music and bustling craft beer scene. Wherever you look, there’s plenty of things to do in Fremantle.
Its charm hasn’t gone unnoticed on the global scene. In 2016, Fremantle was ranked 7th in the top 10 best cities in the world by Lonely Planet, beating off stiff competition from Rome, Nashville and Manchester.
A Brief History of Fremantle
Fremantle was founded back in 1829 when the ship HMS Challenger arrived in the waters off the WA coast near the mouth of the Swan River.
Convict labour was used to build many of the buildings you see in Fremantle today as forty-three voyages were made from England to Fremantle carrying more than nine thousand convicts.
The harbor was used as a base for the ally ships during World War II and the port accommodated more than 170 submarines from the U.S., British and Dutch navies between 1942-45.
By the 1980’s the City was needing a fresh lick of paint and investment, which came from hosting the 1987 Americas Cup yacht race and in the years preceding has grown into the vibrant place we know and love today.
Fremantle Mayor Brad Petit has continued this redevelopment as part of the ‘This is Fremantle’ campaign, signing off on a $270 million Kings Square redevelopment which will see new shopping, dining and entertainment options open by the end of 2019.
With so much going on in Fremantle it’s hard to narrow the list down to a top four, but if you have a spare day or two to explore the city, you must include the following tourist attractions on your itinerary.
Fremantle Prison has always ranked high on the shortlist of places to take friends or family when they visit Perth.
Whether it’s the fascinating convict history, the re-telling of the stories of the 350,000 prisoners who were kept under lock and key or the rumoured ghost sightings at night – there’s something fascinating that keeps tourists flocking to the site every year as one of Fremantle’s top tourist attractions.
There’s plenty of things to do when visiting Fremantle Prison. You can choose from one of three different types of tour; the Prison Day Tour (Convict Prison, Behind Bars or True Crime), the Torchlight Tour and the Tunnels Tour.
The Convict Prison tour takes in all of the history behind the building of the prison and looks into why almost 10,000 men were transported from Great Britain and Ireland to build the prison that helped shape the future of Western Australia.
The Behind Bars tour allows you to picture firsthand the living conditions of inmates from 1887 to 1991.
You’ll have the opportunity to walk back in time through the main cell block and exercise yards, learn about the daily routine of prisoners and the realities of life on the inside.
Located right at the centre of Fremantle on the Café strip, Fremantle Markets has been part of the ambience of the city since 1897.
There’s more 150 stalls to wander around, ranging from locally made presents, arty gifts, interesting homewares to the wonderful array of unique and delicious produce which will stop you for becoming too puckish in your exploration.
For the kids, there is always something special, such as hand-made clothing and accessories for the little ones, baby slings, kites and splat balls.
The Fremantle Markets feature live music all throughout Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, showcasing the best Perth musical talents as part of its busking schedule.
The Markets are open Friday-Sunday and Public Holidays. Public holidays can get rather busy in the markets so allow yourself extra time to explore.
Perched on the Indian Ocean's shore, the WA Maritime Museum stands proud as a symbol of Fremantle's past, present and future as a coastal city and port.
The Museum houses unique galleries that explore WA's relationship with the sea. From leisure boats and handcrafted sailing boats to commercial pearl luggers, the Museum inspires visitors to discover WA's affinity with the ocean.
The WA Maritime Museum is home to the winning America's Cup yacht, Australia II, Jon Sanders' Parry Endeavour and many other iconic vessels from Fremantle's maritime history.
Make sure you check out the Submarine HMAS Ovens Tour, where you can find out what life was like aboard the Cold War-era submarine vessel situated on Fremantle's historic World War Two submarine slipway. Space was definitely a premium on board the vessel!
If you’re a fan of Kylie Minogue (yes, you read that right) you’ll be happy to know there’s an exhibition in her honour running until mid-June.
Kylie on Stage celebrates the extravagant costumes and magical moments from superstar Kylie Minogue's 25-year international concert career.
4. Bathers Beach
Let’s face it, Perth is spoilt for beaches and one of the favourites for locals and tourists in the Fremantle area is Bathers Beach.
Just a short 5-10 minute walk from the train station, the beach offers spectacular views of the Indian Ocean and a panoramic water view – perfect for those beach selfies!
Bathers Beach is one of those places you’ll catch locals taking in the spectacular sunset after grabbing a bite to eat at nearby cafes and restaurants.
The generally calm waters offer perfect swimming conditions and the beach is especially popular with families. Be aware that there are no lifeguards present so don’t take any unnecessary risks in or around the water.
Dining and Entertainment in Fremantle
There’s plenty of things to do in Fremantle once you’ve finished your sightseeing and shopping for the day.
If food and drink is what you’re after, the streets are abuzz with buzzing pubs, small bars, restaurants and cafes that fill to the brim with patrons from across the globe.
The best places to start are the ‘Cappuccino Strip’, Wray Avenue and South Terrace where many of the lively cafes and stylish micro-breweries are located, offering a huge range of tasty amber ales.
Little Creatures Brewery is a popular spot to grab lunch and a beer so make sure you arrive just before or after the peak hour so you don’t miss out on a table.
There’s a distinct Italian vibe in Fremantle which is cemented by the vast array of excellent quality pizza and pasta on offer and being a port town, it goes without saying that you can sample some of the best sea food around, straight from the Indian Ocean.
For accommodation options in in Fremantle, visit: Accommodation in Fremantle.