In November I visited Perth, capital of Western Australia, to attend a food blogging conference, ‘Eat. Drink. Blog.’ After the conference, we toured for a week, visiting some of south-west of WA. As part of the #tiffingoeswest extravaganza, I spent a day in Fremantle, a seaside city that’s a 20 minute train ride from Perth. We had no grand plans, just a day to wander and relax.
Fremantle. Freo. City of solid Edwardian architecture and rabid football fans. Shipwreck coast. Home to a vibrant arts community and provider of succour in the form of the Fremantle Doctor. Gateway for thousands of merchants and migrants. Seaside town. Holiday destination. Limestone, sand, explorers and convicts. Traditional home of the Wadjuk people of the Nyungar nation.
When you visit Fremantle, don’t forget to…
…look up. So many heritage buildings, all beautifully restored and well maintained. Many belong to The University of Notre Dame Australia, who has invested heavily into turning these buildings into an attractive city style campus, giving a new purpose to buildings that would no doubt have been the victim of the wrecking ball. Walk down High St towards The Roundhouse and then walk back along the other side so you can admire them.
…look out. To sea. Fremantle was and is a maritime town. Originally a free settler colony, convicts soon arrived by ship, transported to the colony as free labour. The gold rush kept the docks busy followed by the allies during WWII who located the largest submarine base in the Southern Hemisphere there. Waves of migrants arrived by ship including hundreds of ‘Home Children’ or child migrants who arrived from the UK and Malta. It is still the major port for Perth and though there are now other major ports dotted all the way along the WA coastline, there are plenty of reminders of it’s sea faring history.
…look down. Traces of history can be seen under our feet. After nearly being destroyed by fire in 2007, renovations of the National hotel are close to being finalised. The original door step still remains – waiting for its brass letters to be refitted.
…laugh! During renovations of the National Hotel, this co-opted iconic image was re-discovered. Probably not ‘official’, this Boxing Kangaroo clutching a tinnie of Swan Lager reminds us of the glory days of Australia II winning the America’s Cup with its famous winged keel.
…enjoy the art installations. They abound in public places. Statues and sculptures big and small. Some are dedicated to Fremantle’s famous sons and daughters, others to those who made their home there and some are just for fun!
…refresh yourself. There’s an area near the shopping mall known as the ‘Cappuccino Strip’ and it’s not very exciting. Walk half a block more and you can find something more inspiring. Bread in Common cafe, bakery and bar; Fish’n’Chips on the marina or a picnic supplied from the local deli, Kakulas Sister. Wet your whistle at Little Creatures Brewery with views over the Indian Ocean.
…drop into the Tourist Information Centre in High St. You’ll find maps and assistance and can even hire a bike for free. Whilst you’re there, check out the street garden and shady outdoor reading room. There’s plenty more to see in Fremantle including the Arts Centre, the old Fremantle Gaol, the Maritime Museum…the list is endless. To acquaint yourself with what’s on offer, see the sights and to get around quickly, take a free Blue or Red Cat bus on two different, continuous loops.
…say Frmantle. Not Free-mantle. The ‘e’ is almost non-existent. Except if your saying Freo. Then it’s Free-O.
…look around the corner. You never know what you may see.