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Perth/Fremantle

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Oceania : Australia : Western Australia : Perth : Fremantle
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Fremantle [1] is an Indian Ocean port, clinging to the western edge of Australia, facing west towards Rottnest Island, Mauritius, and Africa.

You could claim that Fremantle is a suburb of Perth, but you'd be wrong. It is a city in its own right, deliciously different from Perth in its location, people and style. It is commonly shortened to Freo.

Get in

You could arrive in Fremantle via cargo ship or cruise liner. That way, you would, after a long journey, arrive at a long flat sandy coastline dotted with trees and make for the obvious port.

By car Take Leach Highway west, Stirling Highway south-west or Canning Highway west. From the south, take Rockingham Road. From the north coast, West Coast Highway and the Curtin Avenue lead to the port. From Perth city, Fremantle is about a 30 minute drive.

There are many TransPerth buses that arrive and leave Fremantle. Routes 98 (clockwise) and 99 (anti-clockwise) are quick and frequent services that lead to Fremantle. They terminate at the Fremantle Railway Station.

Frequent commuter trains from Perth leave from Perth's City Station, and makes the 25 minute trip to Fremantle via Perth's western suburbs, culminating in a breath-taking view of beach, ocean and port before arriving at Fremantle station.

See the TransPerth Journey Planner [2] for more info on trains and buses.

Get around

You can get around most of central Fremantle for free on the (Central Area Transit) CAT Bus which runs every ten minutes during daylight hours. It is orange with a large black cat on the side. Look for the CAT symbol at bus stops, and maybe even paw-prints on the footpath. The CAT Bus is wheelchair and pram accessible, including kneeling (automatic lowering suspension) and ramp access.

Alternatively, you can use your feet; most of Fremantle is fairly flat and good for walking or rent a scooter from Scootabout in Cliff Street.

For a local car hire, try Bayswater Car Rentals. They rent nice little cars at good prices. 13 Queen Victoria St, +61 8 9430-5300.

See

There is a lot to see in Fremantle.

  • Maritime museum
  • The beach
  • Whale watching
  • Wander along the scenic port
  • Rottnest Island
  • Fremantle markets
  • Round House
  • Sunset on a clear day
  • Fremantle Prison, 1 The Terrace St, +61 (0)8 9336 9200, [3]. Constructed in 1850, Fremantle Prison was Western Australia's main maximum security prison until its closure in 1991. Today it remains as a world heritage listed building and is used for several purposes including as an art gallery, museum and a conference center. Basic tours run throughout the day, and a 'Torchlight tour' runs on Wednesday and Friday nights, which explores the history of prison hauntings. For the really adventurous there is the tunnels tour which will take you through the tunnel network underneath the prison. Fremantle Prison is open every day of the year except Good Friday and Christmas day. $18.50 (basic), $59 (tunnel tour), less for students and children. (32° 3′ 18″ S,115° 45′ 13″ E)

Do

  • WA Maritime Museum, Victoria Quay, (go to the end of Cliff Street, head for the waterfront and turn left'. You can't miss it -- a large white building with curved lines suggesting a hull), +61 8 9335-8921, [4]. 9:30AM-5PM daily. A wonderful collection of vessels, including the winged-keel Australia II, which won the America's Cup. You'll also find a full history of marine activity on the West Australian coast. $10 (children 5-15 $3, concession $5, family $22). A tour of HMAS Ovens, a retired Oberon-class submarine, is well worth the time.
  • Round House, Arthur Head. Western Australia's first permanent building. Built as a prison in the 1830's, the Round House now serves as a small, but informative museum, that focuses on the convict lifestyle of the 1800's. Now restored and updated with more detailed information, maps and volunteer guides (although the tour of the building is mostly self-guided). Entry is free, gold coin donations encouraged.
  • Whalers' Tunnel, located under the Round House, the Whaling Tunnel was built to provide easy access between the original Bather's Beach port and the town of Fremantle. The tunnel has been restored in recent years, and now has detailed explanations of its construction and local artifacts, making it a worthwhile self-guided tour.
  • Watch Freemantle Dockers playing an AFL game. Aussie Rules is a unique sport that's only really played Down Under. Though Freo tend to play their games mainly in central Perth, where the stadium is bigger there is a few smaller sides playing in the state league too dotted around.

Like all good port towns of the world, Fremantle has a bustling nightlife and is a favorite place to go out for many people who live within the Perth metropolitan area. Unlike Northbridge, Fremantle does not seem to attract the same level of bad behavior so is quite a safe place to spend an evening. Some places to go out include:

Kulcha Club - Located on the cappuccino strip above Dome Cafe, it holds several dance/music/social nights catering more for those interested in arts. The Club offers salsa lessons, ethnic music sessions and many other events.

Newport - Famed for its 'backpacker and student' Wednesdays, it plays hosts to a range of bands, international DJs and other music genres in "The Bandroom". Continuing onto the weekend, Newport offers those interested the chance to catch their favorite sport in the "The Atrium". Or if pool is the better option then the "Front Bar" is also available. Located on the famed Cappucino Strip. No entry charge.

Metropolis Fremantle - A club located on Marine Parade. It is one of the biggest and busiest in Fremantle. Metros is divided into different sections, offering RnB, bands belting out 80/90s hits, house and electronic music on different nights. On the plus side, it is loud, busy, and the place to be seen. On the down side it has a $10 cover charge before midnight and a $15 charge after. Get there early or expect a long line to get in.

Buy

Whether it is shopping for food or clothes, you are bound to find it. Fremantle offers you an array of retail therapy. Shops generally open from 10AM-5PM.

  • The Fremantle Market - Connected, there are two sheds that houses fruit sellers and a variety of other items that you may wish to purchase, be it souvenirs or music CDs. You will find that it is rather quaint and a much much smaller version of Covent Garden in London. You definitely have to take your time to look through the markets because you never really know what you will find there. F 9AM-9PM, Sa Su 9AM-5PM.
  • Boutiques - catering for both males and females, and a big price range, there are several boutique shops dotted along South Terrace. Whether you are looking for that long dazzling gown or a tailored suit, you will be sure to find it.
  • Bicycles- Fremantle is one of the most popular cycling cities in Australia with thousands of cyclist visiting daily and many socialising along the cafe strip. Fremantle has a host of shops catering for them, the two most popular 'old school' shop which have been around since the 1980's seem to be Mercers on South Tce which carries a full range of family bikes and offers repairs whilst Ideal Cycles in South Street O'Connor offers a wide range of road , fixie bikes and accessories.

Others include Ace Cycles, Bike Force and Fleet Cycles.

Eat

Despite the wide availability of Italian food outlets, Fremantle offers other cuisines within different price ranges.

  • Sala Thai
  • Upchuck
  • Cicerello's, right across the way from The Esplanade park, Cicerello's has been more or less an institution since the early 1900's, and is widely regarded as serving Western Australia's best fish and chips. Eat indoors in the pavillion, or outdoors on Fisherman's Wharf. Short walks to the Maritime Museum, Round House and the Crocodile Farm.
  • Sandrinos is a pizzeria located close to the Millennium Hoyts cinema serving delicious Italian food including the famous chilli mussels. A small section of al fresco dining is available, but its indoor dining provides the best of the smells of the kitchen and pizza. Good for dinners with friends or family or just a Sunday lunch.
  • Gino's Cafe has been on the strip for 11 years as an Italian Cafe. Opened by Gino Saccone (1937-2001), it offers a mean breakfast and a lunch and dinner menu. Hard-pressed to find a seat, if you do get one, you would be in for a treat with the selection of cakes and strong coffee on brew. Mostly al-fresco dining, it is the place to have a Sunday get together with friends and family.
  • Ali Baba Kebabs is on the cappuccino strip. All sorts of wraps are available from chicken to vegetarian. It is open till late to accommodate all those nightbirds wanting a real cheap treat.
  • Sweet Lips, 47/8 Mews Road (Across the train tracks from Esplanade Park, Close to Shipwreck Museum), (08) 9430 6902, [5]. Rated as the best fish and chips in Western Australia, Sweet Lips is a great choice for seafood. Their fish and chips are top notch, and if doing grocery shopping at Cole's in Fremantle, check the back of your receipts, as a Sweet Lips coupon found there will get you two fish and chips for $13.50.
  • Nick's Place (Shishkebab Cafe), 2/36 South Terrace Fremantle (On the cappucino strip), 08 9336 2391, [6]. Souvlaki, that's Greek style kebabs, real fresh marinated Lamb, Chicken, Pork and Beef cooked on the BBQ. Also a selection of vegetarian such as Greek Vegetarian capsicum feta omelette Greek Pita wrap, Green Vegetarian spinach feta omelette, Greek pita wrap and the popular Falafel. Also a wide range of sauces and dressings and the usual accompaniments.
  • Rockin Pizza Serves unique hand-stretched in polenta traditional pizzas. Delivery all around the Fremantle area. open 7 days. [7]

Drink

Sunset over the harbour
  • The Sail and Anchor Pub Brewery serves unique and award winning beers, brewed on-site. If beer isn't your thing, you can quite easily get a local or international wine, cup of coffee or feed yourself at the al fresco Brewers Courtyard or on the balcony overlooking the famous Cappuccino Strip. [8]
  • Benny's Bar & Cafe offers a large menu of cocktails and drinks accompanied with great band music on the weekends. Whilst there is something on 7 days a week, it is the weekend where you see this restaurant cum bar packed with eager party going people. Closing at 1AM, the band plays a range of genres with the top 40 hits in between sets.
  • Little Creatures, found inside a converted boat shed and crocodile farm, is a "cellar door" bar/restaurant. The beer is fresh (straight out of the conditioning vat, as fresh as you can get!), the food is great (dinner served until 11PM, wood-fired pizzas until midnight) and nothing beats watching the sun set through the masts of Fishing Boat Harbour. [9]
  • Rosie O'Grady's is a little Irish pub that serves both food and drinks. It is known for its brand of ales (James Squire) and its delicious food. On certain days if you are lucky, you will catch glimpse of some local bands playing and you can partake in a quiz/trivia night in hopes to win money! Lots of fun times at Rosie's if you're with a group of friends. [10]
  • The Cappuccino strip is a long section of streets in Fremantle itself where there are loads of cafes, some being very "upper class". It is located at the northern end of South Terrace.
  • X-Wray, 3/13 Essex St (Next to Luna Cinemas), +61 9430 9399. 7AM-10PM. The best casual cafe/tapas/bar in Fremantle. Eclectic style and food.Live music.Very cool.


Sleep

Budget

There are a couple of backpacker accommodations within walking distance of the train station.

  • Freo YHA - Backpackers Inn, 11 Pakenham St, +61 8 9431-7065, (a short walk from the train station), from 22 $ for a dorm including breakfast (for YHA members). All the usual amenities (Internet, laundry, self-cooking kitchen) available. Not all bunk beds are equally comfortable and they charge 5 $ for keeping your luggage on the day of check-out.

Mid-range

Freo Beach House is located across the road from Fremantle's beautiful South Beach and just a 1km walk to the town centre's boutique shops, cafés and restaurants. Beach lovers will find it ideal with its sea and marina views and stunning Indian Ocean sunsets. Unlike other B&Bs, FBH has your own suite of rooms for the price of a standard double. The price ranges from $99-$150 per night depending on the season (including a continental breakfast). [12] Email: stay@freobeachhouse.com

  • Quest Harbour Village, Mews Road Challenger Harbour, +61 (0)8 9430 3888, [13]. Features 54 serviced apartments in Fremantle (1-3 bedrooms). Located right on the quay in Challenger Harbour.

Splurge

  • The Esplanade Hotel - a charming and rather pricey place to stay. However it is definitely worth the price as it looks over the huge park that spans across. Its central location is also a plus, surrounded by things to do, things to see and places to eat.
  • Fothergills of Fremantle - Property dating from 1892 on the slope of Monument Hill overlooking the town to the Indian Ocean and with Rottnest Island on the horizon. The three grand two storey houses offer traditional accommodation and old style breakfast, Iris +61 8 9335 6784 18-22 Ord St [14] e-mail - fothergills@iinet.net.au
  • Port Mill Bed and Breakfast - located off the Cappucino Strip, still considered central, the old cottage style homestay provides a welcoming entrance. With a price range of $ 200 and above, this place promises you an opportunity to step back in time with its limestone architecture and unique interior. A stay at the bed & breakfast includes all the modern necessities and a continental breakfast. 3/17 Essex St, +61 8 9433 3832 [15]
  • Pier 21 Apartment Hotel (Modern Fremantle Accommodation), 7-9 John St N, [16]. Located on the banks of the Swan River, Pier 21 Apartment Hotel offers fully self contained one and two bedroom apartments with spectacular views.

Contact

Get out

  • Cottesloe Beach is a quiet beach with a pleasant footpath along Marine Parade with panoramic views over the Indian Ocean. Watch the sunset whilst sitting on one of many benches and the scores of surfers who are still there in winter months trying to catch waves. Head about 10 minutes north by car via the Sterling Highway.


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