By Jade Johnston
So, you are visiting Perth, the capitol of Western Australia. You have already visited the main sights of Perth CBD, and perhaps even taken a day trip out to the wonderful food and wine region that is the Swan Valley. So now what?
No trip to Perth is complete, without a visit to Fremantle. Fremantle can be easily accessed from Perth via the city’s great public train line.
Fremantle is famous as a day tripping destination not only for tourists to Perth, but also for all the city dwellers wanting to get away from the bustle of the CBD. Blessed with good food and drink, plenty of waterfront, and oodles of great boutiques, shops, and galleries – Fremantle will easily keep you occupied for a day or two.
Morning – Fremantle Markets
If you are coming from Perth, the train will only cost you a few dollars from central Perth. This is the same train line which also passes Cottesloe beach. If you were not able to visit the beach on the 24 hour guide to Perth, you may want to stop off here in the morning before heading on to Fremantle.
When you arrive in Fremantle and begin to walk into the central CBD area, you will pass by some really great boutique gift, food, and clothing shops. Stop and do a bit of window shopping now if you want, or you can wait until after you visit the information centre to grab one of their specifically tailored maps.
The information centre offers free maps with walking tours of Fremantle, with something to interest everyone. There is an art gallery walk, a shopping walk, and even a beer and wine walk, among many others. (Stay tuned for our in depth guide to Fremantle breweries – coming soon!)
After you kit yourself up with a bundle of information, head straight to the central Fremantle markets. These indoor markets offer pretty much everything under the soon. From fresh fruit and veg, to art and souvenirs, to great little eateries. Don’t miss the cupcakery. Just don’t.
Early Afternoon – Fremantle Prison
After a hearty breakfast at the markets, you may want to cross over the the Sail and Anchor to relax with some of their premium beers. Or maybe just across the street to the atmospheric Monk brewery… Full reviews of both these breweries coming soon!
After you are sufficiently fed and watered from the markets, head up the hill to the Fremantle prison. Western Australia was not forced to have convict labour, but instead they chose it. The Fremantle prison was built in 1831 and was used up until 1991 when a scandal involving a riot, arson, and a fire truck not being able to fit though the front gates forced it into closure.
The prison offers several types of tours daily, and it offers a great insight into what life was like for these convicts. Some of the most surprising things for me was that people who were late paying their parking fines, and multiple murderers were both housed in this building, late into the 20th century. When you see just how basic, and old the prison is, you will understand my shock.
Tours range in cost between $18.50 and $59. One of the best tours available is the tunnels or the torchlight tour.
Lunch – Fish and Chips
When I asked for tips on OurOyster.com’s facebook page for Fremantle, the masses all cried out that Fish and Chips at the wharf were not to be missed. (Thanks to Mel, Peter, Lis from LisTravelTips, Christopher, and Coral for the great tips! ) The helpful ladies at the tourist information office pointed us in the direction of several award winning restaurants, but in the end we chose to go to Cicerellos. This venue is not only right on the water, but their award winning fish and chips are available even to those on a strict budget. The portions are also huge, so Lauren and I were able to share one serving and still be more than satisfied.
After enjoying a late lunch at Cicerellos you may want to head over to the Little Creatures brewery to sample some of their unique beers (full review coming soon in the guide to Fremantle beer), or you might want to take a break in the nearby park.
After a full day of markets and historical tours, relax your soul with a short tour of some of Fremantle’s great offering of art galleries.
Alternatively, for those not artistlcally inclined, a great way to aid in the digestation of your fish and chips is a walk along the waterfront. Fremantle’s waterfront has great walking paths, a great way to enjoy the golden hour as the sun lowers over Fremantle – one of Perth’s cutest little suburbs.
For those wanting to check out Fremantle, but who want to stay inside of Perth, a good accommodation option is Old Swan Barracks. This hostel is conveniently located in Northbridge only a few minutes walk from the train station from where you can catch a train to Fremantle. Our stay was sponsored by Base Backpackers, who provided the base jumping cards which we redeemed for our accommodation at Old Swan Barracks.