How to Spend a Day in Fremantle

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How to spend a day in Fremantle

I didn’t know much (ok, anything) about Fremantle before a recent trip to Western Australia. However, I had come across the very intriguing Fremantle Prison, and knew it had to be on my itinerary when I was out west. However, I thought I’d head over to Fremantle, spend a few hours visiting the historical convict site, and then return to Perth. Boy, was I wrong. I was blown away by how amazing Fremantle was, and had an incredible day of exploring, photographing, and wandering around aimlessly (one of the best ways to see a place, in my opinion).

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The Fremantle boardwalk.

Turns out Fremantle was named one of the top 10 cities to visit in 2016 by Lonely Planet, even beating out Rome! (Rome claimed spot 10, Fremantle 7- sorry Colloseum, not today.) In the words of Lonely Planet, Fremantle:

“Fremantle thrums with live-music rooms, hipster bars, boutique hotels, left-field bookshops, craft-beer breweries, Indian Ocean seafood shacks, buskers, beaches and students on the run from the books.”

The National Hotel, a shining example of Fremantle’s heritage architecture.

For me, I loved the old port city for its colonial and convict architecture, quirky shops, cafes,and bars, the rich history, and the beautiful seafront. Only a half-hour train ride from Perth, a day in ‘Freo’, as the locals call it, is well worth an addition to your itinerary.

Here’s how to spend the perfect day in Fremantle.

How to Get There

From Perth’s CBD, head to Perth Station and buy a ticket to Fremantle- look for the Fremantle Line, and the train ride takes about 30-35 minutes, providing scenic ocean views along the way, Tickets can be bought at the machines outside the station, and are about $7.40 return for adults. Trains depart frequently throughout the day- consult Transperth for more details.

You can also travel up the Swan River by ferry, which takes longer but offers beautiful views and commentary along the way. A range of ferry operators offer this trip. Driving is also an easy option, with parking (generally paid) available in town.

Fremantle Prison

If you arrive by train, head up the hill through town and make your way to Fremantle Prison, situated on the town’s highest hill.

Any trip to Fremantle should include some time at Fremantle Prison. I’ve written a thorough review of it here, but the prison is a World Heritage site, built by convict labour. Yes, as in the convicts were forced to build their own prison. Construction began in 1852, and it continued as an active prison up until 1991. Guided tours are the best way to experience the facility, and to learn about the history, cruelty, and even escapes that occurred throughout the prison’s occupation.

Maritime Museum and Roundhouse

Back towards the seafront, you’ll find the Roundhouse and the Maritime Museum, two great places to visit. The Roundhouse is the oldest public structure still standing in WA, and was the original convict prison, before the much larger Fremantle Prison was ready. Admission is by gold coin donation, so worth popping in to have a look around.

The WA Maritime Museum, aptly located in a port city, is chock full of exhibits on maritime history, archaeology, ships and submarines, and special travelling exhibits. I actually didn’t have time to visit on my recent trip, which was unfortunate, but I will next time. If it’s anything like the Sydney Maritime Museum, it would be great for anyone with an interest in history and Australia’s seafaring past.

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Little Creatures- great beer on the water.

Little Creatures Brewery

After a morning of sightseeing,  you’ve probably worked up an appetite. Stroll along the waterfront over to Little Creatures, one of Australia’s first micro-breweries to really gain a national following. Grab a table outside and enjoy the views, the funky decor, and incredibly delicious craft beer and food. You can also join in on a tour of the brewery, complete with samples. Their hand-cut french fries are perfect, for what it’s worth.

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Mmmm…

Fremantle seaside

After lunch, enjoy a walk along the harbour. The sprawling boardwalk offers scenic views, complete with snippets of history via information plaques, seafood restaurants, and a glimpse into Fremantle’s importance, from a maritime perspective. It’s really relaxing and a perfect spot to watch the world go by, take photos, or enjoy an afternoon snack.

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Cicerello’s, a harbourside classic for fish and chips.

Cafes and shops

Heading back to the train station, take a look through town at the incredible architecture and the unique bookshops, pubs, and cafes that are sprinkled throughout town. Check out some cafe recommendations here and shopping tips here.

If you’re also planning a trip to Rottnest Island, consider spending the night in Fremantle. The ferries offer pick-ups from both Perth and Fremantle, but the trip from Fremantle to the island is a lot shorter than from Perth.

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Colouful huts along the water.

Have you been to Fremantle? What did you think?

10 Comments

  1. Love Little Creatures they make some great beers. We recently visit their Geelong Brewery near Melboure its an awesome facility. In Geelong White Rabbit brewery is also onsite. Is White Rrabbit in Fremantle? Fremantle Jail looks amazing my Dad and brother visited a few years ago and said it was great way to spend a few hours. I bet the weather was great as it always is in W.A

    1. Oh nice, yes the weather was perfect! WA seems to always have sunny days! I am not sure about White Rabbit, it might well be, but unfortunately I only had a day there, so didn’t get to see as much as I would have liked- will have to go back 🙂

  2. Nice bit of history but voted #7 by Lonely Planet and so close to Perth! I can see why now…especially for the young at heart traveler.

  3. Wow, this looks like a fascinating area! I’ve read your review on the Fremantle Prison, and I think I’d love to see that the next time I’m in that part of the world! Thanks for your post 🙂

  4. Fremantle prison must make for quite a memorable visit – to be able to experience what it was like inside for the convicts and see the whipping post, gallows, and solitary confinement cells…and not that far back in time either!

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