Recently I took Vera the Vespa out during my lunch break and went to Fremantle, Perth’s port city. The journey took me to the Fishing Boat Harbour, Little Creatures and Bathers Beach and then back down South Terrace to South Beach.
After challenging myself to write a post about my home city I’m realising again what a beautiful place it is.
Fishing Boat Harbour
Historically Fremantle has been, and it continues to be a place that has benefited from immigration. Many people who arrived by boat in the early days, stayed.
Some of this colour is reflected at the Fishing Boat Harbour which does double duty as a restaurant destination and a fisherman’s port. When Perth businessman and colourful Perth identify Alan Bond first won the America’s Cup in 1983 from the New York Yacht club who had held it for 132 years. Then four years and a bit later the race came to Fremantle – in 1987 – and the it transformed Fremantle. Slightly to the chagrin of those who lived there.
When the world’s yacht racing elite descended on Fremantle, the sleeping city raised its head had a look around, and after the festivities ended went back to sleep but with a new hair do. Part of the new ‘do’ was the Fishing Boat Harbour. The area was enclosed by wooden promenades, restaurants built and nearby hotels renovated.
The two big fishing families own the established restaurants – Cicerellos and Kailis Brothers. Both great places to take the family for a feed of fish and chips. Alongside these is an icecream parlour and other restaurants.
Little Creatures Brewery is a few steps to the south. It is a boutique brewery that started in 2000 at the very beginning of the micro-brewery trend.
It is our ambition to change all that, to become an open and transparent Brewery that welcomes all walks of life to experience the wonder of brewing. Come on down, say hi and explore our little piece of brewing happiness.
This is the statement of the founders of Little Creatures and strangely its true. I’ve never visited and felt out of place. I’ve been with mates, with my Granny and visitors from all over the world. It has been brought by a global brewer, but has retained its charm.
You can book a tour of the brewery, or simply soak up the slightly left of centre vibe.
Alongside Little Creatures and also owned by them is the recently re-branded Helm. Great place for week night meal out, enjoying a quiet drink and meal as the sun sets over the fishing boats and docks.
Bon Scott’s statue
OK, so it is true that the lead singer of one of Australia’s biggest exports (ACDC) lived in Fremantle. Is he Scottish? I’m pretty sure he is Scottish by birth . A story that I like to believe is true, but as far as I know is not supported by facts, is that the famous ‘Highway to Hell’ is Canning Highway. Bon Scott wrote the song and he used to sing at the Leopold Hotel which is on Canning Hwy. It is one of the main roads connecting Fremantle to the rest of Perth. And coincidentally a road that I use to live next to.
When I sing along “No stop signs, speed limit. Nobody’s gonna slow me down. I’m on the Highway to Hell … I’m on the Highway to Hell …” I think of the fairly pleasant four lane, tree lined road that is riddled with traffic lights – Canning Highway, and have a little laugh on the inside.
Anyway, Bon Scott has a statue at Fishing Boat Harbour and is buried in Fremantle cemetery.
Upwind of Kailis Brothers and a short walk is Bathers Beach. There is a restaurant and bar on the beach and you can sit there enjoying the ambience or go down onto the quiet beach and enjoy some sunshine and the water.
First established in 1897, the Fremantle Markets have been trading now for more than 120 years – almost as long as the Americas Cup stayed with the New York Yacht Club. There have been ebbs and flows in the markets’ success. For example, part of it was demolished when they no longer needed space to house the horses used for transport. In the early 1970’s it underwent a refurbishment and became it is now.
It is heritage listed and the listing includes the Sail & Anchor Hotel which is next door and the Norfolk Hotel across the road.
The markets are open Friday, Saturday and Sunday only. It’s a great place to stock up on fruit & veg, to enjoy a meal from one of the many eateries or to browse.
Outside the Centre of Fremantle
All of these places are within walking distance of the train station. If you have transport you can also go north (across the bridge over the Swan River), and hang out at Leighton Beach or the café strip on Queen Victoria Street.
You can go to East Fremantle and George Street, or head down to what is affectionately known as ‘The Leftie’, a large pub on the Swan River.
Or you can go south.
Take a turn down the South Terrace café strip. Actually, no. Get up early in the summer, head to South Beach for a swim and then go to one of the many cafes on South Terrace for a lazy coffee.
Try any of the following, or take your pick of any of the other restaurants, bars and cafes on the strip.
Port City Roasters
Ootong and Lincoln
Ruoccos Pizzeriea e ristorante
To name a few, and be sure to take in the very impressive trompe l’oeil mural on the Furniture Warehouse
Fremantle residents are fiercely loyal and parochial. Word on the street is that you either come from Fremantle and you never go outside the city – why would you? – or you don’t and you never go inside the city because it is so contained.
Ok, broadbrush but there is some truth in it.
I havn’t even mentioned the many museums or the galleries.
Fremantle Prison – built from limestone by the prisoners themselves and only closed down in 1991. Now you can do scary tours of the premises at night, complete with bodies and strange lights.
Maritime Museum – shaped like a giant fish on the south mole of the Port. Worth a visit and if you do – be sure to climb through the submarine.
Fremantle Arts Centre – has been at times a lunatic asylum and a maritime museum. Another of Fremantle’s limestone buildings which now houses a gallery featuring exhibitons of world reknown artists, arts workshops performance spaces and an excellent café.
The Round House – It was the original prison in the late 1800’s, and after that for a while was the home of the chief constable and his family. Mainly interesting now because of its location – sandwiched between a railway line and the water, and walking distance from Bathers Beach.
If you look carefully at the photo of the exterior you’ll notice Vera the Vespa parked out front.
Fremantle is home to many of Western Australia’s prominent artist and
- Glen Cowans studio located at the Round House
- Kidogo Art House and Art Institute
- Japingka Gallery
& the various exhibitions at the Fremantle Arts Centre
As well as Little Creatures, try –
- The Sail & Anchor
- The Norfolk
- The Left Bank (‘The Leftie’)
- The Tradewinds (‘The Tradie’)
- The Local
And many more.
There’s a lot to love in Fremantle, … but be careful because you might not want to leave!
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