Why does anyone go to Fremantle? It's nothing but markets, pubs and a snippet of the most interesting history Australia has. A better question might be who wouldn't go to Fremantle?
Fremantle has character right from the start. Classic Victorian buildings have been very well maintained to their original standard. It's got a charming and funky vibe, with local breweries and characters wandering around the markets.
There is a lot to get stuck into in Fremantle including locally made beer, Fremantle Prison, a wharf and the Markets.
This city was built by convicts in the 1800's and has a classic old school charm. It's clean, friendly and a fine place to begin delving into Western Australian history.
The city is uniquely interesting in how well it has maintained it's history, including the its Victorian history, maritime history and the troublesome history of the Fremantle Prison. Convict labor from the Fremantle prison actually built much of the city in the early days, including the Round House and the prison itself.
Opened in 1885, the Town Hall is located in the center of town, and surrounded by cafe's and pedestrian malls, which probably were not put there by convict labor. The markets and café's are particularly lively on Sundays, when it seems the whole city descends onto Freo for a beautiful day in town. Don't bother driving in town, you won't get anywhere. Find the first parking spot on the road and start walking. Buskers and artists abound as folks walk and people watch.
The night scene in Freo takes place on the main streets of the town center. Most restaurants have outdoor or patio seating which get filled with locals and travelers starting their night. My preferences are the local breweries like Monk and Sail & Anchor which have a great selection of locally made craft beers.
The localest of local Fremantle beers is Little Creatures, with the best location of the lot, although not directly in town it is on the wharf and has a reputation for great food and even better pints. The place has a front porch, back porch, upstairs and the main restaurant area(displayed above). It's packed to the rafters and they can't seat people fast enough. It's popular for a reason, but ironically after 8 pints you start to forget that reason.
The wharf in Fremantle is a great place for food and drink with other places to feed up on. Cicerello's is great to check out if for no other reason than the huge saltwater fish tank they have inside.
Fremantle Prison is one of the best examples of Australia's convict pass, and perhaps the most recent. The prison only went out of service in 1991, after many of its inhumane living conditions came to light. The convict era helps define Australian history and a the Fremantle Prison is not to be missed.
The Maritime Museum was the other slice of WA history, with the actual hull of the Batavia in a temperature controlled room to prevent further deterioration of the infamous ship that ran aground on the Abrolhos Islands, located off the shores north of Perth. The Freo Maritime Museum also has an extensive collection of recovered artifacts and treasure from other shipwrecks.
Fremantle is a city with its own personality and it deserves a bit of attention. Spend a few days exploring the prison, architecture, markets and of course, the breweries.
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