Fremantle is an intriguing place. A Port City just 20 minutes south of the Western Australian Capital, Perth, it has grown into one of the most popular tourist centres in the state in recent years. And what has been the cause of this? Well, like I said, its an intriguing place- it catches the interest of visitors and tourists. It has an eclectic and cosmopolitan blend of people living there, a colourful mix of hippies, yuppies and artists that lend the city a distinctive creative flair. Underlying this is a strong Southern European influence that gives no end of depth to the culinary and entertainment cultures in Fremantle. This is a fun city - plenty of great places to eat combined with plenty of bars and nightclubs to dance the night away in make for exciting times.
Fremantle is not just about the party vibe though. It has a rich, thrilling history that its very proud of - a history that is well represented, both in the numerous heritage buildings throughout the city (the largest collection in Western Australia) and in the world class museums that seem to be around every corner. The rows of historic buildings lie side by side with extensive grassy parks, many of which converge onto the seashore, interspersed with graciously built modern hotels. There are a number of walks you can take to appreciate not just the heritage buildings but also the beauty of Fremantle. One such walk follows the East Fremantle Heritage Trail, a popular three kilometre walk through East Fremantle that goes past a bunch of heritage buildings like the old Post Office and Police Station, and a few historic hotels too.
One museum you should not miss is the WA Maritime Museum, which is definitely up there as one of the best museums in Australia. It has a remarkable display of artefacts brought up from various wrecks on the bottom of the Indian Ocean, but the highlight is the reconstructed Dutch Ship Batavia, which sank in 1629 off the WA coast. The museum is a shining tribute to the maritime history of this section of the coast, and well worth a look. Also worth a look is the Fremantle Prison, which was built by convicts in the 1850's and used as a place of incarceration until 1991. In 1992 it was named a heritage building, and opened to the public as a tourist site. Today guided tours will take you through the cells and there is also a museum on site containing artefacts relating to the convict history of Fremantle.
Another 'must do' are the Fremantle Markets. These are located in South Terrace, the heart of the 'Cappuccino Strip'. On this strip, coffee houses, restaurants and pubs abound, and the air is filled with the idle chatter of shoppers resting their legs and enjoying the buzz of the cafe culture here. The markets are housed in an old heritage listed Victorian building, where over 150 stalls sell purvey foods, crafts and gifts from all over the world. The markets have created a unique atmosphere of their own, one that has been forged by the creative freedom allowed to buskers and other artists who display their talents to the crowds. A visit to the markets is not just a mere trip out to the shops, its a cultural experience like no other.
For a real Australian cultural experience to top off your visit to the markets head down to the Little Creatures Brewery on Mews Road. This micro-brewery is situated in a massive converted boat shed, right on the water. Many different kinds of beer are actually brewed in the shed, as can be witnessed by the large vats behind the bar. You get to choose your drink right out of the vat it was brewed in! The spacious boat shed contains long tables where you can sit and order from the quintessentially Australian menu. Its a very casual and fun place for an evening out, and because theres so much room bookings arent essential- just wander on in and enjoy the Little Creatures hospitality.
The fresh way it combines history with the present, coupled with the artistic take on life the Fremantle residents have all add to the buzz of this city. Its a refreshing place to visit, a place that helps get you excited about simply being alive. So the next time you're in Western Australia, choose discovery-carhire in Perth and make the short drive down to Fremantle and do some exploring. You wont regret it!