Twice I have visited Perth and twice I have stayed in Fremantle. It has got everything any travel enthusiast would want to indulge in: good food, culture, history, nature, in whatever order you like. Last October was my second time in the city. We were invited to a friend’s wedding reception and since Australia is so far away from Mongolia, we decided to make a holiday trip out of it. This second time around we had more time to explore and were pleasantly surprised at the number of things to do in Fremantle. We enjoyed local bites (especially seafood!) and explored its streets full of neat, artsy shops and colonial architecture. Of course, we also had time for some good, old staples like Rottnest Island and the Fremantle Market. I feel this time I was travelling slow, sipping in every moment like a hot cup of green tea. Very conscious of what I saw and what I experienced. Paying attention to what felt special. So here are my 5 things you can’t miss in Freo!
How long are you planning on staying in Fremantle? If it’s more than a day, you definitely have to do a day trip to Rottnest Island. It’s the top activity on the list of things to do in Fremantle. The Island is pretty much a vacation spot, and you will love it because it is a beautiful location and because it’s the only place where you can see quokkas! Quokkas are the only marsupial endemic to Rottnest Island. They don’t exist anywhere else in Australia, but apparently they have a cousin in South Australia. People come to the island just the get the Instagram famous #quokkaselfie. If you visit for a day, you will probably only have time to go to some interesting lookouts on the island and pursue your quokka selfie mission. But if you stay longer (highly recommend if you can) you can also learn about the Island and its connection to history at the museum and explore lesser-known spots.
Walyalup Indigenous Centre
Although it took me a while to find this place, it was indeed a great find and my personal hidden gem. They offer city walking tours and a series of workshops to learn more about the Noongar people, the traditional owners of the region. The centre is run as part of a government initiative to promote and teach about local indigenous culture. Although I haven’t had the chance to participate in any of the workshops, I did join a walking tour. There is not much inside the centre to explore, just a few indigenous artefacts and some paintings; however, I highly recommend you get in touch with them and find out if there are any activities you can participate in since their programs don’t run every day. This should be on your list of things to do in Fremantle if you want to learn about indigenous culture.
I should also mention that if you are considering buying some aboriginal artwork, check what they have on display. They do not apply the fee that art galleries put on the artwork that they exhibit, so it may be a better deal for you. It definitely is for the artists.
The Swan River Colony was established in 1829 in what we know today as Fremantle. Even though it started off as a free colony its destiny changed in 1842 as it became a penal colony. There are many things to do in Fremantle related to colonial history, so take your pick. Immerse yourself into colonial architecture as you walk along Historic Cliff Street. Some of the colonial buildings in Freo were built by convicts, like the old Fremantle prison or the Lunatic Asylum (now an arts centre). I highly recommend you join the prison night tour (I did that tour on my first visit to Perth). It’s interesting and creepy in equal measure, and I think it is comparable to my visit to Alcatraz minus the views of San Francisco.
Another aspect of the historic part of the city is its role as a port since the beginning of its foundation. If you are interested in nautical paraphernalia, Freo has plenty to offer. I myself am not very interested in it, but I thought I would mention it since you might like it. 😉
By the way, there is a bus service called CAT with two lines and it is free, so there is no excuse not to visit different landmarks.
Support local artists in Fremantle
One of the charming aspects of Fremantle is the little independent shops that sell all sorts of items made by local artists. From paintings to jewellery, you can find about anything in a wide range of prices. While cruising the streets of the city centre, I noticed there was a campaign to promote local shops and artists, explaining their current situation. The truth is most artists struggle to live off of their art. Unfortunately, being an accomplished artist doesn’t mean high sales.
This campaign made me ponder the cost of souvenirs and mementoes. We are so used to buying cheap crap that we have forgotten the true value of things. Sure thing, hand-made pieces are more expensive than factory-produced goods. But think about the extra time, effort, love and care to produce a one-of-a-kind art piece. All that forms part of its value, don’t you think? If you can’t afford a 50 dollar hand-painted scarf, turn your head towards the 5$ watercolour postcard. I believe that would be more special than your standard made in China magnet.
Wherever I go I try to eat wholesome, natural and locally grown produce, and Fremantle excels at that. I was quite impressed by how many businesses pride themselves in offering local, organic and artisan products. A simple search on the web will give you a list of farm-to-table restaurants and cafes who will offer you tasty and healthy foods made with honest ingredients. Even just a walk around and you will see independent grocery shops with signs of their local produce. Furthermore, a lot of businesses take an active role in the green economy by implementing environmentally friendly strategies within the business. The fact that a whole city is attuned with these values is simply amazing.
There are many more things to do in Fremantle, so check out their official online travel guide and explore what this city has to offer. I am sure you will find the perfect fit for you.
On your next trip to Fremantle, what are you looking forward to doing?
Is there anything that you would totally do and it’s not on the list?
Let me know in the comment section below!
I had never heard of Fremantle! Looks lovely!
Glad you got to read about it, maybe one day you’ll get to explore it too 🙂
Everyone says Fremantle is lovely, I need to try and get over to Western Australia at some point! And Rottnest Island is on my list too. 😀
You definitely should! Its a super cute place 🙂
Oh my goodness!! I’ve been here! My aunt & uncle live in Perth and we visited here many times when I came with my mom in 2013. Such a unique place to visit. We loved the indoor market with all of the everlasting flowers hanging upside down. Rottnest Island is amazing – I could easily stay there exploring the island!
Hahaha! Awesome! Rottnest is the best, isn’t it?
Any post that involves Rottnest Island and Quokkas makes me happy! They are SUCH cute little fellas!
I totally agree about souvenirs too. We always aim to buy things made my local artisans or artists, so now our home is filled with artworks that remind us of holidays. 🙂
It’s great that you buy local! I think it the souvenir becomes more significant when you do so.
I’ve never been to Australia but this post has me really wanting to plan a trip. And I always love finding businesses that are reducing their plastic!
I find Australians are super eco-friendly gemerally speaking and for me it was a joy to see so many businesses being proactive in waste reduction.
Fremantle looks like such a fun & off the beaten path destination. Any place on the water has my vote… and how adorable are those quokkas!??!!?
The whole Western Australia is off-the-beaten path, but once you go there it wins you over. And quokkas are da best!
As an Aussie I am kind of embarrassed to say that I have never been to Perth (thats kind of a lie – My mum went when she was pregnant with me so I guess I was there in a way!! lol)
Anyway, it is on my bucket list for sure. Rottness sounds amazing!
Then, as an Aussie, you definitely need to go to WA. It will blow your mind 😉
Never been to that part of the world but would love to go. Thanks for sharing all the information. It is a very nicely written post!!
Thank you :). Australia is an awesome place to visit.
I am a big fan of fremantle! And you covered it well – Rottnest Island is defintely the highlight!
Glad you liked it!
I have been to Perth and Fremantle and hope to visit again soon. I didn’t see the Quokas though, so hope to see the cute little animals next time.
You should definitely go to Rottnest Island!
I have never been to Fremantle! Also, I love Quokas! They always look so so happy. So many cute animals there.
Quakkas are very cute, indeed.
Fremantle is such a fun and cute city. I love the street art and the downtown area. Rottnest Island is a must.
I agree with you, Fremantle is super cute, artsy and bohemian all at the same time.
When I was in Australia in 2017 I spent a week in Fremantle with friends who lived there. It ended up being my favourite part of Australia. Rottnest Island was so beautiful, and I also visited a kangaroo sanctuary there that was tons of fun. I wish I’d known about Walyalup Indigenous Centre – I’m keeping this in mind for when I hopefully have a chance to go back.
I only found the Indigenous Centre because I made a point to have a tour with an indigenous guide and finally found what I was looking for. Unfortunately, it is not very well advertised and only locals interested in Indigenous Culture know of it.
I haven’t been to Australia yet, I only ever heard about “major” cities, it’s the first time I read something about Fremantle! It was a very interesting read to get an idea of what it is like, I hope I can visit one day!
I know! Everybody thinks Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, but Australia has many beautiful hidden corners. And WA is the way to go! 🙂
I’ve never heard of Freemantle and now I really want to go! We definitely have Australia on our bucket list and we’ll have to make Freemantle part of our trip. Loved your photos and details and thank you for sharing!
The West Coast is usually off the radar of foreign tourists because is so far away from everything else, but I highly recommend it, especially if you go with children since it is a less touristy area and you feel like there is more space to yourselves.
I’ve been living in Melbourne for the past 2 years and I am embarrassed to admit I have never made it to the west and I even have family in Perth! I’ve ehard lots of good things about Freemantle and I can see why. There is lots to do! I’m hoping to sell my car and buy a van to travel Aus with and hopefully make it over that way soon!
A road trip along the South Coast would be amaaaaaaaaaaaaaazing!
I would love to visit Western Australia one day! I have been to the east coast twice, but would love to explore other areas like Perth, Fremantle and Rottnest Island 🙂 The local arts and gift shops look like perfect places to bring some souvenirs home!
I highly recommend the West Coast! Where are you from?
Oh my goodness! I’d go just for the Quokkas. I’ve never even heard of Fremantle…so now I’m very intrigued! Thanks for the tips!
Quokkas are awesome! I think Fremantle is not so heard of because the East Coast is more famous for foreigners. But you should definitely try the West Coast one day if you want to go off the beaten path.
I loved driving down to Freo on the weekends when I lived in Perth! It’s such a beautiful place and right on the water. I especially loved the farmer’s market!
I didn’t make a big fuss about the farmers market but it totally is a must!
I can’t wait for the borders to open again as I would love to take my kids to go and see the Quokkas. And seriously, only in Australia would we build a statue for one of the country’s legends, Bon Scott!
haha, I didn’t even know about Bon Scott until you mentioned him. Where are you guys based? Hope things start to ease off soon.
Australia will be my next big trip =) I will definitely go to Fermo! Didnt know it was so cool! thanks for sharing 🙂
The whole of Australia is fantastic, but I think the west coast is highly underrated and you can find top-notch adventures there. If you are on the West Coast, I definitely encourage you to stay in Freo for a couple of days.
Sounds like a great place!
Thanks for sharing so many awesome pictures of my home town! I’m stuck in Victoria, but once we can travel again I’ll be heading to Freemantle for summer 😉 Make sure to checkout the submarine museum too, worth a visit.
Hey! Thanks for the message! there is still so much about Fremantle that I have not seen!mI will make sure I go to the submarine museum 😉 I hope you are doing okay in Victoria
I have never heard of Fremantle, but when I go back to Australia I’ll have to check it out! I miss living in that beautiful country.
Supporting local artists and eating good food are two activities that I love! I would love to check out the Swan River Colony as well!
I would love to visit Perth. Love the historical aspects and love the idea of supporting local artists.
Never heard of this location very interesting! -Tay http://www.seauxtailored.com
Looks like a beautiful town. Love that it is so easy to spot dolphins! Also, the Indigenous Centre sounds really interesting. Thank you for sharing!