Twice I have visited Perth and twice I have stayed in Fremantle. This coastal city in Perth’s Metropolitan Area is a vibrant spot for the curious traveller who wants to explore a different part of the city. There are plenty of things to do in Fremantle, but as a sustainable traveller, I was extra thrilled to know that Fremantle is home to a number of eco-friendly and cultural attractions and activities. From exploring its indigenous culture to sampling its local produce, there are plenty of ways to enjoy this beautiful city as a mindful traveller.

If your accommodation is not in Fremantle, it is well worth it to a day trip from Perth. You will fall in love with its slow, artsy vibe, and its historical significance.

Things to do in Fremantle, Western Australia for the responsible traveller like Rottnest Island, Walyalup aboriginal Centre, ecofriendly and local shops
Fremantle in Western Australia has much to offer, from a day trip to Rottnest Island to a day tour with the Indigenous Centre. Fremantle is in both indigenous and colonial history. There are many local, eco-friendly businesses that promote responsible travel and ethical practices.

Visit Rottnest Island

If you are going to spend just one day in Fremantle, let this be your main activity. Rottnest Island is one hidden gem in Western Australia you cannot miss. It’s the top activity on Fremantle’s list of things to do. The Island is pretty much a vacation spot, and you will love it because it is a beautiful location and 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 although, 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 are lucky to spend one weekend in Rottnest Island, you will have time to explore lesser known spots and visit their history museum.

Hop on the CAT bus line to get around Fremantle. It’s free!

Take a tour with the Walyalup Indigenous Centre

Walyalup welcome brochure

Although it took me a while to find this place, it was indeed a great find and my personal hidden gem in Fremantle. The Walyalup Indigenous Centre offers 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 main building, 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 indigenous artists. 

Learn more about the Historical Fremantle

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 in 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.

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 at 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.  

Because of all the above mentioned, I firmly believe that buying special mementoes is one of the must things to do in Fremantle.

Visiting local shops and scouting for a unique, handmade local memento is one of the things you can do in Freo. Fremantle has a lot of amazing artists with beautiful, affordable art.
One of the many shops in Fremantle where you can find beautiful mementos to take home

Eat honest, wholesome food

 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 offering you tasty and healthy foods made with honest ingredients. Even just a walk around you will see independent grocery shops with signs of their local produce. Furthermore, many 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.

I hope this list has gotten you hyped and you choose to stay in Fremantle or at least visit for a day. 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!

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50 Comments

  1. 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!

  2. 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. 🙂

  3. 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!

    1. 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.

  4. 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!??!!?

  5. 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!

  6. 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!!

  7. 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.

  8. Fremantle is such a fun and cute city. I love the street art and the downtown area. Rottnest Island is a must.

  9. 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.

    1. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

    1. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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!

  14. 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!

    1. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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!

  17. Australia will be my next big trip =) I will definitely go to Fermo! Didnt know it was so cool! thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. 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.

  18. 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.

    1. 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

  19. 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.

  20. 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!

  21. I would love to visit Perth. Love the historical aspects and love the idea of supporting local artists.

  22. 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!

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