Fremantle is the perfect getaway if you’re in Perth and looking for a day trip. Just a 30-minute drive or a 45-minute train ride and you’re in a different environment. There is a lot to see and do in Fremantle but it’s perfect for a nice beach day as well.
Fremantle is a port city located at the mouth of the Swan River. Most people refer to Fremantle as Freo. Australians like their abbreviations. Fremantle is usually a little bit cooler than Perth, so it’s a perfect escape for those hot summer days.
But it’s mostly the vibe of this town that makes it pleasant for a day trip. People are laid back and the town feels very nostalgic with a lot of old buildings that are beautifully decorated. So let’s dive in and see what Fremantle has to offer!
Fremantle Town Hall
In the city center, you’ll find the Fremantle Town Hall. It was built in 1887 to provide permanent accommodation for the Fremantle council. There is a statue of John Curtin who was the Prime Minister of Australia from 1941-1945.
The public library and the Justice of Peace are next to the Town Hall. You’ll find the visitor center here as well. They have maps of Fremantle but you could also book tours or rent an e-bike for the day. Don’t forget to pick up the Street Art Map because there is a lot of it in Fremantle, but it’s pretty hidden.
We spent some time there to discuss options for Rottnest island as you could take the ferry from Fremantle. It’s cheaper to go from Fremantle than from Perth. Unfortunately, there weren’t any sales at the time. But it’s worth checking in with the visitor center, just in case.
Australia started out as a penal colony for the British so it’s no surprise that there are a lot of prisons everywhere. But it took quite some time for the Swan region to accept convicts. It was one of the few free settlements. They only started taking convicts when they needed cheap labor to build up the region.
The Fremantle Prison was built between 1853-1855 and opened in 1855. It remained active until 1991 when it was finally closed due to its standards. People were still using buckets rather than toilets because the building wasn’t set up that way.
There is a large area you can visit for free and the information is very good. If you want a little more they offer tours throughout the prison as well, each with a different theme. Check at the entrance when they start. But walking around by yourself and taking in all the information gives you a pretty good image of life in this prison. They had a movie at the end with quotes on the walls which is very impressive.
Take a few minutes to let it all settle in and find a nice and quiet place to sit down, have a coffee or eat your lunch before you head back into the hustle and bustle of Fremantle.
It’s always nice when a city has a large park or just an area t escape the busy streets. The Esplanade Reserve in Fremantle is just that. There is a Tourist Wheel if you want to have a bit of a few over the park and harbor.
But mostly it’s just a lot of greenery and some benches, perfect for a little lunch break or a picnic. There is a playground for the kids as well. Dogs are allowed in the park. The reserve features about 100 mature Norfolk Island pines and the Explorers’ Monument.
We just sat down for a bit and enjoyed the shade because it was a pretty hot day. It gave us a chance to watch people play with their dogs and enjoy the sounds of kids having fun. The Tourist Wheel wasn’t for us, mainly because of the entry fee ($ 12 per person).
One of Fremantle’s main attractions is the Fremantle Markets, although it’s only open Friday till Sunday. It was established in 1897. This building is one of only two surviving municipal market buildings in Western Australia, and one of the few in Australia that continues to be used for its original purpose.
Nowadays there are about 150 stalls for craftspeople, fashion designers, and merchants in the historic Hall, and fresh food producers, vegetable growers, and food retailers in The Yard. Each week they feature quality live entertainment from some of Freo’s finest musos as well as emerging artists, buskers, and touring acts.
We love the vibe of (food) markets and never miss a chance to visit one even though we usually don’t buy anything. But the vibe of an old building, people having fun, and the energy of young artists or entrepreneurs has something you won’t find in a regular shopping mall.
If you’re in Fremantle around the holidays check the opening hours, because they might be open on different days giving you a chance to visit during the week.
The Round House was the first permanent building built in the Swan River Colony. Build in late 1830 and opened in 1831, it is the oldest building still standing in Western Australia. It was intended as a prison and had 8 cells.
In 1837 a tunnel was added at the request of the Fremantle Whaling Company. This made it easier to transport their catch to the city. The tunnel used to be 57 meters long but today it’s only 45 meters long. You can still walk through this tunnel to get to the beach or to the city.
Every day at 1 pm they set off the cannon on top of the Round House. You can visit the inside of the Round House by donating a golden coin. We couldn’t quite figure out how to get a golden coin, but when we went to the entrance it said any donations ($ 1 or $ 2 dollar coins) are appreciated.
The top of the Round House feels like you’re on board of a ship. You can spot the mast from everywhere and this is where the cannon is located as well. This spot is great for a view over the beach and bay on one side and the city on the other side.
If you’re done walking around town go check out Bathers Beach. It’s right next to the Round House. There is a boardwalk, a few restaurants, and a beach. They have public showers and you’ll find a couple of colorful changing rooms.
This serene bay is perfect for swimming, with the bay largely protected by two rock walls. Every Sunday at 3 pm the Bathers beach house has Sunset Sounds to make your beach visit even more laid back. You could book your beach lounges and beach tables with them as well.
Don’t forget to say hi to the statue on the boardwalk of a lady with a flower head cap, ready to dive into the ocean. Or just lay your towel on the beach and dip your toes in the water. The water is really clear but there might be a bit of seaweed depending on the tide.
A Perfect Day Trip to Fremantle
As you can tell Fremantle has a lot to offer. And this list isn’t complete, there is much more to do in Fremantle. The great thing is you can pick a couple of items to make it your personal perfect day trip to Fremantle.
We loved the vibe of Fremantle and I’m sure we’ll visit again to explore this city a little more. Especially on those beautiful summer days, Fremantle is a perfect escape. If you’re in Perth there is no excuse to skip Fremantle.
Have you been to Fremantle? What did you think and what is your favorite thing to do? Let us know in the comments.
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