Fremantle is a quaint port city in Western Australia. The city is located near Perth at the mouth of Swan River. Fremantle, which is affectionately called Freo, features several well-preserved 19th century buildings and sites.
Fremantle Historic Sites
Like many historic cities in Australia, Fremantle started as a British settlement and soon after was home to numerous convicts. The architectural heritage of the city is reliant upon those convicts, with buildings constructed by the convicts themselves or jails built to imprison them.
The Round House is the oldest intact building in Western Australia. It was built as a jail with eight cells and a residence for the gaoler (jailer) in the early 1830s. The rooms are built around a central open courtyard. The structure is built on top of Arthur Head at the western end of High Street, providing a great view overlooking Bathers Beach and the Indian Ocean. Guides share the location’s history on tours through the building. Alternatively, you can wander about on your own and read the information placards peppered throughout the rooms. The canon is fired daily at 1 p.m. The Round House is open from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily, except Christmas and Good Friday.
As more convicts arrived in Fremantle, the Round House quickly became much too small to house them all. So Fremantle Prison was built some 20 years later. The jail was still operating until 1991, meaning it was continuously used for incarceration for nearly 140 years. It is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Entry to the gatehouse is free and includes a gift shop, the prison gallery and a visitor center. Several paid tours are also available throughout the day for different experiences of exploring the area. The prison is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with hours extended to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Friday for night tours.
The Fremantle Markets were opened in 1897. The Victorian-era building houses more than 150 stalls. The markets are still bustling with vendors peddling handicrafts, antiques, specialty foods, produce and meat. Buskers are often at the markets to perform their acts, including magic shows, comedic acts and musical performances. The market is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.
Fishing Boat Harbour
The Fishing Boat Harbour is a popular tourist destination with several shops, restaurants and adventure tours. It is the place to charter a sailing tour or jump aboard a high speed jet boat. The WA Maritime Museum and the WA Shipwreck Museum are for maritime archaeology enthusiasts.
The harbour is also home to local Little Creatures Brewery. The brewery is located in a large old boat shed with several cute and varied seating areas located in the interior as well as the front and back patios. While the location is quite large, it is also very popular, so it can be a bit of a wait to find an open seat on weekends. But it is worth the wait for the tasty beer and delicious food. Little Creatures is open from 10 a.m. until late Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. until late Saturday and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday.
Fremantle is about a 30 minute drive from central Perth. Local train and bus services also travel from Perth to Fremantle. The train ride from Perth to Fremantle via the Fremantle Line takes about 30 minutes and costs just under $5. Bus 114 leaves from Elizabeth Quay Bus Station, and the journey is about 35 minutes and just under $5. Captain Cook Cruises also offers a few different Swan River Cruise ferries to Fremantle. Check their site for more details.
To get around Fremantle, hop on one of the Fremantle CAT (Central Area Transit) buses. CAT is a free bus service that operates within Fremantle’s central business district. The services run everyday, except Good Friday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. The hours of operation are 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. weekends and public holidays.