Fremantle Travel Guide
Fremantle, or 'Freo' to the natives, is a port city of Western Australia, a few miles from its capital, Perth; but certainly not overshadowed by it, as our Fremantle travel guide will show. It was named after an English naval captain who arrived on HMS Challenger in 1829 to set up the first colony there. From then Fremantle became the port of entry to Australia and migrants arrived there in their millions, so people all over Australia remember Freo with affection.
It is a city of great diversity but which has nevertheless retained many heritage features, including many notable 19th century buildings, which are now National Trust sites. The oldest building in Western Australia is the Round House at Fremantle, originally built as a prison and with many gruesome stories attached to it. It includes a whalers' tunnel, which is a passageway down to Bathers Beach and is now a museum operated by volunteers. A canon is fired daily at one o' clock, and a time-ball dropped from the fort's mast, reviving the old tradition by which mariners set their timepieces.
The town's rich seafaring history can be traced in the Maritime Museum with its haunting Shipwreck Gallery; submarine tour and numerous naval exhibits both ancient and modern, while a reminder of the harsh penalties for falling foul of the law can be had from a tour of the old Fremantle Jail, built by convict labour in the days when the area was known as the Swan River Colony. A maximum security prison, it housed some of the most notorious convicts to be deported to Australia. What is now the Arts Centre and Fremantle Museum was once a women’s mental asylum and there is also a motor museum and military history museum for those who like to totally immerse themselves in the past.
But Fremantle is not all about history and the aim of our tourism and travel information is to provide an all round glimpse of the city. There are many interesting shops and markets around Fremantle selling local crafts and souvenirs as well as Western Australia's first fish and chip shop and one of Australia's best didgeridoo shops where, if you are lucky, you will hear a demonstration and if ultra lucky, be able to test your didgeridoo skills for yourself. You will be exhausted afterwards so Cappuccino Strip is a row of open air coffee shops where you can sit and contemplate the next part of your tour.
This of course must include a visit to Rottnest Island (a blissfully quiet, car-free zone) to explore the marine life which abounds its crystal waters, or just relax on the pristine beaches. Be warned, however, you may find yourself sharing your sunbathing spot with a quokka (like a small wallaby) which is the resident marsupial of Rottnest Island. We did warn you that Fremantle was a place of great diversity!