Fremantle or “Freo” as the backpacker who hasn’t washed her hair in three weeks, but is somehow still the prettiest girl you have ever seen will call it, is Perth’s coolest suburb. It’s easily accessible from most of the Perth metro area by rail, making it the perfect place to poke around if you’re itching to get out of the city.
There aren’t too many reasons a tourist will find themselves in Perth.
They might be on a big outback tour, heading up the west coast to Exmouth, the Ningaloo Reef, and even the Kimberly, or down across the Nullabor to Esperance and beyond. Or maybe they’re a backpacker, looking to catch a break from Australia’s high cost of living and save more for traveling.
Whatever the reason, there are plenty of cool things to do near Perth. And a day (or two) in Freo should be at the top of the list.
Best Things To Do In Fremantle, Western Australia
I hope you have the best time ever in Freo. Grab a Dingo Flour t-shirt, enjoy a few donuts, and bask in the laid-back vibe. Here are the best things to do in Fremantle, whether you have a few hours, a few days, or even a few weeks.
This post is a part of my Outback Road Trip series.
Getting to Fremantle, Western Australia
Fremantle is easy to get to from Perth. Just take a train to Fremantle station, which is only a short stroll away from most of the things you’ll want to see anyway. For example:
Bridal Train, the Waifs 2004
All the girls around Australia,
Married to a yankee sailor,
Your fare is paid across the sea,
To the home of the brave,
And the land of the free,
From west to east the young girls came,
All aboard the bridal train,
It was a farewell crossing of their land,
She’s gone to meet her sailor man,
no time for sad good byes,
She held her mother as she cried,
Then waited there in the freo rain,
To climb aboard the bridal train,
Well she was holding her future in her hand,
A faded photo of a man,
Catch a sailor if you can,
The war bride leaves her southern land,
Bit of a fun historical fact, many Australian young women married American service members during World War II. After the war, the government arrange for the war brides to be picked up from across Australia on a “Bridal Train,” starting in Fremantle, as noted in the song. The train gathered all the girls (some pregnant, some with young children who had never met their fathers) to be delivered to Sydney, where the “Ship of Brides” headed off to the United States.
According to the National Maritime Museum, it is estimated that between 12,000 and 15,000 Australian women married American servicemen during World War Two. Some made a life in the USA, while others returned to Australia with or without their husbands in the years following the war. No matter the success of the marriage, when you step off the train in Fremantle, you’re stepping into this bittersweet moment in history.
Explore horror and history at the Fremantle Prison
Fremantle Prison is open 9am – 5pm, 7 days a week (later on Wed and Fri evenings).
Closed Good Friday & Xmas day
1 The Terrace Fremantle WA 6160, Australia
Fremantle Prison is decommissioned maximum-security prison in the heart of Fremantle, Western Australia. Think like Alcatraz vibes, but down under. It was built way back in the 1850s by convicts. I’m not sure exactly how the opening day went, but it was probably something along the lines of, “Oh cool, you finished building the walls? Well…SIKE cause you’re trapped now lol.”
But don’t quote me on that. The prison is one of the best things to do in Fremantle because it was in use up until 1991! They’ve since turned it into a tourist attraction and museum…but this place has seen some stuff. It had prisoners in there for all kinds of crazy crimes, from murder and armed robbery to political dissent and forced removals of Indigenous Australians from their homes. Because the prison was in use until so “recently” sometimes former prisoners even come back and take a tour.
My tour guide said this has happened to him quite a few times and it always makes for interesting conversations. If I had been in jail, I don’t think I’d ever go back and visit, but to each their own I guess.
One of the most famous inmates was Moondyne Joe, an outlaw who tried to escape from every prison he was put in. He even managed to escape from Fremantle twice before they finally caught him and sent him to an island.
And get this – there was a chapel in the prison where they held mass, and a gallows where they used to hang people until they stopped doing that in 1984. Fremantle Prison is definitely a must-visit spot for anyone who’s into Australian history, or just loves hearing about crazy prison stories. There is even a branch of the YHA inside the prison if you want the full experience.
There are heaps of different tours to choose from, depending on your budget and level of interest. You can even double up! I took two tours on my visit and hung out at the cafe in between.
Get some shopping done at Freo Markets
Fremantle Markets are open Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and public holiday Mondays from 9am to 6pm.
South Terrace &, Henderson St, Fremantle WA 6160, Australia
Some of the markets are open-air, while others are inside a larger building. It’s kind of arranged like a craft fair. Each vendor has a booth and you can browse and buy at your leisure. There is literally everything you could ever want being sold here.
Fresh produce, crafts, souvenirs, clothing, and accessories. Purses. T-shirts. Massive paintings of the quokkas you spent all day with on Rottnest Island (pictured above lol).
I got some of the freshest orange juice I’ve had in my life there. I found out I had mono the day after I went to the markets (not from there don’t worry, I’d been cooking up my germs for a full six weeks at this point) and I swear that sweet sweet juice was instrumental in my healing.
Take in a museum (or two!)
Fremantle Arts Centre
7 days 10am — 5pm
1 Finnerty St Fremantle WA 6160
The Fremantle Arts Centre is the place to be for all things culture and creativity. It’s housed in a stunning heritage building that was once a lunatic asylum and later a women’s home – talk about character! These days, you can catch a bunch of sweet exhibitions, performances, and workshops that showcase both contemporary and traditional arts.
Western Australian Maritime Museum
9.30am – 5pm
Victoria Quay Road, Fremantle, WA, 6160
If you’re a fan of all things maritime, you gotta hit up the Western Australian Maritime Museum. It’s located down in Victoria Quay, and you’ll find all sorts of dope exhibits and displays that explore the maritime history of Western Australia. From old shipwrecks and whale bones to full-on naval vessels and submarines, this museum has got it all!
The quay (said like key) is just a short walk away from Fremantle Station.
Spend an afternoon at the beach
Ocean Road, South Fremantle, WA 6162
South Beach is perfect for families and inexperienced swimmers. as the water is nice and calm. There is a full-size outdoor basketball court, playground area for the kids, cafes, and stand-up paddle boarding, too!
Mews Road, Fremantle, WA 6160
This beach is tight in the middle of the beach lies Kidogo Arthouse and the Bathers Beach Art Precinct. The precinct is home to some of Western Australia’s most celebrated sculptors, painters, photographers, Indigenous artists, and designers.
Port Beach Road, North Fremantle, WA 6159
A popular beach just north of Fremantle that offers lovely snorkeling, swimming, or just an easily accessible spot for enjoying a trip to the beach. With low wave conditions, it is suitable for young children (or bad swimmers).
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