Perth's port town, Fremantle – or Freo, as the locals call it – has charm in spades. In its curving, colonial-era streets you'll find artsy, quirky locals who love busking, street art and alfresco dining.
By Fleur Bainger
Once a separate town, Fremantle has long been engulfed by the city of Perth's spreading tentacles, but plenty of its historical roots remain. Get to know it via a tour through its prison, a beer at its famous brewery and a photo with a rock 'n' roll legend who grew up in its engaging streets.
- Pay homage to AC/DC’s legendary frontman, Bon Scott
- Be spooked by a Fremantle prison night tour
- Eat out at a historic warehouse restaurant
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Top things to do in Fremantle
Wander the Fremantle Markets
The weekend markets are the heartbeat of Fremantle, combining art and photography with tie-dye T-shirts, tasselled hammocks and a buskers corner. Out the back there's a buzzing food court where you can eat gozlemes, barbecued corn and fresh made paella. Open all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the markets also have stalls of cheap, fresh produce. Street performers draw crowds at the entrance off South Terrace.
Get spooked at Fremantle Prison
Get acquainted with Fremantle's colonial past and venture in to the World Heritage Fremantle Prison, where you'll hear rollicking tales of Irish escapees and cheeky bushrangers; add drama by going at night. Reservations are essential for the 90 minute Torchlight Tour (AUD$26). There's also a 2 1/2 hour Tunnels Tour (AUD $60), in which visitors are provided with hard hats, overalls, boots, and headlamps before descending 20 metres (65 feet) into the tunnels beneath the prison.
Walk into history
Join a two hour walking tour with the knowledgeable guides from Two Feet and a Heartbeat. The Sailors Guide to Fremantle (AUD$55, three hours) takes you through the places once popular with the Dutch and English seamen who lived here. The Convicts and Colonials tour (AUD$45, two hours) includes stories of Irish prison escapees, bushrangers and plenty of quirky historical anecdotes as you wander past heritage buildings, some built by convicts.
Eat at Fremantle's foodie hot spots
Fremantle is home to a number of unique eateries, such as Moore & Moore, where planter boxes, bike racks and, often, musicians welcome you at the door. Pass clusters of reclaimed furniture and a chaotic kitchen before emerging into the sunlight where you'll find a table-laden back garden. They do all-day breakfast here – try the smoked salmon and asparagus plate with herby yoghurt. For great ocean views, hit Bathers Beach House for lunch – you'll feel like you’re eating on the sand. Nearby is Bread in Common, a fantastic lunch or dinner spot filled with naked globes, communal wooden tables and pared-back brickwork. The industrial warehouse look is authentic: the venue dates back to the 1800s. Order the vinegar-licked lamb ribs, spuds roasted in duck fat and, of course, the baked in-house bread. Manuka Woodfire Kitchen is another gem, with everything on the menu cooked in the wood oven. Find it tucked away near the markets.
Sip a local craft beer
Microbrewery Little Creatures, started small but it's grown into a global brand, enjoyed around the world. Go to its birthplace and see where the magic began. Part of the fun is the quirky staff - expect to see handlebar moustaches, multi-coloured hair, piercings and tattoos. They're all super friendly and will happily take you on a tasting tour of the craft beers; you can also book into a brewery tour of the airy warehouse and its stainless steel vats. Tours cost $12 per person and run daily, departing on the hour between 12pm and 3pm.
Remember Bon Scott
Pay your respects to the late Bon Scott, the hard-living lead singer of AC/DC, a Freo lad who burnt out early (1946–80). He's enshrined in a bronze sculpture, microphone in hand, standing on top of a Marshall amplifier in the pedestrian-friendly Fishing Boat Harbour. The Scottish-born frontman moved to Fremantle with his family when he was 10 years old and his ashes are interred in its cemetery - another spot dedicated fans like to visit.
Shop at Many 6160
Admire the handiwork of local artisans, designers and artists at the boutique collective, Many 6160. In a disused former department store, mini shops run by creative types sell everything from street art prints to handmade hats, one-off furniture, steampunk artefacts and home grown fashion.
Spot the America's Cup winning yacht, Australia II
Perching on the edge of Fremantle Harbour, the Western Australian Maritime Museum houses the Australia II, winner of the 1983 America's Cup. It's more than just a boat. The yacht's win transformed both Perth and Fremantle, putting them on the world map and signifying a time of excess and riches. You can also see pearl luggers, leisure yachts and take a one hour guided tour inside the HMAS Ovens, an 89 metre (292 foot) Cold War-era submarine. Tours depart every 30 minutes from 10am to 3.30pm; reservations are recommended. Entry to the museum and submarine cost AUD$15 each, or AUD$25 for a combined ticket.
How to get there
Fremantle is just south of Perth and can be reached via a 25 minute train ride from Perth city centre, or a drive along Stirling Highway for just over half an hour.