As you’ll know if you’ve read my post What’s Happened to the Road Trip, we’ve temporarily clambered out of the car from our great budget road trip around Australia and set up something of a little life for ourselves.
In part this is because our bank accounts required us to do so and in part because we’ve ended up falling in love with where we landed.
And that magical landing spot is Fremantle aka Freo (they can’t resist an abbreviation anywhere in this country) over in Western Australia.
Yes, folks I’ve seen a lot of this Land Down Under and I’ve got to admit (sorry east coast!) I don’t know if it gets finer than this.
Fremantle is a buzzing, progressive little city full of historical charm, cultural vivacity and a strong independent streak that I can’t help but relate to.
She has the Indian Ocean lapping at her feet and the forested hills kissing her behind – what more can you ask for?!
Wandering Fremantle’s streets gets me excited every time – filled as it is with quirky cafes, eccentric stores and beautiful buildings – and that’s saying a lot from somebody whose already been here 4 months and usually gets bored with a place in a week!
So to celebrate this incredible destination that’s got me head over heels …. and to kick off the Western Australia series I’m dedicating my blog to over the next few weeks … here’s my rundown of the 18 things to do in Fremantle the locals love.
Eating & Drinking //
No trip to Freo would be complete without visiting at least half a dozen of the incredible, independent cafes that line her streets.
The locals here love to eat, love to caffeinate and love to people watch – it must be the Italian influence! – which makes wining, dining and reclining definitely some of the best things to do in Fremantle.
Sure you can wander Market Street and enjoy some excellent culinary delights with the crowds, but why not get off the beaten track a bit and discover some of the hidden hotspots the locals hang out in.
Here’s my pick of the bunch …
#1 Stable Hands
Located on Bannister Lane this gorgeous café is set in an old stable (hence the name) with some fabulous restored interior features that add real charm.
The owner Anthony is a great character and his barista skills top notch.
Try one of his long macs topped-up if you’re looking for the ultimate kickstart to your day or else munch on a delicious breakfast or lunch in this cool, clean-lined café.
#2 The Cool Room
If it’s the vintage feel you’re after, The Cool Room on Holland Street, is the place for you.
A little out of town in an unassuming residential area, this is a real hidden gem only the local (cool kids) know about!
Open 8am-3pm Thursday through Sunday it’s well worth the adventure to get here.
#3 Moore & Moore
This fabulous little cafe is a great place to sit outside and let the Fremantle Doctor (the seabreeze) cool you down as you watch uni students pour out of class.
Set in an old warehouse, Moore & Moore has a dedicated onsite gallery space surrounded by an otherwise eclectic décor that keeps the eye highly entertained!
In a way, the whole place feels like a bit of an art space helped in part by the bunch of young trendies who work here.
Top Tip: The Vegan breakfast is a must.
#4 Whisper Wine Bar
An absolute beauty on Essex Street, heading here for a glass of red and a cheese platter is definitely one of the best things to do in Fremantle.
The French-looking façade, outside high tables and wine list bring a touch of Europe to this part of Australia and, simulataneously, create the perfect setting in which to showcase some of Western Australia’s best drops too.
#5 The Raw Kitchen
Vegans and raw foodies delight, the Raw Kitchen is your mecca and an absolute local hotspot for Freo’s alternative foodies!
In its own words, this place “showcases progressive plant-based cuisine without the use of dairy, gluten, refined sugar or additives”
Errr … hello? Did I just reach heaven early?!
Open for lunch and dinner Thursday through Sunday and just lunch Monday to Wednesday, stopping in here is a Freo must!
They’ve also got a great health-conscious / sustainable store on site and yoga classes running upstairs.
Of course they do!
#6 Bread in Common
Ok so if you go anywhere for dinner in Fremantle, it has to be this place.
The ultimate local hotspot, Bread in Common is set within a heritage building on Packenham Street and its striped-back aesthetic wonderfully aligns with its food culture that clearly aims to link product to process.
An open kitchen allows you to see the chefs at work, where from 9am in the morning they set about creating all the fresh breads, pickles, marinades, sauces and stocks that contribute to their delicious dishes.
With an emphasis on seasonal produce, much of their food is locally sourced from a local permaculture garden and the proof? In the flavours of course.
Art and Culture //
With more than its fair share of artists, checking out a gallery or art event is definitely one of the best things to do in Fremantle.
There’s always tons going on here, a lot of it free, and much of it easy to stumble upon by wandering the small streets surrounding the centre of town.
To give you a head start however, here are some local gems to make a beeline for …
This great gallery and café space has a curated programme showcasing the talent of both local and international contemporary artists.
It’s a relaxed and unpretentious place that you can casually pop into for 15 minutes or enjoy a whole afternoon at.
#8 The Natural Light Photography Gallery Café
Another art space come café space – what did I tell you about Freo – this place is a cute, unassuming and down-to-earth venue on Packenham Street.
With training workshops and a great gallery, this is the spot for the photo-buffs among you.
#9 Fremantle Arts Centre
With a jam-packed calendar, boasting music performances, interesting talks, visual art exhibitions and many courses, there’s always something happening at Fremantle Arts Centre.
Set within historic grounds and framed by some beautiful gardens, this is a wonderful destination to check out the local vibe.
If it’s unique gifts or mementos you’re looking for, then Fremantle is the place.
Believe me, even if you’re a dedicated minimalist like yours truly, you’ll have trouble resisting the incredible boutique stores in Fremantle full of incredible clothes, books, homewares, records and stationary.
I’ve literally spent more money shopping in Freo than I think I have cumulatively in the last 2 years, so be warned people, bringing your wallets to town and enjoying emptying them, is definitely one of the best things to do in Fremantle.
Here are the some of the local hotspots when it comes to shopping …
#10 Bodkins Bootery
Literally amazing, sometimes I wander into this shop just to enjoy the sense of being transported back in time!
Situated on High Street, Bodkins Bootery is all about leather, so if it’s bags, boots or belts you want, this is the place to head.
With a shoemaker on site, many of their pairs are actually made on the premises, otherwise they also fix and repair leather goods, in a delightful move away from our disposable culture.
What did I say, it’s like heading back in time!
#11 Many 2.0
Formerly Many 6160, this newest incarnation of the artisan marketplace still sticks to the same great concept of providing smalltime artists, craftsmen and designers with a platform to exhibit and sell their work.
A firm Freo favourite among the locals, this place is highly innovative, with a colourful bohemian sense that you never quite know what you’re going to find.
#13 The Corner Store
A little out of the centre of Fremantle down in South Terrace, The Corner Store is a delightful homeware shop that boasts some fabulous flamingos.
What more do I need to say?!
#14 New Edition Bookshop
My favourite bookshop in Fremantle, although the competition is tough, New Edition Bookshop is a definite local hotspot I regularly spend far too much time in!
And I guess, so do a fair few others as well.
But it’s not all just about shopping and eating right?
You need to soak up the active spirit of Fremantle while you’re here too.
So check out these activities if you want to discover where the locals hang …
#15 Growers Green Farmers’ Market
Come Sunday morning, this is the place to head to enjoy a yummy breakfast / your organic bread and veg for the week in a delightfully openair setting.
Over in the nearby suburb of Beaconsfield, this project helps fundraise for the local school and is a super community event aimed at getting you out of the supermarket and talking to the people who actually grow, make and bake what you eat instead.
#16 Yoga Classes at South Beach
South Beach is the local swimming and sunbaking spot, situated about a 5 minute drive out of town.
The water here is crystal clear, the sand is white and the grassy parkland behind is picnic-perfect.
It’s also yoga-perfect, so join the benders and stretchers at a class right here, in front of the ocean, every summery Saturday morning at 7am.
#17 De Barber
So if you weren’t aware, it really is all about quirky combinations when it comes to living the hipster dream.
And what better way to get your haircut then while relaxing with a coffee or a beer?
Well, De Barber down on South Terrace offer just that.
There’s even a pool table here too if you fancy a game while you wait!
#18 South Beach Markets
Every Saturday evening from 5-9pm during summer, the South Beach Markets are the place to grab your weekend feed.
From Moroccan to Indian, El Salvadorian to Italian, food trucks from around the world gather here to offer you delicious, cheap food to enjoy with a sunset ocean view.
There’s even a beer truck who will pour you a pint of their finest from the back of their mobile pub – genius!
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So there you have it, my insider tips for the 18 things to do in Fremantle the locals love.
Hope to see you down here at the best place in Australia(!) real soon 🙂