Fremantle, or Freo, is a cute town where the Swan River flows into the sea. The historic buildings and charming shopping streets give it a relaxed vibe and make it perfect for tourist to explore. Everything is at walking distance, but Freo also has a free CAT bus.
From Perth several ways take you to Fremantle. There is the more exciting, romantic one of taking a boat. Unfortunately these are not ordinary ferries and will set you back about $27 one way. The cheaper and more backpacker-friendly option will cost you about $4,20 one way for a 30 minute train ride. Return fares are cheaper on both the ferry and the train.
From the ferry and the train station it is a short stroll into town. Immediately you are surrounded by nice little cafés and quirky shops. Unwind with a cup of coffee on the Cappuccino strip. Then make your way to the Fremantle Markets, a heaven on earth for shopaholics. From clothes to funny gifts and from apples to Indian food. If you haven’t had enough yet you can also check out the Eshed market, which are slightly smaller and only open on certain days.
One of the highlights of Fremantle is the prison, the only world heritage listed building in Western Australia. You can’t just wander the grounds by yourself, so you need to buy a ticket for one of the tours. You can join one of the tours above ground, or test your fear factor in the prison’s tunnels.
The tours of Fremantle Prison are very entertaining. My guide, quite a short lady, kept claiming she was a big, strong man. In the old days, there were no women guards. Immediately the men were put on a line and our guide went through the procedures that come with entering a prison as an inmate. Humiliation is what it’s all about. With a ‘come on now’ we were sent through the building that was built with the old materials from the ships that came from England. All in all it’s well worth your money.
Fremantle has a good vibe and I can understand people would like to stay here just a bit longer. There are hostels here as well and Fremantle is also just a ferry ride away from Rottnest Island. Staying in Freo might not be so good for your wallet though, with all those shop opportunities right around the corner.