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9 Fun Facts About Fremantle Ports

27 September 2022

The Port of Fremantle has been central to Western Australia's history for more than 125 years - but what do you actually know about WA’s largest cargo port and this fascinating area?

Here are a few awesome facts.

1. The city’s best view is from the Port Authority building

Built in 1964, the 11-storey Port Authority Administration Building is still the tallest building in Fremantle. Offering incredible views, the Observation Deck on the top floor can be accessed on a free Port Walk run by Friends of Fremantle Ports. Held every week, these one-hour tours cover topics such as history, architecture, maritime operations and the environment.

2. Freo is the gateway to Rottnest Island

Although it’s well known that ‘Rotto’ (Rottnest Island Wadjemup) is near Perth, ferries to the island operate daily from Fremantle Ports. Rottnest Express and SeaLink, based in the B Shed Ferry Terminal at Victoria Quay, offer the quickest trips to the famous home of the smiling quokka.

white lighthouse stands tall on rugged hill above clear, turquoise bay

3. The port can handle the world’s biggest ships

Fremantle Port can accommodate the biggest ships in the world. The largest cargo vessels are more than 300 metres long, which is longer than the ships arriving in much bigger cities such as Sydney’s Port Botany.

huge cargo ship sails into Fremantle Port with iconic WA Maritime Museum on the horizon

4. Fremantle is one of the most active ports in Australia

This busy working site may seem mysterious, but it’s very welcoming to visitors! Port of Fremantle handles more than 32 million tonnes of cargo and 16,000 vessels per year. On average, $3.4 million in trade passes through the port every hour of every day. At Fremantle’s Inner Harbour, the port handles almost all of the state’s container trade and also provides facilities for motor vehicle imports, livestock exports, visiting naval vessels and cruise ships.

5. Cruise ships are returning this summer

After a two-year break, cruising will restart in WA in October, bringing more than 10,000 passengers to Freo before Christmas. The first ship to arrive will be Princess Cruises’ Coral Princess (28 October), followed by Cunard's Queen Elizabeth (7 November and 2 December), Oceania Cruises' Regatta (1 December), Holland America Line's Noordam (2 December), Silversea’s Silver Muse (10 December) and Azamara’s Azamara Quest (20 December). A further 15 cruise ship visits are scheduled between January and April 2023, in addition to smaller expedition ships that start or end voyages here.

cruise ships entering Fremantle Port under clear blue sky

6. The colours of the cargo sheds are heritage-listed

The colours of the berth-side transit sheds and workshops have been used since the early 20th century. Examples are the duck egg blue on A Shed, the green on B Shed and the mustard on E Shed. The three sheds, built between 1904 and the 1920s, are heritage-listed. E Shed's north and east sides have recently been repainted, while C Shed is currently being structurally refurbished.

bronze statue of a person with suitcase returning to dog in front of E Shed Markets, painted in heritage mustard

7. The waterfront has family-friendly venues

Combine ships and sips at Gage Roads brewery in the A Shed by timing your visit when the big vessels are departing. (Check the timetable for cargo ships or cruise ships.) This dog-friendly venue has a playground for kids, live music and pop-up events such as painting classes. Other portside venues include Freo Harbour Bar at E Shed and WA Maritime Museum.

parents and child point at whale and boat in museum

8. Fremantle Ports has a large collection of Howard Taylor art

The huge mosaic in the Port Authority building entrance is by noted WA artist Howard Taylor (1918-2001). The Passenger Terminal also displays four of his friezes of native flora and fauna at the F and G berths.

9. Maritime Day is a free celebration in October

Come down to the port for a fun-filled day of music, displays by Border Force and the Royal Australian Navy, and the opportunity to board a tugboat. Kids can enjoy face-painting, train rides and dressing up as fish, pirates or mermaids for a costume parade. Fremantle Ports' Maritime Day will be held on Saturday, 29 October 2022.