Fremantle has multiple personalities in its West, North and South, so we asked the locals to explain the differences between these areas, and to recommend the best things to do!
Within central Fremantle is the historic West End, a collection of streets lined with late Georgian and Victorian-style architecture, the University of Notre Dame Australia, the Round House, Fremantle Prison, Esplanade Park, Bathers Beach and plenty of small shops, bars and restaurants.
Image: Republic of Fremantle founders - Matt Giudice, John McVeigh and Jason Townes
Credit: Jessica Wyld
The commercial and retail mix is what keeps the place vibrant and activated
Jason Townes is a director and founder of Republic of Fremantle, a cool distillery and cocktail bar which also offers classes to make your own gin or cocktails. He's lived in Freo since 1972 and worked in the West End since 2008 and says the West End has changed significantly over the years:
“In the 70s and 80s, all the major banks had branches on High Street, the pubs and workers clubs were busy, and shops like Pellew’s department store were bustling places. There were trucking companies, shipping companies and freight forwarders based in the West End.
This has evolved over time, with the most significant changes being the addition of the university and residential apartments. It’s still a busy place that has evolved and adapted as things have changed over the decades. The commercial and retail mix is what keeps the place vibrant and activated.”
The best of the west is its convenience: walking distance from Freo’s city centre and train station, but removed from the main drag.
“Republic of Fremantle is one of a few venues, such as Strange Company, Bread in Common and Darling Darling, that have deliberately chosen to open their business away from the ‘cappuccino strip’ and make use of some of the interesting warehouses in the lesser-known locations of the West End,” said Townes.
EAT AND DRINK
“Apart from my own venues, I like Strange Company and Ronnie Nights. For a weekday lunch, my go-to places are High on 55 and Oceans Japanese restaurant. For night-time family dining, we like the Capri or Gino’s, and for something a little more special I’ll eat at La Sosta or Manuka.”
North Fremantle gets under your skin!
The peninsula of North Fremantle lies between the Indian Ocean and the Swan River. On the east side is Fremantle Harbour and the Port of Fremantle, a world-class shipping and cruise port, while the west side faces the setting sun. Leighton Beach and Port Beach offer safe swimming, beautiful white sand and turquoise water. Above the North Fremantle Surfers Club, Bib & Tucker serves breathtaking views with its breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Image: Propeller, North Fremantle
Husband and wife team, Siobhann Blumann and Hamish Flemming, turned an old bus garage on Queen Victoria Street into Propeller (now closed), a Middle Eastern restaurant with an outdoor courtyard, across the road from their small bar, Mrs Brown, and burger joint, Flipside. Blumann has been around North Freo on and off since she was a kid:
“We put down permanent roots here in 2004. It’s a suburb that is constantly evolving. North Fremantle gets under your skin! Once you live here, you don’t want to leave – it’s why it is such a tightly held suburb. We love the proximity to the river and the beach and the people. It has the most amazing community spirit.”
EAT AND DRINK
“All of our neighbouring businesses in the heart of the North Freo village, from Ooh Coffee or Bruce Town, to get the morning started. Mrs Brown, Flipside and Piggy’s for catching up with friends. Further afield, Black Truffle for lunch on the go and Wise Child Wines tucked away in a residential street (takeaway only).”
You can't go past the pet-friendly Pier 21 Apartment Hotel!
There are so many amazing small venues doing great food and great times
South Freo is a peaceful pocket stretching from Fishing Boat Harbour to South Beach. Go for a walk past the Fremantle Yacht Club or along the coastal path toward Coogee. Then watch the sunset from the grassed area at South Beach or the adjacent dog-friendly beach, known to locals as Dog Beach. Opposite the waterfront is the popular Running with Thieves brewery and pub. One street back, South Terrace, is home to many boutiques, eateries and bars.
Image: Madalena's | Credit: Duncan Wright
“It instantly felt like it was somewhere we could live when my wife and I visited in 2019. There are so many amazing small venues doing great food and great times,” he said. “Madalena's is known for fresh, sustainable seafood and tasty wine by the beach. We have recently opened our upstairs bar, which is fast becoming known as the place to go for a delicious cocktail before or after dinner, or even just because you feel like it!”
EAT AND DRINK
We can’t go past Roasting Warehouse or Third Wheel for coffee. Little Lefroy’s or Ootong & Lincoln are great for brunch – and get your picnic bread and pastries from Wild Bakery. Madalena’s, La Cabaña and Ruocco’s Pizzeria. For an afternoon drink, Percy Flint's.
Be.Fremantle Serviced Apartments or The Local Hotel.