Unearthing Fremantle’s hidden gems: a guide to Freo’s best-kept secrets
Welcome to the vibrant, bustling port city of Fremantle (or Freo, if you’re a local). Nestled on the coast around 19km south of Perth, Fremantle has always been a popular go-to spot for locals and tourists alike. Its rich maritime history and well-known landmarks draw crowds throughout every season, but Fremantle is also home to a number of hidden gems, just waiting to be discovered.
From tucked-away cafes and vintage stores to hidden bars and experimental art, Fremantle is full of surprises for those willing to venture off the beaten path.
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If the words ‘pirate bar’ get you excited, you’ll love Darling Darling. Designed by world-renowned bar designer Ashley Sutton, walking into this quaint bar feels very much like walking below an 1800s ship deck to enjoy a drink with other seafarers who are weary from their travels. Sit yourself at the bar or one of the barrels scattered throughout the venue and enjoy a range of delicious drinks and free-flowing bar peanuts. If you really want to feel like you’re sailing on the Seven Seas, hit up Darling Darling on a Saturday night to enjoy a live fiddler making some sweet, sweet music.
The PS Art Space is a great place to see some of the best contemporary artists, both local and international. Stroll through on a lazy afternoon and enjoy the beautifully curated exhibitions. Creative and experimental, PSAS provides something a little bit different to the Fremantle arts scene, and is definitely a cool space to check out.
And while the Fremantle Arts Centre isn’t exactly hidden by any means, there are always a tonne of events and exhibitions that may well have flown under the radar – so definitely scope out what’s currently happening if you’re in the area.
Hope you’re hungry…
Fremantle nightlife is booming. With new restaurants and bars popping up all the time, you’re always spoiled for choice.
Feeling hungry? If you’re heading to Goldbird, you better be. Step into this ‘70s family-style restaurant and enjoy some of the juiciest hot chicken you’ve ever sunk your teeth into, and while you’re at it, pair it with a variety of mouthwatering sides or a fun shake. Short Order founder Simon Kony’s new venture, Goldbird is home to Australiana nostalgia – and with gluten-free and vegan options coming soon, there’s something for everyone.
In the mood for something else? Some dumplings and delicious cocktails, perhaps? Emily Taylor is a hip, relaxed venue offering up a selection of delectable Asian fusion dishes. Named after a 19th-century ship, Emily Taylor provides a unique twist to some of the best produce in WA.
History buffs unite
Fremantle is home to the WA Maritime Museum, a modern museum that delves into WA’s rich maritime history. But a lot of people aren’t aware that the previous Maritime Museum, now known as the Shipwrecks Museum, is equally as fascinating, and showcases some incredible artefacts from shipwrecks along the Western Australian coastline – definitely a must-visit for history lovers.
Take in the views
If the Fremantle Ferris Wheel doesn’t quite do it for you, there are a few gems around Fremantle that give you some pretty beaut views.
The National Hotel & Rooftop Bar is located in a heritage building that, prior to its renovations, had seen better days. But now it looks fantastic and is home to a rooftop bar that gives some incredible panoramic views of Fremantle. If you’re wondering, yes – the sunsets are spectacular.
Sweetwater Rooftop Bar is also a great option for killer ocean views. With a laidback Hamptons-style setup, you can kick back, relax, and enjoy the creative selection of cocktails and Asian-inspired dishes.
Madalena’s Bar is also a bit of a hotspot – and for good reason. With a beautiful menu brimming with delicious seafood options, Madalena’s upstairs bar also delivers gorgeous South Beach views.
Shop ‘til you drop
Fremantle is home to a collection of independent shops selling wares crafted by local artisans. Hit up the Corner Store for beautiful homewares and gifts, Stackwood for lush greenery that will turn your home into a jungle oasis, and Kate and Abel for a selection of homemade goods and slow fashion options.
If you’re looking to be a bit more sustainable, ODE Store is a plastic-free, zero-waste store – the biggest in Australia, in fact. With over 3000 products ranging from natural cleaning products to sustainable baby products and gifts galore, it’s easy to get lost in there for a while.
Should you move to or invest in Fremantle?
Only about 30 minutes south of the Perth CBD, Fremantle also has the benefit of being close to WA’s capital city – meaning you also have easy access to the hustle and bustle, too.
Sales growth and rental growth have grown considerably over the past 12 months, making it an ideal option for home buyers and those searching for the perfect investment property – a 10.9% growth in sales and a 28.2% rental growth, according to REIWA.
“Freo is a diverse community with a lot of history, music, and arts culture – there’s always something on, but it still remains pretty chill,” Kirstin continues.
Fremantle is one of those rare suburbs where there is really something for everyone: singles, couples, families, and retirees alike. For anybody looking for that perfect balance of city paired with laidback coastal town, Freo is hard to beat.