Fremantle: The Apple of our Eye

Ben and I fell in love recently.

The object of our affection? Fremantle, Western Australia, or Freo to the locals.

It was the kind of love that can only be described by the frustratingly accurate non-descriptive description of “when you know, you know.”

Much like people find it impossible to describe love, we may fall short on describing our love for Freo, but here it goes.

Fremantle is often described as a hipster suburb of Perth and while we love hipsters for many reasons (delicious food, local products, flannel) we didn’t know what to expect. Yet, minutes after we parked the Wicked Witch of the West on a side street that was covered with street art and walked towards the market, we knew this place was special.

Some of the street art that lined the laneways of Freo.

Some of the street art that lined the laneways of Freo.

Our first stop was to visit the Fremantle Market. The market dates back to 1897 and offers a variety of food, gifts, and handicraft stalls. The produce and food stalls sold gorgeous products at much cheaper prices than we saw at the local grocery stores too.

After we finished sauntering through the market, it was time to see else what Freo had to offer. Turns out, we didn’t have to walk far to find both used and new bookstores, adorable cafes, boutique decor shops, street art, breweries, art galleries, and street performers.

More than 100 years old, the Freo Markets are a must-see!

More than 100 years old, the Freo Markets are a must-see!

Ben and I kept turning to each other and exclaiming that whoever designed Fremantle apparently took all of our favorite things and lined them up. Our afternoon was spent hopping from one shop to the next and becoming more and more infatuated with this little place.

In order to continue our meandering we needed sustenance, so we stopped in to Bread in Common. If we weren’t already falling for Freo, Bread in Common surely would’ve sealed the deal. Just read about our experience here.

The only unfortunate part of our time in Freo came when we had to drive nearly 20 km back to the campground we were staying at, so we had to cut our night short. In an effort to make sure that didn’t happen again, I searched for a place to stay near Freo for the next night. What I found was a hostel that was located in the World Heritage-listed Fremantle Prison. It was built in the 1850s with the convicts occupying it from 1855-1991. Now, what was originally the women’s division of the prison is the Fremantle Prison YHA. I booked it and we returned to our campground for the night.

This will go down as one of the most interesting places we've ever stayed. Turns out our "cell" used to be solitary confinement. There was a note on our door to report any ghosts to the front desk.

This will go down as one of the most interesting places we’ve ever stayed. Turns out our “cell” used to be solitary confinement. There was a note on our door to report any ghosts to the front desk.

The next morning we were up early so we could return to Freo. We started out by eating at Moore & Moore, what could possibly be the funkiest cafe we’ve been in. The food was amazing, but so was the layout, design, and vibe of the place. Half of it was an art gallery with the entire second floor and a portion of the main floor dedicated to local artists. The rest of it had quirky table and chair set ups where you could eat or relax, drinking their great coffee. The outdoor courtyard in the back, where we sat, was decorated with plants that were housed in old olive oil containers hanging on the walls.

We were absolutely in food heaven. After 4 months on the road with mediocre at best food, Freo was everything we wanted and Moore & Moore! (See what I did there?)

We were absolutely in food heaven. After 4 months on the road with mediocre at best food, Freo was everything we wanted and Moore & Moore! (See what I did there?)

After we had sufficiently admired each nook and cranny of Moore & Moore, we continued wandering through our new favorite city. We ended up in Esplanade Park, home to the Skyview Wheel, a 40 meter Ferris wheel. We took a ride and enjoyed the views of the bay and the Indian Ocean. After our ride finished, we walked over to the Little Creatures Brewery.

Although every time I saw Little Creatures, I thought of the childhood book series by Mercer Mayer, "Little Critters," we were told the name actually came from the fact that the yeast used to make the beer are little creatures.

Although every time I saw Little Creatures, I thought of the childhood book series by Mercer Mayer, “Little Critters,” we were told the name actually came from the fact that the yeast used to make the beer are little creatures.

We had been drinking Little Creatures anytime we could find them across the rest of the continent and were excited to see the source. They feature several beer tours each day so we signed up for one. The brewery tour was one of the best we’ve been on and it concluded with tastings of all of the beers they had on tap. After our tour, we walked to Little Creatures Next Door, another venture by the brewery. They were hosting a “Family Reunion” event, where they featured beers from breweries headed by former Little Creatures brewers. We believe drinking beer with an ocean view is never a bad plan, and it turns out we were right again.

Family Reunion time.

Family Reunion time.

While no love is perfect (although we think Freo comes pretty close) it does have a flaw or two. The main inconvenience we ran into was parking. All parking is metered and often only lasts two hours. It stays in effect long past 6pm, although the signs are confusing, which we almost found out the hard way. Lucky for us, we walked up to the Wicked Witch as we were getting ticketed and the man who was writing us a ticket chatted with us for a while before deciding not to write us up. The best parking we found was an eight hour meter near the Freo Prison.

It’s not often that we find a place that we connect with so quickly, but we were lucky we found such a match in Freo. It is a town that captured us in ways that only few other places have.

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