“Welcome to the wild west”, I was told upon my first visit to the city of Fremantle, in Western Australia. Looking around, I was struck by the heritage limestone buildings and feeling of vastness that pervades the wide streets. For far beyond the reaches of the city, in the hills, forests and deserts of the west, there’s an isolation that creeps subtly into town.
However, Fremantle itself is by no means quiet, at least not on the weekends. It’s a cosmopolitan seaside town where tourists sip lattes on South Terrace, musicians and artists converge, and large boats collect or dispense their cargo in the town’s bustling northern docks. Yet, there’s an air about the place that tells you you’re on the outskirts of the third most isolated city in the world, Perth.
Here’s some of my favourite spots in town:
In the southern side of the city of Fremantle lies Dog Beach. The place is a bit of a dog Shangri-la, as here dogs are given free rein to chase balls into the sea and slobber over virtually anyone within reach. However, there’s also a dog-free rock wall which provides the perfect setting to watch the sun descend over the Indian Ocean. In summertime, the water is zapped into bewitching shades of translucent blue.
Back near the middle of town, the Round House is an old convict built prison which stands above the sea near town beach. Built in 1831, it’s also the oldest intact building in Western Australia, and it provides for some first-rate limestone lounging by the sea. Nearby, around Carrington Street in the town’s west end, the area comprises buildings of both Georgian and Victorian architecture. It’s a great place to wander and take in the ample streets.
Keep going towards South Terrace and you’ll find Gino’s coffee shop. A trip to the city of Fremantle isn’t complete without a visit to this Italian institution. Once inside, you could be in Italy, as black and white photographs of Italy adorn the walls, while staff grind fresh coffee amidst cosy décor. Fremantle has a strong Italian connection, being a sister city to both Capo d’Orlando and Molfetta, and nowhere is this more evident than in Gino’s.
Other highlights include the Fremantle Markets and the town’s creative community, both which deserve blog posts of their own. However, some of my fondest memories involve strolling through town’s hilly backstreets at dusk, looking towards the sky. Here the vastness of Western Australia creates a subtle gradient of hues that descend to the horizon, unlike anywhere I’ve seen.
Fremantle is a charming seaside town, which still feels like it’s part of the wild west.