Perth’s extended summer heat is the stuff of legends.
Disembarking from the plane, summer’s extreme heat wave was in full force, embracing me with a welcome that was akin to be slapped me in the face with a hot spatula.
Eager for ocean breeze respite, I summoned the doctor, hot-footing it south to Perth’s little brother, the conjoined city of Fremantle, or Freo, as it’s affectionately known. That afternoon sou’wester, the Fremantle Doctor, really is a sanity-saver to locals and visitors alike.
Like Perth, regeneration is all the rage in Fremantle, with an ever-expanding hospitality and arty scene spreading its tentacles, to bolster its long-established bohemian credentials.
After a caffeine-refuel on South Terrace’s famed “cappuccino strip” (primarily influenced by Italian migrants), I was eager to scratch beneath the surface of Freo’s boho spirit.
Enter Ryan, a born and bred local who eight years ago founded the award-winning business, Two Feet & a Heartbeat Walking Tours. Whether it’s history, culture or the hottest foodie spots you’re after, Ryan and his crew are the go-to insiders, plugged into Freo’s eclectic pulse like walking Wikipedians.
Ryan whisked our group around the heritage trail’s premium draws, from the World Heritage-listed limestone fortress of Fremantle Prison (circa 1850s), through the flavourful Fremantle Markets (stock up on Morish Nuts), to the sublime preservation sweep of colonial architecture flanking High St, Western Australia’s oldest
It’s a triumphant streetscape of heritage buildings with ornate iron railings, now home to independent retailers, fashion designers, artists and inviting hospo venues.
Ryan remarked the charming little Buffalo Club has the cheapest booze in town. Enjoy a thirst-quencher and the spirited post-work ambience of the National Hotel, a grand old watering hole that has recently been revived after falling victim to multiple fires.
Throughout the city, the ongoing passion for heritage preservation is infectious and inescapable.
Even disused department stores have been creatively born again, as you will find in Kings Square, home to MANY, Australia’s largest temporary space activation project.
Repurposed as a thriving hub for cutting-edge retail, MANY is like a hothouse of pop-up stores, showcasing edgy retail, fledgling artists, craftspeople and fashion designers.
Call it what you want: freeform, experiential, boho chic … it’s quintessentially Fremantle. Recent changes to liquor laws has led to the proliferation of the small bar scene; intimate, speak-easies now speckling Fremantle.
One of the newest specimens is Strange Company, fast cultivating a loyal following with its expansive selection of beers, ciders and wine, matched with a lip-smacking share style tapas menu.