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From Whale Watching to Historic Shipwreck Museums - What to See and Do in Fremantle

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For a city with fewer than 30,000 inhabitants, Fremantle packs in an impressive range of attractions and excursions. Over 150 heritage buildings bear witness to the past. There are museums and replica ships that celebrate the city's ties to the ocean. You can stroll through parkland, or take boat trips to nearby islands. And Perth, the Swan Valley’s vineyards, and barren deserts are all relaxed day trips.

An early Western Australian settlement

 

Fremantle was founded in 1829, and over 150 heritage buildings from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries survive, including Fremantle Markets, which have been bustling for over a century. The oldest building in town, The Roundhouse, opened in 1831. Elsewhere, Fremantle Prison was originally a home for transported convicts. You can tour it in the company of knowledgeable guides, who bring the past to life with their tales of the inmates. You can also explore the labyrinth of tunnels that burrow beneath the prison.

 

  • Fremantle Prison, 1 The Terrace, Fremantle, WA 6160; Tel: +61 8 9336 9200; Website: Fremantle Prison
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  • Fremantle Roundhouse, Captains Lane, Fremantle, WA 6160; Tel: +61 8 9336 6897; Website: Fremantle Roundhouse

Fremantle's maritime connections

 

As a major port at the mouth of the Swan River, Fremantle is proud of its nautical past. The Western Australian Maritime Museum brings the city’s links with the ocean to life. The Shipwreck Galleries contain the remains of Dutch ships that were wrecked along the coast. The highlight is a section of hull of the “Batavia”, which foundered in 1629. In the fishing port you can also tour the “Duyfken” 1606 Replica, a copy of the first European vessel to visit Australia.

 

 

Parks and reserves in Fremantle

 

Fremantle has over 70 parks and reserves, ranging from neat city gardens to native bushland. There are also beach parks, great for a picnic. Norfolk Island pines provide plenty of shade in Esplanade Park, and there are sweeping views from the top of the Tourist Wheel. Nearby Monument Hill park is a World War II memorial. From the top you'll have a panoramic view over the city, the ocean, and the Swan River. On a clear day you can even see Rottnest Island in the distance.

 

  • Monument Hill War Memorial, Corner Of High Street and Bateman Street, Fremantle, WA 6160; Tel: +61 8 9432 9702; Website: Monument Hill War Memorial
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  • Tourist Wheel Fremantle, Esplanade Park, Fremantle WA 6160; Website: Tourist Wheel Fremantle

 

Boat trips from Fremantle

 

Head to Victoria Quay on Fremantle Harbour, and you can board a 30-minute boat ride to Rottnest Island. The small island packs in 63 beaches and 20 bays, as well as a myriad of colorful flora and marine life. The most popular attraction are the resident quokkas - small, cuddly, marsupials that always seem to be smiling. Rottnest Express also runs boat tours that offer you the chance to see migrating humpback whales. For a more sedate ride, hop on a ferry for a cruise along the Swan River.

 

  • Rottnest Express, B shed, Victoria Quay, Fremantle, WA 6168; Tel: +1300 467 688 (only within Australia); Website: Rottnest Express
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  • Golden Sun Cruises, East Street Jetty, Fremantle WA 6160; Tel: +61 8 9325 9916; Website: Golden Sun Cruises

 

Trips to the interior from Fremantle

 

If you're heading inland, the sights of Perth - the largest city for thousands of kilometers in any direction - are a 30-minute drive away. To get your bearings, expansive Kings Park and Botanic Garden has panoramic views of the city and the Swan River. Over half the park is natural bushland. To sample the local vineyards’ excellent drops, take the hour-long drive - or a train ride - to the wineries of Swan Valley. Less than 3 hours’ drive away is The Pinnacles Desert, with thousands of statuesque limestone mounds, some up to 5 meters high.