Fremantle, located at the mouth of the Swan River is the port city of Western Australia. The dynamic port city, just 30 minutes from the Perth CBD, offers trendy cafes and bars, a vibrant market and it’s own unique heritage and thriving art scene.
We had planned to meet fellow bloggers Michele and Ron from Legging It and as it was forecast to be a very hot 39°C decided to get there early and do some aimless walking before the heat of the day in Fremantle.
Fremantle is a unique and quirky place with a combination of authentic Victorian architecture, maritime history and a multicultural population. The Italian culture is very evident, especially along the Cappuccino strip, a bustling thoroughfare filled with sidewalk cafes. The strip is a great place on the weekend for a relaxing breakfast or Italian coffee and cake. Around the corner from the strip is the Fremantle Markets, dating back to 1897. The markets sell food, local produce, handmade clothes and other handicraft and there is always a great atmosphere with local music and entertainment.
Across the road is the Fremantle Football Oval and outside is a statue of John Gerovich best known for his high flying mark in the 1956 preliminary final.
We move along to the town square known as Kings Square, home of the Fremantle Town Hall, currently undergoing restoration. Also in Kings Square are three notable statues. One that is covered due to restorations is of John Curtin, the first and only Australian Prime Minister to serve an electorate outside the Eastern states. The second statue we come across is Air Commodore, Sir Hughie Edwards, one of Australia’s most decorated airmen. Finally, my favourite is Pietro Porcelli, a sculpture who created the statue of CY O’Connor an Irish Engineer, who designed the Fremantle Harbour and the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme.
This leads us down to Victoria Quay, where alongside the Fremantle Ports Authority building we saw Pietro’s statue of CY O’Connor. Across near the E Shed is another statue, of a man arriving via a gangway carrying his suitcase and a model ship.
The Fremantle Waterfront, known as Victoria Quay is a fully operating port. The docks, quays and wharfs play a major part in WA’s heritage. The Ferry landing at Victoria Quay is O’Connor Landing, a lively, vibrant area with a bustling harbour atmosphere. Here we saw both the Rottnest Ferry and the Tall Ship STS Leeuwin II dock. There were many quirky sculptures here, each with their own message.
Further along we came across the WA Maritime Museum which is home to the Welcome Wall which pays tribute to the migrants who arrived by sea. Steve and his family arrived in 1965 onboard the Australis so we went and saw the Baker’s family panel. Nearby is the child migrant memorial, a life size statue of a bewildered looking boy and girl, each with a small suitcase. They represent the 3000 unaccompanied children who were shipped to Western Australia from Britain and Malta without their Mothers and Fathers between 1947 and 1953.
It is now time to make our way over to Bathers Beach to see the Sculptures at Bathers. We pass some lovely restored buildings and come across a bright red Scooter, reminding of us of the Italian influence, before arriving at the Whalers Tunnel under the Round House Gaol at Arthur Head. Used as a lockup from 1857 to 1900 the tunnel underneath was the first underground engineering project in Western Australia. The Government provided their engineering expertise and convict labour to build the 57 metre long tunnel, cut beneath the Round House in 5 months. The tunnel connects High Street to the Bathers Bay Whaling Station.
Along Bathers Bay we admire the many sculptures in this year’s exhibition and slowly make our way over to Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour.
We pass the beautiful Bella, a bikini wearing woman sitting on a bench between Bathers Beach and Fishing Boat Harbour. The inscription reads “The freedom to be who you are and to enjoy what is”. Fishing Boat Harbour is home to Cicerello’s, Kailis, Joe’s Fish Shack and the best fish and chips in the area.
It’s almost 12 o’clock so we had over near the Bon Scott sculpture to have a cooling drink while we wait to meet Michele and Ron. When they arrived it was lots of travel talk and a feed of fish and chips.
We meander back towards Bathers Bay and the Kidogo Arthouse to view more art and sculptures before saying our goodbyes.
We make our back to the car via the Italian Club where we see two more unique sculptures, one of Pan, the horny Greek god of fertility and hunting who is mending his fishing nets. The other we have no information on, but it a nude, pregnant woman. The club is across the road from the iconic Esplanade Hotel.
Finally, we made our way back to our car and enjoyed being in the air-conditioning on the drive home after our long, hot day in Fremantle. Although we spent the day walking between the sights, we could have seen all these things and kept out of the blazing heat of the day by using the Fremantle Tram Hop On Hop Off. But we found walking about we had in Bella’s words “The freedom to be who you are and to enjoy what is”.
Whether in the town centre, Bathers Beach, Fishing Boat Harbour or Victoria Quay, Fremantle is a great place for meeting people. It’s amazing what you find in Fremantle and with all the craft breweries, restaurants, scenic views and the salty spritz in the air, chances are you will find many more hidden gems that we have pointed out to you. But don’t just take our word for it. There are plenty of people falling in love with Fremantle.
Does this port side city sound like a great place and where would you head to first when you arrive in Fremantle? Which of the sculptures was your favourite?
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