A day in Fremantle

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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Fremantle Street Art

We love showcasing where we live and revel in being a tourist in our hometown. For us, there is nothing better than when we can do both for free. Today the streets were calling, so we headed down to the vibrant culture of Fremantle, to photograph some amazing street art.

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We love the vivid colours and the uniqueness of street art on some of the old buildings in Fremantle is nothing short of amazing when used as a canvas. Street art is often confused as graffiti, but street art is a way to express a notion and point of view, like other artworks. This is unlike graffiti which is just tags and non discript scribble. Fremantle Street art is actually effective in preventing or at least reducing graffiti and the costs associated with removing it. Discuss street art and you get a wide range of opinions from those strongly against it, to others openly advocating its ability to make a place unique.

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We had the honour of watching the famous Fremantle artist, Horatio T Birdbath while he was working on this intricately detailed mural. He’s been touching up the elaborate detail of his work on the back of Gino’s café in Fremantle for many years.

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We could never tire of wandering around these historic streets photographing the quaint and quirky street arts on the old, mostly deserted buildings. My favourite would have to be the massive mural on South Terrace and several passers-by clearly were as impressed with the details of Fremantle’s largest mural as we were. There were so many details in this quirky series that we easily spent an hour there.

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The power of art transported us to exotic places from across the globe. as our eyes were tricked in a trompe l’oeil style. A humongous still life painting that appears 3D came to life with the illusion of reality, deceiving our eyes and transforming this otherwise dull warehouse exterior to colourful vistas, all with incredible attention to detail.

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Almost every scene from China, France, Africa and India, has a little Westie dog, either sitting on a chair, hiding in a basket, hanging in the washing or sleeping on a rug, that I lost count how many ‘scenes’ he’s in. There are also meerkats, penguins, a cat, exotic birds, even an elephant.

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From the giant numbat, to the Alice in Wonderland wall, the secret entrance of the Monk or the huge mural at East West Designs, Fremantle’s street art simply blew us away.

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Whether public art is a passing fad or it will stand the test of time along with Aboriginal art and Michangelo to be persevered and be around to show future generations, time will tell. But urban street art is for now, an essential expression of our culture and a great reflection of our past and present. To be standing in King’s Square to see timeless architecture and bronze sculptures side by side with modern murals sanctioned for their artistic merit by City of Fremantle, is fabulous. There is an abundance of funky creativity in Fremantle and it is great to see aerosol art creating such a buzz.

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Certain pockets of Fremantle and the streets surrounding the iconic Woolstores, famous for its skate and urban art scene, are bursting at the seams with joyful colour bringing images to a wide audience. Visual art created in public spaces once was unsanctioned, but today gives artists a voice to express themselves through their weapon of choice, spraycans, artline pens or even a chisel. Urban street art was previously dominated by graffiti styles and is now inspired by pop cult, comics, feminine doll like figures and bold colourful works.

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Which one was your favourite street art or is there one we didn’t capture here?

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If you enjoyed this post you may want to check out some street art in other parts of the world and in our own hometown, Perth.

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2015 Fremantle Street Arts Festival

We couldn’t have wished for more perfect weather as we headed to Fremantle for this year’s Fremantle Street Arts Festival. The festival entertains in unusual, captivating and wonderful ways, showcasing buskers, comedians, musicians, jugglers, gymnasts and street performers. And we couldn’t have wished for greater line up of street performers either. Spread over 3 days of the Easter long weekend the crowds gathered early to be entertained, overwhelmed and flabbergasted in Australia’s biggest and best street arts festival.

With High Street and South Terrace closed to traffic, the streets were transformed into a multitude of stages and outdoor licensed areas adding vibrancy to the port side city. Fremantle is a unique place in the world and thousands of people flock here to witness breathtaking performances whilst soaking up the famous Freo atmosphere.

Performing several times over the three days, each act entertains at different locations throughout the streets. Programs are available to plan the day or you can mosey through the streets and be entertained as you stumble upon the world class acts.

The popular annual event first started as a grassroots busking event 16 years and today many of this year’s acts and performers from France, Japan, USA, UK, Cuba and Netherlands attracts more than 100,000 people.

And it wasn’t just the people taking over the streets. The first act we saw was a group of four rats invading the streets. If you enjoyed the tale of the Pied Piper growing up then you will appreciate the reality watching this French production of a flautist and his four giant rodents. Perky & Fiddle from Netherlands are garden gnomes looking for adventure as they ride their bikes beyond the garden beds.  Kiki & Pascal from UK & Kasador combined singing, juggling and contortion and even a surprise wedding in their hilarious stand up show. We then stumbled upon Madam Bonbon, a whimsical story teller and cupcake reader from UK who wears a croquembouche on her head. Our cupcake read “Good things come to those who wait” which related well to us.

From Japan a silent comedy couple dressed in white, Sivouplait who prove laughter has no language barriers. Eloise Green, The Hula Queen combined her comedy and acrobatics with hula hoops and an unexpected wedding. Then onto the Norfolk Hotel for some lunch where we found UK’s giant Seagulls poking their beaks into people’s lunches and other tomfoolery. Ole from Spain were the musical act of the festival with their combination of flamenco guitars, singing, harmonica playing harmonising with juggling, ping pong spitting and egg throwing. They even serenaded a lady in the audience.

There were many pop up restaurants and bars to kick back, have a meal and a drink and listen to some music between acts.

This year’s event was bigger and better than ever. The crowds enjoyed a diverse and eclectic range of free entertainment and family acts. The festival was packed with special events, bursting with verve and colour in true Freo style.

Do you enjoy street arts? What type of acts do you find the most entertaining?

A weekend in our neighbourhood

Australia Day consists of all things Australian, sunshine, snags, fireworks and friends.  And a long weekend is the perfect time to showcase life down under. Now we all know the major landmarks in Australia, Sydney Opera House, Uluru, Bondi, MCG, etc. But we want to show you our beautiful hometown, Perth. Our neighbourhood, where we work and where we relax.

Friday night, the end of a long working week and we head down to our favourite city, Fremantle. Fremantle is where Steve works and we had a table booked to share a meal and catch up with a good friend at Maya Indian restaurant. After all, diversity is Australia’s strength and we embrace the cuisines from the diverse cultures of our immigrant Australians. Following our amazing Indian feast, we take a leisurely walk to San Churros for dessert. After our chocolate fest we agree we need to walk it off, so we meander through the numerous alleys and lanes. Spilling into the streets are the aromas of the foods from a variety of cultures and the sounds of music and laughter from the many pubs. We stop and admire some of the street art and decide we will come back during the day one weekend and take more photos to share. We continue strolling for a while, enjoying the cool night air, before heading home.

Saturday morning and we awake to the perfect weather for a wander around the streets close to home. We live in the southeastern corridor of Perth, a suburb with an emphasis on sustainable living and a significant portion of our suburb consists of swamp bushland. We mosey around admiring the trees and stop to take a few photos. I love the contrast and colours of the Banksia with serrated dull green leaves and cylindrical, flower spikes of pink, yellow and bronze.  But the bright, cheerful Australian Christmas Tree, (Nuytsia Floribunda) is a favourite. I also love the Red Flowering Gum, (Corymbia Ficifolia) which has been planted on the verges in our street and make a wonderful display with our Bottlebrush (Callistemon) and bird attracting Grevillias. The contrast of the orange from the Nuytsia and reds from the Flowering gums are really impressive and these two trees flower in Perth during the Christmas season making a spectacular display in a bush setting. The other trees quite prolific in our area are gnarly Paperbark trees, (Melaleuca) with its flaky, exfoliating bark as they are found in watercourses or along the banks of swamplands.

After our walk we drive to the local council gardens, a few streets away from the office where I work in Cannington. We relax and enjoy the surroundings, inhabited by two black swans, swamp hens, a variety of ducks and coots. The swans are very graceful and swam for a while before curling up for a sleep. Swans are monogamous and these two have just finished raising six cygnets which have recently left area to make a new life. Whilst watching the swans a flock of white cockatoos flew over and grazed in the shade on the grass.  Together we while away several hours relaxing in the cool breeze on a bright and sunny morning.

Come back and join us and we’ll take you along on a tour with a difference.

This post is linked up with Rambling Woods

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