Captain Charles Fremantle and HMS Challenger arrived at this site on 2nd May 1829, where he went ashore and ‘took possession in the name of the King’. To mark the occasion the city was named in his honour by Sir James Stirling, the Swan River Colony’s first Governor. Fremantle today is a busy, fully containerised working harbour and international port, catering for ocean liners and fishing fleets.
Since the turn of the century the city has developed a strong European flavour, reflected in its restaurants, coffee shops, contemporary architecture and commercial fishing fleet. Local residents, living either in or close to the city centre, include several West Australian artists and their studios, adding further colour to this cosmopolitan environment. As a result it is often referred to as ‘the City of Artists’.
Fremantle is also renowned for its hotels and, in 1987, many of the finest hotels were restored to their former glory to host the America’s Cup Challenge. These hotels provide accommodation, great brasserie food, boutique beer and wine.
It is worth setting aside at least one whole day to explore this city. There are many varied and interesting places to visit.
The streets of Fremantle have been named after many of its famous citizens and personalities - sea captains, explorers, businessmen and developers. One of these is the Samson family who established a wine import/export business in the area. Their family home, Samson House, has also been donated to the city as a museum where much of Fremantle’s history has been captured.
A must for any visitor to Fremantle. Visitors can explore the building, observe craftspeople at work, view the art gallery exhibitions, marvel at the range of books produced by the Fremantle Art Centre Press, browse in the craft shop or partake of afternoon tea in the coffee shop
The Maritime Museum’s Shipwreck galleries in Cliff Street, in the Port city’s historic maritime precinct, house a treasure-trove of shipwreck artefacts such as coins, pottery, cannons, anchors and shipwreck timbers.
This impressive 12 sided building on Arthur Head is the oldest public building in Western Australia. It was purpose built as a gaol and opened in January 1831. It contained 8 cells and was a place of confinement for anyone who broke the law inside Australia. The cells were designed to take up to four prisoners in each. It became a police lock-up when in 1886 the convict Establishment in Fremantle was handed to the Colonial Government by Britain.
In the early 1900’s it was used as a residence for various Water Police families. In 1998 the Fremantle Volunteer Heritage Guides were formed and operating under a licence from the City of Fremantle, provide guides for visitors to the Round House, Gun Deck and Whaler’s tunnel. Opening between 10.30am and 3.30pm every day of the year excluding Christmas Day and Good Friday. Entry is by Gold Coin Donation.
Rottnest Island (11kms x 5kms) is situated 20kms west of Fremantle and is now primarily a holiday island with no private landholders. The coastline, made up of private bays and beautiful beaches, provides endless picturesque scenery. In excess of 100 types of birdlife have been found on the island and quokkas, the local protected species, can be sighted in abundance. Frequent ferries sail daily from Perth and Fremantle.
This is a working harbour all year round and you may see fresh seafood being unloaded ready for export or local despatch. There are many waterfront restaurants with spectacular views over the Indian Ocean.