Doing Time in Fremantle

  • Posted by Jennifer Morton
  • May 30, 2013 8:59 PM AEST

Keen to get out of Perth for a day or two? Hop in your car or on the train to Fremantle where you will find history, charm, unique architecture, fishermen and their wares, museums, a legend, a big ferris wheel and one damn fine brewery

Fremantle, or Freo as it is known by the locals, is a port city just 20km south of Perth and a must when visiting Western Australia. Plan a full day and if time permits, treat yourself to an overnight stay at the iconic Esplanade Hotel.


Stay in Style


The Esplanade Hotel had recently been bought and was under new management by the hotel chain Rydges when I stayed there in January 2013. The low-rise colonial style building with wrap around balconies is a 4-star, 300 guest room luxury hotel. It opened its doors in 1896 and over the years grew to local icon status. It is in the perfect central location which allows walking to all the cool spots. The hotel has 2 restaurants, 2 outdoor heated pools, 3 spas, a sauna and a fitness centre. The fitness room needs some work though, it could be better. It is tiny, way too tiny for the size of this property. It's not cheap but nothing in Western Australia is, so best be warned. If spending over $225 AUD (plus all the extras they charge for like parking, Wi-Fi...) a night is not in your budget, there are hostels but most hotels are pricey here. With only one night and one day in Freo, it was all go to squeeze in as many sites as possible.


Dad, I'm in jail


The Fremantle Prison is on most tourists' hit lists and if it isn't on yours, it should be. My 7-year-old son and I did the “Doing Time” tour, a 75-minute guided meander around the famous clink. What's amazing about this jail, is that is was built by the convicts way back in the mid 1800s and was still operating as a maximum security facility until 1991! Our female guide was friendly, funny and knew her stuff. It's not just a walk around a “museum”. The place is said to be heavily haunted but unfortunately we didn't see any of the former residents. When we visited the gallows, there were flowers inside. The guide said that the daughter of the last man to be hung there comes each year on the anniversary and lays a bouquet in his memory. It was hard not to get choked up. One woman cried. If I ever get the chance to to another tour, especially the spooky Torchlight Tour (no kids under 10 years old) I will do it. I've read that people have seen Orbs in their photos on this one. Certainly not for scaredy pants!


Bon Scott & other Aussie legends


Former Fremantle prisoner and legendary frontman to Australia's most loved rockers, AC/DC, Bon Scott is honoured at the Fishing Boat Harbour wharf. Bronze statues of fishermen are scattered along the waterfront and the one of Bon is near the famous Cicerello's Fish 'n' Chips. I had no idea he was there so I was stoked when I saw it. His family migrated to Australia when he was 6 and settled in Fremantle when Bon was 10. Though he was born in Scotland, Australia has considered him one of their own. Be sure to grab a photo of yourself with “The Greatest Rock n' Roll Front Man of all Time” and then buy heaps of classic AC/DC tunes! To Bon Scott and those about to rock, I salute you!


Fishing Boat Harbour


After you have a chat with Bon, turn around to see the many lunch choices that await you. It wasn't a hard decision for my family. We all love fish n'chips and what else could you have at Fishing Boat Harbour? We went to Cicerello's because it was right there and very busy but all the places along the wharf were busy. We did stand in a cue to order but our food was ready in less than 10 minutes. Remember, this is not McDonald's – you will not get lunch for under $10 here. We paid over $65 for a fish n'chip lunch for 2 adults and 1 child (including 1 beer, 1 wine and 1 soda). It was good, nothing fantastic but the atmosphere along the wharf-side eatery made it memorable. Afterwards, take a walk around the area. Shop, have a coffee, visit the WA Shipwreck Galleries, feel the wind in your hair on a jet boat ride with Westcoast Jet or stroll south for a brew or two.


Wet your whistle


A big draw card to staying overnight in Freo was the fact it is home to the Little Creatures Brewery and it is straight across the park from the Esplanade Hotel (a 2-minute stumble home – yay!). This is where my hubby's favourite ale comes from and it was exciting to have a pint at its birthplace. I actually had the Pipsqueak Apple Cider but it was equally as good. The dream was for my husband to go on the brewery tour but since he's a bit of a hippy and didn't wear shoes, they wouldn't let him. So be sure to wear proper footwear if you want to see how and where the beer is made. Even if you don't fancy a tour, stop in for a pint and a bowl of chips (so very yum) or a full meal if you're so inclined, there's a proper restaurant too!


There is so much more to see and do in Freo and I cannot wait to get back there!



  • Ciara Snook
    Ciara Snook Freemantle sounds great Jennifer! The Prison tour sounds intriguing, seeing as it was functioning as a maximum security facility until '91 I'm guessing they've left a lot of it untouched since then?
    Makes you wonder what they expect to be flying around an...  more
    May 31, 2013
  • Jennifer Morton
    Jennifer Morton Ya well, they (the brewery) lost out that day but I hope we'll get back there soon for the tour. We're lucky enough to live only 3 hours away. Thanks for reading!
    June 3, 2013 - 1 likes this