Freo is to Perth what St Kilda is to Melbourne and Bondi is to Sydney: a seaside suburb with cool cafés, happening restaurants, quirky bars and stand-out galleries. A recent spate of openings and refurbishments has pumped new excitement into the district known for its laid-back vibe and live-music scene.
The best restaurants
Locals are congregating at justopened The Old Synagogue (pictured above) – a megavenue housed within a 118-year-old former synagogue – as much for its stately interior and heritage architecture as for the smart, assertive mod-Asian dishes served at Tonic + Ginger. Push through the bookcase in its subterranean reading nook and you’ll be embraced by L’Chaim, Freo’s lushest, louche-est temple to drinking.
One of the area’s oldest fish and chip shops, Kailis’ Fishmarket Café, has just been given its first major makeover in nearly 35 years. Restaurateurs George and Victor Kailis have amped up the menu by adding uni waffles and poke bowls to the traditional roster of potato scallops and squid rings.
Located in the historic West End precinct, Bread in Common is the restaurant, bar and bakery that kicked off Fremantle’s culinary awakening a few years ago. It still rules the roost with dishes made from the bounty of its large-scale kitchen garden, including artichoke with borlotti beans, dandelion, macadamia and lovage. Order the lamb ribs and don’t forget to pick up a loaf of its extraordinary sourdough on the way out.
Things to do
You can go whale watching, bar hopping and gallery viewing but wandering the narrow streets of the West End affords a close-up look at the city’s finest Victorian architecture as well as a low-key way to settle in. Check out one of Australia’s premier Indigenous galleries, Japingka Aboriginal Art, which showcases works by artists from the Kimberley region, Central Australia and beyond.
Locals, understandably, pack Fremantle’s beaches during summer. As well as being close to the city centre, Port and Leighton beaches are notable for great post-swim and weekend breakfast options.
Open from Friday to Sunday plus long-weekend Mondays, the historic Fremantle Markets are a vital part of the community. While residents stock up on fresh produce, a diverse range of food vendors and shops provide visitors with plenty of browsing opportunities.
With rooms constructed from shipping containers, toiletries by Appelles Apothecary & Lab and razor-sharp interior design, the Hougoumont Hotel ticks all the boxes expected of a modern boutique hotel. It’s the go-to for those seeking a refined stay at a fair price.