Colourful and multicultural with a gentle rebellious streak, the Western Australian port city of Fremantle – just south of Perth – has a flavour all its own.
This former garage turned café makes a fine backdrop for Kurt Sampson’s spirited, modern Middle Eastern cooking. The menu runs from grilled courgettes punched up with air-dried tuna to hearty weekend breakfast fare: hello, Lebanese manoushe (flatbread freighting egg, sausage and fior di latte cheese).
Manuka Woodfire Kitchen
Equipped with a wood-burning oven and his little black book of nearby farmers, Kenny McHardy is serving some of Fremantle’s most satisfying food. Come to his cosy, bare-brick dining room for the baked-to-order flatbread; stay for the roasted seasonal produce, hearty pizzas and an all-Western Australian drinks selection.
Bread in Common
Naked light bulbs and mess hall tables might be pure Freo but the food at this lively restaurant-bakery reflects the state in its entirety. Plates such as grilled squid in a comforting corn broth or lamb ribs sharpened with chilli and mint are typical of Scott Brannigan’s winning ways with local ingredients.
The mixed crowd and infectious mood at Strange Company is testament to its inclusive nature. The timber-clad, potted bamboo-strewn space is as warm as the welcome. Tipple choices are as diverse as the record collection and delicious, tapas-style dishes encourage lingering.
New owners have reinvented this long-standing corner store into a small bar where creative cocktails, maverick wines and craft beers rule. The snacks are progressive, too, informed by the housemade charcuterie and no-waste thinking: duck neck pie, perhaps?
Hit the beach
White sand. Blue water. Tanned bodies. 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, including Bib & Tucker and Coast.
Visit the markets
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.
Enjoy live music
Music remains an important part of Freo’s cultural fabric. Every week, venues such as Clancy’s Fish Pub, the Fly By Night Musicians Club and Mojos feature new talent as well as established acts.
No other Fremantle hotel gets you quite as close to the action as this boutique establishment, a short walk from the precinct’s bustling main street. Built, appropriately enough, using shipping containers, the nautical-inspired Hougoumont is a contemporary space featuring cosy rooms, modern art and bespoke furniture. Guests can enjoy complimentary wine and cheese in the evenings before striking out to explore.
But first, caffeine...
Brothers Phillip and Anthony Arnold have pulled shots at some of Perth’s better cafés. Their exacting attitude to coffee is evident at Stable Hands, a former stable, along with well-made cocktails and a menu accented with native flavours, such as the tomato tarte tatin with saltbush.