Why Freo is Australia’s best kept secret
When it comes to visiting Australia, most tourists tend to think of checking off as many of the major cities as possible. The danger is that you end up with a whole host of airmiles and memories of hotel rooms interspersed with a few of the most crowded tourist attractions. There are two morals to this story. The first is to take your time, adopt a laid-back approach and genuinely experience a couple of places instead of briefly glimpsing four or five.
The second is that you don’t always want to be slap bang in the middle of the biggest city. OK, in New South Wales or the Northern Territory, it makes sense. But if you’re in Queensland, Victoria or Western Australia, think twice. We will look at alternatives to Melbourne and Brisbane another day. Here, we are going to bask in the glory that is Fremantle, which is best considered as Perth’s quirky, slightly eccentric kid brother with a heart of gold.
More than just coffee on the Cappuccino Strip
You’ve probably heard that Australians have a passion that is close to obsession about coffee. If you’re fond of a cup of Joe, you’ll love Freo’s Cappuccino Strip. But even if your tastes lie elsewhere, this is somewhere you need to spend some time, as it caters to all tastes.
Yes, there are artisan coffee shops in abundance, but that is only the beginning. Western Australia has an amazing tradition of wine production, and there are several wine bars that specialize in local produce. Even closer to home, Cappuccino Strip is home to three brew pubs where you can sip on craft ales that have travelled all of 20 yards from the brewery to your glass.
This part of South Terrace also has numerous other bars and cafés that offer diverse live music entertainment after the sun goes down, including local bands and open mics. There’s nowhere better to soak up the unique Freo atmosphere from early morning to late at night.
Poker and pokies – two Aussie traditions under one roof at The Crown
Another Australian trope that is absolutely true is that this is a nation that loves to gamble. In fact, Aussies gamble more money per person per year than any other nationality. Pokies, or slot games, and poker are two of the most popular forms of gambling. These days, and especially after the world-changing events that took place a couple of years ago, online poker is all the rage. The Casino Aus website can provide more details about that at casinoaus.net/online-poker/ if you feel like trying some online poker on your phone while watching the world go by on Cappuccino Strip.
Impressive though the virtual games are, there’s still nothing quite like a night at a real casino, though, and Freo has you well covered. The Crown is almost into Perth, but still south of the river that forms the official divide. It’s a wonderful hangout for wannabe James Bonds and Vesper Lynds, so put some effort into dressing up to the nines and prepare for a night of sophisticated fun.
With more than 2,000 pokies to choose from, you won’t know where to start, but don’t get too carried away. There are also four types of poker to try out, ranging from video poker, which is ideal for novices learning the rules, through dealer games like Casino Holdem, right up to tournaments against other players.
The seafaring heritage is a source of pride
Fremantle started out as a port city serving the Western Australian capital of Perth just a few miles north. Although it now has a character and charm all of its own, it has never forgotten its seafaring roots, or indeed the mariners who dedicated, and sometimes gave, their lives to make the city what it is today.
Be sure to pay a visit to the Shipwreck Galleries on Cliff Street and the Maritime Museum on Victoria Quay, as the stories they have to tell are intrinsic to understanding what Freo is really all about.
The Shipwreck Galleries contain hundreds of artifacts, including original timbers from the Batavia, which came to grief almost 400 years ago. The maritime museum takes a more holistic approach in exploring Fremantle’s relationship with the ocean, past, present and future. There are also some incredible vessels that you can explore up close, including the fascinating and slightly terrifying cold war submarine, HMAS Ovens.