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Ten FREE school holiday activities in Fremantle

Here's ten free activities for kids to do in the April school holidays. It’s a chance to put away the devices and experience the fresh salty air and wide open spaces in Fremantle. We’ll wager there’ll be a few you didn’t know about–feel free to spread the word.

1. Free wheeling free bike hire
This free bike hire service with bikes for adults and kids (8+ years) operates from the Fremantle Visitor Centre in Kings Square. Bikes can be used anywhere in the Fremantle area. There are a limited number of bikes available for hire so arrive early to avoid disappointment.


Image: Booyeembara Park, cnr Stevens & Montreal Street Fremantle

3. Take a spin at the Esplanade Youth Plaza
Pack up the kid’s skateboards, scooters or roller skates and spend an afternoon at one of the most popular skate facilities in the metropolitan area. There’s also places to try ping pong, rock climbing, slacklining and parkour and the playground adjacent to the plaza has swings and a giant climbing frame. Bring a picnic or grab a bite to eat from nearby cafés and restaurants all within walking distance.

4. Behind the scenes tour at WA Shipwrecks Museum
For the older kids every Wednesday and Sunday WA Shipwrecks Museum offers a free and exclusive behind the scenes tour of the WA Shipwrecks Museum through maritime archaeology and conservation works areas. Bookings essential. On the second Tuesday of every month entry to WA Maritime Museum is free (the next one falls Tuesday 11 April).

5. Freo Easter Hunt
Pick up a #Freo_Easter Hunt map from participating businesses or the local paper from Saturday 8 April and start hunting for special eggs in shop windows around Fremantle city centre. Collect all the numbers, crack the code and you can enter the prize draw.

6. Junior Fishing Clinic
Recfishwest is offering a free SunSmart fishing clinic at Victoria Quay in Fremantle on Thursday 13 April. Kids do need to be supervised by a parent or guardian and will learn fishing skills like casting and fish handling and how to fish sustainably.

7. Firing of the cannon at the Round House
Opened in 1831, Round House is the oldest public building in Western Australia. It’s open every day between 10.30 and 3.30 (except Christmas Day and Good Friday). Hear the story of why the cannon is fired every day at 1 pm – visitors can even apply to act as the honorary gunner!

8. Fremantle International Street Arts Festival 13-17 April
It really is Australia’s biggest and best street arts festival (if not the world!) and if you live in Perth Western Australia it’s right on your doorstep. This year, for the first time, there will be performances from Good Friday right through to Easter Monday from lunch time well into the evening. Download the program to plan what you’d like to see or just rock up on the day and let the atmosphere sweep you along. It’s beautiful, engaging, hilarious and simply a fabulous day out with the family. 

Fremantle International Street Arts Festival 2017
Image: Hell's Cocky's will be performing at this year's Fremantle International Street Arts Festival 13-17 April

9. Self guided walking trails
Explore iconic Fremantle attractions, history, cultural heritage and the arts with one of the Explore Fremantle walking trails. There are seven trails to choose from including cafés, a general discovery trail and heritage highlights. The trails work on iPhone and Android devices (you can connect to FREBytes free wifi in the CBD).

10. Play giant chess in Kings Square
Almost directly under the newly unveiled Fremantle Town Hall is a giant marble chess board. You'll find the chess pieces stored under the ‘kings bench’ near the Moreton Bay fig tree. If the bench is locked pop into the Fremantle Visitor Centre and they'll open it up for you.

Late addition: kids (of all ages) will love checking out the giant fish tanks at Cicerellos!

All of the above are free which might leave some money in your pocket for a morning or afternoon treat at one of Freo’s cafés. There’s a few favourites including a milkshake and a pie from Culley’s Tearooms, fish & chips at Fishing Boat Harbour or the nature and art hub for kids (and their grown ups) at Moore and Moore Café on Henry Street.

If you are looking for more bright ideas, Fremantle story publishes an official school holiday guide full of classes, workshops and special offers that will help you keep the kids busy all through the holidays.

Ed
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Fremantle | top 10 things to do

Okay, so you’ve got 24 hours and you want to know what to see in Fremantle? The team at the Fremantle Visitor Centre meet and greet hundreds of thousands of people every year so they have a pretty good idea of what’s on everyone’s bucket list.

1. Cappuccino Strip
From the corner of Bannister Street to Parry Street, the street officially known as South Terrace is renowned as the ‘Cappuccino Strip’. It’s also the perfect place for a spot of people watching as you sit in the sunshine and enjoy the life and colour that is Fremantle.

2. Fishing Boat Harbour
Home to the city’s recreational and commercial fishing fleet, Fishing Boat Harbour is connected by boardwalk flanked with cafés, restaurants and a brewery! It’s a favourite destination to sample fresh seafood (and piping hot chips).

3. Fremantle Arts Centre
Housed within an iconic heritage building and beautiful grounds, Fremantle Arts Centre is one of Australia's leading arts organisations. The impressive convict built arts centre dates back to 1864 when it was the first purpose-built ‘lunatic’ asylum in Western Australia. It has since been a women’s home, a naval base during WW1 and WW2 and a technical college before opening as Fremantle Arts Centre in 1972.

4. Fremantle Markets
Located at the southern end of the Cappuccino Strip, Fremantle Markets is housed in a grand Victorian-era heritage building that was constructed in 1902 and completely restored in 1975 and then added to the Western Australian Register of Heritage Places. It takes up almost the whole block with over 150 stalls under one roof.

5. Fremantle Prison
Fremantle Prison is the largest and most intact convict built prison in Australia and is Western Australia’s only World Heritage Listed Building. It was continuously used as a place of incarceration for almost 140 years. The prison was decommissioned as a maximum-security gaol in 1991. Without doubt, the highlight of a visit to the prison is the entertaining tours conducted by experienced tour guides who bring the rich folklore and stories of the prison to life.

6. Little Creatures Brewery
The chubby cupid with his bow on the Little Creatures label is the symbol of this iconic Fremantle boutique brewery. Set on the waterfront at Fishing Boat Harbour, and in an old warehouse that was previously a crocodile farm, Little Creatures brews a variety of award winning craft beers and ales on-site.

7. WA Maritime Museum
Located on Victoria Quay, the WA Maritime Museum includes galleries exploring Western Australia’s relationship with the sea, past, present and future. The museum is home to several true-life exhibitions; in one enormous space is the America’s Cup winning yacht, Australia II. Also inside the museum is Parry Endeavour, the yacht that carried Jon Sanders on his record-breaking triple circumnavigation of the globe. Next door is the Oberon-class Australian submarine HMAS Ovens.

8. Round House
The Round House is the oldest public building in Western Australia and stands at the western end of High Street on Arthur Head, a high promontory overlooking Bathers Beach and the Indian Ocean. The twelve-sided building was purpose-built as a gaol in 1831.

9. Rottnest Island
While technically not actually in Fremantle, O’Connor’s Landing on Victoria Quay, is the main departure point for a 25 minute ferry ride Perth’s favourite holiday destination of Rottnest Island.

10. Tall ships
In 1606, the little Dutch ship Duyfken sailed from Indonesia in search of gold and spices to trade. Heading south-east, she explored and charted parts of present-day Papua New Guinea before making landfall on the northern coast of the Australian continent. The replica of the Duyfken (the name means 'Little Dove') has its home port in Fremantle and is berthed in Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour behind Little Creatures Brewery.
Another tall ship berthed in Fremantle is Leeuwin II sail–training ship. The Leeuwin is a 55 metre-long barquentine with three masts that carry more than 810 square metres of sail berthed at Victoria Quay near the Maritime Museum.

Tell us what would be on your top 10 list of things to do in Fremantle!

Ed
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Off to one side

The first rule of happy fossicking could well be this: Go where the traffic doesn’t. When you leave the pulse of the main drag and take your urban wanderlust to the nearby malls, arcades and piazzas, the opportunities for quiet discovery ramp up. In Fremantle’s pedestrian-friendly spaces, some things are new, some are defiantly old school. Sometimes both.

In the High Street Mall, Culley’s Tea Rooms–a well loved fixture for more than 90 years–has shifted sideways, modernised its fit-out and found a new lease of life for its famous pies, pastries and horse shoe rolls. Also adopting new digs, Pigeonhole has brought a distinctly hip vibe to what was the souvenir shop at the top end of the mall (Mountain Designs has stepped in where the old Pigeonhole resided). Notable not just for its fun giftware, funky threads and jewellery, Pigeonhole also warmly welcomes your hound.

Like Culley’s, the new Cotton On Megastore–a kind of department store for all things casual cotton clothing–makes the best of two facades; one in the mall, one in the newly renovated Atwell Arcade. There’s a distinctively polished feel here since its multimillion dollar makeover. When following the shiny-tiled short-cut to Market Street, allow time to stop for specialty coffee at Little Hush (manual pour over, anyone?), a quiet browse in Margaret River Hemp Co and a footwear finding mission at the street specialist Hype (go ahead, bring your dog here too).

On the opposite side of High Street Mall, follow your nose–literally–down Manning Arcade to Blue Budha (yes, they spell it this way!), an exponent of all things spiritual, where the aroma of essential oils heralds a trove of crystals, dream catchers and wellness books. Embrace your inner hippyherbal-spiritualist and book in for a tarot or psychic reading.

Down the way in South Terrace Piazza–past the hipster pocket of Paddy Troy Mall owned by The Grumpy Sailor café and Captain Walker’s Bicycles–some Freo stalwarts keep the New Age spirit alive. Ark of Joan sells gifts, books, candles and clothing that buck the mainstream. For more than 20 years, Into Camelot has been furnishing expressive fans of medieval style (a swag of colourful musicians and performers are known to enhance their stage presence here) with romantic clothing.

Eyes peeled for fairies darting in and out from the neighbouring Pickled Fairy, where all imaginable tulle, wand and glitter needs are met. Head to Milk Belly café when you’re ready to check back in with the real world.

Nomad Gnome, in Fremantle Malls, adds flamboyance to an area with a strong focus on personal maintenance. Get your hair, your waxing and your massage needs satisfied along here. And for a contrasting style of threads, try Frock This, where new, pre-loved and vintage clothing share the racks.

Meanwhile, back near the Cappuccino Strip, eating gnocchi on the deep balcony at La Sosta overlooking Market Street Piazza is a great way to reconnect with both the picturesque building facades and the Italian influence on Fremantle. Spot the Italian restaurants within spitting distance. By day, Bottega café downstairs (new from the La Sosta crew) upholds the authentic Italian manifesto. Cured meats hang from the ceiling and artisan fare spills from the home kitchen.The recently beautified piazza at its doorstep has made for a more pedestrian-friendly, alfresco-happy space just off the Cappuccino Strip. It’s a space with a vision. When not being activated for festivals and special events, its paved streetscape, landscaping and lighting does another job: it captures the essence of being in Fremantle. Albeit slightly off to one side.

Ed
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Move over MANY 6160, Make way for MANY 2.0

The dynamic retail collective housed in the old Myer building has a new home. From March 2017, the eclectic pop-up with a difference is bringing new life to the old Spotlight building on Adelaide Street.

When it first opened in October 2013, nobody quite knew how long MANY 6160 (then known as MYRE) would inhabit the building vacated by the department store. Six months? Nine? More than three years later, the temporary concept store (a mix of retail and makers workspaces) is still busy incubating independent businesses. It’s part of an emerging trend in retail that shuns the bland, soulless shopping centre vibe in favour of a fresher, more experimental approach.

“MANY has been a huge, important and interesting project,” says project manager Kate Hulett of its first incarnation in Kings Square. She names the unusual nature of the building and the cooperation and flexibility of its owner Sirona and the City of Fremantle as contributing factors to its success. “Where else would you find 20,000 square metres of space to do something like this? And where else would this work but in Fremantle?”

MANY 6160 has housed an evolving line-up of retailers selling hats, artwork, vintage clothing, retro furniture, artisan lamps, jewellery and footwear. Its rooftop has seen two new bars, a couple of motorbike shows and at least one wedding. Its basement has witnessed everything from mini golf to an acclaimed art gallery to performances by Falls Festival DJs. Upstairs, furniture makers, costume designers, upholsterers, surfboard makers, metal workers and artists have toiled away on their own projects, in the company of like-minded folk.

It’s one of the hallmarks of MANY, says Kate. Unlike other small businesses where people work alone, the retailers and makers here can talk, connect and sometimes collaborate as a result of the communal space. As well as nurturing a vibrant community, MANY is a way for people to test their businesses without taking on prohibitive leases.

For customers, the benefits lie in the variety, the original wares and the accessibility. People can wander between shops, read books or enjoy the café without feeling pressured to buy. Kate sees it as a space where mums, grandparents, hipsters and teenagers can feel equally at ease.

Vacating the premises for the Kings Square redevelopment (the space will become mixed use office and retail) has brought a new opportunity: to reenergise another dead space with a new-look pop-up.

Overseen once again by Spacemarket, the Adelaide Street space has a similar vibe but a different look. Retail stores laid out on the diagonal, for example. The café (opening soon) will front both the retail floor and the outside lane near Westgate Mall. It’s hoped that regular events will take shape here.

The makers have embarked on a diaspora of their own. Some have moved to studios at the old Fremantle Police Station (cleverly renamed MANY 000), while others plumped for a warehouse at North Fremantle’s Matilda Bay Brewing. Others still are headed for East Perth.

In Adelaide Street, MANY’s retail philosophy holds. MANY 2.0 prides itself on being an outlet for hard-to-find, often handmade items that are unique to Western Australia, in a space that feels interesting and creative.

“It would be hard to manufacture the feel of MANY in a cold, new building,” says Kate, who has relished revitalising the derelict Spotlight store–which will be demolished within the next two years for new apartments–into MANY’s next temporary space.

“There’s no sadness in the closure of the old place. It’s exciting to have the opportunity to refresh.”

MANY 2.0 opens it's doors for business Thursday 16 March. Shout out to the project partners Yolk Property, Spacemarket & the City of Fremantle for unlocking another underutilised building and bringing it back to life. An official opening with all the bells and whistles is planned for Saturday 8 April. 

Ed
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Fremantle International Street Arts Festival 2017

The Fremantle International Street Arts Festival (FISAF), held over the Easter long weekend every year, offers locals and visitors alike an up close and personal experience of the world’s best street theatre in the most iconic and unusual of settings.

It’s all that we love about Freo, amplified by 100–the alfresco dining and relaxed atmosphere, the arts and culture, local characters and live performance in the streets.

In its 19th year, FISAF continues its evolution as Australia’s only dedicated street theatre festival, bringing artists from the Netherlands, Spain, Hungary, New Zealand, the USA, United Kingdom, Canada, Lithuania, Belgium and Japan to be a part of the action.

For the first time this year, the festival will be running a full program of entertainment at the Esplanade Reserve and surrounding areas on Good Friday. The fabulous interactive tour, Romantic Botanic will lead people from the Fremantle Prison to the Esplanade Reserve on a journey through the love life of our local natural fauna. Specially commissioned for FISAF, the tour will run on Friday and every day throughout the festival.

The entertainment continues after dark on Saturday and Sunday evenings. As the sun goes down each day, the street heats up with lively bands, spectacular fire shows and crazy roving antics making their way among diners and revellers to create a carnival vibe.

Making a comeback to FISAF 2017 is the much-loved Busker’s Cabaret, featuring all your favourite street performers doing the salacious bits they aren’t allowed to do on the streets. Hosted by the outrageous duo, Daredevil Chicken and held in the beautiful Fremantle Town Hall with a full bar, it’s sure to be an over-18s highlight.

Possibly one of the most daring and hilarious acts of this year’s festival is the Belgian butchers, Boucherie Bacul. From their unassuming mobile food van, they will be carving up tasty treats without a joint of meat in sight. Spanish dancers HURyCAN will be pushing the line between love and exasperation in their piece Te Odiero and Witty Look present their Guinness World Record-holding cartoon comedy.

Quatour Stomp will be bringing their acrobatic skills all the way from Canada for the ultimate audience participation show, What’s Next? The roll of a dice decides which tricks form part of the show, meaning even the performers won’t know how it will play out.

Kicking off the entire festival is the ever-popular opening night at Fremantle Arts Centre. Select performers and musicians will be giving a sneak peak of what to expect over the weekend in the relaxed party atmosphere of the courtyard. It’s the perfect way to start four days of FISAF fun!

Fremantle International Street Arts Festival 13–17 April 2017. Check out this year's performers and download a copy of the program here

Ed
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Spend the Easter weekend in Freo

Fremantle International Street Arts Festival (FISAF), held over the Easter long weekend (13-17 April 2017), offers an up close and personal experience of the world’s best street theatre in one of Australia’s most iconic port cities.

Performers, hand-picked and direct from festivals around the world, descend on Fremantle, Western Australia, to present a rip roaring weekend of entertainment, mayhem, comedy, satire and lots of laughs.

It’s a long weekend of awe-inspiring shows from the outrageous and boisterous in front of captivated crowds right through to intimate performances for a few.

Between the two you’ll encounter roving acts that pop up anywhere and anytime; punk rock cockatoos in biker jackets cheekily vying for drinks, a plastic green army man come to life and giant sniffer dogs sniffing out trouble…

But absolutely the best thing about this Easter weekend is the vibe, and the only way to get that is to come and experience it for yourself.

The festival kicks off officially on Thursday 13 April with an opening night at Fremantle Arts Centre. It’ll give you a bit of a taster of what’s to come. For the first time there will be performances on Good Friday (14 April) at Cicerello’s Pitch and Esplanade Reserve.

With flights a plenty to Western Australia all you need to do is book accommodation on your doorstep to the festival. The team at Fremantle’s Visitor Centre know all the best places, or stay at the official festival hotel, Esplanade Hotel Fremantle–by Rydges, where you’ll rub shoulders with the FISAF performers. Use promo code PROMO17 for a special offer of $199 per night for the FISAF weekend.

There’ll be plenty happening every day and into the evenings but make time for an Indian Ocean sunset at Western Australia’s only beach bar, Bathers Beach House on Bathers Beach, explore the amazing street art (work) around Fremantle with a self–guided walking tour or hang out in the heritage listed West End Precinct at the West End Weekender with chill out zones, activities for kids, live music and the Easter Food Market.

Fremantle is a hip foodie destination and the variety of places to eat is mouth watering and eclectic. Take your pick from small bars offering delicious shared plates, restaurants & cafés serving up taste sensations with the freshest local ingredients like Strange CompanyRaw Kitchen, Moore & Moore Café, Bread in Common & Kazoomies on Victoria Quay and there’s plenty more to try. Have a look at our eat & drink pages for some more suggestions.

Not sold yet? Look out for our latest FISAF blog post for the heads up on must see acts or check the special events page for a full list of performers and download the official FISAF program. It’s going to be an awesome festival.

See you in Freo!

Ed
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