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Off grid - Fremantle's warehouse district

When sleuthing out the offbeat hubs of Fremantle, ask yourself this: where would the creative types be? Not the shiny places, probably. Not the gentrified bits. Set your GPS instead for the slightly grungy warehouse pocked area around Stack, Wood and Blinco Streets.

The Fibonnacci Centre (affectionately The Fib) is downwind from Monument Hill on Blinco Street. Past the new housing development, behind funky wrought iron gates, the converted warehouse is home to artists’ studios and creative events. Concerts, uke jams, yoga and exhibitions all happen here; get the lowdown while soaking up the eclectic boho vibe at Roark and Co Café upstairs.

Inspired and ready to kick start your own musical journey, wander around the corner to Penny Lanes Music Workshop where you can sign up for music lessons under the watchful eye of Richard Lane (Stems fame) and his team. The place has a friendly community feel with a constant flow of students and a must stop and peruse music shop stocking djembes, mandolin and everything in between. 

The treasure trove effect inspires at Shedwallah on Stack Street, a vast shed festooned with colourful tiles, outsized pots, textiles and homewares with an old Empire feel. Try leaving without at least one funky door knob or cow bell.

At Stackwood next door, there’s a light, minimalist aesthetic to the revamped warehouse. A constellation of creative businesses enhances the buzz brought by occasional workshops in the event space and a seasonal Made Local Market. The communal tables of Stacked Café mingle with the Stackwood shop, a garden-themed affair with lots of greenery.

Speaking of, a short stroll away, abutting the public golf course, Booyeembara Park is an unsung oasis whose landscaped walk trails and bush tracks are seldom troubled by crowds. Think of it as further reward for exploring the path less trodden, and take a load off by the lake.

Editor's note: find something you'd LOVE to add to your #freowishlist for Christmas? Check out our snap, tag & win competition. 

Ed
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Come and stay

If there’s one drawback to the Fremantle day trip, it’s going home at the end of it. No lingering late over dinner. No finding a sneaky night cap while wandering the West End. No being at your favourite coffee haunt inside two minutes. Unless, of course, you embrace the ‘staycation’ idea, and book a room.

Having out of town friends or relatives to visit? Consider bypassing the spare room and setting up a home from home in Freo. Likewise if you’re attending one of the summer festivals, and can’t face the commute home. Or if you’re just wanting a change of scenery without the added airfare. Freo has ‘short break’ written all over it.

In the thick of it
Freo’s West End has a handful of boutique accommodation offerings, putting you in walking distance of everything. One of its oldest sites, the former Manning Folly, is now home to the smart Quest Apartments on Pakenham Street. There’s modern comfort in the slick one and two bedroom apartments, but for a taste of the history, just look up. An impressive glass art installation on the third floor tilts its hat to the extravagance of Charles Manning’s former residence, and his passion for astronomy.

At the Hougoumont, shipping containers are wryly referenced in the room design, but there’s nothing industrial about the experience. The boutique hotel embraces the ideals of hospitality by offering coffee, bottled water, wine and cheese as added extras at no cost. The stylish lounge-cum-lobby has a friendly mixed use feel–work, recline, make your own cuppa–and the walls are adorned with the names of the convicts who came to Fremantle on the ship whose name now adorns this classy hotel.

...if you’re just wanting a change of scenery without the added airfare. Freo has ‘short break’ written all over it.

Across the road, Quality Suites has around 30 rooms and suites making good use of the inner city site that is both right in the middle of everything, and quietly tucked away in unassuming Bannister Street. A small team puts all their hospitality muscle behind this establishment, tending to guests’ sleeping requirements right on the doorstep of Fremantle’s food and entertainment offerings.

Alternatively, you could check in to the Esplanade by Rydges and never leave the hotel, if that was your bag. Especially if you plumped for the premier spa suite. The elegant rooms are matched by a slew of eating and drinking options on site, plus resort style pools. It’s close to both the Cappuccino Strip and Fishing Boat Harbour, with Esplanade Park at its feet. Look out for festival packages.

Rooms with a view
Go a little sideways, and you can get that Freo feeling with something extra: a holiday vibe. Consider Be. Fremantle, for example. It’s as far along Mews Road as you can be without getting wet–perched right on the end of the groyne at Fishing Boat Harbour. Every apartment has a water view here, surrounded by marina, harbour and Indian Ocean. That’s sunrise and sunset views covered. A recent refurb has seen some smart new additions at the pointy end, and accommodation ranges from studio rooms to 3-bedroom townhouses. Waterside dining is as close as Bathers Beach House or Char Char, where you can put your meal on your room tab.

...imbibing on the balcony, gazing at the bobbing boats and secluded beach, and congratulating yourself on your excellent staycation planning.

A lot of refurb dollars have been sunk into the Tradewinds as well. It’s not just a famous watering hole. It’s now a stylish sleeping option, with gorgeously appointed rooms and up to the minute tech. One of the biggest bonuses for in-house guests is the huge rooftop terrace bar, with views out across the river.

Some similar views are gettable from Seashells, tucked in a pocket of East Fremantle close to George Street’s hub. Furnished with Empire furnishings and equipped with free parking, it also has a lift directly up to the rooftop bar and restaurant, Sweetwater.

At Pier 21 in North Fremantle, several suites flank the grassy area right on the river’s edge. A sense of quiet and calm cocoons everything here. You might even find yourself feeling a bit smug, imbibing on the balcony, gazing at the bobbing boats and secluded beach, and congratulating yourself on your excellent staycation planning.

Ed
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What lies behind

Pop quiz question: Where can you get a black pearl, a nose ring, a Nepalese tunic, a kebab, some collectable vinyl, some artwork from a pop-up gallery, painted nails and a Thai massage, all within paces of an easy park?

Hard-core fossickers will tell you that rewards like this abound in the warren-like malls and arcades of Fremantle. No chain store ennui here. Some fiercely individual businesses – many of them operating for more than a decade – have made their homes in the eclectic patch around Paddy Troy Mall and Fremantle Malls (the alley off William Street near Kings Square).

Emporium-style
Joynt Venture has moved premises a few times (from the Freo markets to a bolt hole in the piazza to the roomy premises it now occupies) keeping loyal customers on their toes. But they’re happily tucked away off Paddy Troy Mall and, after 40 years of trade, they’re the go-to place for everything from heavy metal and punk tees to hair colour, sunglasses, body jewellery, posters and coloured contact lenses.

Street smart
During the week there’s easy parking around Paddy Troy mall, and the vibe is relaxed; fine conditions for investigating the offerings at Wear 2, the business whose urban gear has been bridging the vintage, surf and skate cultures for seven years. Think tees, footwear, and hats, with clearance items sourced from the US and elsewhere.

Bike bits
Captain Walkers Cycles is a tucked away cyclists Mecca; a destination store with a loyal following, this one for lovers of hip bikes (plus parts and personable service) without the intimidating attitude.

Hard-core fossickers will tell you that rewards like this abound in the warren-like malls and arcades of Fremantle. No chain store ennui here. 

Bling
Around the corner on William Street, Fremantle Opals’ slick display and service shows why it’s won the Fremantle Chamber’s Retail Excellence Award for two years running. They’ve got jewel-coloured opals from around Australia and pearls from the north, set in all imaginable ways – rings, earrings, cufflinks and pendants. Not belly bars or ear lobe rings, though. That’s more the domain of The Piercing Places across the mall. And what you can’t find in body bling here is probably not worth having.

Funky threads
Harking back to the Kathmandu style first made fashionable in the 1970s? Nomad Gnome in Fremantle Malls has the solution in full technicolour. Drop-crutch pants, jackets, dresses and skirts in cheerful colours and prints are made to order in Nepal, for folks who like to dress in a way that’s not dictated by this season’s trends.

Spun tunes
Further down the mall, Junction Records offers great fossicking potential, with its shop full of new and second hand vinyl, CDs and DVDs. Having been around for 20 years, they’ve witnessed the ever-evolving music scene and have lived to see the rise (again) of vinyl, and the changes in music buying habits. Specialists in classic rock and psychedelic music, they’ve got plenty for the dedicated flicker-through.

Refreshment
When it’s time to get off the feet, Parlapa will be cooking up an authentic Italian lunch, and The Federal Hotel will be standing by to quench your thirst. And all without leaving this one compact patch of off-strip Freo.

Ed
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It's Fremantle festival time

Expect a lot from the Fremantle Festival (27 October to 5 November). It’s not just a celebration of Fremantle–place, people and culture. The 10-day boutique festival also features festivals within the festival.

High Tide, for example. Fremantle’s inaugural visual arts biennale leads the charge in the programming of high quality, thought provoking events–around 60 in all. Music, comedy, performance, visual arts and talks are all in the mix of free and ticketed offerings.

...immerse yourself in visual art, absorb some of the best Australian music or bring your family to Fremantle for a day of fun, the 2017 Fremantle Festival really does offer something for everyone...

Ports have always been places of transition–the exchange of goods and ideas; the ebb and flow of people. High Tide emerges from this context, and the brand new visual arts biennale will include an impressive range of site–responsive works from both local and international artists.

Forget small canvases; the buildings along Fremantle’s High Street will be the backdrop for Swiss artist Felice Varini as he brings his internationally–renowned ‘optical illusion’ art to this year’s festival. Varini will create a large scale exterior artwork spanning 800 metres of High Street.

In addition to a stellar visual arts program, the Fremantle Festival boasts an impressive line–up of Australian musicians including The Jezabels and local favourites Koi Child, while Justin Townes Earle (USA) will bring an international flair, with support from Joshua Hedley and Ruby Boots.

The beauty of the oldest songs, dances and language in the world will transport audiences to another place, as fires burn long into the evening and people come together to celebrate Indigenous Australian culture. The Wardarnji Festival opens the Fremantle Festival once again with a dynamic display of Nyoongar music, dance and storytelling on the South Lawn of Fremantle Arts Centre.

Representing good, honest and quirky Australian humour, Frank Woodley and Sam Simmons will each stage stand–up comedy shows to tickle the funny bones of attending audiences.

 

City of Fremantle Festivals Coordinator, Kathryn Taylor, says the combination of over 60 events and experiences, and Fremantle’s unflagging appetite for the arts, conspire to make this year’s event program one of the most impressive.

“We’re very proud to bring to life a Festival that will provide a platform for so many levels of creativity. Whether you want to immerse yourself in visual art, absorb some of the best Australian music or bring your family to Fremantle for a day of fun, the 2017 Fremantle Festival really does offer something for everyone,” she says.

Alongside the huge range of performances, Kings Square will host community events such as The Great Fremantle Race, with a pop-up bar that will run all festival long.

A full program of events can be found at www.fremantlefestival.com.au

Ed
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Escape from Pompeii: the Untold Roman Rescue

This new international exhibition Escape from Pompeii: the Untold Roman Rescue features amazing artefacts from Pompeii, Herculaneum and the Bay of Naples in a breath-taking display which includes precious gold and jewellery as well as five haunting body casts of victims of the eruption, capturing their final moments.

Many know of the tragic eruption that buried the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum under huge waves of volcanic ash and debris, preserving them and their residents for 2000 years.

However, very few know that the Roman navy attempted to evacuate people affected by the eruption or its important role in the success of the Roman Empire.

The amazing story is told through the words of the Roman Navy’s commander of the fleet Pliny the Elder and his nephew. Pliny was a Roman politician and author who witnessed the event and created the only surviving first hand account of the disaster.

There is a packed program of activities to suit the most curious, playful and reflective museum visitors. From After Dark events to pizza making classes, from improvisation to virtual reality, the Museum will have something for everyone.

Connecting with Roman–Italian culture, the WA Maritime Museum will also be joining the Blessing of the Fleet and Little Italy by the Sea Festivals to offer special events and premiere activities including the Fashion Gala event as a part of Little Italy by the Sea festival and a photographic exhibition.

For more information on Escape from Pompeii: the Untold Roman Rescue exhibition click here.

Escape from Pompeii: the Untold Roman Rescue is developed in association with the Australian National Maritime Museum, Expona and Contemporanea Progetti. The exhibition is open until 4 February 2018.

#EscapeFromPompeii

Ed
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Freo's Street Artwork

You’ll notice Freo’s urban art as soon as you arrive in the city. Artwork adorns the sides of buildings, pubs, malls and unexpected places.

The phenomena started in the 80’s when Western Australia’s first major community wall mural, Greenpiece was commissioned by PRAXIS, an artist collective based in Pakenham Street. The space hosted artist studios, exhibitions and performances and was one of Fremantle’s earliest warehouse conversions.

It was around this time that local artists were creating colourful chalk paintings on walls of Fremantle’s cafés.

International artists were also moving to Fremantle and new movements such as the Australian Centre for Concrete Art (AC4CA) were born over a coffee. AC4CA transformed uninspiring walls into large abstract paintings, including Queensgate Carpark. 

Jump forward to 2013 and Fremantle was becoming renowned for a large collection of illicit art on warehouses and buildings forming colourful street-scapes. The City of Fremantle made a controversial decision to adjust their anti-graffiti stance to one that distinguishes between graffiti and street art. 

Not only did it preserve existing work that contributes to the culture and vibrancy of the city, it’s resulted in the growth of Fremantle’s collection, with significant works commissioned and completed in public places, car parks, alley ways, fences and private homes. Highlights include the portrait of Dame  Dorothy Tangney etched onto the Norfolk Hotel by Vhils and the explosion of colour created by the FORM 2015 public art program

The Explore Fremantle Street Art trail is a self-guided walking trail that catalogues much of the street art throughout the city.  

NB You might need to hire a bike or jump on the free CAT bus to see them all. Share your favourites with us on Instagram (#Fremantlestory).

Ed
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Related image for A taste of Freo | Chilli and Lemon Prawns

A taste of Freo | Chilli and Lemon Prawns

Thanks to Bottega's Chef Jamie Galloway for sharing this delicious recipe for 'Chilli and lemon prawns served on peas and mint mash with goat cheese and crostini' with us.

We were lucky enough to sample this mouth watering dish and will definitely be trying it at home! 

Ingredients prawn marinade

1 lemon, zested
1 finely dices long red chilli
3 garlic cloves finely diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of salt

Ingredients pea and mint mash

500 grams of green peas
25 leaves of roughly chopped mint
60 grams of butter

Additional ingredients

8 slices of baguette buttered and chargrilled or pan fried (crostini)
8 large prawns
100 grams of goat cheese
Red garnet micro herb for decoration (optional)

Method

  1. Marinate prawns for 1 hour.
  2. Blanch green peas for 2 minutes in salted water then drain: add mint and butter with 2 pinches of salt.
  3. Crush the peas slightly to soften.
  4. Gently fry prawns in the marinade with 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Plating

  1. Place crostini on the plate.
  2. Top with green pea mash.

  3. Place prawns and pan juices on pea mash.

  4. Garnish with goat cheese and red garnet micro herbs.

Buon appetito

Ed
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