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Fremantle invites you to come to the fire

Fremantle Festival returns this year with a series of events bringing people together in a celebration of community. Immerse yourself in the colour and pageantry of the Blessing of the Fleet, discover the beauty of Australian Indigenous culture at Wardarnji or bring the family down to a blaze on the beach with the return of Kraken.

Wardarnji is a dynamic experience of Nyoongar storytelling and dance.

For the first time, the City of Fremantle presents Karla-k Koorling, Come to the Fire, inviting audiences to gather around many fires to enjoy intimate performances, including song, spoken word, puppetry and dance. This is a taste of what’s to come, with the Fremantle Festival set to move to the depths of winter in 2019, with a ten-day immersive experience of wild art and hidden treasures. Intimate spaces, port history and cosy corners make Fremantle an ideal place for a winter festival.  This year’s three-day festival format will pave the way for the transition to an expanded ten-day format in winter in 2019. 

Now in its 113th year, Fremantle Festival is Australia’s longest running festival and continues to evolve as a celebration of one of the most unique cities in the world and its extraordinary community. 

Wardarnji26 October, 6.30 pm (gates open 5.30 pm), Fremantle Arts Centre

Let the beauty of the oldest songs, dances and language in the world transport you to another place, as fires burn long into the evening and people come together to celebrate Indigenous Australian culture. Wardarnji is a dynamic experience of Nyoongar storytelling and dance.

Blessing of the Fleet28 October, from 2 pm, procession begins at St Patrick’s Basilica

Watch the pageantry and splendour of the Blessing of the Fleet as this annual procession makes its way from St Patrick’s Basilica to Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour, culminating in a spectacular fireworks display at 8 pm. The Blessing of the Fleet is a tradition that began centuries ago in Mediterranean fishing communities to ensure a safe and bountiful fishing season. First celebrated in WA by an Italian migrant fisherman, the historical port of Fremantle has been the backdrop to the tradition for 70 years.

Kraken3 November, from 1 pm, Bathers Beach & Arthur Head

Kraken is a blaze on Bather’s Beach centered around the Kraken effigy – a sea monster emerging from the sands. Kraken is a free community event that delivers a small taste of the Blazing Swan Festival presented by the Fremantle based Blazing Swan Inc. Each year this not-for-profit organisation produces the regional Burning Man in Kulin, Western Australia. Surrounding Bather’s Beach the Blazing Swan theme camps offer entertainment and food. 

You are invited to wander the fires enjoying the elements and the voices of Fremantle.

Karla-k Koorling, Come to the Fire3 November, from 6 pm, Maritime Tafe Carpark, Fleet Street

As the sun sets over the Indian Ocean we will light fires to bring together the people of Fremantle. Between the river and sea we will gather, the fires will light the way, keep us warm and centre our community stories. Each fire will host a performance of song, spoken word, puppetry or dance. You are invited to wander the fires enjoying the elements and the voices of Fremantle.

The 2018 Fremantle Festival will run on 26 October, 28 October and 3 November, with a series of free community events. For more information, visit –

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Join the club

From pre–work to after hours, there’s a bunch of ways to both upskill and get social in Freo.

Crochet in the fish pub

Hooks, yarn and conversation are the heroes at The Crochet Rumble at Clancy’s Fish Pub. Learn or hone your crochet skills over drinks and chat while working on your creations–something of your choice, or a beanie to donate to clients of St Pat’s homeless centre. Just a fiver gets you a seat at the crochet circle, and there’s instruction and tools if you need. The rumble kicks off from 7 pm on the second Wednesday of each month.

Early morning ocean swimming

The Polar Bears are a North Fremantle institution, meeting daily at Port Beach for a bracing dawn plunge. Exercise is not the only benefit of this ritual. There’s a high level of social inclusion–tea and toast from around 8 am–plus the great sense of achievement from catching the day at its youngest. It’s a low key gathering, and swimmers range from the serious to the ‘tea–bagger’, but you need to demonstrate a commitment if you want to join the club. Swimmers meet at the Fremantle Surf Life Saving Club between 5.30 and 7.30 am.

Singing at the Navy Club

Love a singalong but intimidated by traditional choirs? Here’s a no–fuss solution. Sing!Sing!Sing! is a pub choir with an emphasis on fun, and drop-ins are welcome. The group gathers upstairs at the Navy Club to belt out three part harmonies for a range of pop songs. There’s no public performances, no auditions and no requirement to read music. Just listen to the songs (they change weekly, clues are available by email) before you show up with your fiver to sing, and get the dopamine hit that comes with singing in company. The tuneful fun happens on Tuesday nights, 7.30-9 pm.

Group gardening

Many hands make light work, and in the case of Hilton Harvest, the rewards are edible. Volunteer gardening sessions happen at the friendly community garden a couple of times a week. Enjoy some social banter, green thumb enhancement and recipe-swapping while helping with seasonal tasks like planting seeds, making compost, netting fruit trees, mulching, pruning, staking and attending to the chooks. Newcomers to gardening are welcome, and if you bring something home made to share for morning tea you’ll be well loved. It’s free to join in; Saturdays from 9.30 am to 11 am, and Mondays 9 am to 11.30 am.

Beer school

Going out for drinks can be educational. At the Monk’s Beer School, there’s something different under discussion each month, but politics and religion are unlikely to get a look in. If it’s hops related, it’s on the radar. Learn from the Monk’s brewer about all things beer, and taste a few brews while you’re about it. You can get small bites or a more substantial feed with your ticket to this informal talkfest, from $25. It’s on the last Thursday of each month, at 7 pm in the Ivy Room.

Book club

The Studio Anthro book club is all about reflecting on ideas and events, and getting fresh perspectives on life. It’s a relaxed gathering of keen readers, many of whom started as strangers but have become firm friends. The reading list is on the Studio Anthro website, and there’s a 10% discount at New Edition if you mention the Studio Anthro connection. Register if you’d like to join in. The group meets on the second Sunday of the month at Stacked Café at Stackwood, 10.30 am to midday.

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If your shiny New Year’s gym membership is languishing unused, you’re not alone. Keeping the love for keeping fit is hard, and never more than in winter. Maybe it’s time to find an off-beat, treadmill-free alternative.

It’s worth a visit to Portside Boulders just to clap eyes on the futuristic, multi-coloured, multi-angled landscape. Rock climbers and would-be climbers of all levels can get their rocks off here, climbing 4.5 metre walls without ropes or harnesses. It’s known as bouldering, and the ever–changing wall configurations are known as ‘problems’. There’s loads of them, and they change each month, for variety. Portside also has a gym and studio where you can take classes in aligned disciplines like yoga and core strength. You need special shoes but you can hire them, which is free on your first try.

Could acrobatics, stilt walking, unicycling and tightwire–walking ever be a drag? How about trapeze, devil sticks, trampoline and hoops? You can find out at Circus WA’s circus skills classes, which are run for adults as well as the youngsters. For the reticent, most classes come with a two week no obligation trial period at the beginning of term. This might be the chance to hone your sense of fun and thrill alongside the usual suspects of strength, flexibility and fitness.

As much about creativity and play as it is about strength and balance, acroyoga is a blend of acrobatics and yoga. That generally means partnering up with someone (or two) in class, doing counterbalances, twists and lifts, but it’s fine to come to a class solo. At Yoga Grooves, they’re also keen to point out that you don’t have to be super strong or springy to participate. It’s more about trust and healing–they even incorporate some Thai yoga massage techniques into classes.

Part disco, part running laps, part Xanadu fantasy, rollerskating is a recreational phenomenon with stamina. Rolloways in O’Connor is proof. With an in–house skate pro shop, they can kit you out in the latest blades and get you on the rink for some of the best heart-starting and buttocks-toning imaginable. During the week skating is a late afternoon and evening affair; on weekends you can take a lesson in the morning and be spinning past the retro wallpaper at speed by the afternoon.

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