Port of Perth (Fremantle)
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The city of Perth is served by the port of Fremantle, which is 12 miles (19 kilometers) to the south. Despite its proximity, "Freo" (as the locals call it), it has a completely different personality. This is where artists, musicians and writers like to hang out; it's even more laid-back than Perth, with a fun and friendly atmosphere set among historic buildings, good museums, interesting art galleries and relaxed pubs and cafes.
On weekends, Perth locals make the short trek south to Fremantle to bar-crawl their way around the small city and mix amicably with the bohemian Freo crowd, something which pretty much sums up life in that part of the world.
If you're only there for a day, it's not really possible to visit both Fremantle and Perth; you'll have to choose one or the other. Fremantle is the easier option because of its proximity to the port and its compact size. However, if you want to experience a slice of "big city" life, and you've been to Freo already, then it's worth heading up to Perth for a look.
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Where You're Docked
Ships dock at the Port of Fremantle, which is only a couple hundred yards over a railway line to the compact downtown area and historic district.
The Port of Fremantle is a working port, but at the western end is Victoria Quay, which is being redeveloped. There's also an interesting Maritime Museum, and the historic B Shed has a ferry terminal and outdoor cafe. But Fremantle's town center is so close it's just as easy wandering around there.
Good to Know
If you're tempted to go for a swim at one of the many great beaches in this area, bear in mind there are sharks, and swimmers and surfers have been attacked.
Fremantle itself is easily accessible and walkable, but free Central Area Transit (CAT) shuttle buses pick up and drop off right at the front of the terminal every 10 minutes until 6:10 p.m. each day. It's a hop-on, hop-off service that covers all the main attractions. The Red CAT covers the area north of Fremantle Station, and the Blue CAT covers major attractions south of Fremantle Station. Most of the major attractions are on the south side.
If you want to go to Perth, there are usually taxis waiting outside the terminal. If you need to phone a taxi, try Swan Taxis (131 330), Black & White Taxis (131 008) or Independent Taxis (9375 7777). A fare to the Perth Central Business District (CBD) can cost up to A$60. The easiest and quickest way to travel between Fremantle and Perth, however, is by train. They depart from Fremantle station every 15 minutes or so, and it's roughly a 30-minute journey. The train station is right next to the port, about a five-minute walk over the railway line, and the best landmark to look for is the E Shed.
Most of the major car hire companies have offices in Fremantle. They include Budget, Thrifty, Avis and Europcar. This is a good option if you have enough time to kill and fancy taking a drive south to Rockingham, Mandurah, Bunbury or Margaret River.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money
The local currency is the Australian dollar, and ATM's are easily found in Fremantle and Perth, most of which will take international cards. At the Port of Fremantle, where ships dock, there's a Commonwealth Bank ATM on the waterside external wall of the E Shed Markets, and a general ATM is located at the B Shed Ferry Terminal.
The English spoken in Perth/Fremantle is much the same as in the rest of Australia. You're more likely to be greeted with a "howsitgoin'" or "howyadoin'" than the stereotypical "g'day mate," which is now something a "bogan," the Aussie equivalent of a redneck, would say. And if you're from the United States, don't be offended if you're referred to as a "seppo"; it's short for "septic tank," which is rhyming slang for Yank. Confused? Don't worry about it; just go with the flow, and you'll have fun.
Food and Drink
Both Fremantle and Perth have a plethora of quality lunch spots that range from small, trendy cafes to traditional pubs serving hearty meals and smart restaurants with fine wines.
It's almost impossible to single out any one lunch spot in a place like Fremantle, but the so-called "Cappuccino Strip" on South Terrace is probably the best place to start, as there are many worthy eateries. Truly, Fremantle and Perth are both foodie havens. The area is a great place to wing it for lunch and simply follow the old rule: if there are plenty of locals inside, it's probably really good.
The Sail & Anchor Pub is located on South Terrace, Fremantle, and does pub grub and modern Australian food in a busy atmosphere.
Also on South Terrace in Fremantle is Benny's Bar & Café, a cute place that does Italian and Australian cuisines. Also nearby is Gino's, a dedicated Italian restaurant that's one of the best spots on The Strip.
Other popular joints include The Esplanade Hotel (corner of Maritime & Essex Streets, Fremantle), which serves an international menu and seafood specialties at its Atrium Garden Restaurant, and Cicerello's (Fisherman's Wharf, 44 Mews Road, Fremantle), a traditional Freo fish & chip joint that has broadened its menu.
Perth is also blessed with a wide variety of small cafes, bars and restaurants. Top picks include Lowdown (Shop 16a, Cloisters Arcade, Hay Street), which does great coffee and sandwiches; Zekka Cafe (76 King Street), which does the same; Nao Japanese (117 Murray Street) which offers cheap noodles; Annalakshmi on the Swan (Jetty #4, Barrack Street), which has Indian food; and Mama Tran (Shop 6, 36-40 Milligan Street) for Vietnamese.
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