All about Fremantle, Perth

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Here begins the journey of a thousand miles down under. Initially, I was apprehensive about going to Australia because I've heard lots about the rife racism towards Asians (more on that if I am inspired), but what is life without a little venturing out of my comfort zone? My first stop, technically pre-exchange, was the amazing city in Western Australia... Perth. A monosyllable for a city's name, very short, but truly difficult to pronounce it right. It sounds a little like purrft because of the nasty 'th' at the end. But it's okay. People around Perth are humorous, beautifully fun and warm hosts to guests into their city, there wasn't a moment in time that I felt uneasy or unwelcomed. All thoughts about racism were out of the window when I visited Fremantle, a seaside harbour port at the mouth of Swan River.

 

One of the key attractions of Fremantle is their Fremantle Market, which has a lot of food stores, accessories shops and also a supposedly famous ramen bar (Dosukoi). It's great for tourists who want to get obviously Australian souvenirs like koala bear or kangaroo plushies, boomerangs, and that sort of thing. We finished walking around the market within ten minutes.

Important notes for the travelers
- Opening hours of Fremantle Market: 8am - 6pm (Fri), 8am - 8pm (Sat & Sun)


Swan Valley Cuddly Animal Farm had a little mobile farm at Fremantle. I don't think they are stationed there permanently so you might not come across that. When I was standing right outside the fence going all heart-eyed at the fat chickens, lambs and rabbits, I received the very first initiation of how accepting the locals are... they invited me into the animal pen and allowed me to pet the baby lamb (which felt like a thick, warm wool puff), carry the obliging lamb (thank you for not resisting), and even perched a hen on my head with the farmer's own cap! Western Australia is known for its drier, hotter climate in the summer, and their wildlife is very amazing. I feel like I'm in a zoo whenever I walked down any other ordinary street, with ducks, seagulls and different species of birds all around.


The street buskers in Perth (and also later in Melbourne) are superbly talented. One of them is Zitoune here. A lot of them sing, play the harmonica and the guitar all at once in the same song.

The Fremantle Prison was thoroughly fascinating as I had no similar experiences of visiting jails. I have always been curious about what it is like in a jail, and with this visit, I can find out without committing any crimes. It also deterred me from any activities that may potentially land me in a prison cell.


Fremantle Prison is no longer in official use for the detention of criminals since November 1991. Now, it is opened to the public and utilized as a tourist attraction. There is a chapel at the back of the prison used for wedding services if anybody is interested... don't laugh, our tour guide said it's actually quite popular!


This is the chapel where you can apply to hold your wedding at. The whole chapel is quite enormous, with tall ceilings... it's not magnificent, but definitely functional.
Important notes for travellers
- 5 Prison Tours available: Doing Time Tour, Great Escapes Tour, Tunnels Tour, Torchlight Tour, Fremantle Prison Art Tour
- Tours are subjected to different fees as stated below:


- If you are on a tight budget, don't give this place a miss yet. You can still browse the Visitor Centre, Prisoner Gallery, Gift Shop and the Convict Cafe for free.


These pictures you see above are taken in the areas where everyone can browse for free. That's what we did while waiting for our Doing Time Tour to start. The aim of prisons is to strip the convicts of their identity and to give them time to reflect on their mistakes with a punishing, simple, banal life.


During the Doing Times Tour, our tour guide explained to us the process of how a criminal is brought into the premises, then briefed, checked, and cleaned. We were brought to the different sections of the prison (which was really very huge), and introduced the functions of each section. The kitchens, the courtyards, and the prison cells were individually explained. We could feel the solemnness of the circumstances, and it was as depressing as it was enlightening. 


The haunting and enchanting memory that stuck with me long after I left: the beautiful prisoner art that was drawn within the four walls of the prison cell. Painting was allowed as part of rehabilitation during the last six months of the prison's operation. I wonder what this particular prisoner was thinking when he drew these images of the outside world... and he chose to use such vibrant colours despite facing greys and blacks all day long.


In the final part of the tour, our tour guide showed us the locations of where the executions were done, and how it was for the prisoners. It was really an eye-opener for me to see everything in real life. It feels surreal how there were people who died on the very ground that I was standing. The people who were executed by hanging committed really atrocious crimes like serial murders. The whole tour was very informative and taught me a lot about what prison life was like for most of Western Australia before 1991. I would have never imagined it in so much detail if not for going through the tour, and now I am interested in going for the Tunnels Tour if I have the chance to return to Perth again.



I haven't properly thought about this question until... well, I had to start eating.
What is the national dish of Australia?
Singapore has a trove of different types of dishes that vie for the number one spot to represent our nation, but it seems like in Australia, the closest thing that many people utter when it comes to this question: Fish & Chips. Nevertheless, this is always up for debate, just like how some people recognize Singapore by their chilli crabs and others, by mee soto. Meat pies and roast lambs are also arguably very Australian. If you've noticed by now, these are very much traces from their British colonial past. Today, Australia (particularly, Melbourne) has a wealth of top-notch restaurants, notably three international cuisines - Vietnamese, Italian and Korean, due to the waves of globalization sweeping across the continent.


My friends who lived in Perth for a few years brought me to Cicerello's at Fremantle, a famous fish & chips restaurant located right next to Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour. It's a super awesome location to experience dining by the sea. You'd have seagulls flying into your face to fight with your food, jumping around the wooden planks at your feet, and fluttering away in the distance. They are more daring versions of pigeons, but somehow because they are seagulls, they seem less annoying. We even saw an unassuming seagull nipping a strand of pasta straight in front of a customer. Wings are indeed useful at that moment... 
Luckily, the service staff team is very used to these pesky animals and clear trays away very efficiently once the customers are done with their food. Cicerello's also has a self-service system, which means whatever you see on the menu are all nett prices. They get very busy during peak hours, so be prepared to wait a while for your orders to be done. We waited for about fifteen minutes, but it felt longer than that because we were starving by then!
Cicerello's has a upper deck/balcony, indoors or alfresco (dining with seagulls) options, availability depending on restaurant. The indoors is most probably open everyday, but the upper deck wasn't made available when we went. Near the entrance, an aquarium stretching a few feet long would enchant anyone, young or old, with a host of many colourful marine animals. 


Here's my Traditional fish & chips (AUD14.60)! I had to get used to them calling all types of fries 'chips', but hey, nothing to difficult to get used to. Chips or fries, I love them all. Traditional fish & chips came wrapped in flimsy paper, but the moment it was unwrapped, the aroma of deep-fried fish batter and chips just completely engulfed me. I had to get started immediately! These are fresh premium wild-caught Hoki snaps (I have not heard of this breed before, Wikipedia page here), and it has a super soft and smooth fish fillet texture. I liked how it does not have any of the briney fish taste; it's a crisp and light fragrance. A dash of lemon is a must for me, otherwise it borders on being almost tasteless because they don't add salt at all to the fish. Do you know that the fish component of this dish is actually made of shark meat (rig or flake)? I didn't know either... anyway this set of fish & chips is very filling even though I was very hungry at the beginning, I couldn't finish the chips completely.


It was a very refreshing experience to enjoy a seaside lunch (albeit under glaring sun rays), with the occasional sea breezes too! The scenery of the boats, ferries and yachts is a pretty sight indeed.


I would recommend this as a stopover for your meals. It's a fun experience and the spending per pax would come up to $15/pax or $20/hungry pax.


Sea and the sun, long stretches of beach. What do you do to get a panoramic view of the whole place? At Fremantle, your vantage point would be the Fremantle Monument right beside the Bathers Beach.
 

Follow these tracks till you come to the Fremantle Monument Hill (corner of High Street and Bateman Street), where you'd climb a bit of stairs (probably about two-storeys worth). These tracks are still in use, but it stretches out straight some distance away; you'd be able to scramble away in time if a train were to come.

 

Australia has a lot of structures and places set aside to commemorate their war heroes, this is one of them. This is established to remember the soldiers and sailors who have perished in the line of duty during the World War I. It was extremely sunny and the floors/walls were white, so essentially I couldn't really keep my eyes open without potentially incurring photokeratitis. Sunglasses are extreme essentials around Perth in summer! 


I quote my favourite author, Murakami - "The ocean changed its colour and shape and expression according to time and place and weather." That day, the Indian Ocean was a curious shade of dark azulene blue and generally calm. It faded out at the horizon and fused with the sky, it was so breathtaking.

  
Here are some more shots I took along Fremantle streets: they have a lot of surprises at every turn to be discovered, so make sure you walk around the area thoroughly to fully experience everything. For example, a life-sized chess display and table tennis tables for the public to start playing! How creative, and a smart solution to get kids away from computer screens and into the outdoors.

 

One of the shops we spent a more substantial amount of time in was the Elizabeth's Secondhand Bookshop which had a lot of books sorted into different genres. I delved into the psychology and sociology ones because of my personal interests. I love the creativity sparks that sit quietly without much broadcasting, you need to really look carefully or you'd miss it. For example, the bookshop was organizing this mystery book exchange for Valentine's day, with only its synopsis written on the brown paper. It's such a cute idea.

Another one of those shops is the Chart and Map Shop (I love how literal they are with the names). I didn't take much photos in there because I was busy looking at the maps... but it's a really good place to start finding the perfect map for your room decor! I always wanted one to put up in my room wall but well, it's going to get crumpled if I had to carry it for another six months... so I gave it a miss. The prices are pretty reasonable for maps, I forgot how much but I remember it's not the exorbitant sort of place.

 
 
 

And then we saw this crazy dude which has an endless stream of jokes and humour that incited more snorty than hearty laughs, who performed how to escape from chains and cling wraps. Even though he was entertaining, it was such a waste of cling wrap. But I like how their buskers are amazingly good at what they do - being incredibly thick-skinned to attract attention and making sure everyone has a good time watching him as well. They do this for a living, so we are supposed to give some change to encourage him, but I'm a poor student as well... so I kinda walked away after his performance was over. And then that was that! In the next post, I will be talking more about Bathers Beach Sunset Market which you mustn't miss in summer!



Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach

If you find yourself in Perth during summer, look out for this Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach happening every Saturday from 5 - 9pm in the evening. It's a fantastic way of settling your dinner - you will be indulging in international food selections right at the beach with the sea view all for your taking. I really like how I am spoilt for choice, but then I wished for a second stomach and endless cash to stuff myself silly with everything. It's a place I'll go back to when I visit Perth again. Entry is made available to the public for free. It's also within the Fremantle area to end off a lovely day trip! 
Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach

I was mentally prepared to let go of all Asian food for the next six months... but hey look at what's this? I chanced upon a stall named Malaysian Food selling prata and satay. Whoa, are my eyes working?

Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach

Marie Antoinette Cafe Glacier setting up a store for people who love their desserts.

Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach
Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach
Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach
Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach
Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach
Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach

The whole beach area was scattered with a vibrant palette of different colours! Such a pretty sight to behold. Locals and tourists swarmed the whole place, but it wasn't uncomfortably crowded.

Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach
Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach
Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach

Sun, sea, beach, coconuts. There, I completed the equation. Wouldn't recommend the coconuts though, it was AUD5 per coconut but the consistency of the quality wasn't there. Mine was especially hard to scour for coconut meat.

Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach
Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach
Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach
Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach

These Japanese pastries were my dinner, they were fairly good. I would probably not ask you to try this because it wasn't particularly wonderful, you'd score a better bet with the seafood paella.

Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach

Plenty of photo opportunities with the Indian Ocean! The sunlight was so flattering during the late-afternoon... and my camera screen caked with sand. 

Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach

Painted on the ground.

Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach
Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach

But the best way to test it out is to jump on it for real, and okay, it proved to be less than safe for those with only rusty skills. When I landed (right after this shot)... I landed weak-kneed and crashed into the sand. But how lovingly the sand caught me, so soft and inviting to roll in. So all was well.
Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach
Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach
Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach
Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach
Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach
Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach
Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach
Sunset Beach Market at Bathers Beach

More shots of me doing stupid touristy jumps with very, very rusty skills and an inflexible body. This reminds me to stretch and regain my original flexibility but then procrastination takes over.

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I share interesting episodes in life revolving around food, lifestyle, travel and inspirational ideas. If you would like to stay in touch, follow me on my Instagram on @amie.hu and Facebook page!

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1 comments

  1. Hi Amie! Thanks for sharing your experience! Perth is such a wonderful place to visit. It offers everything to the imagination, from food to relaxing spas and accommodations to wildlife. You'll never run out of interesting things to do and even eat!

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