Lonely Planet's Best In Travel 2016 was published today, ranking Australia at number six in its Top 10 Countries list, while Western Australia's Fremantle cracked the top 10 cities to visit at number seven.
Many of us, WA locals included, probably haven't been to Fremantle and might not have it on our travel check list. Perhaps it's time to add the charming port city to our upcoming holidays.
Aside from winning over Lonely Planet (about time!), here are five other reasons why we love Freo.
Fremantle's "live-music rooms" and "hipster bars" were included in Lonely Planet's glowing portrayal of the city. However, this isn't news for anyone who's lived in or visited Freo.
Already an epicentre for pop-up bars, breweries and cubbyhole establishments, Fremantle is only just receiving long-deserved praise for keeping the nights alive.
There's an enormous selection of Western Australia's craft beer at such places as Fishing Boat Harbour, The Monk Brewery and Kitchen, Sail & Anchor and Little Creatures Brewery.
Freo embraces its history and burgeoning future with a mix of old and new. The Newport Hotel's Heritage-listed building sees people from all walks stop in for a cheap drink, while Metropolis Concert Club welcomes the late-night crowd with eight distinct bars and a steady line-up of talented DJs.
The Left Bank might be one that inspired Lonely Planet. It's small space is filled with live music and artistic cocktails.
Not wanting to waste Australia's tropical climate, most locals often include the city's al fresco dining scene in their weekend plans.
You'll find almost all of it on the Cappuccino Strip, where outdoor cafes and restaurants have taken residence along with craft breweries, shops and the nearby Fremantle Markets, open three to four days of the week.
The Cappuccino Strip begins early on weekends with resident barista's unfurling an almost limitless array of coffees while foot traffic outside ebbs and increases with the passing hours.
Come nightfall, the cafes close their doors as the clubs and hotels open theirs to cabaret performances and open-mic nights.
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City Of Festivity
According to Lonely Planet, Fremantle has only just successfully reinvented itself into a hub for arts and performance. However, the city has a history of launching talented artists, such as John Butler, from humble beginnings as street buskers.
You'll still find the buskers and street performers, but Freo's focus on emerging artists extends to its regular concerts and festival programs throughout the year. These give the city a fresh taste of relatively unknown talent.
The most recognisable events are:
- Fremantle Street Arts Festival (Easter weekend)
- Fremantle Heritage Festival (May 2016)
- Hidden Treasures (Every Thursday in July at West End)
- Fremantle Festival (23 October to 1 November)
West Coast Gems
Most Australians and foreigners have been to our country's eastern coastline, often forgetting about the equally impressive western side. Fremantle is arguably one of the best gateways to this underutilised area of Australia.
The city serves as a port for Perth and is the closest to Rottenest Island, about 25 minutes away via ferry. Home to the famously cute and friendly quokka, Rottenest also manages to squeeze in 60-plus beaches, 20 secluded bays and a small settlement of cafes.
Back on the mainland, Fishing Boat Harbour runs catamaran cruises for snorkelling, eco adventures and romantic sunsets accompanied by champagne. Whale watching and jet boating cap it all off.
Colonised in 1829, Fremantle has seen almost 190 years of Australian history. It's home to the oldest public building in WA, The Round House, which served as a gaol from 1831 to 1886 for convicts and law-breaking settlers.
Speaking of prisons, Fremantle also has the largest and most intact convict-built prison in Australia. The Fremantle Prison is WA's only Heritage-listed building and contains close to 140 years of history. You can explore it at night with an entertaining and knowledgeable guide.
Like any good port city, Fremantle has the Western Australian Maritime Museum. Inside are galleries on Australia's most-famed maritime history including the yacht that won America's Cup and Australian submarine HMAS Ovens.