Western Australia - Perth or Fremantle? What to do when I get there?
January 22, 2008 5:37 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to Western Australia and am trying to decide whether to find a hotel in Perth, or in nearby Fremantle. I want to be close to the best restaurants and sightseeing spots and am looking for an area with some charm and character. Which is the better place to stay? Any tips on cool places to see, eat, etc.?
posted by soulbarn to Travel & Transportation around Australia (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I lived two blocks from the Ocean Beach Hotel in Cottesloe, and I HIGHLY recommend it. The hotel is nice, if that's your thing, or there's a decent hostel under the same roof. The ub was my local pub for nine months, and boasts one of the best sunsets on Earth. There's nothing like spending the afternoon on the beach (powder-white sand and clear blue water, a terrace of grass nearby, too), then going up to the OBH for a schooner of Emu Bitter and watching the sun set over the Indian Ocean.

Their Sunday Sessions are LEGENDARY, the whole of WA shows up to get maggoted by ten p.m. -- Aussie cowboys, surfers, and the hottest women I have ever seen.

The subway is within walking distance, which will take you into the city or Fremantle quickly and cheaply. Check out the Farmer's Market in Fremantle on the weekends, as well as Little Creatures, a magnificent microbrewery and pub.

If you are staying in WA long enough, drive down to Margaret River for incredible wine and surfing, or North to the Ningaloo Reef to see some of the most breathtaking marine life you can ever imagine.

God, I miss that beach at Cottesloe, though. Seriously, the OBH is worth the money, hands-down.
posted by chinese_fashion at 5:49 PM on January 22, 2008

"an area with charm and character"? That's certainly describes Fremantle better than it does Perth. The two places are actually quite close (a pleasant, albeit longish bike-ride apart, or half an hour by train). I think Perth's best eating area is around Mt Lawley which is very close to Perth, but Fremo has a fair share of decent restaurants and a number of good cafes and pubs. I live in central Fremantle and have heaps more info about what to see and do in and around Perth, but aren't really free to type it all up now - MeMail me if you like.
posted by bunglin jones at 6:19 PM on January 22, 2008

I live in South Perth.

Perth city itself is a bit low on "charm and character", that's more a Fremantle thing. Either way, you want to make sure your hotel is within the service area of the "Central Area Transport" (CAT), a system of free buses. Here are the PDFs for Fremantle and Perth. If anywhere near Perth has charm and/or character it's the East Perth redevelopment area. I think there's a hotel or two near the yellow CAT's stops 4 & 5.

As for places to see, or places to eat at:You can now get to Mandurah on the train. If you do go down there, try and time it so you can have dinner at Cicerello's.

Here's a guide to Perth, called "Scoop". As well as a website it's a quarterly magazine.
posted by krisjohn at 6:37 PM on January 22, 2008

2c: Fremantle has more charm & character than Perth, but as people are saying, you can easily catch a short metropolitan train ride between the two.

Cottesloe's a nice enough beach, although lacking in surf, and maybe a bit quiet & suburban. Don't knock yourself out trying to find the subway. The regular above-ground train line is a lot easier to find.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:02 PM on January 22, 2008

Fremantle has more character.

I'm moving to Melbourne next month. These are the places I will miss most:

* Little Creatures, in Fremantle. Awesome craft beer, awesome bar, decent food.
* Harvest, North Fremantle. Delicious.
* Fish and chips at Cottesloe beach on Sunday evening.
* Coffee in Leederville (Sayers) and tea in Mount Lawley (Leaf).
* Rottnest Island, good for a day trip or a couple of nights.

It's hard to say more without knowing how long you'll be here and when, or what kinds of things you like to do, see, eat, drink, etc.

MeFi Mail me if you want to chat about it.
posted by robcorr at 7:17 PM on January 22, 2008

I noticed you're a sax player. There's a pretty good lindy hop scene in Perth (Friday nights at the Mustang Bar in Northbridge is always busy), and there's the Perth Jazz Society.
posted by robcorr at 7:23 PM on January 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Freo definitely best for sight seeing etc- Rottnest, tours, beaches, funky shops- but either way, it's really, really easy to get around between Freo and Perth.

I just moved from Perth and I miss:
Tan Po Po Japanese restaurant in Mt Lawley
The Flying Scotsman, Mt Lawley
A variety of other restaurants/pubs etc in Perth
Subiaco and Fremantle markets

... I wouldn't bother staying in Cottesloe- make it either Perth or Freo. Perth is better if you like to do late-night stuff, as Freo seems to close up fairly early.

Both Mt Lawley and Freo have awesome antique shops. Both East Perth and West Perth are picking up, with lots of little boutiquey type places, but the city itself is, uh... under renovation. Permanently. Still worth a look though!

God, I miss Perth :(
posted by indienial at 7:25 PM on January 22, 2008

Oh, and I forgot Leederville and Subiaco! Also awesome. Subiaco is on the trainline down to Freo, and Leederville is also on a trainline (possibly Clarkson line? Not sure since they renamed them!).

Oh, and you can catch the train down to Mandurah, since they completed the rail line over Christmas. Everyone in Perth is very excited about this. Mandurah is basically a little seaside town, great for fishing etc.

Uh... hope you like trains!
posted by indienial at 7:28 PM on January 22, 2008

Mandurah is basically a little seaside town, great for fishing etc.

No it's not. It's a great steaming pile of dog turd, probably like a tiny version of Florida.

Nothing but McMansions alongside canals, specifically for the retiree / holiday weekender set, complete with soulless chain steak, seafood & salad buffet restaurants. I made the mistake of hiring a car to drive down there from Perth, thinking it might be some cute little fishing town, but it's more like an open-air shopping mall. Horrible in every possible way.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:01 PM on January 22, 2008

If you're here for anything less than a month, there's no need to go to Mandurah. You can see the same thing elsewhere, only better.

Agreed about the Flying Scotsman.

And I should have mentioned Cinnamon Club in Leederville -- delicious Indian food.
posted by robcorr at 8:11 PM on January 22, 2008

Oh, and if you're here in late February, it's worth checking out what's happening with the Perth International Arts Festival. One of the venues alone is hosting Feist, Okkervil River, Nouvelle Vague, The Brodsky Quartet, Sonic Youth, Soul Jazz Sound System and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings within the space of a few days, so there might be something to interest you there.
posted by bunglin jones at 8:50 PM on January 22, 2008

I'll second Little Creatures. It's a microbrewery in Fremantle with a restaurant inside the brewery. Delicious pizzas, fantastic beer, and quite reasonable.
posted by twirlypen at 10:01 PM on January 22, 2008

"catch the train down to Mandurah, since they completed the rail line over Christmas. Everyone in Perth is very excited about this."
No, we're not. Quite a lot of us think the new train line is a bad idea in a stupid way.

It is, however, a pretty handy way for a tourist to pop down to Mandurah for a day.
posted by krisjohn at 5:19 AM on January 23, 2008

I highly recommend the Sebel Residence East Perth (if you can afford it). Hop a CAT into the city then jump on a train to Freo. I nth checking out Little Creatures while you're there. In Perth, I enjoyed eating at 44 King Street.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:43 AM on January 24, 2008

« Older Help me hear the difference   |   MARCH: Where to in the lower 48? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.