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Frock on

If there’s a ‘Freo look’ in women’s fashion, Fremantle’s fashion designers didn’t get the memo. They’re busy producing everything from edgy street wear to non–crush travel dresses to hand-stitched tunics to floor length gowns. Whatever your wardrobe requirements–special occasion or special treat–Fremantle probably has a fit for you.

Contemporary labels like Megan Salmon and Morrison enjoy widespread popularity, but their flagship stores remain in Fremantle where they began.

At Megan Salmon, find form flattering dresses, tops and skirts with an artistic edge. You’re unlikely to have a twinsies moment wearing something from this store; the prints are distinctive, and the designer prides herself on her solid understanding of what works for women.

For stylish urbanites, Morrison has gear for dressing both down and up. Interesting silhouettes, wearable designs and quality natural fabrics are at the core of the range; a great fit for women who want to feel well put together and up to the minute, whatever they’re doing.

Lovers of natural fabrics and easy to wear styles flock to Pekho on Wray Avenue. Linen dresses, pants, skirts and tunics are all locally made in small runs, and designed to work together in a trans–seasonal way. Designs favour real body shapes, too, bypassing the frowsy with relaxed shapes and flattering necklines. A great collection of jewellery and scarves helps complete the look.

Across the road at Madam Bukeshla, there’s a timeless appeal to the defiantly non–mass produced clothing. Designer Trish Bygott’s artistic streak is in full evidence from the wonderful window displays to the clothes. She uses hand–stitching to create the arty details on her dresses, skirts and tunics, which are made from earthy linens in a natural colour palette.

It’s a similarly artistic vibe at Anjel Ms in High Street. In true collaborative fashion, a group of local designers and visual artists have joined forces with textile producers in Bali, Nepal and India to produce clothing using traditional dying and weaving methods. That’s the Anjel Ms Project–ethically produced fashion that’s pimped with contemporary flair – and this store showcases the vibrant, textured results.

The light-filled studio–style shop at Velvet Sushi adds gravitas to the luxurious drape and womanly shapes featured in the clothes. Flattering, feminine lines are the feature here. While special occasion gear does feature, this label is also about classic, timeless basics in stretch fabrics that pass the crush test and fit women’s shapes. Stylish travellers need look no further for black and neutral coloured dresses, tunics and pants that look great even when they’re pulled straight from a suitcase.

If it’s a serious frock–up you’re embarking on, make a stop at Natalie Rolt in North Fremantle. It’s glamour overload here, where floor-grazing gowns and flowy jumpsuits share space with slinky cocktail frocks and form–fitting two-piece garments. The local designer makes to order, and also has a collection of formal gowns for hire. The luxurious space is a long way from the Fremantle Markets where the designer sold her first collections and grew her following. You can even get your tan, hair and makeup on site.

At Haute on High, the feel is equally top end, though the price tags aren’t as hefty as you might think on first glance. From cocktail to black tie and mother of the bride, there are ready to wear outfits from around the world, plus an in-house label that stretches to bling and clutch bags. There’s plenty of opulence here; think sparkling bodices and flattering drapes. But it’s also accessible. Part of what draws shoppers from far afield is the honest sales staff lending their designers’ eye to fitting you out to perfection.

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Where to pick up

You might not think you’ve come to Freo for supplies, but don’t be surprised if you come away with a stash. A tub of chilli olives, perhaps. Some sourdough. A wheel of cheese. Some biltong. Maybe a kilo of marinated camel.

If you want an insight into the soul of the city, ‘grocery sightseeing’ is a great starting point.

Many Freo locals adopt the ‘little and often’ mode of shopping, and there’s plenty of niche gourmet establishments that make that possible. Places where longstanding owners know their customers’ names along with their facts about spelt flour. Shops whose giddy aromas of spice, bread, salami or white mulberries announce themselves 20 paces down the footpath. Outfits whose branded calico tote bags are as collectable as the produce for which they are locally famous. Places with heart. 

If you want an insight into the soul of the city, ‘grocery sightseeing’ is a great starting point.

Try walking into Abhi’s Bakery and out again without succumbing to a fruit loaf for the morning’s brekkie, for instance. Or maybe you’ll opt for a giant loaf of sourdough from Wild Bakery, with a couple of takeaway bienenstich slices for the road.

At Kakulas Sister, and its neighbouring Little Sister, harness your willpower if cheese and / or Turkish Delight are a weakness. This is the spot to collect a nifty box of biscuits, some seeds, olive oil, coffee, chocolate, dolmades and endless caches of the European deli-style stuff you don’t necessarily see in the supermarket aisles.

Beyond the gifts and trinkets of the Fremantle Markets is The Yard, where multiple stalls offer a catch-all for produce. There’s butchers, bakers, peddlers of wholefood, cheese sellers; you can even get biltong and cupcakes, and herbal tea. Not to mention fresh fruit and veggies direct from the market gardens. If you’re there near close of business on Sunday, expect bargains as the sellers out-shout each other for your attention.

Get the weird mushrooms, the hard-to-find fresh herb and the dinky okra here – it’s all in gleaming good shape.

The cacophony of signage outside Frank’s Gourmet Meats declares the breadth of what’s on offer at this Fremantle institution on Wray Avenue. You can get your scallopini and your chicken kebabs, sure. But if meat–flavoured adventuring is your thing–emu, camel, goat, duck, crocodile anyone? Frank probably has it. The sausages are legendary.

Get the add–ons at another longstanding institution, Galati, next door. This family–run grocer has bargains in the fresh fruit and veg department, plus a good range of cheese, cured meats, deli items and plenty of Italian speciality breads, oils and pasta. Their continental rolls are an excellent takeaway lunch option.

At Manna Wholefoods, you can shop for all things earthy and organic. A thriving café serving up the right mix of wholesome and flavoursome lunch, raw sweets and juices, it’s also a grocer with a distinct bent towards healthy, organic, sustainable fare. Tubs of nuts, seeds, grains and dried fruits are just the start. If you need Himalayan salt, cacao butter, organic milk, essential oils, mesh bags, cruelty-free cosmetics or thoughtful kitchen utensils, this is your stop.

When you’re after top quality fresh produce, or that tricky ingredient that isn’t at the supermarket, Peaches in South Fremantle is the go-to store. Get the weird mushrooms, the hard-to-find fresh herb and the dinky okra here – it’s all in gleaming good shape. There’s also loads of high end confectionary, deli items, smoked fish and free range chicken. Peaches has an entire organic section at the back, and a well-oiled checkout system. You’ll be offered bags or a box, but you might consider an upgrade.

As with any of these specialty outlets, a calico tote adorned with the shop’s logo could become a treasured Freo memento.

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Say hello to Freo’s hidden cafés

Sometimes it’s the hustle and bustle of the Cappuccino Strip that lures me in and gives me my fix, but not today. Today I’m escaping the daily grind.  I’m on the hunt for a little hidden spot to park myself while I perk myself up with a good brew. Want to join me on a discovery to find Freo’s best hidden cafes?

Leake St. Cafeteria

Finding this place is a bit like deciphering a fun treasure map and the bright orange doors, equally bright coffee machine and friendliness from Wade and his team are, quite literally, the pot of gold.  It’s small but the service is big and there’s a massive push for homemade everything.

The courtyard spans the length of the retailers that face the street.  Bonus points here is for the massive communal table that takes pride of place in the space and is the perfect excuse to strike up a friendly conversation with a stranger.  

Access is only available via Kakulas Sister after 9 am or The Archive after 10 am or, if you like your coffee before 9 am, take a wander through the massive gates into the laneway off Leake Street.

Moore & Moore Café

This café, which doubles as a gallery and function centre, has lots of little spots to call yours but out the back is where the magic happens! Take your pick from leather couches under vertical gardens or tables under umbrellas in the huge courtyard. Got the kids in tow? No problem, because there’s a junior courtyard with toys at one end and a nature play area at the other. Let them play, climb, forage and swing while you relax in this hidden enclave with some rustic, fresh food... and coffee!

Two Rubens Espresso

You wouldn’t know it from the street, but stepping inside this Essex Street gem lets you discover a delightful and colourful courtyard–complete with vines, a water feature, a water mister and a blackboard area for the kids! Owner Fiona has a range of brand new milkshakes and all-day brekkie as your reward for venturing inside. While you’re there, keep your eyes peeled for the newest and cheekiest of residents:  Bonnie and Clyde, two rainbow lorikeets who don’t really like coffee but love to steal a grape or two off the vines that provide the shade above.

Juicy Beetroot

If you’ve spent the morning op-shopping or exploring Freo’s East End and fancy some time out, duck down the little laneway that leads to this hideaway. It’s a vegan and vegetarian lovers dream and the food is as spiritual as it is tasty. The laneway opens up into a courtyard and cafe and wherever you sit the vibe is super chilled.   

Courtyard at Ohana Acai Bar

Want a surprise? Want to impress your mates? Want to lay in a hammock while you eat (yes you read that correctly!)? Enter through the shopfront and order on the way but keep walking out the back because–BAM!–a huge, perfectly rustic and shaded courtyard awaits. Choose from high and low tables or the huge hammock and our favourite: games! We spent some time playing miniature ten pin bowling and we sipped our brews. How cool is that! So Freo!

Canvas at Fremantle Arts Centre

This one is already a little hidden gem being located more at the entry into Fremantle, rather than in the heart. But did you know that beyond the massive green open spaces in the grounds is this cute little cafe? Totally private and surrounded by blossoming bougainvillea, you’ll feel like you’re in the South of France rather than the South parts of Perth while enjoying a seasonal menu and a sweet beverage.

By Jo Newman (@sayhellojo)

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A food trail with gusto

Two words: ‘Fremantle’ and ‘food’. What’s the first thing that comes to mind? Italian, right? Ever since Italian migrants first spearheaded its fishing industry in the 1880s, Fremantle has been cosying up to the idea of pizza and pasta, garlic prawns and chilli mussels. The main foodie strip is colloquially named after a certain froth-topped Italian coffee. Gelato shops abound.

But there’s Italian and there’s Italian, and when in Freo you want to know you’re getting the real deal.

The new Gusto Italiano Trail identifies some of the city’s most authentic Italian eateries–from relative newcomers to decades–old family run establishments. It lists eight must–do restaurants within strolling distance of each other. Consider a grazing event with a course at several stops. There’s no rush to get from antipasti to primi to secondi–and one must always leave room for dolce.

1. It’s tucked away, but do seek out Parlapa, an unassuming family run café whose gnocci and slow–cooked ragu is legendary among regulars. It’s not open nights, so consider it for lunch on a day trip. Bring an appetite.

2. Roma Cucina is among the longest standing of Freo’s Italian eateries. A stalwart of the West End since the 1950s, the former Roma Restaurant is still run by members of the same family. Simple, rustic Italian is on the menu.

there’s Italian and there’s Italian, and when in Freo you want to know you’re getting the real deal.

3. At Pizza Bella Roma, Mario has been a pizza chef for more than 25 years. That speaks volumes about the consistency at this Cappuccino Strip favourite. Its big menu promises flavoursome, generous servings of every offering imaginable. Pizza is just the beginning.

4. Craving an authentic wood-fired pizza? Sandrino Café and Pizzeria does thin crusted, gooey topped, hand-stretched creations made by proud pizzaiolos. Handmade pasta and other Mediterranean offerings are also on offer.

5. La Sosta has the hat trick: a grand two-level venue with a deep deck overlooking the strip, an impressive wine and cocktail list, and an open plan kitchen producing rave worthy pasta, seafood and meat dishes, plus house made bread. This local favourite gets the big tick from the Italian Council for Italian quality and authenticity, in the form of the Ospitalita Italiana award.

6. Making the best of its Market Street Piazza location, Portorosa spills out into an alfresco area with giant market umbrellas–great for people watching. Wood fired pizza and big serves of whatever Italian fare takes your fancy are all here.

7. Some cafes fall foul of fickle public favour. Not Gino’s. Tailor Gino Saccone started the café in 1983 when he couldn’t find a decent cup of joe in town. Gino’s still holds court on the strip as the go–to coffee haunt to be seen at, run by three generations of the same family. Home style Italian cooking completes the offering.

8. Harking back to simpler times? There’s a strong hint of the 1950s at Capri Restaurant, a visit to which is as much about the charming décor as the genuine Northern Italian food. This long standing establishment is great value, unpretentious and family friendly.

Off the trail
These establishments are south of Freo’s centre, but worthy of inclusion for being stand–out, real–deal Italian nosheries.

Ruocco’s Pizzeria e Ristorante
Always heaving with people, Ruocco’s was the first to do wood fired pizza in WA. Its exhaustive Mediterranean menu shows it hasn’t rested on its laurels. 

One for the true Italy-philes. Not just for the food; the décor and bric a brac here is steeped in cultural references. The coffee is excellent.

Dolce & Salato
Cloistered near a shopping centre, there’s a fresh daily supply of pizza, focaccia and pastries issuing forth from this South Fremantle gem.

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Fremantle's top 10 free school holiday activities

Sharpen the kids’ word sleuth skills with the #Freo_Babble hunt, visit the museums, hire a bike - here's our top ten free things to do with the kids.

1. Transportation Exhibition at Fremantle Prison

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the Hougoumont, the last convict ship to arrive in Australia, Fremantle Prison’s new exhibition Transportation examines the forced migration of convicts from Britain to Australia in the 18th and 19th centuries.

2. #Freo_Babble letter sleuth game

Pick up a #Freo_Babble map from Fremantle Visitor Centre, WA Shipwrecks Museum or Oxfam or download and collect the letters from Freo businesses to make out the mystery song title. You could win fabulous prizes including a $500 shopping spree.

3. Visit the shipwrecks at WA Shipwrecks Museum

Recognised as the foremost maritime archaeology museum in the southern hemisphere and housed in a 1850s-era Commissariat building the galleries house hundreds of relics from ships wrecked along WA's treacherous coastline, including the original timbers from the Batavia (wrecked in 1629), the de Vlamingh plate, and also countless artefacts from the Dutch shipwrecks Zuytdorp, Zeewijk and Vergulde Draeck.

4. Free bike hire from Fremantle Visitor Centre

This free bike hire service with bikes for adults and kids (8+ years) operates from the Fremantle Visitor Centre in Kings Square. Bikes can be used anywhere in the Fremantle area. There are a limited number of bikes available for hire so arrive early to avoid disappointment. Read our South Beach to Leighton cycling blog for bike ride ideas.

5. Take a spin at the Esplanade Youth Plaza

Pack up the kid’s skateboards, scooters or roller skates and spend an afternoon at one of the most popular skate facilities in the metro area. There’s also places to try ping pong, rock climbing, slack-lining and parkour and the playground adjacent to the plaza has swings and a giant climbing frame. Bring a picnic or grab a bite to eat from nearby cafés and restaurants all within walking distance.

6. Firing of the cannon at the Round House

Opened in 1831, Round House is the oldest public building in Western Australia. Hear the story of why the cannon is fired every day at 1 pm – visitors can even apply to act as the honorary gunner!

7. Self-guided walking trails

Explore Fremantle attractions, history, cultural heritage and the arts with one of the Explore Fremantle walking trails. There are eleven trails to choose from including street art, Walk with the Windsors, heritage highlights and Manjaree. The trails work on iPhone and Android devices (you can connect to FREBytes free wifi in the CBD).

8. Visit the giant fish tanks at Cicerello’s

Over 50 species of marine life, all collected in Fremantle waters housed in a giant aquarium holding over 20,000 litres of water.

9. Bird watching around Fremantle

Get to know the species of birdlife around Freo. Download a copy of the Birdwatching around Fremantle guide and challenge the kids to spot an Australasian darter or a Wilson’s Storm Petrel.

10. Swan River, beaches, parks and playgrounds

Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that create the best memories and Fremantle has amazing outdoor spaces for the kids to run around... skimming stones under the traffic bridge, collecting shells at South Beach or a picnic beside the lake at Booyeembara Park, here's some of the best spots.

After you’ve exhausted the kids there are plenty of kid friendly places to pick up lunch or a drink (the nature play area behind Moore & Moore and Paper Bird Children's Books and Arts is a favourite). Our school holiday program has some great coupon offers from local businesses and don’t forget to tag @fremantlestory on Instagram–we’d love to see what you get up to.

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Sharp dressed men

Here comes a cliché: men don’t like shopping. And yet, men need things to wear. Fremantle is wise to this conundrum. It has more than a few stores that have defied retail trends to survive and thrive–some for decades–by offering the right mix of product and service.

“We take the pain out of it,” says Sam Pangiarella at Warrens Menswear, who could be speaking for all the service-driven operators attracting clientele from across Perth and beyond.

Fellas, your wearables are waiting. And be heartened by the knowledge that when trying on strides or choosing your season’s shirts in Freo, you are never more than 30 paces from a celebratory coffee or beer.

As well as suiting up everyone from school ball beaus to wedding parties, Warrens has a phenomenal range of Levi’s and the only Seidensticker shirts south of the river. Clearly you learn something about what guys want when you’ve been in business since 1931. Attentive, intuitive service backs up the quality.

Across the road at Terrace Menswear, there’s a fashion-savvy feel to the gear, much of which is imported from Italy. The always-slick window displays at this 32 year-old institution herald the level of quality to the range, which covers everything from dress jackets to tees, shoes, watches, socks and aftershave. Wearable fashion is the mantra. An investment here is unlikely to date.

Along High Street, there’s variety and contrast. You can pick up a locally made artisan tee or a pair of cufflinks at the Common Ground Collective, or some handmade shoes at Bodkins Bootery, a long standing institution specialising in high quality Spanish, Italian and English shoes (although the Anastazi boots are locally made by hand). Ecuadorian straw hats round out the offering here. There’s a women’s range, too, to keep female shopping partners interested.

Bousfields is a stalwart of the High Street strip, an old fashioned menswear shop where measuring tapes are always at the ready. Get fitted for a suit, pick up a casual shirt or some socks, and don’t go past the range of hats–from paper to wool–gracing the shelves.

At near–neighbour Three Stories, the feel is more surf and skate, with a bit of a twist. The wearables sit alongside a great range of gifts, games, books and art. There’s even a dedicated floor for surfboards and skateboards. There’s more in the street wear offering at Wear2, where the shoes, tees and pants are sourced from around the world. Defiant skaters need look no further than 1991 Skateshop.

Knucklehead Shipping Co at MANY 2.0 bridges the gap between contemporary and bygone era dressing. From jackets to accessories, it’s good quality, dapper stuff with confidence and attitude. You might also browse the vintage clothing in the MANY 2.0 collective for a fun retro find.

Finishing touches? Compendium Design Store is worth a visit for its unisex design–forward offerings. Messenger bags, watches and Solid State cologne are all here.

Fellas, your wearables are waiting. And be heartened by the knowledge that when trying on strides or choosing your season’s shirts in Freo, you are never more than 30 paces from a celebratory coffee or beer.

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10 (surprising) dog-friendly places in Fremantle

Stella is with Rosie and Felix at a Freo café. They're planning a mooch around the shops and galleries, then some chill time at the pub. Nothing out of the ordinary here. Except that Stella's a Ridgeback, Rosie's a black Labrador, and Felix is a rescue hound of indeterminate origin. They've brought their humans of course. They're right at home in Fremantle, which declares its dog leanings at every turn. The prevalence of water bowls on footpaths is a dead giveaway, and foot traffic is often four-legged. Here's ten dog-friendly places in Freo...

1. Pekho on Wray Avenue is brimful of stylish homewares and fashion. What could go wrong? A water bowl declares that dogs are welcome, and those that visit are likely to be photographed for inclusion on the canine-themed photo wall behind the counter.

2. Piggy Food Co; ‘park’ your dog in the special doggy parking area out front of the alfresco beer garden. Fur children are welcome in the pig pen.

3. Threeo; it’s a café sharing floor space with the precious gifts and home wares of Salty Gold, but that doesn’t stop the hounds flooding in for a deluxe puppycino – lovingly concocted from pureed pumpkin, chicken stock and coconut milk.

4. Hype DC; no need to leave Fido on the footpath. Hype encourages shoppers to consult with their hounds about their footwear purchases on the shop floor.

5. Pigeonhole: despite the shop being full of breakable gifts, homewares and clothing, dogs are welcome inside (and Bendo dog bowls are for sale).

6. Percy Flint; dogs drink free at Percy Flint, where canine regulars are often spotted both in the flesh and on Instagram, hanging out in the beer garden.

7. Saga Bookshop; there’s a bias towards dog-themed books and gifts and, despite its pristine bright yellow lounge chairs, the South Freo book shop is relaxed about dogs browsing the shelves if they’re well behaved.

8. East West Design; in the vast, hangar-style acreage of East West Design, you can shop for furniture and exercise your dog at the same time.

9. Kidogo Arthouse; dogs often feature as part of wedding parties here, and when it’s operating as a gallery, they’re welcome to tag along with their owners for a culture fix.

10. Little Creatures Brewhouse; pooches can hang in the beer garden, and if they’re prone to wandering off, you can buy a Creatures ID tag powered by online site Pet Return.


Lots of Freo cafes welcome dogs. We’ve seen them relaxing everywhere from Port City Roasters to The Little Concept, Chalkys, Third Wheel, The Orange Box , Propeller and The Carriage. Some – like Il Cibo and Ohana Acai Bar – offer treats for free.

Looking for extras?

  • Treats, dog beer, dog birthday cakes. All these are available at Slobberlicious at the Freo markets.
  • Also in the markets, Paws and More has clothes, collars and dog bling.
  • Natural food and grooming products are at Manna Wholefoods.
  • Take your pooch with you to the Growers Green market in Beaconsfield on Sundays, where there’s a hands-on dog wash and organic pet food. 
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