No visit to Fremantle would be complete without checking out the port city’s two vibrant markets, which are part of WA heritage and have something to suit all ages.
Fremantle Markets, housed in a grand old Victorian heritage building at the end of the cappuccino strip, is more than just a collection of exciting shops, stalls and the creative fun of buskers and artists; it's a cultural experience rich in history and tradition.
Sir John Forrest laid the foundation stone for the building on Saturday, November 6, 1897 and, since then, the markets have developed a unique and vibrant identity, showing off Fremantle’s wide ethnic base, which has been built over many years of immigration.
More than 150 stalls offer something for everyone. From antiques and bric-a-brac, to tarot readings and fresh seafood, Fremantle Markets are a feast for all the senses. Food stalls include kebabs, curries, chinese, pizza and authentic french crepes. Some stalls offer a place to sit and eat, including the main cafe. The bar has regular live music and, as of June, is non-smoking.
Health food, health products and medicines; a chaotic dive of all sorts of books; men’s and women’s fashion; pottery and metal art; embroidered garments, soft toys, hats, rugs and vests; home-made chutneys, cakes, sauces and jams; baby products; framed paintings and photographs; tourist souvenirs and trinkets; candles, dinner wear and unusual and quirky kitchen wear; soaps, aromatherapy, skin care and bath goodies; socks, hosiery and lingerie; new and old jewellery; leather bags, wallets, jackets and travel goods; Australian opals; Feng Shui products; CDs and records; massages and naturopathic consultations… the list goes on.
And of course, visitors can’t go past the colourful and enticing selection of fruit and vegetables, which are fresh every morning. Come 3pm Sunday afternoon, huge discounts are offered by vendors yelling their prices across the stalls.
Fremantle Markets, on the corner of Henderson Street and South Terrace, is open Fridays 9am to 9pm, Saturdays 9am to 5pm and Sundays and public holidays 10am to 5pm. To avoid the busiest times, a visit to Fremantle Markets on Friday or Saturday morning or Friday night is ideal. Sunday attracts the biggest crowds.
E-Shed Markets is smaller and has not been around as long but offers an equally-enjoyable day of browsing through market stalls, eating, drinking and listening to entertainment.
Situated in a restored warehouse overlooking Victoria Quay on Fremantle's historic wharf the E-Shed is now in its 10th year of operation. It has more than 80 stalls to choose from and the bustling atmosphere provides a true Freo experience.
Stalls sell fashion and jewellery, unique gifts and souvenirs and local arts and crafts, with something to suit all tastes and ages. There’s also fresh produce, including fruits and vegetables and a fully-licensed multicultural food hall with 11 stalls.
The markets are suited to anyone who is looking to shop, browse through the stalls, eat out and enjoy the atmosphere or simply enjoy a drink while listening to live entertainment. Local musicians and bands play a variety of music on Friday nights from 5pm to 8pm and on Saturdays and Sundays from 1pm to 4pm. The stage is set up outside the food hall and can be viewed from the verandah area, which has cafe-style seating available.
E-Shed is open Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays 9am to 6pm and the food court stays open until 8pm. Some traders, including Victoria Cafe and Restaurant, Slice of Heaven (bakery) and Dive, Surf and Ski, are open seven days. If you enjoy the hustle and bustle, Saturday and Sunday mornings are the busiest times. Most stalls have eftpos facilities and there is an ATM on site if required.