Once known as the gateway to Australia, Fremantle is the port for the capital of Western Australia, Perth. Covering almost one third of the landmass, or one million square miles, Western Australia (W.A.) is the largest of the Australian states.
While the new, metropolitan capital is home to more than one million people, Fremantle has a population of just over 24,000. Due to Perth's continuing growth, it is no longer possible to tell exactly where Fremantle ends and Perth begins.
Established by the British in 1828 at the mouth of the Swan River, the settlement was named after Charles Fremantle, captain of the HMS Challenger. Three months after Fremantle landed, Captain Stirling arrived with a group of settlers and founded Perth.
The settlement of Fremantle got off to a slow start as it faced a lack of workers, finances and poor communication. It wasn't until they reluctantly decided to accept convicts in the 1850s that the settlement became a town. Most of Fremantle's earliest buildings, which are now the oldest and most treasured in Western Australia, were constructed by this hard-working, cheap labor force.
In 1890, when a new artificial harbor was built, Fremantle became more accessible to the outside world and a destination for new settlers. Today, it is home to a large fishing fleet and a major container port for Western Australia.
A significant tourist boom was experienced in 1987 when the city was elected as the site for the competition over the recently acquired, prized possession - the America's Cup yachting trophy. The city underwent considerable development in preparation for this exciting event.
The ship is scheduled to dock at Victoria Quay, located 1 to 1.5 miles from the town center of Fremantle. Distance to Perth is 11 miles. Taxis are generally available outside the terminal building.
The best shopping in Fremantle is along High Street and at the High Street Mall. In Perth, good shopping can be found at the Carillon Arcade on Hay Street. Souvenirs, opals, and Western Australian wines are popular buys. The local currency is the Australian dollar. U.S. dollars are not readily accepted.
Numerous seafood restaurants along Fishing Boat Harbour offer fresh seafood specialties. Asian and Italian cuisine can be found in cafés and along South Terrace (also referred to as Cappuccino Strip). More typical local fare may include dishes with crocodile, emu, buffalo or kangaroo meat.
Called the Round House, although it actually has 12 sides, the structure dates from 1831 and is the State's oldest building. It served as the local jail and as holding place for Aborigines before they were transferred to Rottnest Island.
The island lies 11 miles off Fremantle. It was named by Dutch explorers who mistook the island's beaver-like animals, known as quakkas, for king-size rats. Used as a prison for Aborigines in the early 1800s, it later became a retreat for Perth high society. The island is a day trip from Fremantle and offers biking, swimming and leisurely strolls as motor traffic is limited. Transportation to the island is by ferry or plane.
Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Tour Office onboard. Guests in transit to the following cruise may also check with the Tour Office on board for independent sightseeing arrangements.