Perth, a family size adventure – part 2

For our stay in Perth we were recommended to book a house in Fremantle. This is a little port town at about a 30 minute train ride from downtown Perth. We heard great things about it. It sounded like a great option for our little family to be close to the city without being in what we thought might be a chaotic downtown.

About Fremantle

Fremantle is Western Australia’s chief port and is at the mouth of the Swan river at about 30 minutes west of Perth. We took the bus from our rental house to Fremantle downtown area on the second day of our stay. We opted for simply walking around instead of taking a tour of the town, since the day was so beautiful and the town didn’t look like it was too big to visit on foot.

Fremantle station
Fremantle station

From the train station there we walked all the way to the lighthouse because our kids really wanted to see it. They were actually hoping to go in it too!

Fremantle lighthouse
Fremantle lighthouse

Unfortunately you cannot visit it inside, but it was fun to walk there. Of course Cosimo and Emma did not take the conventional way like us, but preferred going on the big rocks on the side of the road. At one point they also ventured down some of the rocks closer to the ocean. They saw lots of big crabs wondering out of the water!

Emma in Fremantle
Our walk brought us to see the Fremantle Time Ball and Gun. This was built-in 1900 to give an exact “time check”. So ship masters could verify the setting of their chronometer. The time ball would be dropped at 1pm together with the discharges of gunpowder. This practice ended in 1937 due to radio signals being used. This spot had a lovely view on all the sailboats in the ocean and Rottnest Island far out in the horizon.

View from Fremantle
As we walked down along the little beach in Bathers Bay, we found the Fishing boat harbor. This is still a very busy working port but it is also home to restaurants, a museum, a fresh fish market and a brewery.

kids walking

Straight ahead we noticed a panoramic wheel (only operating on weekends) and an awesome playground surrounded by amazing trees! Of course we did both! It was fascinating to see so many kids of all ages playing there. In the meantime the parents were chatting while having a coffee and watching their kids. It felt like they were all enjoying the beautiful day!


panoramic wheel
Once it was time to eat we headed to Fremantle Markets. This is a big building with over 150 stalls that include fresh produce, cheese, honey, bread, jewelry gift ideas, little restaurants and cafes. Keep in mind it is only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, so it best to visit Fremantle on weekends if you want to see it!

Fremantle Markets
Fremantle Markets

We simply walked through it because it was incredibly busy. Our kids were also so full of energy at that point that they needed something a bit more quiet, otherwise we were going to lose our minds or ….. the kids! If you walk down Cappuccino strip (yes defiantly my road!), there are plenty of cafes, restaurants, pubs to pick from!

Fremantle Markets
Fremantle Markets

On the same street you will also find Elizabeth Bookstore where I bought my first “blind date” book. I just love this concept and am reading it now! Cosimo instead has gone through all his books so fast that he was able to exchange them with something he had not read yet. He was so excited about this! Since there weren’t so many options as he is usually used to back at home, he finally ventured in a new genre and a way longer book.


Fremantle offers also a few interesting museums. The day was so beautiful that we just did not want to stay inside, but we had promised ourselves that if it did start raining we would have gone for sure.

WA Maritime Museum
WA Maritime Museum

Here are the one that interested us:

Fremantle Prison: it was built by convicts in the 1850s and was used for 136 years. They offer different tours such as prison day tour, tunnels tour, or torchlight tour. We were going to do the day tour because we thought the other might be a bit scary for the kids. 

WA Maritime Museum: reveals the vast riches of WA’s maritime history, such as significant historic objects and vessels. There is also a huge submarine right outside, pretty impressing to see!

WA Shipwrecks Museum: displays artifacts and relics from ships wrecked along the treacherous WA coastline.

Most museums are a little pricy. However some offer family packages and often children under 2 or 3 are free. During our travels we try to make a thoughtful choice of which is going to be the most informative and interesting museum for our kids. Considering that sometimes it can get expensive and time-consuming to do them all. In Australia for now we felt that the natural beauty outside has been far more fascinating and worth seeing then going in the museums.

Rottnest Island

From Fremantle harbor you can catch a boat to Rottnest Island, also known as Rotto Island and to local Aboriginal people as Wadjemup (place of spirits). The island is only 19 km off the coast of Fremantle, about a 40 minute ride. On Rottnest island you move around by bike or bus. It is not very big but trust me when you bike all around it, it feels huge!


We arrived with the first boat at 9:40 and went to rent bikes right away. It felt like being at a car rental! We picked our helmets (everyone has to wear it) and we picked our bikes. In our case we added a carrier for Luca to ride in. We were off for the day!

Bike rental
Bike rental

Depending on what boat company you come over in the morning, the last ride back is at 4 or 4:30. This means that you have to be back to the harbor by 3:30 at the latest, to drop off the bike and board. We used Sealink and were very happy with it.
Rottnest Island has an amazing environment: ocean, trees, grass, lakes all in one small island with many hills!!!

rottnest island
On our bike ride we saw both lighthouses from outside. At one point we had to leave Emma’s bike behind because she was too tired to keep on pedaling. Plus her continuous stopping was making us all tired as well. So we parked her bike on the side of the road. We loaded her on Luca’s carrier for a while. She also came on the back of my bike for the rest of the trip, so we could get to the furthest west side of the island, at Cape Vlamingh. It was a challenge but truly beautiful and worth the pedaling!

rottnest island1

lake on rottnest island
There are 3 suggested bike routes on the free map that you will find on the island. Of course we decided to do the longest one because we wanted to see everything. However we were not thinking that maybe it would be a bit too tough for our kids and for us as well! Sometimes I think we are a bit over achievers! So before being as crazy as us make sure you are used to biking up and down hills! There are plenty, for such a small island!

Cape Vlamingh
Cape Vlamingh
Fish hook bay
Fish hook bay

Meeting the Quokkas

The coolest animal that you will find on Rottnest Island? The Quokkas! They look like a pint-sized kangaroo and they live only here. The story says that William de Vlamingh, who in 1696 was the first European to visit the island, gave the island its name Rotte nest (meaning rats nest) after seeing so many quokkas and mistaking them fo rats. The quokkas roam freely around the island and are very friendly. However you still have to make sure you don’t feed, don’t touch or don’t arm them otherwise you will be fined!


Our day trip to Rottnest Island was physically tough but mentally very enriching. We enjoyed the peacefulness of being surrounded only by the sounds of birds, ocean and our chatter as we pedaled. It was lovely to outside all day using our bodies to move around and not simply sitting in a car. Words and photos cannot express clearlythe beauty of all that surrounded us. It is in our hearts and the memory of it will never leave us…….

biking in rottnest

Rottnest Island tip: Keep in mind that it is still pretty raw here. So if you are planning on having lunch somewhere on the island, remember to do at the harbor before starting out or bring it from home. You won’t find restaurants everywhere on the island, actually there is only one cafe somewhere, that is it!

Make sure to check out our next posts about Perth: Perth, a family size adventure – part 1 and Perth, a family size adventure – part 3

Click here to see more of our posts from our travel in Australia!!!

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