There’s so much to love about Fremantle but lately, one of my favourite places to explore is the precinct around Bathers Beach. Bathers Beach Fremantle is a quick walk from the town centre and the Esplanade and is a lovely spot to while away a few hours, laze on the beach and explore the Bathers Beach Art Precinct.
Bathers Beach lies beneath the historic limestone cliffs that make up Arthur Head Reserve and the Round House.
In the early days of European Settlement, Bathers Beach, or Whalers Beach as it was originally known, was used as a whaling station. The Whalers Tunnel underneath Arthurs Head was constructed to move equipment and goods from the beach to High Street. The tunnel in those days was 12 metres longer and much of the limestone from the cliffs was quarried to develop the Fremantle Harbour.
For Aboriginal people, the area around this headland is known as Manjaree and served as an important meeting and trading point. You can find out more about the significance of this area to Aboriginal culture along the Manjaree Walking Trail.
Bather’s Beach Art Precinct
The area around Bather’s Beach is a hub for art galleries, open studios and workshops. The Art Precinct includes the J Shed, Roundhouse Studios, Arthur Heads Heritage Site and Kidogo Arthouse.
The real delight of the art precinct is that you can meet the artists, see them work and participate in the diverse range of creative workshops on offer.
J Shed Studios
Located underneath the historic Arthur’s Head, the J Shed Studios has been home to renowned artists for over 25-years. These include ceramist Jenny Dawson who has commissioned public art all over Perth, photographer Peter Zuvela and sculptor Greg James.
Even if the name Greg James’ name doesn’t ring a bell, chances are high that you’ve seen his amazing sculptures in Fremantle, Perth and beyond. His work includes the statues of Bon Scott and the Fishermen which can be seen at the fishing boat harbour.
At the end of the J Shed is Art of Freo Gallery. The gallery hosts an evolving range of exhibitions from local Fremantle artists. The gallery also hosts a variety of creative workshops throughout the year.
To find out more about exhibitions, workshops and special events happening at the J-Shed, check their facebook page here.
Captains Lane Roundhouse Studios
Next to the Round House, on top of Arthur’s Head, you’ll find the beautifully named Captains Lane. The heritage-listed Pilot Cottages along the laneway were the original home of the Swan River colony’s marine pilots and their families from the early days of European settlement until the 1950s.
These quaint cottages now house a number of art studios, including Studio Eleven, a David Giles Gallery where you’ll find art for sale, painting classes and a very friendly gallery dog. See more here.
Down another alley, running parallel to Captains Lane is Trivett Lane. This is home to the Arthur Head Heritage Site and houses the World End Studio and Ann’s Land Studio.
Greg Cowan Underwater Gallery
Discover Greg Cowan’s amazing underwater photography at his gallery located adjacent to the Round House. The gallery features a stunning variety of Cowan’s underwater shots from Australia and around the world and is a must visit. See more here.
Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre
Walyalup Cultural Centre hosts exhibitions by Noongar artists and is a great place to purchase authentic Aboriginal art. The centre also conducts weaving workshops, art classes and Aboriginal language classes and cultural tours.
Scott Chisholm also hosts regularly Yoondoordo dreaming tours which give insight into the Dreamtime stories and the history of Fremantle.
Find out more on Walyalup here.
Originally a Kerosene house, Kidogo Arthouse is now an art space for exhibitions, art classes and concerts.
Kidogo Arthouse is also home to the Kelp Bar. This comes alive on the deck at various times of the year.
Last but not least, Bathers Beach is the ideal spot to relax, have a swim in the ocean or laze at the beach and enjoy the historic surroundings.
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