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7 reasons to visit Fremantle Arts Centre

28 May 2024

Fremantle Arts Centre is well-known as a live music venue on summer weekends. But did you know its hallowed halls are also home to a vibrant spectrum of creativity, seven days a week?

Housed in an iconic heritage building, crafted from sandy limestone, towering trees and vine-covered walls, Fremantle Arts Centre (FAC) is a creative hub for Freo locals and visitors passing through. Learn more about what’s on at this beloved community institution on the fringe of Fremantle centre.

1. Discover the unique history behind FAC’s impressive gothic building 

Gothic limestone building is striking against blue sky

Local history or Australian gothic architecture enthusiasts know that FAC’s convict-built edifice deserves a spot on your weekend itinerary! Originally constructed as 'lunatic asylum' in the 1800s, the building has a winding and complex history. Before becoming the Fremantle Arts Centre in 1973, it also experienced life as a women’s home, a technical school, and a mariner’s museum. Many believe ghosts of the past still lurk beyond the pointed arches and soaring pinnacles of the building’s façade — let us know if you spot any…

2. Take a turn about the expansive lawns

Friends greet each other with an embrace beyond FAC gates, near lush green lawns

If there are ghosts, they don’t disrupt the beauty and tranquillity of these lush public grounds. Green canopies and sloping eaves scatter mottled shade onto the lawns, where visitors often practise yoga, enjoy picnics and relax among falling leaves and chirping birds. Enjoy views of Fremantle port’s iconic red cranes towering over the skyline like mechanised brachiosauruses, from the sloping grassy knolls — in late afternoons, it’s pretty incredible to see them backlit by glowing, orange sunsets.

3. Experience live music from some of the best local and touring bands

live music fans enjoy picnics on lush green lawns at sunset

FAC’s renowned weekly live music program — Sunday Music — brings immaculate vibes to its scenic front garden every weekend over summer, and entry is always free. Throughout the year, this musical mecca attracts heaps of musicians and bands to its South Lawn, including Australian legends like Tones and I, and international superstars including Billie Eilish. With an act for everyone, the music events at FAC can be whatever you make them — a night of family fun, a wild one with friends, or a romantic evening under the stars.

4. Treat yourself or find a special gift at FAC’s shop 

table with native Australian flowers and books stands in the middle of a store where white shelves showcase colourful, locally-made gifts

Shop a kaleidoscope of thoughtfully curated and unique wares at Found. This trove of locally-made treasures is home to original artwork and prints, striking accessories, handstitched children’s toys, stunning homewares, novelty bumper stickers for art-lovers and more. Don’t be shy to reach out to Found’s loving staff, who watch over the small, yet expansive and ever-evolving collection — they’d love to help you discover your new favourite thing.

5. Peruse contemporary exhibitions for FREE at FAC’s indoor galleries!

family weaves neon pink threads on an interactive art exhibition

Visit during weekends (or weekdays, if you’re lucky) to take in a little bit of culture — admission is always free. The centre’s heritage walls and halls could be adorned with paintings, textiles, sculptures, interactive displays, photography or a wide and wonderful variety of artworks and artist showcases, depending on ever-changing themed exhibitions. The voices of Aboriginal artists from West Australia are platformed and elevated regularly within the exhibition calendar’s vibrant diversity. See What's On.

6. Attend a creative learning class and feel like the main character of a great novel

person paints at an easel in a light-filled, heritage room

Sunlit pools on hardwood floors. Ink-stained classroom tables. Gothic learning spaces, alive with activity. Show us a more perfect environment to learn new skills or brush up on old ones! During FAC’s expansive curriculum molten metal flows, stories take shape on paper, clay spins on pottery wheels, and paint is dragged across canvases, steered by seasoned experts, eager to impart their wisdom and lend a helping hand whenever you need it. Whether you’re a novice or expert, anyone can enjoy which spans a broad spectrum of creative practices that run from dawn till dusk.

Over the holidays, little prodigies can also choose from a vibrant selection of children’s classes which emphasise creative expression and the joy of play — and usually result in a special handmade memento to show off at home.

7. Find something to make your day memorable

two kids play in Fremantle Arts Centre's lawn

Fremantle Arts Centre’s unmatched art programming is designed with love for the community. Do you have a passion for singing radio classics as you dance around the kitchen? — FAC Yeah! community choir is for you, on the last Tuesday of every month; Want to know all the behind-the-scenes information about our exhibitions? — Join a Curator Tours or Artist Talks; Keen to get your kids out of the house? — Toys are on FAC at their weekly outdoor play program Buster on Wednesdays during summer. FAC always has something engaging and enjoyable to take part in.