If you’ve ever thought about studying in Perth, why not consider its nearby neighbour, Fremantle?
Known as ‘Freo’ to locals, Fremantle is a vibrant and artistic place. Under the city’s towering Norfolk pine trees, stand sandstone heritage buildings that house small, quaint bookshops and cosy cafes. The historic fishing boat harbour offers several seafood restaurants with local breweries close by and on the weekend, the bustling Fremantle Markets are open for a unique selection of food, homewares, and gifts. Fremantle is located only 30 minutes away from Perth’s central business district (CBD) by train and offers a free central area transit (CAT) bus to get around the town.
Students in Fremantle
The University of Notre Dame Australia is situated in the west end of Fremantle, and the campus is home to several of Fremantle’s historic buildings. Insider Guides spoke to two students studying at The University of Notre Dame Australia – Felicia Quick and Tin Lok Lee – about why they love living in Fremantle.
Felicia is a Singaporean student who’s completing her second year at The University of Notre Dame Australia. Felicia and her partner were considering getting married or buying a house before eventually deciding that one of them should get a degree.
“He said that I was the smartest out of the both of us, so I should get one,” Felicia jokes.
Felicia had experience working with young children as an early childhood teacher and this underpinned her interest in working with children with special needs. She decided to expand her search to Australia because she knew there were great courses for teachers and it wasn’t too far from Singapore.
Tin Lok, a student from Hong Kong, is currently completing his second year at The University of Notre Dame Australia. He always knew he would study overseas and began searching for the right place in Year 11, before eventually deciding on Australia.
Why did you choose to move to Fremantle?
Felicia: I knew I really loved Perth after visiting a couple of times before – I thought it was a beautiful place with beautiful people. I actually visited Fremantle on a work trip and ended up walking around the Notre Dame campus. When I returned to Singapore, I was doing some research on potential degrees, and the website for The University of Notre Dame Australia came up and I realised that it was the same university I saw in Fremantle. I thought this was meant to be! The city is a lot closer to Singapore and there’s also no time difference!
Tin Lok: In Hong Kong, I went to an exhibition about studying overseas. There I met some representatives from The University of Notre Dame Australia and after speaking to them, I decided to apply.
What do you enjoy most about living here?
Felicia: Where do I begin? I think that one of the big things for me is living so close to the beach. There’s so much nature: the beach, the river and the park. I am looking forward to winter when it storms, and you can go up to the Roundhouse and look out over the ocean. Living in the heart of the town is always very exciting – I’ve made friends with most of the people in the markets who sell fruit and vegetables. It’s the relationships you build with people that make it a home.
Tin Lok: I really enjoyed living on campus in Fremantle because I met so many other international students who have become my close friends here. In the morning I could wake up and go downstairs to class. Living on campus was a good way to learn about life in Australia and get familiarised with the school environment. I also really enjoyed having two beaches within walking distance.
Favourite places to eat?
Felicia: Ramen from the markets on the weekend and ramen from Haro Sushi during the week – they also do $1 sushi! Gino’s Cafe is one of my favourites. Bread in Common – they do a bread buffet! Balinese food from Suku at the markets. Bagels from Hush Cafe. Swan Valley Gelato and Kuld Ice Cream for dessert. The National Hotel for their rooftop bar and definitely Sail and Anchor for a Saturday night.
Tin Lok: Fremantle markets for honeycake and ramen. I like Meet and Buns for their burgers. I also go to Pasta Addiction because it’s really close to campus.
Favourite place to get work done?
Felicia: Hush Cafe and Cos Baby!
Tin Lok: I like working in the Notre Dame Library – especially at night when it’s quiet and I can use the whole room to study. I also like High Street Dispensary – they have really nice baristas to chat to, great coffee, and a good atmosphere for studying.
Favourite free thing to do?
Felicia: The beach! I like walking down to South Freo on an early Saturday morning and looking at all the dogs. I also love the free CAT buses.
Tin Lok: I like walking along the beach in the afternoon or hanging out at South Beach with friends.
Describe your perfect day in Fremantle
Felicia: I would begin the day by getting up early and going to the beach for a swim or a workout. Then head to the markets to meet all of my mates and my favourite aunties and uncles! We would grab some market food and have a picnic in Esplanade Park before an evening swim at Bathers Beach.
Tin Lok: Waking up late and then getting a coffee at High Street Dispensary. I’d get some fruit from the markets and head to the beach to sunbathe!
What advice would you give to future international students who want to live in the city?
Felicia: Moving across the world isn’t always easy, but with a positive outlook, Fremantle can really become your home. Try to meet new people because it’s a very beautiful community. Have fun with moving somewhere new! I live on campus and the residence provides spaces to make new friends and have new experiences. They plan events and you have coffee catch-ups with staff members to make sure everything is going well.
Tin Lok: My advice would be to speak to as many people as you can to practice your English. Studying here has forced me to practice and improve my English. I’ve had to learn how to express myself in English and I’ve also learned some Australian slang.