Strolling through South Freo

Written by Bec Johnson

“This is how life should be!” announces my overseas visitor as we stroll through the streets of South Fremantle, eyes closed, face to the sun, “It’s so calm and peaceful here” she muses, nearly walking into a tree! I’m playing tour guide for the day; my friend Jenny has packed up her life in the UK in search of sun, sea, sand and a slower pace of life. Along with my two dogs Lola and Freddie, I’ve promised her a tour, lunch and maybe a swim.

Spring is amongst us and the residents of South Fremantle are coming out of hibernation, everyone seems to literally have a ‘spring’ in their step now the sun’s shining and the mornings are no longer Baltic. Jenny in particular is very happy, mostly because she’s unemployed and on a permanent holiday.

As a relatively new resident, the novelty of living near the beach, with everything we need literally on our doorstep, has defiantly not worn off, but seeing a visitor so enthusiastic reminds me how lucky we are, (now we’ve recovered from the hike in our mortgage repayments), we’re ever so grateful to have found a home here.

Home is Daly Street, just off Douro Road, we’re conveniently nestled within the two shopping precincts which includes the new Aldi and a Pet Shop to one side and Peaches and IGA to the other, all we need now is a Bunnings and we’d never have to use the car again!

Conveniences aside, it’s the diversity of the neighbourhood and our eclectic mix of neighbours that really makes Daly Street home (although being a stone’s throw from Dan Murphy’s really is fantastic, although my liver may disagree).

My partner and I are in one of the heritage listed blocks which belonged to an Italian family and came complete with a market garden and eighty-year-old olive tree. Our elderly Italian neighbours and their neighbours beyond them have been here for most of their lives. I bump into Bill from next door as we walk down the street wrestling two excited dogs, he’s tending the olive trees on his verge and gives me a wave. I know the street and indeed the suburb is much more populated than it was when Bill moved in, but if he minds he doesn’t show it.

Much like the rest of Freo, the houses on Daly Street are like a map into the past, heritage houses, contemporary two storey, timber frame homes and apartments; my visitor is quite taken with the restored heritage cottages we spot as we make our way down Lloyd Street towards South Terrace.

I love the smaller streets that run between Parmelia and South Terrace, some of the restoration projects are just stunning, the subtle architecture that blends into the landscape. They house people from all walks of life – new comers like us developing blocks, live alongside the ‘long termers’ like Bill, renters, expats and travellers flock to the area to make the most of the beach, eateries and attractions, I’m enjoying being one of them for the day.

After much pondering we decide on a healthy lunch from Manna, the dogs wait patiently as we devour our rice paper rolls, vegan quiche and ‘ninja smoothies.’ It’s pushing 28 degrees and everyone’s enjoying the sun, we walk past the Local Hotel and the outdoor tables are full of people enjoying a lunchtime pint “don’t these people have jobs!” jokes Jenny, chuckling at the irony.

We decide to grab a coffee at Port City Roasters, the atmosphere is great, full of music and chatter, pulling out our laptops for half an hour I do some work as my friend attempts to look for one! We quickly decide it’s too nice a day for staring at screens and head to South Beach, much to the dogs’ delight!

The small dog beach is full of people and pups enjoying the sunny afternoon, some are braving the water, it’s not quite warm enough for me, but Lola and Freddie don’t seem to mind! Jenny is just about salivating, “I can’t believe you live so close to the beach!”

We do a circle and start heading up Douro, stopping at the SBH for a drink, “It would be rude not to!” laughs Jenny. We finish and head up Harbour Road and give the dogs one more run in Parmelia Park. There’s a man playing a guitar, a young family playing football and a group of teenagers on the basketball court. The sky is turning an inky pink as the sun heads towards the ocean, the cool breeze reminding us it’s not quite summer yet.

As we amble down Daly street, well-fed and watered, Jenny says, “Thanks for showing me around, I’d love to live here, you seem to have such a great balance.” I agree, it’s a great place to live. Pondering on what she said, I vow to take a moment each day to pause and show gratitude and invest in my community, whether it’s enjoying a sunset with friends, buying local or even doing something for my neighbours.

I’ve promised Jenny an ‘Aussie BBQ’ for dinner. We arrive back at my house and settle on the veranda as the sun sets, my partner brings us a G&T and the dogs collapse, exhausted. The sky is a deep shade of pink and peppered with fluffy clouds, Daly Street is quiet, even Jenny is lost for words as we silently reflect on our afternoon.

Bill is taking out his bin and checking his olive trees again, tomorrow I’ll take him a jar of ours, which we collected, scored and pickled ourselves from the tree in our garden, he gives me a wave and a wink as he ambles back inside. It really is a lovely place to live.