A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.
– Virginia Woolf, ‘A Room of One’s Own’
And if you need a change of scenery, then here are the best places in Fremantle in which to write. They are in no particular order and I am only listing the great things about them – find the one that is your particular nesting ground.
As for criteria – warmth, wi-fi, food and drink and a general sense of people being around is the bare minimum for me as well as minimal distraction.
Dome cafe, South Terrace/Cafe Strip, Fremantle
What is awesome about it?
1. People watching. The variety of people that come into this cafe is frankly unbeatable. Talk about character fodder. There is also the additional delight of knowing that other writers flock there (and the sheer number of people pulling out laptops and notebooks on any given day in there).
2. Free wi-fi. Had the internet existed when Virginia Woolf was around I am sure she would have included it. Dome has free wi-fi – you just have to check a box and click a button and then do this every hour or so.
3. History. The building Dome now occupies was Fremantle’s first makeshift Town Hall but also it’s first Literary Centre and Library. If that’s sort of thing you like, it makes a bit of difference to sit in there and try to write.
Moore & Moore’s Cafe, Henry Street, Fremantle
1. Free wi-fi. Free wi-fi that works reasonably well. Self-explanatory.
2. Clientele. Most people who are people seem to flock here at one point or another. From the mayor to historians to local business owners, everyone shows up here at some point in amongst the tons of students from across the road at Notre Dame that tend to make it a mix between hipster and preppy cafe joint. Local celeb spotting can become quite an interesting game… or a distracting one.
3. History. Well, you can’t throw a stone very far in Fremantle without hitting some sort of history somewhere but still you can sit and have coffee in what used to be an alleyway or a stable. That is awesome in of itself.
4. Inspiration/distraction. There is an art gallery in the same building and if you sit out the back there are artist’s studios. Sometimes there are gallery openings and other events.
Kulcha, Upstairs above Dome, South Terrace/Cafe Strip, Fremantle
1. Ambience. Obviously I am not advocating that you go to Kulcha on a night to write when they have the salsa classes or some other major event on. But from time to time, there is usually one night a week where all they have is a chillout, lounge like atmosphere with someone spinning tunes along a theme.
2. Alcohol. The point being if you pick one of these relaxed nights, you can go along with a notebook and pen, order a drink from the bar, curl up in an armchair and write away, the music – whatever genre it may be – enabling you to block out anything else that might be distracting.
3. Clientele. Usually you can typecast for the most part, most of Kulcha’s clientele but a lot of odd people come through Kulcha on these particular nights and are usually friendly. You can strike up a conversation with people during a break in writing. More character fodder.
Marine Lounge Bar, Esplanade Hotel, Fremantle
1. No freely available wi-fi (yet). The reason that this is fantastic because it just allows you to sit back, relax and disconnect yourself from the rest of the world while you write.
2. Social. For some reason, you run into everyone you know in Perth at some point or other at the Esplanade Hotel. So it’s a damn good thing there is no wi-fi or you’d never get any writing done by the time you have halloed the third long lost friend in the past twenty minutes.
3. Alcohol and armchairs. The drinks are good. The bar staff here tend to run around like crazy through the kitchens of the hotel looking for celery if I order a Bloody Mary – they are that bothered that the drink is perfect even if not many people order it. And if you sink into the armchairs you don’t want to get out again.
4. Jazz. Did I mention that there is jazz from three to seven every Sunday night? So if the Navy Club’s offering from four to seven on Pakenham Street isn’t your thing, you can head over to the hotel instead. Jazz, alcohol and writing? Sounds like perfect writing hotspot criteria to me.
Outside the Fremantle Town Hall, King’s Square, Fremantle
1. Free wi-fi. The Freobytes network is strongest here and there are power points so you can just plug in and start tapping away.
2. Markets. Bored? Take a break and walk through the stalls that are often set up in King’s Square – you can get a massage, get fed, buy jewelry and scarves and other awesome things and the lineup of stalls changes every so often.
3. Company. The person sitting across from you or next to you is a stranger – sometimes freelancers, sometimes backpackers, sometimes you never know exactly who they are but they surprise you. The opportunity to chat to someone different is always there.
4. Adrenalin rush. This a service provided by none other than Fremantle’s Mayor Brad Pettitt who has a tendency to rush out of side doors of the Town Hall offices on a bicycle at such a high speed that if you don’t jump out of the way fast enough, you might get run over.
5. The library. It’s just inside, it’s quiet and you can find a plug point if you don’t want sit outside any more. And the wi-fi inside has the same signal strength.
The F-Space, Market Street, Fremantle
1. Fast wi-fi. The F Space is a co-working space on Market Street that charges $20 per day for those who don’t want a plan of any sort but need a place to base themselves from.
2. Sustenance and Ergonomics. Free coffee & tea and a desk to sit and a proper chair that won’t kill your back. Sounds fantastic? Wait till you have been writing for awhile – it’s absolutely wonderful.
3. Company. You are usually likely to be surrounded by freelancers, creatives, entrepreneurs, techies and business owners. Think of all the brains you could pick. Of all the things you could learn.
The thing about Fremantle is that if you go exploring, you tend to come across hole-in-the-wall cafes and bars and lounges where wi-fi roams free and you can snuggle down into the comfiest cafe furniture ever and daydream… er, sorry, write away. There is no way I could catch them all (maybe they are like Pokemon) so if I have missed out your favourites, let me know in the comments and tell me why they would work as great places to write.