This week I took a data gathering trip to Fremantle! It was an incredibly informative experience, and like Hanadi asked us to, I ignored my previous ideas and went into the city with a clear perspective. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it down with the rest of my seminar group on Friday, so I instead took the trip down myself on the following Wednesday, leaving the house at 2:30 to catch the 106 bus.
For the purpose of this exercise, I have chosen to explore the city of Fremantle as a ‘shopper’ stakeholder, as I have discovered that local visitors make up more then half of Fremantles total visitor count (Tourism WA, 2012). Furthermore, anecdotal evidence suggests that many people will make a day of the half-hour trip it takes to get down to Fremantle from the Perth CBD in order to enjoy the leisure and unique shopping opportunities that the city has to offer.
I have taken with me my iPhone (for photos) tablet (to take notes) and very little actual cash (so I don’t get too tempted to buy anything – this is homework after all). I have also drawn out my own empathy map, which I shall fill in during the course of the trip. I do not want to map out a route since, as a Perth resident who travels to Fremantle occasionally, I already have a rough idea of what the area looks like. Furthermore, I want to preserve that sense of exploration a shopper usually has when they are searching for new items.
FIELD NOTES (taken on my ipad)
As a Perth denizen that has visited Fremantle several times in the past, I know the main Fremantle area quite well, but not as we’ll as say, a local.
Today I am going to Fremantle! I have chosen the persona of a ‘shopper’ that normally lives in central perth, but who likes to go to Fremantle for the unique retail opportunities the city provides. This will be a rather easy persona to adopt since this is usually why I head down to Fremantle – their range of thrift stores, op shops and specialty stores such as the Butcher Shop are some of the key reasons I will make the thirty minute bus trip down by bus.
I am sitting on the 106 bus at the moment, and one of the key things that struck me is how easy it is to get to Fremantle from the Perth CBD. You have the choice of either the train or the 106 bus – which takes you along canning highway all the way to the Fremantle bus station. I have only used this bus to visit friends I have in the outer suburbs of Fremantle – never to get into the heart of Fremantle itself, so it will be interesting to see how it differs from either driving or taking the train.
I have begun to fill in the empathy map provided on blackboard, and so far the only things I feel are the usual Perth heat, the sounds of other passengers, and the roar of the bus itself. I used my smart rider to get on the bus – since most perth residents who frequently use public transport will probably have one. As a shopper, I am excited to see what stores and items unique to Fremantle that I can pick up.
I have just been asked by an international traveller if they are on the right bus to Fremantle. I had to pull out my phone and show her on my smartphone map where we are and that we were, indeed, heading to Fremantle. Maybe a sign inside the bus telling people which stop they currently are at might minimise tourist anxiety when travelling from The Perth CBD to Fremantle?
While sitting on the bus I see a whole range of stores that are a slight distance away from the Freo CBD. I get off at Adelaide street and despite being slightly disorientated at first – I wander down to the Main Street.
While walking towards the Main Street I am disappointed to see that the only shops that line the streets are the usual bug chains that I can find almost anywhere in Perth. All the more interesting stores appear to be further out.
Adelaide Main Street is slightly empty – but then it is a Wednesday. It’s nice to see local people gathering outside cafes while the sound of buskers fills the air with music. The streets might be slightly empty – but it doesn’t feel deserted and there is definitely a pleasant ambience of unhurried ease. The weather is beautiful for being outdoors and it seems many people are taking advantage of the late afternoon breeze on benches.
After walking down Adelaide street for a little while I cut through a cute alleyway/arcade lined with interesting quirky shops. I stop off at the ‘Broken Doll’ vintage store and browse for awhile. There is a 5 dollar rack with some really cool clothing that I reckon would cost a great deal more brand new. While the arcade isn’t really crowded, there is still a great deal of foot traffic which makes me feel safe and just a little competitive with the other shoppers.
After shopping for awhile and finding some incredibly unique items, I get to he end of he arcade and come out on the corner of Market and Leake street. I am feeling wonderfully lost – I don’t exactly know where I am but that seems a part of the adventure.
I have been wandering down Market street browsing the various stores that line the street. I love all the eclectic mix of local designer and thrift-store retailers punctuated by alleyway cafes and restaraunts.
Since it is after 3:30, there are school children wandering around with their friends browsing the stores with me. The street has become a little more busy as early finishing business people meet up. The closer I get to Fremantle markets, the touristy the stores seem to become with souvenir shops popping up.
The street is well sheltered from the sun and I can remove my hat and see through the store windows properly. I can smell food from the cafes which reminds me I am hungry. Stopping at one of she convenient food stores – in this case Boost a juice – I pick up a drink and continue to shop, promising myself a tasty sushi meal when I am done looking at stores. Wandering down a bit more, I decide to take a break and take a seat on one of the weird public art benches that are outside the timezone.
It’s nice to sit out here and listen to the sound of the arcade while I sip my juice. The people watching opportunities are great and it’s not odd to see someone walk by with a musical instrument, or zip eagerly past me on a skateboard.
Everyone here seems so laid back and effortlessly cool. There are quite a few people in long skirts with no shoes and dreadlocks walking past too – which only adds to the vibe of the place. Feeling refreshed, I get up once more and walk on.
As I walk along I can smell something delicious and I follow it down an alleyway (fairy shop pictures) which opens up into a semi covered arcade. I am eager to explore it and find new stores. So far I have not felt inclined to travel beyond the Fremantle Main Street. It appears all the usual artsy traits that Fremantle is famous for can be found on the main streets. Who needs to go to the outer suburbs!
After browsing the stores in the arcade, I am a little bit disappointed because a few of the outlets are empty. I can remember there being a raw food restaraunt here once, and I was thinking of maybe getting some pizza. Ah we’ll. I’ll have to look elsewhere.
After more then an hour of browsing Market street I finally reach the Fremantle markets! They are closed of course, and the street is completely dead, and yet I feel no need to continue further. There are very few locals here even though the food court is open. I see quite a few business people taking an early stroll home.
Nevertheless I head up the street to queen street and walk back. The streets are incredibly quiet and I feel slightly uncomfortable with the emptiness. The difference between this street and the bustle of market street (which is just one street over I might add!) is staggering.
Turning up towards the communal public space by the target I am relieved to see some activity. Where is a playground in which some women are screaming at each other (making me even more uncomfortable).
However don’t feel too bad since there a also some little local stalls selling handicrafts and beads. Walking quickly through the square (which I know for a fact is a lot pleasanter on the weekends) I walk up high street to the op shops.
Fremantle is famous for its op-shopping opportunity, and the high street arcade is the best place to go. It’s a week day so the arcade is more or less deserted. However the good sammy staff are incredibly friendly and there are a few shoppers browsing about, the atmosphere is far better then the public square I left behind. I notice that the restaraunt a that fill the arcade are mostly empty – but there are a few customers who appear to be people who just work in Fremantle (as oppose to living there). The food smells good, and after browsing the good sammys for awhile (I know I am precariously close to the 5pm closing time) I cross he road to enter another Op Shop.
Once against he shopping experience is great. The eclectic mix of new and old merchandise as well as he friendliness of staff and diversity of customers makes me feel good about meticulously picking through he merchandise. Before long the staff begin to usher us out and close up shop.
I head out and walk along the still relatively empty street to the but stop I arrived at. Within minutes the 106 to Perth city rolls by and I jump on. I feel happy and tired about my shopping trip, and pleased with my (imaginary) purchases. I feel as though I have experienced the full shopping opportunities that Fremantle has to offer, and despite how much fun I had, I don’t mind not returning for awhile. I’m easy to go home and relax.
POST TRIP THOUGHTS
I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Fremantle. The ability to explore, wander down odd alleyways and find quirky side shops all added to the overall experience. Fremante has always had a reputation for good op-shops and cheap, good fashion, and on this trip it definitely delivered. I felt that all I needed to access could be accessed within the main CBD area, and that I had littl need to explore beyond it. And therein lies the problem.
First of all, I had not been to Fremantle in quite some time – therefore everything still seemed fun, new and quirky. However, since I live only half an hour by public transport away, I feel that if I returned too often, the novelty of the area would wear off, and I would be stuck trying to find new areas of Fremantle to explore. Other then the main CBD area, I do not know of any other area that would offer a similar, or at the very least, extended shopping experience. This is a shame because I personally know that there are many other interesting stores (as evidenced by the stores I saw on my bus-ride in) in Fremantle.
Secondly I found some areas of Fremantle unsettlingly empty during the week. They made me uncomfortable to walk down, and when I reached that empty park where the two woman were screaming at each other, I was tempted to abandon this back road and flee back to market street. Fortunately the appearance of other people allowed me to continue on towards High Street. I think Mayor Pettitt was right in that empty streets are streets in which crime occur. Again, I mentioned last week that perhaps I could figure out some way to discourage anti-social behaviour. While I’m not entirely certain how I would go about public arguing, I think there is a project in there somewhere to either
a) increase traffic on Queen street, or
b) make it less acceptable for people to misbehave in public areas
As you would have seen from the photos, there was some police presence on the street – but I mostly saw them on Adelaide and Market street.
Here is my empathy map from the trip. It’s a bit messy since I was filling it in while I was walking. I am finding both the empathy map AND the time based notes I took useful.
As you can see I stayed within a very localised shopping area without venturing beyond it. I believe this is a problem I may have to address in my project.
Things that I would do differently if I had to do the trip again is create a table showing fifteen minute intervals. I believe this would have improved my note-taking by giving me specific points with which to sit and record my experiences. This would reduce my chance of walking into people (which I did once) and give my an idea of the relationships between time and levels of actiity. All in all, it was a fun adventure.
It has been an informative trip, and must admit there is alot of information I need to think about. I shall update my thoughts in next weeks journal entry.
Tourism WA (2008). FREMANTLE overnight visitor fact sheet years ending December 2010/11/12. Retrieved from: http://www.tourism.wa.gov.au/Publications%20Library/Research/Research%20and%20Reports/LGA%20and%20SA2%20Fact%20Sheets/2012/Fremantle%202012.pdf