The Fremantle Arts Centre has an eclectic history. The imposing structure has been a lunatic asylum (ghost stories included), a naval base and a technical college. These days it hosts exhibitions, concerts, the Found gift shop and an excellent arts-learning program.
But the best way to absorb the historic building and its idyllic surrounds is from inside its onsite cafe, Canvas. Located in a hidden courtyard, with tables dotted over the centre’s lush lawns, the venue is as far from the port city’s bustle as you can get.
The verdant setting is a haven for artsy folk and young families, but that’s not its only attraction. Bucking the bland gallery-cafe stereotype, Canvas’ menu of bold flavours makes it easy to linger.
If you can go past the lamb shoulder and eggs, or the popular waffles with bacon and syrup, order the kitchen’s specialty: shakshuka. Huddled in a pan of bubbling tomato sauce are two eggs waiting to be mopped up with bread, garlic butter and soft, black olives. There are plenty of sweet options, too.
Canvas is licensed with BYO corkage of $2 per person. Factor in the short wine list plus beers and ciders, and the cafe makes for an ideal lunch stop. Just make sure it’s not a late one: the kitchen closes at 2pm on weekdays and 3pm on weekends.