Fremantle is the perfect mix of the past and present: Astor

A Perth local who was recently in Hamburg, picked up a catalogue from the people who run the Astor.  This is the ship that is based in Freo during our summer.  They give Freo a real big plug.

I won’t say this translation is perfect but it basically says:

Fremantle is the perfect mix of the past and present.  While walking through the perfectly-retained, historical streets from the 19th century, experience sea-faring, convict and colonial history.  Busy markets and relaxing street cafes show what life is like in WA in the 21st century.”

I couldn’t agree more 🙂

Fremantle’s West End on the State Register of Heritage Places – Permanently

Today we had the new Minister for Heritage David Templeman in Fremantle to announce the permanent registration of the whole of Fremantle’s West End on the State Register of Heritage Places.

The cultural heritage value of the West End has long been recognised locally and I’m delighted it is now recognised at a state level – not to mention that it is the largest ever addition to the register with 250 buildings and 200,000 square metres that embody the exuberance of the gold boom era

The West End is a rare example of an intact port city business district during WA’s gold-boom era in the 1890s to 1900s so it really is a special place.

The West End’s built heritage represents the very best of our past and the best cities in the world not only protect these landmarks but sympathetically adapt them for modern use.

As our heritage coordinator likes to say, “Fremantle is not a museum but a vibrant city. For our city to grow yet remain true to its character, it is important that our heritage buildings are restored, used and loved by future generations as part of an urban centre.”

The City of Fremantle and Heritage Council alike, couldn’t agree more and hope to see future conservation works recapture the spirit that has made the West End so iconic and special.

As we celebrate this prestigious listing today, we also celebrate the people who made this possible – from the working groups and former councillors to our local property owners and residents. Thanks to everyone involved.

The “Missing Tooth” in Invisible Cities Fremantle

A few weeks ago I flagged the launch of the Invisible Cities Fremantle participatory art project.

Based around an app that triggers audio at locations on a virtual map, this ‘auditory treasure hunt’ invites people to hear stories about the significant, poignant, every day or unusual relationships people have with their special places in Fremantle.

This week I got to add my little story to Invisible Cities Fremantle. It is about why I think the “missing tooth” on High St masks a significant but almost invisible Fremantle story.

The free Invisible Cities mobile app is available for iPhone and Android from

People wanting to submit memories and stories can do so at

New 21st century Fremantle Council building gets heritage tick of approval

The City of Fremantle’s soon-to-be-built $50m administration and library building will enhance the important heritage aspects of Fremantle’s Kings Square according to a recently received heritage impact statement.

The independent report by Griffiths Architects has shown the new building has a ‘favourable effect on heritage’ by providing strong interactions between the historic Fremantle Town Hall and the civic and community functions of the new building.

The report advises the new building will help return the town hall to prominence by reintegrating the town hall back into the centre of civic life:

The overall presentation of the town hall, civic functions and administration will be visually enhanced by a more integrated 21st century building that relates well to the town hall, Kings Square and William Street and Newman Court.

The changes will reintegrate the town hall back into day-to-day city life, provide proper connections to services and lift areas and ensure that contemporary requirements that can be so damaging to historic buildings are located in the new building.

The Freo Council has taken a long-term approach in determining the design for the new building. It must be able to stand the test of time to last 100 years or more to become Fremantle’s future heritage. This report is further proof this will be the case.

We carefully weighed up all the information available and decided a full redevelopment rather than a refurbishment of the existing building will best meet the long-term needs of the Fremantle community.

A complete redevelopment will look better, function better, cost less to maintain and operate and will mitigate the need for costly extensions and technology upgrades in the future. As well as the positive heritage implications, the new buildings will deliver better facilities and customer service experience.

The report was critical of the current 50+ year old building saying it had failed to make a positive contribution to the urban setting of Kings Square, was intrusive, dislocated the town hall from its administrative functions and was past its useful life.

While serving its purpose for more than fifty years, the current building is highly inefficient from an environmental and operating cost perspective; suffers from concrete cancer, has significant asbestos contamination issues and does not meet legal disability access requirements.

What we didn’t want was to build something which, like the current civic and administration building, needs replacing in 50 years’ time. Council made a conscious decision to ‘build it once and build it properly’ in determining the design of the new building.

The final detailed design phase for the new building is currently being completed with demolition of the current building and construction of the new building to begin in early 2018.

View a copy of the Kings Square Development Heritage Impact statement.

A Self-Guided Bike Tour of Freo’s Alternative History: “Demolished and Unbuilt”

Over the last couple of weekends as part of the Fremantle Heritage Festival I ran a free alternative history bike tour called “Demolished and Unbuilt”. It was lots of fun but I know many of you missed out as it was fully subscribed.

So I thought I would post the tour so that you can take you and your mates on a ride through Freo’s alternative futures if you are so inclined. It starts at the Rainbow and finishes at the Norfolk. Enjoy!

Fremantle’s 130 year old Town Hall new lease of life on 9 News

Woolstores in heritage win

At last night’s WA state heritage awards, Fremantle developments featured heavily in the shortlisted adaptive reuse projects from the MSC restoration to the commended Hillcrest in North Fremantle.

But there could only be one winner and well done to the Match and Sirona team on Heirloom Woolstores

Here is how The West reported it:

Woolstores in heritage win by Saturday, 27 May 2017

Three apartment blocks have been created within Fremantle’s woolstores.
Three apartment blocks have been created within Fremantle’s woolstores.

WA’s biggest residential redevelopment — the $70 million refurbishment of Fremantle’s derelict Dalgety woolstores — has been acclaimed as one of the State’s top heritage projects.

It won two categories in last night’s annual Heritage Council awards, less than a decade after there were calls for the 94-year-old building to be demolished.

Within the building’s brick shell, three apartment blocks have been created with 183 new units — some selling for as much as $1.4 million.

Award judges said the project heralded a new era for Fremantle.

They said the transformation was “testament to the dedication and financial commitment of its owners; extensive planning and collaboration with local, State and heritage authorities; flexibility and the use of innovative solutions”.

“The adaptive reuse … was a massive undertaking that required its owners to reach above and beyond to find innovative solutions to conserve and enhance original heritage fabric while satisfying building, safety and utility requirements, as well as customer expectations,” they said.

The woolstores were built between Queen Victoria and Beach streets in 1923 for £75,000. A floor was added in 1944.

From this floor, giant hoists (or “wool elevators”) were specially made to lift 160-240kg bales of wool from the basement.

As part of the restoration project, much of the original exposed brickwork, century-old jarrah beams and warehouse-style framed windows have been kept.

In fact, there has been minimal intervention to the structure of the four-storey building.

The wool stores project won the prestigious Gerry Gauntlett award for excellence in conservation and the adaptive reuse award.

Gallop House in Dalkeith and North Fremantle’s Hillcrest also received adaptive reuse commendations.

Other winners announced last night include Friends of Australian Rock Art, Engineering Heritage WA, the Shire of Murray, the Monsignor Hawes Heritage Centre in Geraldton and the Busselton Jetty Experience.